Inundated with Paris
RATATOUILLE ABOVE WATER
The Seine has been “flooding” the news this week, since the level of the water has reached close to record breaking highs (6.1 meters, 20 feet, in June 2016), but fortunately not so high as to overflow the banks. Yesterday was the day it was supposed to peak, up to ONLY between 5.8 and 6.0 meters (19 and 19.7 feet), as the rainfall across northern France dissipates. The level has gotten close to June 2016’s records when Le Louvre closed for four days and they evacuated 35,000 works of art from its basements. This year, the museum stood on alert and closed the lower level to visitors, but didn’t move any of the art.
The record for the Seine still stands from January 1910 when it reached 8.62 meters (28.3 feet) and overflowed into the streets of Paris. Over the course of the a week, “thousands of Parisians evacuated their homes as water infiltrated buildings and streets throughout the city, shutting down much of Paris’ basic infrastructure.” (Wikipedia.org)
When you purchase a property in Paris, one of the “diagnostics” provided by the seller is the risk of flooding, showing whether your property is in a flood zone or not. We have always “joked” in the past about how little concern it is, since the last time the city flooded was 1910, but with Climate Change, the risk is becoming more and more possible.
“Because of climate change, we can expect floods in the Seine basin to be at least as frequent as they are right now,” Dr Florence Habets, a senior researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, told The New York Times. Source: independent.co.uk/.
With the high waters, came the rats. Not only did the city residents come out to see the water and photograph it, but city rats are scampering to find new high ground…particularly into the garbage bins. Since there are two rats per person in Paris, and half are immune to poison, and carry up to 16 parasites, seven of which are dangerous to humans, this is not a tale of our favorite rodent, “Ratatouille!”
Fashion week has hit the capital city once again. We know because there is no shortage of tall, very thin, not so pretty, but very well-dressed women (the runway models) running around Le Marais. They’re foreigners who are totally overdressed in shoes that are way too uncomfortable for walking the cobblestone streets and stupidly-dressed men in high-water pants that will never look chic or elegant (in my book). I always get a chuckle from it.
Nonetheless, we were having a lovely dinner at L’Ange 20 Friday night, one of our favorite bistrots, when one of my friends, who was sitting against the wall facing out, while I was facing the wall, said, “I wonder if she knows.”
She was looking at a young couple sitting behind me, the woman with all the sales tags from her top hanging openly down her back, only partially hidden by her hair. It was a comical sight. After cracking up and thinking, “thank goodness I’m not her!,” my friend asked, “Should we tell her?”
Good question. We debated for a while and realized that perhaps bringing it up would embarrass her even more, especially if the guy was a date she wanted to impress. It was a real dilemma, but we refrained and just kept tabs of whether she ever realized it or not…and she never did.
The next day, walking on one of the bridges to see the high waters of the Seine along with every other Parisian, I spotted another “fashion statement” — a well-dressed woman in black, chic, but with a length of toilet paper coming out of her shoe. Very elegant, indeed, I thought.
One of my friends, with me at L’Ange 20, after seeing the photo of the runaway toilet paper, remarked: “This is a mood elevator! We could advertise a book of these photos as a drug-free alternative to an antidepressant!”
BAD FOR BUSINESS
La Fourchette (The Fork) is a site where you can book thousands of Paris restaurants online, many of which offer discounts. I use it frequently, as it’s very easy and good deals can be had. Saturday night, I decided to try a new restaurant in the 11th within walking distance of my apartment offering a 30% discount — The Blue Valentine.
A French friend met me there. I explained that in order to get the discount, we must order at least two courses each. No problem…we did, and the dishes were beautifully prepared and very delicious. We were very happy, except that the restaurant was very noisy — the tables were a bit too close together, and the lighting a little too bright. Nonetheless, we agreed that we could put up with those things as long as the food was this good and the discount made it affordable.
Then, the bill came…without the discount.
“Excuse me, we booked using La Fourchette with a 30% discount. Please adjust the bill,” I said.
The young waiter explained that I hadn’t booked with the discount, because it was only offered for certain times, and we had booked during a non-discount time.
I had thought I had booked it correctly, with the discount. The bill was almost 60% more than I anticipated it would be…and not in our budgets. Did I walk away quietly and accept my mistake? Of course not! I’m an American who expects a certain level of customer service expecting a business to want to make their customers happy and keep them.
I walked over to the counter where three of their staff were standing. “Here’s the deal,” I said. “Clearly I thought I had booked with the discount, otherwise, I would not have booked it at all, nor made a point of ordering so many courses. It doesn’t matter what I did or didn’t do and it doesn’t matter what your computer says. You have a choice right now of either keeping a customer or losing one.”
They continued to argue with me — they were right, I was wrong. I started to laugh. Basically I knew this is what I could expect. This is the second time I’ve encountered the same bad business etiquette and it likely won’t be the last. This is France, where being “right” and winning the argument is more important than keeping the customer. It’s the one cultural difference that is the toughest to get used to…at least, for me.
“So, you’re telling me that you prefer to lose me as a customer?” Yes, it was.
With that, we paid the bill. I went home, got online, wrote to La Fourchette (who has subsequently given me a discount on a future booking to make up for the mistake), and posted a message on Facebook — both my page and the restaurant’s. Today I write this Nouvellettre® and now all the many thousands of you know not to patronize this restaurant. If they had given us the discount, it would have cost them about 25€ — 30% of the food (not including the drinks) and we’d be raving about the restaurant.
Do you think they made the right decision?
HEBDO EBDO SURPRISE
A copy of a new magazine came in the mail — “Ebdo.” I’d seen their promos all over the kiosks. On the cover is a pair of big bright red lips. (I wish mine looked so good!) The headline reads, “Au Plaisir des Femmes — La Nouvelle Education Sexuelle” (“For the pleasure of women — The new sex Education”).
I wondered why the publisher was sending me a copy, then I flipped through it. Surprise! My daughter is pictured in Times Square — the cover photo of her book, “Nue York.” (She’s nude, naturally, so the red rectangle across her breasts is an addition to the photo done by her mother in an effort to censor the photo for you readers. Ha!)
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
P.S. How would you like your Paris apartment to be featured in an upcoming House Hunters International? We will be filming this month and are seeking a few studios or one-bedroom apartments in Paris that normally would rent for about 1,500 euros per month (although it’s not necessary for them to be rentals). If you have an apartment that fits this description or know of one with owners willing to allow us to film in it for about four hours next month, please email me at [email protected]