Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Best Bread in Paris (shhh it's a secret)

Located on the old roman road Rue Vaugirard , this bakery/badly stocked grocery store called Monoprix is situated on one of the dirtiest and crowded streets of the 15th arrondissement. People frequently use the beautiful 70's building to the right to urinate because it has a nice private two inch niche in it, so feel free to pee if you have the need.

If the smells fail to charm you, the noise might be musique to your ears. The taxi stand across the street has an intercom and you'll often hear the beautiful melodic french language of love being screamed by a French taxi driver trying to understand the address of a customer. The air is filled with the lovely sounds of two different types of sirens because the hospital and police station are just a hop skip and a jump down the street (so you can fit a visit there into your schedule. Maybe steal a baguette or step in front of a truck so you can get a ride and have a more authentic parisian expérience). Add the motorcycles, buses and honking cars to the mix, and you feel like you have been transported to a French movie set. Just magical.

The generic outside is so charming and French. If you are color blind it might even resemble the colors of le grapau français. (I don't know, I'm not color blind yet!).

Real Parisians call it Monop. In Paris people are busy and they don't have time to pronounce whole words. McDonalds is referred to as McDo and Chipotle is referred to as Chipo.

Le pain bio (organic bread) is a little more expensive but it is worth every last centimes because it tastes like salty cardboard. See these croissants? They have managed to take something made with oodles of yummy butter and turn it into a soggy throat clogging bit of French heaven.

Throw in something extra and you will get to take home your very own Monoprix bag! What a great souvenir! I just hope you don't have a list of things to get to complete a recipe. You are 99% guaranteed never to find everything you need. (Not just at Monop, but at all grocery stores).

So next time you spend a warm spring day in Paris inside a darkened room watching the terribly subtitled French reality show The Vrai Housewives  (French housewives living in Beverly Hills) and stumble outside at 11 pm looking for something to shove in your face, don't be triste. Unlike most stores in France, this one is a unique special snowflake and stays open until midnight. Je suis en retard!

**my sarcasm has bitten me in the ass. I thought the store was just extra ridiculously understocked, which I why I wrote this. Turns out they are closing. No more open until midnight store for me! I already miss it all the time every time I forget something and just want to pop down and grab it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Everything's Fine

I don't know why I stopped blogging. I got sidetracked going through my Corsica pictures because I take so many pictures when I use a real camera. I procrastinated for so long that the habit of writing posts was lost.

Also I told my sisters and my Mom about my blog and it became harder to write about certain things knowing that I might make them angry or hurt their feelings or make them feel like their privacy was being invaded. So I edited myself and avoided writing about such a painful time in our lives. Also not being anonymous made me feel self-conscious and insecure. And that made blogging boring.

Speaking of my Mom, she is doing fine. So fine that she came to Paris last week! The chemotherapy that made her so sick almost two years ago must have worked a little bit. There is no cure (she is past the cut off age for a bone marrow transplant) but she's still here. I feel lucky every time her name pops up in google chat or when I call her for a quick talk while I make dinner.

So that's it for now. A short post to get me back into the swing of things.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Air France Flight 666

I thought it was shady when I noticed that our flight number was AF066, which is a little too close to 666, but I've finally gotten over my fear of flying and resigned myself to telling people if I die falling from a great height (I used to have nightmares about falling. I would bounce back up and then fall some more) they will need to throw a party and laugh and laugh because isn't it ironic?

David always puts my screen to show the camera on the outside of the plane and it freaks me out

So we're on the runway about to take off. I've been bumped from my exit row seat and the American guy behind me has not stopped kicking my seat, jostling it by poking at the video screen and using it to get up and down the short amount of time we've been on the plane. But hey, c'est la vie. I'm heading to Vegas and then HOME to Northern California. Land of fat burritos and English speaking people.

But then..... we stop. There is a problem. We taxi back to the airport. I'm not sure how long it takes before they announce that all 516 passengers are going to have to disembark because of a "serious problem" with engine 2 and eventually we end up going back through customs and taking a cab home because our flight is rescheduled for the next day at 9 a.m. That means leaving around 5:30 a.m. only 12 hours later. We would have taken a hotel voucher but they were keeping all the luggage and I had brought absolutely nothing with me but my tablet, some powder and a lipstick and I was already coated in airport grime and looking frumpy. Plus I need to cancel our trip to the Grand Canyon (no refunds! awesome!) and call the hotel so we didn't lose our room.

After an eleven hour flight, still seated in front of the same charming passenger, we arrive in Los Angeles only an hour late. (They had to get a new plane and waited until we were on the plane to transfer the luggage). Of course the boarding ramps aren't working (it's a double decker plane landing unexpectedly so we were off at some random place on the runway) and when we finally get off all 500 of us have to take buses to the terminal. We grab our luggage, go through customs, drop our luggage off again and get on a 45 minute flight to Las Vegas. And when we arrive, our luggage isn't there. This is no big deal really, but David's colleague has some stuff in his bag for the demo set up. No stuff, no demo. Did I mention we were on the same flight as three people from David's work, all named Bruno?

Going to dinner that night with them at 4 a.m. Paris time and trying to speak French, in glitzy Vegas, wearing the same old wrinkled clothes with the same makeup I put on 24 hours earlier was the cherry on top of the worst flight of my life.

And Sunday, at three a.m. our bags arrived. I hadn't seen mine since Friday except for a brief moment at customs and I missed the little fellow.

In other news, I finally got to see what goes into setting up a demo. Lots of wires and screens and laptops, most of which the 3 Brunos had been hauling around with them for this whole debacle.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Our first day at the beach in L'Île-Rousse our white limbs were greeted with laughter by a leathery brown old chap who observed "Vous avez été ici longtemps" (You guys have been here a long time). 

Right before we left a woman got stung by a jelly fish and she rubbed sand in the sting. At the time I wondered if it was an urban myth or if that really helped. The next day I read this entry from French Word of the Day about her run in with the méduse.  So of course, a few hours after getting in the water, just when I had relaxed enough to shed my top, I felt like my leg had bumped into some fire, which is pretty shocking when you are under water. A few days later at the same beach we saw one (before it stung us). David held onto my leg so I could float and watch it through my goggles without getting too close. It was bright blue and yellow, a little larger than a baseball and very pretty.

The food is a perfect mix of Italian pasta's and pizzas, French cheeses and desserts, fresh seafood and generous portions of fruits and veggees not drowned in butter or boiled to death like they normally are in Paris. 

The birthplace of Naploleon Bonaparte

We also had a BBQ at our place, so we could cook at home if we wanted. Despite being surrounded by other apart'hotels, it was very very quiet. We are used to the sound of traffic and the silence was almost creepy.

Maza did not appreciate being called a bizarre cat and sulked in the bushes

There are also sweet little rivers which remind me of the ones in Grass Valley. If I had known there was a little piece of California only an hour and a half flight from Paris I would have gone sooner.

There was also a scrappy little cat at the apart'hotel who cried to be let in, ate the best bits of whatever we offered, turned up his nose at the rest and left to go beg food from someone else, wailing and carrying on like he hadn't eaten for weeks. David called him Chat Corsé and he came to visit us everyday for two weeks. The neighbors on one side thought he was ours and knocked on our door once to let us know he was waiting outside, so luckily I got to clear that up and they won't go home with stories about the crazy American cat lady who brought her cat to an island.

Corsicans have a reputation for being a little gruff. Corsica is the murder capital of Europe And outsiders who try to build beach front property have a little problem with their houses blowing up. So it's not over run with tourists. But everyone was very nice to us. But we also are used to Parisians.

From Wikipedia: The gang Brise de Mer is one of the Most Powerful Corsican criminal organisms . Based in Northern Corsica , the gang controls various activities (racketeering, traffic slots machines laundering, night clubs, gambling clubs, casinos, etc..) in Corsica, goal aussi in the South of France, in Paris , in Western African countries ( Gabon , Mali , Cameroon , etc..), and in Latin American countries.

We ran into some very stinky hunters while taking this picture.

The waiters/waitresses are all about 17 and drop dead gorgeous.

This is not some fancy pants French place. It's super laid back and casual.

This poor old man couldn't stand all the excitement.