Thursday, October 16, 2014

" on french etiquette, and letting go "

thursday, october 9th

Well, dear Reader,  the Reporter tried to explore, a little more in depth, these mores of the french with the way they approach culture.  And really, one has to admit, they are quite open to new culture.

 They will say to you, we have "  l'esprit large " which roughly means, a large mind capable to assimilate different views and etiquettes and the french are at the same time pretty strict on "etiquette"  which is the same word in french : etiquette.

If you ask a question on such or such attitude or morals, they will say to you with that sort of knowledgeable voice, ' C'est l'etiquette. "  And that's it.  They will not necessarily give you an explanation, just be content that it's the etiquette and that is all there is to say.

So one of the etiquette here, if you are a woman,  is to own a pair of ballerines.  Which is simply put, a pair of ballet shoes like this :

no women in Paris will not own at least one pair. Usually grey, black, or perhaps navy.

Most people you will see,  will wear ballerines. Mostly because walking in therapeutic sneakers is just not done.

Since at the Bon  Marche, there was this Japanese exhibit at the same time as the french fashion  week took place, you could see lots of international buyers,  squeezing some time away from the fashion shows,  and showing up at the Bon Marche. And a lot of them were wearing sneakers like those :

now you should have seen the looks given to them by the true parisians,  but then they shrug their shoulders, and say nothing because they have l'esprit large.

Some of those tourists had really nice purple ones :

 Then everyone, in the Japanese exhibition  was checking the  department called :

That is Equipment in Japanese.

There was also :

That is color in Japanese,
and there was also in Japanese,   Epicerie,

 which roughly means,  At the Grocer's,

and where you can find Japanese Onion Chips, that's Onion Chips,

and then you could find more useful things like
dresses with leather sleeves :

very handy to make space when you take the tube,

and also,
lightweight Ecouteurs,  which are plain earphones like those :


you can also
 have those  :
  or those 
that's a lot of Ecouteurs.

 There was also under a window some Japanese wood dolls, just like the old fashioned Russian dolls
that can fit into each other, but those are Japanese so they are under a glass bubble,
To finish off this interesting exhibit,  there were some really futuristic designed radios, that really captivated the Reporter :

and even in pink, the Reporter's favorite :

 Then the Reporter was slightly exhausted by such an array of interesting things to report,
and she decided to have a café in plain setting, like at :
and where they craft 

little macarons,  one by one.  That is what the french and their etiquette call also ' letting go ' when things at the end of the day make little sense,  and you need a café and a macaron.

 And then the Reporter went to bed.

With all love, 

the Frog

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

" culture and the urban french "

wednesday, october 1st

Well, dear Reader, the Reporter, as always at her most courageous, ambled through a lot of Paris today, as she wanted to ask different urban people their views on culture.

If you talk to the french people on that subject, they consider, in their usual  modest ways, that they are extremely interested in culture,  and cultivating themselves in an ongoing way.

So when you ask them to get into some detail about this,  you ask something like "  Well, how do you go about it,  do you watch television ?"

Francois will immediately tell you ;  " Oh no, I never watch television. "  And you can feel there is a sense of finality about it. So you say, " Well, not even Arte ? " [  Arte is a franco-german channel which often has art programs, but also documentaries and news, it's a bit like our PBS in United States. ]

And immediately Francois will tell you,  " Oh I watch Arte of course."  And this, is a recurrent response,  no tv, and then Arte of course. And when we talk of recurrent, we mean everyone we asked.   Which is an interesting fact, when, if you look, for example,  at the percentage of viewers for July 4th 2014, 71,8  %  watched football on channel 1,  while the wonderful High Noon movie on Arte on February 2nd had 6,1 %.

Of course, on July 4th, it was La Coupe du Monde, or the World Cup. So you ask then, " Did you watch  La Coupe du Monde ? "   And Francois will way " Oh, no."  with the air of someone you asked to pet a slug.

So all in all, the ruban french will not watch television, and certainly not football. And,  what is more peculiar is that the Reporter managed to interview the exact 6,1% who only watch Arte.

So you say " What about movies ?" and Bernard will say, " You know, I work a lot and I come home late, and I am just too tired, and movie theaters have become so expensive."  So you ask Bernard something like, " Did you watch Captain Philips ?"  And Bernard will say, "  Of course, that was a really good one."  So you say politely something like, ' But you don't go to movie theaters ?"

And Bernard will say, " Oh I watched it on television."  So you go very tactfully, "But so, that is television."  And Bernard will say, " No, that is a  movie,"   which of course makes total sense.

Then as Francois notices that you have an english speaking book under your arm, he bends over and says " Did you watch House of Cards ? " and you say, " Yes, did you ?"  And he will nod silently. Then you say something like, " But that,  is television." And he will answer, "  Oh  no, that's a series."
Which of course makes total sense again.

So after that, you will ask "  Any play, in theaters ?"  and Jean-Paul will nod negatively in a very mournful way.  So you say, " So you read books ? "  And Jean-Paul will say, " Oh yes, when I have time,  but that's rare, you know I just come home and crash."  It's what the french call : "  La France au travail."  which means  just " France Working ."

Typically it can be illustrated in that type of photography taken at 3 pm on a business day, in the center of Paris,  most certainly a man organizing a seminar in a somewhat relaxed environment.

So just when you are about to end the interview, Bernard will say , " Oh but I go to the exhibits, I don't miss one. I love  les expositions."   Les expositions are not where people expose themselves, but are art shows.  Ask every urban french,  they will all tell you they go to all the art shows.

Fact is there is always truly a line at the art shows, any art show.  The most popular ones are at the Grand Palais. But then at the Grand Palais you can, before you go,  buy a Carte Sesame, which is as its name conjures up is a Sesame card, and with that you can skip the line, and everyone in the line will look at you with  les gros yeux,  which means a very, very stern look.  Here is a picture of the wonderful Grand Palais.

Every frenchman who arrives in town, every parisian who returns from a holiday or business trip will ask, " Qu'est ce qu'il y a au Grand Palais a voir ?"  Which roughly means  ' What is there to see at the Grand Palais.'  As if you might go to an exhibit not to see.

But that is because Jean-Pierre might answer "   Oh, il n'y a rien a voir."   or " Oh, there is nothing to see.'  Mind you, it means there is a perfect exhibition on, but simply it doesn't rise to the level to be seen by already cultivated minds, and Bernard will shrug mournfully knowing now that this one is not good, and he will say, "  Oh I see."

 It's, as in all french matters,  très compliqué, or, very complex.

Anyway, the Reporter who wanted very much to infuse herself with more culture after all these elevated exchanges with Bernard, Francois, and Jean-Claude, decided as she was by chance near the Bon Marche, to step in, and exactly as life would have it, there was there an exhibit, dedicated this time to Japan.

As you can see it says " Le Japon.  rive gauche "

which means :  " Japan. left bank "  as the Bon Marche is very proud to be settled on the left bank of the Seine.

 The fact is that Francois, Bernard and Jean-Paul really missed something there, although they might have seen it considering they don't miss one, except when there is  rien a voir.

So it was a quite beautiful,  dedicated to Tadao Ando, a Japanese architect, who created on three little islands, the Benesse Naoshima  Art Center [  islands are a pretty regular phenomenon in Japan ]

And a very nice installation was giving an idea of how serene and beautiful this architecture was melting in the landscape. And, there were different colored lights, so it was pretty groovy.


Then, since there was quite a crowd sitting and watching the installation, everyone was talking about exhibits, since the french love to talk while they watch an art exhibit, because they have a lot of culture to share.

The consensus was that everyone should then go to the Hokusai show which was just opening that same day, October 1st at the Grand Palais, and there,  the french experts around the Reporter were all saying : " C'est a voir."  which means,  that one, you  have to see.

With all love,

the Frog

Monday, September 29, 2014

' about fall "

monday, september 29th

Well, dear Reader,

it has been weeks and then months before this Reporter found some time to lay on the page her informed and judicious thoughts, but such is the industrious life of a judicious person.

So, we are back in Paris and it is Fall.  [  see picture below  ]

So as you can see,

the Reporter has adopted white socks.

It is that innocent look that is so dear to the Fall feeling and the Back to School Happenings.

Now, do not get too excited, dear Reader,  the Reporter is not yet back on the benches of any sort of educative place.

Fact of matter is,  that,  life in Paris, is exceedingly complex.

First,  everyone is back from holidays. And everyone talks about it. But the French do not talk about their holidays like the Americans do.

Ask any American what his holiday was like, he will answer very excitedly :" Well you know we decided to visit Portugal, as we had never been there, and we wanted to taste the Port, which is from the Porto region, and oh my, that was sensational,  and we wanted to see the  beaches, in the Algarve, and my God, the sand and the water, and the ice-creams stores, oh my God, the kids and the wife, we had a tremendous time !"    And then you walk away, and you feel so good about your friend's holiday, and you punch a reminder on your I phone to check the prices for the Algarve for next  year.

Not so at all for the French.

First you have to understand, that in France, there is a good intentions-monarch, at the head of the country,  and everyone is swimming in wealth., contrarily to what might be published so crassly in the press. Francois Hollande will tell you that all is going swimmingly.

But the really educated thing in France is to be very discreet about your holiday, and appear not too happy about its results.

So, if you are French, you meet Francois, and ask him how his holidays was, and he will say something like,

" Well, you know, it rained a lot."
Which in fact, it did,  for one of the longest time this summer, in France,  this year. Then Francois will tell you,  " Oh we did very little, we decided to go visit Aunt Helene, in Correze."

And immediately, as the frenchman you are,  and who knows about geography, you can envision Correze, which is one the most beautifully greyest places in France, and often it does rain there. Mind you, there are some beautiful villages, and beautiful grey houses with grey slate roofs, and beautiful grey barns, and antique grey bridges, and lots of dust grey oaks, so it is in fact quite harmonious in its own way.

And then you ask, because you have a good heart,  " ... And it rained ? " and your friend nods silently that it did.

And of course, then, you can visualize grey rain too. I mean, you do then feel sorry for your friend. We don't have none of that slightly vulgar enthusiasm for the white beaches of the Algarve, see ?

So you walk away from your Francois, and you do feel this aura of sadness around him.

Then you meet along the way another friend of yours and Francois,  who is Bernard.  And you say,
" Hello, Bernard !!  So how was your holidays ? "  and then Bernard says, " Oh you know, same as last year, we went to my parents house near Ste Maxime [  that's the mediterranean riviera ]  and it was fine,  too many tourists but ok.' And Bernard sighs, nods silently contemplating the sidewalk,  and looks a little depressed, but then he smiles as he looks up and says, " But you know, Francois came to visit with his wife and kids. They had a really bad  weather in Correze."  and then Bernard nods again silently looking down, and his face is sorrowful.

And you feel again curiously depressed now for both Bernard and Francois.

That's how it is with distinguished french conversations on holidays.

Now the Reporter who never asks anyone about their holidays, decided to go to Chantilly  [ that's close to Paris but north, in fact not so far from the De Gaulle Airport ]  to check out there the Fra Angelico show, because the Reporter being relatively uneducated will not miss one occasion to acquire some sort of superficial varnish passing for accomplishment.

So here is one example of this pretty marvelous exhibit.

By Giovanni di Paolo, a nice group of angels,

  quite charming really with their tiny tiny little hands.

And then Esther fainting in front of Assuerus by Filippino Lippi,

Poor Esther, she looked horribly emotional.

But then... it was the turn of the Reporter to completely fall apart in front of that drawing of a young man by the same author,

So the Reporter decided she needed something to restore herself from so many emotions,  and she went to the fish store and there, other views brought her back on Earth :

First there was some soles and bass :

there was some gigantic shrimp and monk fish :

ans last was
some colin [ indigenous fish to the french ]   and ray

and suddenly all the sights of these glorious fish centered the soul of the Reporter in the right way, as for sure in france there is a wrong way to feel centered, and  she realized you can get enough culture in one day.

And then she went shopping for a little  glass of wine, and tidbits for friends, in her white vulnerable socks,

and then she retired to her rooms early.

with Love,

the frog

Sunday, April 6, 2014

" just before leaving the french "

sunday, april 6

So everything having an end cycle like washing machines, the Reporter had to leave her beloved french who are so polite.  But, before she left she checked a few things again, just to make sure they would be there when she came back.

First, a major thing,  behind the  Faculté de Médecine,  there is a street named  Rue Jean Dubois. Now,  just because the french love to put you into a quandary,  the word  Faculté  leads you to think it means Faculty in english,  hé bien pas du tout, or as we say vulgarly in english, well not at all.

 Faculté de Médecine  means College of Medicine. So there.  And you would say, well why doesn't it mean Faculty, plain and simple ? That my dear friends is because we, Americans, are too plain and rude.

The word Faculté comes from the latin  facula  which means 'light' and so, the french decided to divide their  Universités,  which by the way means Universities, just like us, into  Facultés, because they,  have the light of knowledge, while we, live in obscurity, except of course for our professors, who, they,  are named Faculty.  Now I hope is this clear, and light in your own cultivated minds.

So the french public  Systeme des Universités,  which is of course the system of universities, plain and simple,  divided its medical teaching world in  Faculté de Médecine,  Faculté de Chirurgie Dentaire, [ that's the tooth one ]  Faculté de Chimie,  [ that's the chemist ] and  Faculté de Biologie, [ that's an easy one.]  If you think about it, since I,  also, omitted Physics,  that accounts for a lot of lights in the french study system, which is why the french are so knowledgeable.

 But, as the french say, let's go back to the  Faculté de Médecine, and right next to it,  the little street  Rue Jean Dubois.

 Well that is a street which is pedestrian, and whichever time of the day you come to it, you will see kids, as if there are some school hours exemption, and they jouent au foot, which means they play soccer.  Since, as I am sure you know,  football in france is what we call soccer, while the football as we know it here, is practiced in france as rugby.   That is because the french love speaking in english.

And that is one of the few paradoxes of the french.  They love to sprinkle some english words in their day to day language.  And this has the french  Académie de France in a tizzy.

For example, everyone will say,  "J’ai uploadé une photo sur mon Facebook»   It means of course, I uploaded a photo on my Facebook.  But note, that they used the verb 'upload" and conjugated it the french way.  Another one often heard among the young french, «J’peux pas te parler, je suis dans le rush. Je suis hyper speed  Which is ' I can't talk to you, I am in the rush. I am hyper speed.' Of course this has many grammatical errors, but the french love to customize. To them, it makes perfect sense, and that is because they are so much more knowledgeable.

So,  as you can see in the pic below, there are children playing soccer, and  there is a little girl which  makes huge bubbles and no one is watching, she is doing that for her own pure pleasure, that is a typical french pedestrian street.

 so the Reporter after having checked la  Rue Jean Dubois,

 courageously left la  Rue de l'Ecole de Médecine,  [ that 's the Street of the School of Medicine",  Ecole being another term for the facula,  the light thing ] as she turned left on Rue de l'Odéon,  and right on  Rue des Quatres Vents,  which only  means Street of the Four Winds.

Now the Street of the Four Winds has that particularity that once you are out of the perimeter, or area, of the academics lights, you fall right back into the perimeter of  little fashion stores.

And there, among a plentiful choice, the Reporter fell on that quintessential men's store up to attract the masculine interest.  The owner had suspended a little mobile of tiny paper boats, because as you know, the french, even though they are socialists,  and it is so exciting to see their country on an arduous socialist plan, one of their main masculine dreams is to get on a sailing boat,  and  partir et laisser tout, which means sail away and abandon everything.

So here is a pic of how  partir et laisser tout.

 The Reporter does realize that this is a picture with many  reflected things, but that is for the underlying purpose to have you reflect on the idea of  partir et laisser tout.

 And then, sadly the Reporter checked a last time on her florist,

which was closed,
and then it was time to boucler sa petite valise,  or buckle up her little trunk,

and then go.

The Reporter, as a matter of fact, was pretty elated as she was going to travel aboard the big fat new Airbus, the one which has multiple staircases and levels.

And that, dear Reader, is a pleasure in itself because, that new plane has a camera on the top of its tail and, extraordinary fact,  you can see what the plane sees from its tail.

So, you feel in fact, so connected  privately, emotionally, spiritually to that big bird because you see what he sees !!!!  All apologies, I had to put that in italic, even thought that was not in french.

So I am posting below a photo of the little screen that I watched all the flight through, forget films when you can watch clouds, and things like chem-trails, and airport landings, and runways.

For the Reader of this blog, who is so cultivated, I did check  the gender of an airplane  to see whether it was masculine or feminine,  [ I decided above for a manly 'he' ] and the response on Google English Language and Use was :
" It depends. You need to look under the rear luggage bay to know for sure."  As I didn't have time to do that, I opted for the masculine.

And here is the view, dear Reader,  enjoy :

So, sadly, once again we have to part, but Reader, the intoxication of composing this blog has been so high recently that the Reporter
has decided, succumbing to many entreaties,  to continue some reporting on her now near native land,  America !!

So watch out for another post on the interesting things going on here.

With all Love,

the Frog

Sunday, March 30, 2014

" the french and springtime "

sunday, march 30th

The french love the springtime.  If you ask them about it they will shrug and say, " Il n'y a plus de printemps. " which simply means " There are no springtime anymore."  Period. The french are pretty adamant that in the natural and  normal cycle of seasons, Winter advances directly into Summer.

Yet, if you drive through " la campagne francaise"  which is really only the french countryside, but it immediately sounds so much better in french, you can see things like this :

little tiny flowers which are called '  paquerettes "   which are tiny adorable daisies about a quarter of an inch, adorable.  And paquerettes  are a sign of Springtime.

And you can also see other interesting things like this ;

that is when you typically freshly plough the soil,  to sow your field,
and that is also a sign of Springtime,

and then you can see also this remarquable sight :

and if you really look at this splendid photo, you can see  some yellow forsythia  on the top of the hill, that the Reporter couldn't approach,  because the soil was a bit "  détrempé et trop meuble"  and that just means something like  soaked and too soft,   and that dear Reader, is another indisputable sign of Springtime.

But ask any frenchman, and he will shake his head from left to right to left and right again, and he will say " non, non, il n'y a plus de printemps." And honestly, you'd better not ask a third time.

It is because, every frenchman has his own notion of what le printemps should look like.   And since his notion of Springtime,  is not at all the notion of whomever else, and certainly not the vision of Mother Nature, then there is no more Springtime in france, whatsoever.

So the Reporter decided to say good-bye to her friend in the country, who said to her, while she was packing her small trunk,  "  C'est quand meme un drole de printemps." Which meant in fact, "Still it is a funny spring."  So suddenly it seemed like Spring had temporarily reappeared in france,  but  now it was funny.  Which shows one more time how the french are all about subtlety.

We, Americans, we say, " It is Springtime !" and our voice carries a lot of gaiety, and enthusiasm,  and we all have those idiotic smiles at how happy this time in the year is, but that is because we americans, are very rude.

Then the Reporter closed her trunk, looked around with her usual happiness and joie de vivre, and her eyes fell on something particularly cherished by her host :

because the french may  not believe that there is a Spring season any more, but the wooden toys of childhood is one season in which they will always believe because, true at heart, " Ils sont toujours des enfants."  Which is they are still children at heart.  Not to be mistaken with the emblematic french sentence, "  Les Américains sont de grands enfants." Which is " The Americans are tall children."

Which, in itself,  is such a complex subject in the mind of the french that this blog page is now too short to debate such a thing on this day.

So the Reporter reached Paris again,  and in her stroll pulling her trunk, she stopped to admire this wonderful little store, which made her think that after all Spring was in fact, here,  arrived in Paris :

and with her usual idiotic smile, she continued her stroll.

With all love,

the Frog

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

" of gates, and how the french manage land "

tuesday, march 25

Dear Reader,

so this is a fair outline of how the french manage their land.  Of course, one has to take into account that this is only one example of how they go at it,  but it is not totally random.

So the Reporter's friend, the one who had a subtle flavor of Maxime de Winter,  and who had generously invited our courageous writer, did let her into his land via his gate, and as you can see, there was a zest of Manderley already there,

view of left gate :

view of right gate :

detail of left gate :

and just before getting to the gate :

Do you sort of see the subtle relationship to Manderley ?

Then, once inside the land, the french like to ask their guest to give a small hand to their managing of it. For that purpose, the french like to wear " des bottes de caoutchouc"  or simply,  english flavored rubber boots made in china :

So, Maxime de Winter asked the Reporter if she could help with the lawn somehow, and the Reporter being of a very devoted and friendly manner helped carve out the path to the woods as in here,
So you, educated Reader, can immediately understand, that anything in pale green is where the Reporter lent a hand.
Also, she managed to not fall in the pond which, anyway, was sadly empty.

Then Maxime de Winter gently asked if the writer could give a hand in collecting  " du petit bois"  or as we vulgarly say ' some wood,'  as in here,

and you may still admire the pale green path beyond the wood pile,

wood pile which would serve to warm up the cold thick massive walls of the house as in here

Then, Maxime de Winter took the Reporter to the barn and showed her  " des outils "  or simply said ' some tools :'

which might be useful to
clean up "les mauvaises herbes et tailler les buis", or plainly clean up
"the weeds and trim the boxwood,"
as in below

Then Maxime showed some stone that might need some carving,
and there was a stone saw in the barn, see the stones on which Maxime stepped that could be carved better

and then, since the Reporter thought of herself as artistic,
Maxime showed her some work to do in "  l'escalier "  or of course,
the staircase.

And then the Reporter went to bed with her candle

and that, she decided, was about the end of her observations of how the french De Winters managed their land.

With all Love,

the Frog