Watch Out for Little Old Ladies
BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS
One of our clients Friday asked me about the safety of living in Paris. I chuckled in response, as the question comes up often by Americans who live in fear of all sorts of dangers (like I used to when I was living there). I reminded her of the number of deaths that happen by guns in the U.S. compared to France (12.21 per 100,000 U.S. residents vs 2.83 per 100,000 in France, source: Wikipedia.org)…claiming that the only thing I might ever fear is being pickpocketed! Even that is something I no longer fear, as those who get pickpocketed are mainly tourists who are targeted — people hanging out in touristy areas who clearly look like tourists for a variety of reasons. (You can tell the difference, can’t you? Well, the thieves can, too.)
So, I certainly didn’t expect to get picked the next day. I wasn’t in a touristy area — I was in my local supermarket. And it wasn’t my wallet or purse that got picked. It was something quite different and very unexpected. It was…an umbrella.
Let’s go back to a couple weeks ago when I was in Nice. Walking along rue de France, I spotted a black and white umbrella with a scalloped edge that I simply couldn’t live without. Did I need it? No. There are at least 10 umbrellas in my stand in Paris and three or four in Nice, not to count the one I carry in my bag at all times. But, this one had my name written all over it (as you can see by the photos of it in my foyer), and in a matter of a few minutes to charge the credit card, it was mine. I carried it with me sticking out of my luggage all the way to Provence and then back to Paris, using it quite a lot this past week as it has rained quite a lot. (It’s Paris, and you don’t come here for the weather!) The new umbrella was proving to be very useful, as it has an automatic open, is strong to fight the winds and big enough to keep me pretty dry. It was a total pleasure to have and use, not to mention very stylish.
Saturday it rained buckets on and off all day. My new black and white umbrella was with me at all times. On the way home, I stopped at my local Franprix with my old friend, Janet Hulstrand, to pick up a few essentials: toilet paper, tissues and…chocolate (just as important as toilet paper, right?). In the market’s rolling cart, I dropped my catchall sack (with my computer and lots of important stuff) and the umbrella, wheeled quickly through the store gathering up the goodies, said hello to some neighbors doing the same thing as me in the paper goods aisle and then headed to the cash register to check out. Once the items had been bagged and paid for, I noticed the umbrella was no longer in the cart.
“Janet, do you have the umbrella?”
“No,” she replied.
Without taking a breath, I ran up and down the aisles thinking it had dropped out somewhere, but it was not to be found. In a panic, causing complete havoc in the market, I started to question all the clerks if they had seen a black and white umbrella while running up and down the aisles AGAIN and exclaiming very loudly that it must have been “volé!” (stolen). “Volé!” All the clerks in the store got into the quest.
One of them asked me if I was sure I had it when I entered the store. “Mais oui, Monsieur, mais oui! Je suis sûr!” (Of course, sir, of course. I am sure!)
In a split second, he said, “Voila, Madame,” pointing to the umbrella sticking out of a little old lady’s plaid marketing cart, who was checking out at the cash register. She was as big as a minute, as old as Methuselah, and clearly as wily as a fox.
“Madame,” I exclaimed! “That’s MY umbrella.” Without further ado, I pulled it out of her cart, opened it up and showed her and everyone that my name was in it as proof. (For this very reason, I had put a label in it with my name and address. Good thing I did, too!) “Prenez-le, prenez-le,” she said (take it, take it), as if she was doing me a favor. “I needed it for support,” she said, like she might use it in place of a cane. (What a lame excuse for kleptomania!)
In a rush, I left the supermarket with my umbrella in tow, and joked to Janet, “That old lady is lucky I didn’t wack her with it!” The only thing I could do at that moment was laugh about the whole scenario. Of course, I wouldn’t have been laughing if we hadn’t found it. But, I did later wonder how she had acquired everything else in her overstuffed plaid marketing cart!? Perhaps I wasn’t her only victim!
The moral of the story is: When it comes to thievery, trust no one…especially little old ladies with overstuffed marketing carts. And never leave your favorite umbrella unattended!
Note: For an informative article on pickpocketing in Paris, visit The Local.
THE IRON LADY CELEBRATES 130 YEARS!
She’s 130 years old. Our beautiful Iron Lady opened her doors to the public on May 15th, 1889 for the first time. Little did the world know at the time, that La Tour Eiffel would become THE symbol of Paris, proving her critics wrong, wrong, wrong.
In a letter published in “Le Temps,” there was an outcry:
“We, writers, painters, sculptors, architects and passionate devotees of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris, protest with all our strength, with all our indignation in the name of slighted French taste, against the erection…of this useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower…To bring our arguments home, imagine for a moment a giddy, ridiculous tower dominating Paris like a gigantic black smokestack, crushing under its barbaric bulk Notre Dame, the Tour Saint-Jacques, the Louvre, the Dome of les Invalides, the Arc de Triomphe, all of our humiliated monuments will disappear in this ghastly dream. And for twenty years…we shall see stretching like a blot of ink the hateful shadow of the hateful column of bolted sheet metal.”
On this anniversary day of May 15, 2019, the Eiffel Tower has invited 1,300 children from various Paris leisure centers, aged 6 to 12, to visit the 1st and 2nd floors of the Tower in the afternoon. Following that, there will be a free concert by Jeanne Added from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Co-organized by the Média Culturel Cercle and its new livestream platform “Drop.” The concert will be broadcast live on the Facebook pages of Drop and the Eiffel Tower!
Finally, the highlight of the day will be from 10 p.m. with an exclusive light show created by the famous scenographer, Bruno Seillier, producer of the mythical “Dame de Cœur” show at Notre Dame de Paris. This luminous work will retrace the history of the Eiffel Tower, from birth to the present and will unveil new visual effects (laser projections, strobe effects, etc.). No worries to those who miss it Wednesday night, as the show, on a ten-minute loop, will continue to be shown on the following Thursday and Friday evenings, after dark, of course!
FYI, the best point of view to see the show will be at the esplanade and the gardens of the Trocadéro, as well as from the Pont d’Iena.
For more information, visit toureiffel.paris/en/news/.
LA NUIT DES MUSEES
It started more than 10 years ago — every year on the 3rd Saturday in May, museums all over France open their doors for free, staying open until late into the night during the “Nuit Européenne des Musées.” Organized by the Ministry of Culture and Communication, the concept is to make culture more accessible to everyone. This is your chance to visit or revisit the top Paris museums, such as the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, or Centre Pompidou, or be surprised by the Arts and Métiers Museum, the Decorative Arts Museum or the Palais de la Découverte — many offering conferences, night walks, concerts and shows of all kinds. The event is Europe-wide, taking place in 30 European countries!
Sortira à Paris has a great list of recommended venues making it easy to choose (or not so easy if you want to see them all)! See sortiraparis.com/arts-culture/exposition.
A la prochaine…
(by Tom Reeves)
P.S. Tomorrow is May’s Après-Midi with author, Timothy Jay Smith. Details on our website. Don’t miss it!