10 September 2007

Spending a day in Paris

Last Thursday I spent the day in Paris with my friend CHM. One of the things we did was go over to the Arc de Triomphe to take some pictures. I haven't finished selecting and processing those yet.

Riding the Paris métro. This is an above-ground station.
It's very clean, bright, and uncrowded at 9:15 a.m.


To get the the Arc de Triomphe, which is located at the upper end of the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, we decided to take the subway (le métro). The trip was direct (no line changes) so it was easy except there were some long hallways to walk through and some stairs to climb. CHM is not as young as he used to be — who is? All I'll say is that I'm approaching 59 years old and CHM is easily old enough to be my father. He hired me and was my boss when I worked in Washington DC 25 years ago.

Advertising in the Paris metro. The Petit Robert is one of the
standard French dictionaries. It's revised and reprinted every year.
The ad says "We could have just changed the year and a few words.
The New 2008 Petit Robert. Constantly reinvented."


The Paris metro is a fantastic system. The stations are close together, so there's never a long walk to get to one. There are literally hundreds of metro stations in the city. There's a certain human scale to the whole system. Most of the trains ride on rubber tires, so it's not very noisy. It can get pretty crowded at rush hour, but it's usually not too bad the rest of the day. A train comes along every three or four minutes to whisk you to your destination.

The Rugby World Cup games are being played in France this month
and next. This advertising poster says "For the love of rugby, 1987-2007."
The Société Générale is a bank and must be a sponsor of the tournament.

Don't think, though, that riding the metro means you don't have to walk a lot too. If you have to change trains, making what they call a correspondance from one metro line to another, you might have to walk fairly long distances in the underground corridors between one platform and another. And there often are big staircases to climb. Some stations have escalators.

Waiting for the bus in Paris. There are not only metro stations
but also bus stops all over the city. You use the same ticket
or pass on both buses and metro trains. One advantage of
riding the bus is that you can see the sights along the way.

The metro is not a place you want to be with a lot of baggage — for example, when you first arrive in Paris from the airport. If you do that, you'll soon understand why they call it luggage. You get my drift.

A nice restaurant, le Bistrot de Breteuil,
in the neighborhood near Les Invalides.


One of the most entertaining and informative things about the metro is all the advertising posters in the stations. The current ad campaign for a dictionary, Le Petit Robert, might be surprising. I'm not sure you'd see a dictionary advertised in subway tunnels in New York or San Francisco. Maybe I'm wrong. I also don't think we have an American dictionary that is revised and reprinted on an annual basis, do we?

Take-home food for sale at the street market
on the Avenue de Saxe near Les Invalides.


The part of Paris where I took these photos is very upscale and not as densely populated as some other neighborhoods. But it's a neighborhood you can really enjoy walking around in, with a lot to see and do. It's residential but full of shops, restaurants, markets, and cafés. It's the area around the Place de Breteuil, at the border of the 7th and 15th arrondissements.



10 comments:

  1. Hi Ken !


    /*/ …/… The Petit Robert is one of the standard French dictionaries. It's revised and reprinted every year.

    The ad says "We could have just changed the year and a few words. The New 2008 Petit Robert. Constantly reinvented." …/… /*/


    Well, this year they reinvented themselves into an apparent lawsuit. (grin)


    One word they offer a "definition" of is the word "rebeu", which is verlan for "beur", the slang term for "Arab" (Amerloque realizes that Ken knows that: he is simply filling in the blanks for readers who might be unaware of the meaning …)


    The usual dictionary practice is to add a quotation from an author (ideally, relatively famous and/or good) to illustrate the usage.


    According to the police unions, the Robert people chose to use:


    'T'es un pauvre petit rebeu qu'un connard de flic fait chier, c'est ça"


    ( … which translates out for non-francophones to something on the order of "You're a wimp arab whose ball$ are being busted by an a$$hole cop, see." …)


    from an author of detective novels, one Jean-Claude Izzo.


    Since the police feel they have been insulted, the police unions have called for a boycott of the Petit Robert. The Minister of Justice has written to the Petit Robert people to ask that the offending passage be removed. One police union has sued in court for removal of this year's dictionary from the shelves.


    http://tinyurl.com/2ge3rg


    In the past, books and newspapers which have "insulted" the police and/or armed forces have been removed and/or fined for far less virulent words, so it should be interesting to see how this finally turns out in the Sarkozian New Age. (grin)


    Best,
    L'Amerloque

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  2. I like to look at your pics and the way you look at my arrondissement. The métro is really not adapted to elders or handicapped people or people with a suitcase (that's a handicap in itself)
    One of the things that really p*sses me off is that they are refurbishing a lot of the stations, but the refurbishing is not apparent to the métro traveller. You would expect more escalators or lifts! Not so!

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  3. Claude, I agree that there could well be more escalators or lifts in the metro. But it is still an amazing system, better than most other big cities' in the world.

    Amerloque, I hadn't heard about the controversy over rebeu in the new Petit Larousse. Seems like a minor issue, however -- political correctness run amok, I think. After all, Alain Rey and the lexicographers didn't invent the example; it came from a novel.

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  4. Hi Ken !


    /*/ …/… Amerloque, I hadn't heard about the controversy over rebeu in the new Petit Larousse. Seems like a minor issue, however – …/… /*/


    Depends if one has one or more law enforcement personnel in the family. For them, it's not minor.


    Some private school teachers have this morning requested their students to purchase Larousse, and won't even be accepting the use of this Petit Robert in class, apparently. (sigh) With one French youth in five in a private school, that might mean a serious hit to Robert's market share.


    /*. …/… political correctness run amok, I think. After all, Alain Rey and the lexicographers didn't invent the example; it came from a novel. …/… /*.


    Yes, that's the position of the police union, which states that the choice from this particular novel is ill-advised and essentially racist ("Si vous remplacez le mot 'flic' par 'juif', par exemple …" said one of the police union spokespeople on early morning radio …. ).


    It's a politically-correct slap in the faces of the police, which can only exacerbate the growing divide in France …


    Best,
    L'Amerloqueuomwj

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  5. Ken, I think Victoria and Norman will be in France for the rugby championships. I wonder whether they're already there.

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  6. Gotta love the Metro! I wove my way around Paris last fall about this time and found it easy and convenient. Thanks for the tour!

    Meilleurs voeux!!

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  7. Great, everyday pictures of Paris...how I miss it sometimes!

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  8. I love the metro. Except when I have a stroller with me. Or two. That's when I agree with Claude - more escalators would be nice!

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  9. Ken,

    I always enjoy reading your posts -- it cheers me up after scanning the daily headlines. This post, with its photo of le Bistrot de Breteuil, gave me a particular lift. You recommended that restaurant to us in 1999 and you were right -- we had a delicious meal there. For a few minutes today, the walls of my cubicle and the clack of neighboring keyboards faded away, to replaced by vision of strolling around the Place de Breteuil on a warm September evening with our friends. All in all, a much better way to spend the day.

    ...Susan

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  10. Susan, I'm glad you have a good memory of the Bistrot de Breteuil and that neighborhood. The restaurant is still very good and the prices are very reasonable.

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