Talking About Paris
In spite of the flurries yesterday, we had a respectable turn out to “Parler Paris Après Midi” — our monthly coffee gathering for Parler Paris readers to meet, get to know one another, and share their experiences in Paris (and elsewhere). This is not to be confused with “Parler Parlor” — the French-English Conversation Group that meets three times a week and has for the last 12 years.
Après Midi started in 2003 when Parler Paris readers expressed a desire to meet one another. It was a simple idea that has perpetuated itself every second Tuesday of the month between 3 and 5 p.m. at a Marais café, except for one break during the month of August every year. The first August we tried to meet landed during the famous “canicule” with record-breaking high temperatures. The café where we met was closed (as is so many that month), so we scrambled to find another, but of course, it wasn’t air-conditioned, so the few who gathered there that day spent more time sweating than talking…hence we never met again in August.
Each gathering is distinctly different, in that as people filter in, they take different places, create a different ambience and generally make for a very different experience. The gatherings are unpredictable as to how many people will show up, or who of course, and therefore are forever a source of entertainment and amusement.
At about 4 p.m. I start taking photos as a record of the gathering. Those who are not willing to be photographed, might as well not participate! I say this because a few times past attendees have requested that their photos be removed from the Web site — perhaps they were wanted by the law or something (!), but nonetheless, we’d like to have the liberty to report what we want and need the attendees’ permission to do so.
To read about yesterday’s gathering, just click on https://adrianleeds.com/wp-content/uploads/newsletters/parlerparis/apresmidi.html and to read any of the past reports, you’ll find the links on that page above the actual report. Have fun trying to find your friends or do an internal site search to find their names and photos.
Our next gathering is March 9th, so mark your
calendar to come. It costs nothing except the café expects you to order something, even if just an espresso, and there’s no obligation to be there on time or stay the entire time or talk, for that matter. So, there’s no excuse for not coming if you’re free anytime between 3 and 5 p.m.
“Parler Parlor” is quite another thing. My partner, Marie-Elisabeth Fasanella Crochard Fitère and I started the group on March 17, 1998 when she was the Director of Berlitz Champs-Elysée, there on the premises. It was “service après vente” for Berlitz — to allow their students and anyone who wanted to attend, to practice speaking French and English. It took off like wildfire and has been roaring ever since — meeting three times a week in two different locations (central Paris near Châtelet and Saint-Germain-des-Prés).
Some members have been coming almost as many years as it’s been operating and others come sporadically for the pleasure and practice. People come from more than 50 different countries and it has held an excellent balance of Anglophones to Francophones all these years, which is key to its success.
The way it works is that groups of six are formed, balanced Anglophone/Francophone. We make as many groups as is necessary depending on who shows up. Then the group is on its own from then on. They can choose to begin speaking in French or in English, and switch languages midway, at the 45-minute mark. They can talk about anything they like and they manage themselves.
The system has proven itself time and again, and certainly for all these 12 years. It works to get you using with ease the language you’ve been studying and to feel comfortable with your level — whatever that is. It works to develop friendships that would be difficult to achieve otherwise and it works to learn about all sorts of things from others with knowledge, opinions and ideas.
Every group is different, much like every gathering of Après Midi. No two groups interact the same or have the same conversations. In 12 years, only one group was the least bit boring (!).
Regularly, we host a party or event — another way of socializing and getting to know one another. For our 12th anniversary on March 13th, we’re making crêpes, serving drinks and letting everyone construct the crêpe of their dreams with an assortment of goodies. The party is free and so is the first time you come, then unlike Après Midi, there is cost, but it’s nominal and hasn’t changed in many years. For those who come that day, they can purchase any form of 6-month membership or session card at a discount of 25€ in honor of our 12 years in Paris and the thousands of people who have enjoyed the group.
But don’t wait till March 13th to try it out. It’s free the first time you come, so there’s nothing to lose…but 1.5 hours of your time! For more information, visit the Web site at http://www.parlerparlor.com
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
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