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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Story Time: Les Types de Transportation Public Français

The title, in French, clearly defines the general haïne and spite that French people tend to feel towards the daily transport to work and vice-versa. Les types, like in English, types of people, or in French also a slang form of dudes, is a generalized way to mention those people.

It was in my morning bus ride this morning that I began doodling on my phone, the definition of the people we tend to see in our public transportation in Paris. Unlike in Portland, where most people are so wonderfully odd and unique, Paris tends to be a conglomerate of sameness. Every morning and every evening, if you live in Paris, you are bound to see the following types.

Seat Ninja:
For lack of a better word, I have entitled this type a seat ninja. Here’s the scenario:
It’s been a long day at work in the office, with your 3 coffee breaks and your 1 hour lunch, and you just want to crawl into your overly packed bus, throw your armpit in someone’s face and get home. As you lurch onto the transport, lugging your overly packed female purse, you eyeball the impossible. A seat. As you start to elbow your way over, you glance to the left and see a flash. In the blink of an eye the seat is suddenly occupied. Your seat has been ninja’d.

The Band of Japanese Tourists:
In any large metropolitan city, you are bound to come across this grouping of individuals. They are often in families, often equipped with a large and expensive Nikon cameras and smiling profoundly at maps trying to define, where is the Eiffel Tower? Where is the Arch de Triomphe? Generally nice and also avid shoppers- spotted most commonly in touristic areas and near the Champs-Élysées.

Psycho Mamie:
Mamie, the loving French term for the French grandmother figure. Unfortunately not all French Mamie's are kind smiling creatures. Some actually have mental problems, especially the psycho Mamies. You'll know when you have been in touch with a Psycho Mamie when she is:

A. Shouting obscenities... At the air around her.
B. Gets oddly aggressive if the bus driver doesn't open the doors right away.
C. Decides that you are the perfect conversation buddy- however the conversation really doesn't go anywhere.

Stinky People:
This category is quite general since stinky is a common problem in France. I have yet to determine if this is due to the lack of dryers (hence drying time is lengthened and clothes carry a lovely old water and musty smell) or the consumption of cheese. However once in awhile you get more than that- you find yourself face to face with a shoeless mental institution escapee who smells beyond the words I could use to describe it. Stench would be too kind...

Buskers:
A term endowed upon those who wander into the metro and either song really off key karaoke of songs from the 80's, highly talented rap artists who son about difficulties, accordion players who 9/10 times are gypsy and of course, simply, people who stand at the end of the metro and proclaim,
"Bonjour, j'ai perdu mon emploi la semaine dernière, j'ai 3 enfants, si vous avez de la monnaie ou tickets restos à partager..."
Such a phenomenon, the French humorist, Kyan Khojandi, made a clip about it... http://canalstreet.canalplus.fr/humour/bref/bref.-j-ai-pris-le-metro.-episode-du-24-01

Strollers and children:
They deserve their own category because I carry a dislike highly profound for these things. You are in the bus, stuck in your corner, door opens. Stroller. You are expected to move so the stroller can park. Of course then you must stretch around, fidget into place, get armpit thrown in your face...
Children can be worse or better depending on the parent. Some children like running frantically back an forth in the transport, some sit spike staring out windows.
Avoidance- avoid the metros and buses between 8:15-8:30 and 4:30-5:00.

Teenagers:
Less annoying than strollers, but almost incomprehensible- they speak a French that is so highly slammed with slang sometimes you get English words mixed in- "oh my god"- being the favorite. The worst teenagers tend to be those in couples- remember when hormones are raging, face sucking in public suddenly is no longer embarrassing. It's as though you don't exist.

Now there are multitudes of people who take public transportation, this being a simple "taster" of those people...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Advice: Eating on a Budget in Paris

I've sort of written a bit about this topic before... see I'm 25 years old, living in the center of Paris on a pretty restrictive budget, but I am also a huge gastronome and love eating as much as breathing.

For this I began to think about other students on a restrictive budget, those beginning their profesionnal careers or simply just those who would like to eat on the cheap.

Already in a previous post, I mentioned the website "La Fourchette": http://flipflopfrance.blogspot.fr/2012/03/advice-la-fourchette.html

Basically a reduction website in which you sign up, choose the restaurant and book in advance for often a percentage discount or a special dinner menu. There is no penalty for cancelling the reservation, no costs up-front and simply allows an easy way to go to nice restaurants at a reduced price.

Of course, there are other options... Every year, the Paris Region hosts a special event called, "Tous au Restaurant", or everyone in restaurants, which enables anyone living in the Paris area to go to restaurants of Michelin Star quality for the reduced price of "Buy one Get one Free": http://www.tousaurestaurant.com/fr/

However, this reduction and special event is only available for a limited time during the year, and unfortunately the 2012 season has passed... in preparation for 2013:

  • Book in advance (otherwise there are no spots available)
Other than this, there is always the fun option of eating at the cooking schools in Paris... normally only available during the weekdays (Monday-Friday) afternoons and evenings, however, one can score a 3-course meal for a measly 16€, a steal... if the chef is actually a good one: http://www.lesitemalin.com/loisirs/cuisine/ou-manger/restaurants-ecoles-hotelieres.htm

Otherwise, opt for the "Menu déjeuner" when possible, always try for the "menu" and not "à la carte", which often proposes a discount for taking the main dish and dessert.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

25 Years Old...

I never thought the day would come when I would look at myself in the mirror and realize that I was suddenly in the skin of a 25 year old. So many times I imagined what my life would be like when I was a little girl, I would live that kind of home, or own this kind of car. I would calculate the cost of living in my own apartment and draw out the perfect business that I undoubtedly would start up on my own.

One day specifically, swinging on the porch swing of my grandmother's house in Lousiana, I really went at it, planning pretty exclusively.

I am proud of the person I became, I've experienced quite a bit for the person I am today. I think the most proudest moment was just last mont when I completed my masters degree from a French university with honors. The teacher was so impressed with my theories and information she requested my presence to present to the local city government.

Now when people ask me what I'm doing in Paris I can smile, modestly and say "I got a masters degree and now I am working for an international accounting firm".

Yup. I got hired beginning of this month working as a public relations and general assistant to a well known accounting firm- although the entire office is French.

I can't honestly say I'm done experiencing, because I tend to get to a moment when I need to experience more and move. But for now I have a solid job in Paris and I consider myself very lucky.

Now I need to get back to my blogging. For awhile I was just depressed- working my heart out for an interns salary and being overwhelmed with Paris.

However, one needs to get out of Paris to realize how amazing she really is. Just this weekend I attended a 2 hour Krav Maga course (Israeli street fighting and self defense) and then spent the day at Disneyland Paris. Everything is within reach and there's a whole international experience just waiting for me.

Although I still do it with country playing on my MP3 player. There's something about twanging backwoods music and the Eiffel Tower.

I like to break the rules in that way.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Advice: Renewing the Student Visa (revisited from 2011)

I've been getting quite a few questions recently regarding the renewal process for a student visa; so first off, the important thing is to know which préfecture you must go to.  Each region has their own specific requests for the renewal, but the general information needed is:

What's needed:

  • Your passport.
  • Copies of the following pages in your passport:
    • Identification page (the 'passport' page)
    • The original visa
    • Stamp of entry into France from the last time you came in
    • Vignette d'OFII (the medical paper they gave you after your OFII appointment, or the actual certificate often glued into your passport)
  • Original Birth Certificate
  • Copy of Original Birth Certificate
  • Translation of Birth Certificate (done by a certified translator, I used a woman named Karen King in Northern France; scanned it, sent it, she translated it and then mailed it back for only 39 euros, as well as in the original post. It is normal that she requests you pay in advance)
  • Copy of Translated Birth Certificate
  • Proof of Housing:  The rent bill dated at least 3 months from the date of renewal and a original of the electricity or phone bill if possible.
  • Copy of Proof of Housing & Electricity bill
  • Certificate de Scolarité from the previous year's study- this comes from when you sign up at University, they give you this paper that on the back reads: Certificate de Scolarité.  Get one for each semester.
  • Copies of the certificat de scolarité
  • Grades from the previous semester (if grades are not released yet, use the FIRST semester)
  • Copies of Grades from previous semester
  • Proof of Ability to Take Care of Yourself; basically a Bank RIB copy (in France), Contrat de Travail (if you work), proof of WORK payments, or an attestation written by your parents stating they will pay for your studies- as well as their most recent bank statement.  At least 650€ per month.
  • COPY of all the above.
  • 3 Photos, taken from a photo booth or shop.  Ensure the background is off white, light gray- NOT WHITE- they will not accept WHITE.
  • The stamps that pay for the visa, called timbres fiscales available for purchase at any tabac.  The average student visa is 58€ in timbres, there is no longer a OMI or OFII stamp available since January 2012.

The Actual Process
Renewing a visa has a couple of different options to renew:
  1. Renew through the University (guichets and offices available on campus for some universities, you simply bring all paperwork and copies and deposit, for this bring a lettre recommandée in order to have the récépissé returned to your address)
  2. Renew through the prefecture (depending on the préfecture, in Lyon you have to get there at 6am in order to wait in line, in Paris you can take an appointment online)
Remember to really keep the récépissé they hand you in a safe place, it is the only proof you have of a legal stay in France.  The new titre de séjour will be ready within 6 - 8 weeks, unfortunately there is no indicator so you sort of need to try to pick it up at some point between that time.

Commonly asked questions

Does this mean you will have to renew your student visa every 3 months?
Once you receive a récipissé, which is a temporary visa, once you get the student titre de sejour it should last for one year, unless your in a special and complicated case where you aren't "inscribed" for school yet (happens in july).

For the renewal do we need to get the prefecture stamps again which can be bought online and in the tabac like I did on my first visa? 
Yes.  Every renewal needs these timbres or stamps, a student Visa is 58€ of stamps.

For the birth certificate, do you really need to have the original with you?
Yes. Absolutely. All original documents are needed, as well as their copies.

Do you mind giving the contact information of your translator Karen?
http://www.traductionassermentee.net/


Monday, June 25, 2012

What-what: Fête du Cinéma

Come one, come all, from the poorest students to the most bored executives… it’s now the time of the year for the Fête du Cinéma in France!

The 28th year in action, the Movie Festival takes place from Sunday, June 24th to Wednesday, June 27th ALL OVER FRANCE.

Basically:  With full-priced purchase on Sunday or Monday of film, a special bracelet is given to the movie-goer enabling the chance to see every following movie for the one-price of 2.50€ per movie per seat.  This means all those blockbuster movies you’ve been dying to see, but that ghastly price of 10.50€ are now at a reduced price at the simple presentation of a bracelet.

With over 70 million attendees since 1985, the Fête du Cinéma has enabled young individuals to enjoy screenings without breaking the bank… This is all thanks to support from BNP Paribas, who is offering a week extension to 200 000 lucky participants.

Thus, our film-planning for the week:

Sunday night: Men in Black 3
Monday night: Dark Shadows
Tuesday night: Prometheus
Wednesday night: De rouille et d’os

Useful links:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Bong: Not Exactly a Reference to Drug Paraphenlia

When I told some friends that I was going to go to Chez Bong's on Saturday evening they stared at me quizzically trying to pinpoint my secondary life as a drug abuser behind the façade of a hard-working intern.  I waved my hands around, no no no. Bong's.

The joy of moving to Paris was the undoubted capacity to find ethnic and cultural cuisine a few steps from my apartment.  While living in Lyon I was constantly disappointed- there was a fine selection of bouchons hanging around my little street on La Rue des Marronniers but nothing quite like the gastronomic warphole surrounding my time living in Portland.

The front of Bong
The story of Bong started last Saturday.  Bri and I decided to walk around our backstreets in an attempt to hustle up a new restaurant par hasard.  IT was turning the corner on Rue Blomet in the 15ème that a sudden fierce and meaty odor overcame our senses and we began to blindly walk towards a small decrepit restaurant with simple lettering: Bong.

Bong, as we came to discover, was a Korean eatery, specialising in a Korean meal known as Korean Barbeque.  Basically a sort of table top barbeque of a pungent marinated meat grilled by the customer and then eaten with a variety of sauces and fermented vegetables (namely the Kimchi).

We wanted in. Except, désolé, pas de place ce soir, proved that this place was a place you had to reserve in advance.

The next Saturday, 8:30 pm, we wandered in to a bright, smiling host, almost hugging us to enter into the establishment and feed us an incredibly decadent meal.

As the owner explained, Eat bite is a journey for your mouth, you take a little rice, a little meat, a little sauce.  If you like spicy, a sliced green hot pepper.  Wrap in the rice, eat, and continue.  We always have soup and a bowl of rice... but you do the work.  Please enjoy.


Bri grilled, as the "korean tradition" called for, I simply stuffed myself.  The meat has a sort of 'melt-in-your-mouth' quality... as if the marinade had literally allowed the meat to become so tender eating it required no chewing.  The marinade itself was pungent, sweet and yet carried that evervescent undertone of a slightly salty and nutty flavor.

Each condiment had it's own variety of flavors, that fermented bitter and spicy taste of a well-made Kimchi, large slices of green jalapeno peppers that burned the lips on contact, but was insatiable when eaten.  A spicy red sauce that although was hot on contact has this neverending flavor that only enhanced the flavor of the meat.  Even Bri, a Frenchman, sucked down each morsel rolled into a batvia leaf staring adoringly at the meat, proclaiming, "Where has this been all my life?"


If you've never tried Korean food, or if you are simply dying to find a good Korean place... I highly recommend Bong.  From the honest smile an owner can give (no extra charges for our second plate of Batvia) to the simply said, succulent marinated meat grilled in front of your very eyes- it's simply a culinary experience.


I don't think you will be able to turn around once you get within 1/2 mile of the restaurant... the smell will simply pull you in and for a few hours, somehow, you will no longer be in Paris but in a small crowded restaurant in Busan or Seoul.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Those Weird "8-Bit" Tags around Paris

So, I've disappeared again, granted I have good reason (Internship, stress.. etc).. The temperature in Paris has impossibly increased to the point I can almost see water dry up in a puff of heat when dropped... and of course the Metros have become almost impossible to bear in the heat. (Imagine a fat, sweaty man crunched into a small metro car and their arm somehow decides to cross over your head. Putrid.)

So this post is more about the discovery I have made recently, and while I wasn't posting during the last month, I was indeed discovering and imagining the different things I could share.

Which is how I found those odd 8-Bit block tags scattered around Paris.

Often in large cities we walk with our head hanging, staring at our feet and avoiding the things around us. We have iPods stuck in our ears, hands in our pockets and we simply want to transport ourselves to the direction we are heading.

Hence where I come in.

I tend to be a stroller, those types that look around and observe with an attentitive interest in all the details around me.  That odd looking fountain from the 16th century, the group of children playing in the grass, everything.

One day we were wandering around our neighborhood and after staring up at a building, I noticed this odd little mosaic in the form of an 8-bit creature plastered to the wall.

Then I started to collect them...

Near the 3ème Arrondissement, near a Brunch place 
Another one in the 3ème Arrondissement 
Found while wandering with my Finnish friend, it was plastered next to a fountain from the 17th century,  Fontaine Boucherat in the 3ème

Bri staring at the plastered piece near Métro Volontaires in the 15th

Down my street in the 15th, Rue LeCourbe

Rue Leon Delhomme, 15ème arrondissement

Rue de la Choiseuil 2ème arrondissement

Rue de la Verrerie, 4ème Arrondissement
More to come as I find them.. it's insane the things we find...

Anyone else have these?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

How to Sound French: The Film References

When I first moved to France, I was thrown blindly into a completely different pop culture.  I came from the culture where we quoted Jay & Silent bob (Not one French person I know gets it), Dude Where's My Car, references to flutes an inappropriate things along those lines.  Quotables are the basis of a good pop culture, and France, in her own glory, has her own quotes from films.

Mastering the quotes and watching the movies will assure that you will understand what someone means when, for example, you say something... you are contradicted, and then everyone in the room waves their right hand maniacally and shouts, "Cassséeeeeeee!!!!".

Here we go....

Bienvenue Chez les Ch'tis - Dany Boon
A film that simply details a French from the south who is forced by his job at the Post Office to relocate to the North of France, specifically, in the region of Nord-pas-de-Calais, considered to be our version of the "Backwoods" in France.

From the disgusting habit of eating a stinky cheese smothered on bread for breakfast, to the incomprehensible French dialect... the
main character Philippe Abrams (Kad Merad) eventually settles into the city and makes friends with Antoine Balleuil (Dany Boon).

Quoteables
-"C’est pas compliqué de parler le ch’timi. On ne dit pas : « pardonnez-moi je n’ai pas bien saisi le sens de votre question », on dit : « Hein ? »."
-"C'est le Nord!"




Dîner de Cons - Francis Veber


En gros a film about a high-rolling French man who gets his kicks with his buddies by inviting the stupidest person he meets to a weekly dinner.  Whoever brings the most idiotic guest wins... until one day an idiot comes that is not so much as idiot as he thinks... 


Some really quite funny scenes (better in original French with subtitles if French isn't your strong point), some involving adding vinegar to wine in order to trick a tax inspector, an obsession with match stick creations...


Quoteables
-"Il a une belle tête du vainqueur" - Reference used when they go hunting for the "idiots".


"-Il s'appelle Juste Leblanc.
-Ah bon, il n'a pas de prénom?
-Je viens de vous le dire Juste Leblanc... Votre prénom c'est François, c'est juste? Eh bien lui c'est pareil, c'est Juste."


Les Visiteurs - Jean-Marie Poiré


Typical time travel, misplaced group of knights put in the 20th century.  A re-make was done by Americans, Just Visiting, which follows about the same plot-line.


Quoteables
-"Je suis Godefroy Amaury De Malfète, comte de Montmirail, d’Apromont et de Papimcourt, fils d’Aldebert de Malfète et de Thibaude de Montfaucon... Je suis ton aieul."


-Et on lui pèlera le jonc comme au bailli du Limousin !
Qu’on a fendu un beau matin.
Qu’on a pendu ! Avec ses tripes !"




Brice de Nice - James Huth
Jean du Jardin has become a household name since the Oscar's glorification of The Artist, but before Du Jardin was a grand actor, he as a comedian.  From Un Gars et Une Fille to the movie Brice de Nice, he was never really that serious.


Brice de Nice, is just that, a 30 year old surfer from Nice named Brice who is constantly hunting the perfect "wave".  However, he doesn't really KNOW how to surf since he lives in Nice where the waves are totally calm.  Travelling around and finally ending up in a competition for surfing, there are endless, and really strange, references and jokes.


Casser
While there is not a specific quoteable, the most important concept is to understand "Cassée", literally, "broken".  Brice de Nice constantly is able to basically pull out French versions of yo mama jokes, and when he wins, he swings his right arm from shoulder to crotch, in a cutting fashion, proving that you, indeed, have been "broken".


French people tend to do this everywhere, if you are proved wrong, "T'es cassé", if you are saying really stupid things, "cassé", Political pundants having a debate and one says something totally off-handed, "CASSE".


Voilà, that's the start to French culture.. of course there are more to come.  American movies still are popular, but often under French names (ie: le sixième sens, le Projet Blair Witch, SOS Phantpmes (ghostbusters), etc)


a+

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Marché des Enfants Rouges

Thanks to a reference from a friend at my job- I found myself making the trek to the Filles du Calvaire metro stop for a Gastronomy adventure in Paris. Every large city has a public food market, Pikes place in Seattle, the Food Carts explosion in Portland... Paris was no exception as I soon discovered. Hidden off a decrepit street near the 3rd arrondissement in Paris, the marché is supposedly the oldest covered one in Paris if not the smallest. The best thing for a Saturday, we decided, to eat our way through the cultural goodness. Many stands are in the market, some selling the typical ingredients: fresh fruits, strong smelling fish, olive oils from the Southern regions. Not needing anything raw we opted to start our discovery with a farfella au poulet, or a sort of Morroccon stuffed pastry, a salted and yet sweet curried chicken meat stuffed into a soft pastry shell. As we snacked and shared we decided that Italian sounded promising as a decisive meal and we awaited our turn.

Already the Mangioitaliano had a load of great things on the menu- most of it variations of their home made pasta with a sauce. Bri ordered up an Osso Bucco with a home tagliatelle pasta, while I chose a simple pesto pasta. Sprinkling of fresh Parmesan and we were off... Amazingly a carafe of wine was very inexpensive at 9€ for 50cl- and we ate!

My pasta was an orecchiette, or those small eared pastas, tossed in what was most certainly a home made pesto, te tang and the red fruit wine quickly filled us as we munched down on the al dente homemade pasta.

There are other restaurants strewn about, Japanese, Marocaine, Sandwich Shop, African and some other little spots to takeaway.

A great Saturday to do, especially of museums are worn out and it's not quite nice enough for a Picnic in the Park. It's also nice to escape and eat around the works without even leaving Paris.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Morning Commute in Paris

Not necessarily the most fabulous nor glorious thing about living in the largest French metropolitan city, but something that- nonetheless- is inevitable. There's something oddly satisfying in the daily commute, either the bobbing mountains of heads, the endless relay of métro to bus to métro... the overwhelming whifts of human body odor, perfumes of every scent.

Mine is never dull, although most who come from large cities would disagree- I'm just not yet used to the hundreds of people trickling in and out of the public transportation; a sort of light hum and shuffle of the feet.  My morning commute starts with the 2 minute walk to my bus stop.

Some people aren't so lucky.. but I take a few steps from my small Parisien studio and start off on bus 39 direction Gare de Paris. Everyone stands idly about waiting for the bus, either it's a rainy morning and we are all huddling uncomfortably under the small glass cover, or it's a sunny day and those who smoke are flicking ashes and butts into the street.

Shuffle shuffle shuffle. Beep.


On the bus.  If I'm lucky I get a seat next to the window, if I'm sort of lucky I get to lean against the glass window and if I'm unlucky then I simply get a pole to grip on as the bus comes to startling halts and gos.

Step off at Duroc, head to the Métro.  From this point we are all somewhat awake, but still heading towards the metro as if we are on autodrive- you know- those times that you are in your car and you are suddenly home with no recollection of how you got there?

In the metro, usually some odd smell and body heat... they are not air-conditioned in France so normally we are all pressed against the doors, hoping for the fresh air to pass through the high windows.  The worst are the rush hours, people stuff into the cars impossibly fitting in until there is barely enough room to grip a bar or move.

Shuffle shuffle shuffle.


Leaving the metro with another group of individuals, mixed smells of shampoos, colognes, perfumes... we are all walking in sync heading down Boulevards, Rues..

I guess the morning commute is not Parisien, nor Lyonnais... nor New Yorkan or Portland(ish).  It's simply the fact of living in another large metropolitan city.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Advice: La Fourchette

This weekend was the best weekend of 2012- starting with a crêpe dinner and ending with a crispy chicken in a park next door.

However, I realized, talking to several close friends, many people don't even know what "La Fourchette" is, especially not tourists or newcomers to Paris.

La Fourchette (http://www.lafourchette.com) is a website that basically offers the function to reserve a table online, look at their menu/pricing and the best part- get a huge discount on a normally overpriced meal.  From either the website or the iPhone application, reserving a table is super simple and the service is really quite unique.  I've used the service about 5 times now in Paris.. and they were pretty fantastic restaurants.

This weekend I used it twice, once on Friday evening at a crêperie, basically a 15€ menu with aperitif, salty crêpe, sweet crêpe and the typically French 'cidre'.

Afterwards, Saturday night was the best deal- we decided to eat at a much fancier restaurant, just to have a little break from the cheap stuff, and so I was in charge of hunting around la Fourchette.

What I stumbled across was "La Millésimes" near the Montparnasse tower, an amazingly chic restaurant bustling with foreign and local individuals.

Normal menu averaged about 30€, we got the full entrée-plat-dessert deal for only 24€ and was the meal amazing.  Starting with a delicately wrapped goat cheese with garden salad,

My polenta and fish..
a polenta base with sautéed rougets filets,

and ending with the best lava cake I've ever eaten in my life... topped with a pistachio ice cream fait maison.


La Fourchette not only facilitates booking restaurants, it allows you to cancel, review the restaurant, search by type of food, read previous reviews, look at photos- an amazing service that didn't, unfortunately, exist in Lyon.  Paris has hundreds if not thousands of restaurants that are signed up for La Fourchette, and unlike Groupon, the patrons and servers respect the clients from La Fourchette.  I've never had a side look or a hesitation when I've booked through them, always treated with patience and care.

If you plan to move to Paris, already live in Paris, want to visit Paris- try La Fourchette to book your dinners and I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

a+

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Real Tapas in Paris

Last weekend we were craving tapas, the sort that we remembered in Barcelona.. one day we were on vacation down south and went to a very local Tapas Joint in a small quarter of the city.  One bottle of cava rosa, fried chorizo, fresh seafood, bocadillos smeared with a garlic and tomato spread, stuffed to the hilt with fresh Pork charcuterie.. That's what we were looking for.

We figured since Paris is so international there would have to be a tapas bar of quality in the area, and we were not wrong.

It happened on a sunny day, strolling around the 8th arrondissment and we spotted the tiny joint, covered by a plastic sheet, not too fancy but idealistic.  El Cerventes was our going to spot and we called to make a reservation, already the home-style type, there is no fixed line.  Cell phone direct, he said, "No way. We are booked up." Ah.

So to avoid the same problem we called on Wednesday to book for Saturday, and same thing, booked, at least 2 weeks in advance.. but come to the 2nd service and we'll find you a spot.

We arrived in the Paris rain, waiting just outside their plastic covered entrance.  10 minutes.

The best was walking in, the place could only seat maybe 30 people at most, and we were tucked away in the corner and began snapping off orders.

Chorizos Fritos
Pulpa Salada
Tortilla Patatas
Queso
Pan


Our two other friends ordered a main dish, a salmon and a large steak.  Large is an understatement, it was massive.  The salmon that perfect under cooked texture, moist and incredibly flavorful.

We ate and ate, it was amazing.  The flavors were authentic, so spicy and yet well balanced. The queso manchego was exactly how I remember, that slight picanto taste, washed down with a sangria.

The best was the prices, four people ate at a price of only 56€ total.. and when I say ate, we were full and practically rolling back home.

So, if you want some authenticity and a little Espagnol escape, try:

El Cervantes
46 Rue Daubenton 75005
http://fr.nomao.com/2104005.html

But remember, call 2 weeks in advance... AND they do not accept cards, so pull out cash or get your check book ready.

Viva l'Espagna!

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Little Things...

Recently I was just about to cross the street, it was around 9pm in the evening and Bri and I had ordered Chinese takeout.  We stepped onto the street and noticed something very odd, the guy in front of us had whipped out his zizi and was taking a whizz, in plain public, on the crosswalk.

Now, I've seem some oddities in my life abroad, but this is probably a moment that took the cake.  To have the balls (excuse the pun) to pee in public, and I mean, show the wares to everyone and everything...

It got me thinking... There have been many moments that I've said, that would never happen in the states. And thus, this blog is going to be dedicated to those little things that are just cultural.

Homeless Dudes and Cheap Wine
I remember back in the states, many of the Homeless people had cans of cheap PBR or even whisky or vodka.  In France, these homeless, while 10x stinkier than in the states, are also a bit classier.  I happen to observe the homeless around the city, instead of avoiding, and most of them tend to have a bottle of wine in their hands.  How very French for the homeless people to get exceedingly drunk on a bottle of wine.  Of course, glasses are not needed.

Teaching Kids to Pee on Walls
I actually wrote this down in my journal once, scribbled quickly as if I was shocked.  Due to a lack of public, clean toilets, many people end up peeing in public (although rarely in cross-walks), and thus arrives the "teaching your child to pee in front of everyone on this very public wall" moment.  The kid was maybe, 5 years old, mom huddled over showing him how to do his business.

The Soft Porn of Cheese
I watch a lot of French television, it tends to help me keep up my comprehension, plus dating a Senator's assistant means lots and lots of political news pundits.  I always prepare myself mentally when the commercials come on, notably the cheese commercials.  They always start the same, soft beating music lulling and enticing the audience to watch what's happening... suddently a hand reaches over to a cheese, Roquefort, Caprice de Dieu, St. Agur, slices a piece off and takes a bite.  The minute the presumabely French person bites into the cheese, suddenly they are transported to a paradise... rain falls, and it seems as though they love it so much they could marry it.  If you don't believe me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YEmgb7ZCWE

Seriously, he grips the wood as though eating St. Agur provides such an immense pleasure... total soft porn.

I think I could make a whole separate post on just marketing strategies in France.

Get In Line at 6pm For Baguettes
Without fail, I receive a text every night before I leave work from Bri, "Do we hav bread?" because he knows I forget.  So as I haul my bag of work home, I end up in like at 6:20pm with all the other French after-work crowd.  As addictive as cigarettes, the baguettes is an absolute requirement in order to eat any French meal.  So there is always an insane line of at least 10 people, each one ordering the same or a variation,

Une baguette s'il vous plaît,
Une banette s'il vous plaît....


The line seems enormous, but it passes quickly and we all retreat home with a long and crispy baguette under our arms.

My Dog Poops EVERWHERE
I notice it more in Paris than I did in Lyon, but people let their dogs squat anywhere and let it loose, thus resulting in a sort of Indiana Jones commute to work.  I feel like I'm avoiding piles of the stuff every day, luckily I always was the type to watch my feet... so mess avoided! I have yet to step in a pile of crap (knock on wood).

More to come...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Advice: Buying Groceries Online

Alright, so we are not all novice-internet users, so I imagine you've already heard of the fabulous services proposed everywhere around Paris.  "Retirer vos courses!, Achetez en avance!"

I never saw so many proposed services in Lyon and so I immediately decided to try a nifty service offered by Monoprix, a large grocery chain in France, which enables you to purchase online and then pick-up in the store.

I decided to avoid the surcharge and costs associated with delivery and opt for the retrait courses service offered for FREE from 30€ worth of groceries.

So basically it all starts from their website: http://courses.monoprix.fr/ where you create a user login and pick the magasin de retrait close to your area.  Since I'm near Cambronne in the 15th, I was lucky to get one 1/2 mile from my home.

Most all the products I use are on the site, conveniently located down the e-aisles, much like any online service.  I created a list and just starting saving away, quickly adding up all the groceries and compiling 35€ worth of food to pick up on a Tuesday night after work.

Next, you pay, just like any service a little area to pop in a debit card, and *poof* there is even an option to replace any item unavailable with the next best thing, which I chose not too.

Two days later you show up in the store, head to the "retrait courses" telephone box and press the button.  Name, order number, and while you watch the painstakingly long line in the evening hours, the groceries show up within 10 minutes ready to be taken away.  Sign on the dotted line, head home within 10 minutes.

The benefits are obvious, but to list a few:

  • Weekends not being spent hauling groceries and waltzing around the store
  • Extra "chocolate" doesn't suddenly get bought
  • More points are available on online products, so I've been able to get 5€ off on groceries after a few purchases
  • Easy to keep track of consumption times (to know when to order things)
I believe many of the other grocery stores offer the same type of service, but it depends on the area you are located. 

I still recommend Boucheries for meat products, simply for the quality.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cupcakes in Paris: What a Fad

Fad or fade in French (same pronunciation). Actually that word means boring in French, but the word in French that typically fits into our American concept would be la mode or une tendance.  So what is up with all this tendance around the word cupcake?

Recently I was watching a reportage on M6 discussing the explosion of American bakeries around Paris.  I decided to do a bit of investigation and try to list out some of these cupcake houses by arrondisement, but then got carried into a whole new domain.

le cupcake
According to the French a cupcake is:

  • A masculine noun (meaning starts with "le" or "un")
  • Une tendance du moment (the current fad)
  • Comes from any Anglo-Saxon country, but usually America
  • Called "Fairy Cakes" in Britain (who knew?)
  • Called "cup cakes" due to the fact we use a "cup measure" to make them and they are the size of a tasse
  • Popular for tea parties, weddings, birthdays, baptisms and birthdays
  • An art in pastry-making that allows for ANY kind of cupcake and flavor (toujours sucré)
According to Americans, a cupcake is:
  • Traced back to 1796
  • Small individual cakes designed for one person
  • Becoming more a trend as years go on
Now, I am used to the whole cupcake frenzy, when I was working at the Children's Museum in Portland we had lots of fancy fundraising events, the start was usually Cupcake Jones, a luxury cupcakery that sells 12 of little mini fancy cakes at 16.50$ a pop.

That whole upscale pricing has caught onto the explosion of Cupcake shops in Paris.  It's become such a fad that Parisiens are even dishing out piles of cash for the tools and classes.

Fait Maison, les Kits Cupcakes
For example, Made in Cupcake offers cupcake making kits at a price of 13€.  Some searches can show kits selling at even higher prices, such as the Sibo Sibon kits selling at 27€ for the cupcake papers, coloring kit and some sprinkles... things I used to buy at the dollar store in the States.
Kit Cupcake, 27€ Sibo Sibon
The most shocking seems to be the ateliers created by pastry makers in Paris to teach the common house wife, girlfriend, loving boyfriend or die-hard Ameriphile how to create little masterful cupcakes.  L'Atelier des Gateâux charges about 45€ for a cupcake making course, and in the end you can take home a little box of your masterful creations... about 7 cupcakes designed and made by yourself.

Thanksgiving Store: Chocolate Kit, 5€
Gone are the days when I bought a box of quick-mix, threw in some veggie oil, water and eggs and scooped the mixture into mini cake pans.. this is a whole new level of fancy that I never even knew existed.  

Some of my favorite flavors I've discovered (from Scarlett's Bakery):
  • Tiramisu: Coffee flavored, cream cheese topping
  • Pistache: Pistachio flavored, cream cheese topping
  • Citron Meringué: Vanilla bean base, meringue topping
  • Red Velvet:  Red velvet cake base, cream cheese frosting
Now onto some addresses:

23 Rue Rambuteau, 75004 Paris
Established in 1988, several great reviews

Synie's Cupcakes
23 Rue de l'Abbé Grégoire, 75006 Paris
Open Tuesday to Saturday 11am to 8pm

Cupcakes and co
16 Rue des Tournelles, 75004 Paris
3,50€ a cupcake, open Tuesday to Sunday 11am to 7pm

Miss Cupcake
22 rue la Vieuville, 75018 Paris
4€ a cupcake, considered pretty expensive and reviews not too hot

L'Atelier des Gâteaux
23 Rue de l'Abbé Grégoire, 75006 Paris
Open odd hours, 2:30 to 6:30pm Thursday through Saturday, 3,50€ a cupcake

154 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris
Open every day 11:30 to 8:30pm

Sugarplum Cake Shop
68 Rue du Cardinal Lemoine, 75005 Paris
Great American café feel, unlimited drip coffee and CARROT CAKE

Can you think of any others...?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Everyone's Sick in Paris: la Pharmacie et le Medecin

It started about three weeks ago, I was still packing up from Lyon to move to Paris and I felt I had an uncomfortable fever, slight cough and a stuffy nose.

Fast forward three weeks later and I'm now getting over one of the most annoying colds that I've ever had.  It was about a week and a half ago that I started coughing, it was a raspy and productive cough.

See but Sasha from two years ago wouldn't have known how to handle such a situation.  In the States I'd be zipping down to the local Kaiser clinic and getting a 10 dollar check-up.  In France, there are normally a few ways to handle it, but the first is always a visit to the Pharmacy.. which is exactly what I decided to do on Monday evening after I was coughing so hard during a business meeting I thought okay, this is just ridiculous.


Pharmacy Signs from here
Pharmacies in France can be found in every farm, city, village and large tourist areas.  You can tell from about  a mile away, there is often a neon green cross symbol floating above a shop that states, clearly, Pharmacie.  Of course, it should be noted that even though there are Pharmacies on every street corner, not every Pharmacie has the same pricing.  In fact, each one is owned and managed by a different pharmaciste, and some like to hike prices upwards of 120% of average price.

Some medications are completely regulated by the French government, disallowing the practice, called les medicaments génériques or generic drugs.  Often a drug has a générique counterpart which reduces the cost by quite a bit.

Take for example birth control, while there are the various methods, la pillule rests the most common form.  For a price of 5€ a box (3 month supply) and 60% reimboursable if prescribed by a doctor, that's an average of .60 cents a month for protection!

So when getting sick, the norm is to pass by the Pharmacie before going to a medécin.  On Monday I swung by my local pharmacy (243 rue vaugirard 75015), and explained my symptoms.

Me: Bonjour messieur.
Pharmacist: Bonjour madamoiselle (still not sure when I will hit the "madame" status, but that's for a whole nother post)
Me: Je voudrais savoir si vous auriez quelques choses pour une toux grasse, et un nez tout bouché.
Pharmacist: Bien sûr, (he goes and shuffles around pulling various pills and bottles) ceci est très efficace, prennez 3 fois par jour.


6€ later and I had a small bag full of medicine.  Just for future reference, "un toux grasse" means basically a cough that's productive, and a "un nez tout bouché" means a stuffy nose.

Now if it gets worse, the best option is to hit up a medecin generaliste by looking up a local name.  My personal doctor is M. Missonnier at 81 bis Rue Blomet 75015, totally a great doctor... in fact now he's my medecin traitant.

Doesn't matter which one you choose really.  Each time you go to the doctor, if you don't have a Carte Vitale (which often exchange students don't) it's important to ask for a feuille de soins, basically a sheet that will enable you to receive a reimboursement.  Same for the prescribed medication, at the pharmacy as for a feuille de soins and they'll type up the price.  Send this in to your chosen insurance and presto! A check for a percentage.

The doctor can also give a certificat médicale if you are sick, allowing for days off from work or school with no penalties, and often with pay.

If you want the doctor you visited to be your main doctor, ask for a feuille de medecin traitant and then send into your chosen insurance or mutuel.

All-in-all la bronchite, le rhume and all these lovely sicknesses are prevalent in the large cities in Paris.  Sort of normal considering the recent the sudden drop of temperatures from the last few weeks and the lack of local hygene (métros).  If you live in Lyon or in Paris, remember to:

  1. Wash or disinfect your hands after every metro ride
  2. Don't wander out in the cold if you're already a bit sick
  3. If you are sick, don't go out and spread it around
And of course, some fun and useful sick terms:
  • Je tousse (I am coughing)
  • Je suis malade (I am sick)
  • C'est contagieux (it's contagious)
  • Une allergie (an allergy)
  • Je dois moucher (I need to blow my nose)
  • Un mouchoir (a tissue, usually a Kleenex)
  • J'ai de la fièvre (I have a fever)
  • J'ai une mal à la tête (I have a head-ache)
    • au ventre (stomache-ache)
    • à la gorge (sore throat)
    • aux yeux (sore eyes)
    • au nez (hurting nose)
    • etc
Soignez-vous and try not to catch the epidemie de maladie in Paris!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Life as a Stagiaire in Paris

So since I've finished the first part of my Master's degree (all the courses part) it has now begun the official "stage" part, or internship for Anglophones.

Being a Stagiaire in France is much like being an intern in America- long hours, low pay, brain and back breaking work... except I have been lucky enough to be accepted for an Intern at the AmCham.  Even though the pay is still the minimum required by France (436,05€ a month), I have the possibility to meet and network for my job hunt coming up in October of this year.

So what's it like?  Well I'm sure every internship is different, according to the sector, mine is a development and membership focused internship.  Basically I have to meet important people, do some member retention, fundraising challenges.. every day is a little different but always interested and down my path.

Of course, being a Stagiaire I am on the "stagiaire diet", meaning because I can pretty much only afford my rent and groceries, eating out is not an option nor a luxury.. so I end up eating:

My poor intern lunch, 1,50€
Which is all right, I normally am so busy leaving for an hour to eat at a fancy place wouldn't be really possible.

Stage Culture
Because Universités in France are so intense, most students don't end up working during school sessions.  In the States I pulled a full-time job in order to pay for rent and food, but in France it's impossible.  Believe me, I tried, last year when I started the program I was working 20 hours a week, it was impossible.  School is about studying, intensive and repetitive classes, unclear professors... because the culture is not one that provides "books", the information is pulled from going to the classes themselves.

Thus, students tend to pick up summer jobs to get some pocket money- and then in their 4th and 5th year rely on internships to get professional experience.  That is a big problem as well, since most jobs after University have a paradox (you need experience to work, but you need to work for experience), so many French graduates work a few years in terrible positions in order to build the experience.

"Ouais, je n'y resterai pas, j'y quitterai dans quelques années après je ramasse suffisamment d'éxperience..."

Now for those of you who aren't from the expensive schools that will hold your hand and find you an internship, here are some sources of internships, I'm not sure how it works overseas, but through a French université it is required to be paid if it's more than 3 months.  Also, internship cannot be a direct copy of a salaried position (meaning interns can't be receptionists).

Here are some sources:
http://www.directetudiant.com/theme/stage - Stage source, in French
http://www.stage.fr/page/accueil.aspx - Stage offers, in French
http://www.frenchamericancenter.com/english/internship.asp - American Internship resource, in English

One Last Thing...
Even though I hear about a lot of Americans hopping planes and installing themselves in Paris because they believe that it's so "international" French isn't obligatory.. it is.  Every position you will be in will expect a level of French.  I've seen many American wives (usually the ones that end up dragged over) stuck because they can't find work.  Some of them don't need work, their husbands tend to make enough, but they feel useless.  (Like Julia Child says, "All these wives, they do NOTHING here, it's terrible") So if you find yourself in this position, enroll IMMEDIATELY in French classes.  Learn the language or else your career won't advance.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

81 Rue de Loo

Alright, I am getting way behind on my blogging... so much for my New Year's Resolution!  I think I'll just have to spend my free Friday's prepping up some hot stuff to discuss... especially since my recent move to Pah-ree!

So, as a super die-hard, probably born in the wrong time period FAN of Julia Child, I was just ravie to have #1 on my "To Do in Pah-ree" list "Visit Julia Child's 81 Rue de Loo Apartment Building".

Well, because my hours are usually between 9am to 6pm Mon-Thurs, and Bri isn't free until 7pm on Fridays; that leaves us the weekends to run errands, visit, enjoy a bit and discover Pah-ree.

Thus the reason we found ourselves at a little Café in the 8ème plotting our mission to see the infamous 81 rue de Loo.

First off, Pah-ree is amazing.  I keep finding these incredible little pockets of America and cultures popping up all over different areas of the city.  I have discovered that the 8th Arrondissement is sort of evolving into an American sub-culture.

Take for example the whole onset of Cupcakes in Paris; I remember cupcakes were big when I left the States- all the big fund raising events would have the classy Cupcake Jones; and now Paris has caught the drift.  A search for these American delights leads us to many American cafés located, none other than, the 8ème.

Which is how we found ourselves in the Sugar Plum Café, located at 68 rue Cardinal Lemoine.. yup... 8ème.
My horribly shot photo of the barista at Sugar Plum Café
As soon as we entered the shop my ears were buzzing... something wasn't right.. everyone was speaking in.. ENGLISH!  All the menu- English!  All the people spattered about- English!  Amazing experience that I hadn't had in over a year and a half.. so of course I did the first thing I could think of.  I ordered a slice of good ol' American style Carrot Cake.

Cake 4€, bottomless crap coffee 2€
And did I chow down?  I forgot how much I loved carrot cake until I was downing fork after forkful of the stuff.  Bri ordered some weird chocolate thing.. was a bit dry- but his Valrhona Hot Chocolate? To die for.

After I was all fattened up and American-ed out, I decided it was time to go see Mrs. Child.  A quick métro ride later we found ourselves in the Métro leading up to Julia's street.. I imagined her taking the métro everywhere.. she had walked where I was walking. Her and Paul had strolled where WE were strolling.
Métro Roo de Loo
I was almost beside myself with excitement!

As we climbed up onto the street I started feeling like I did when I visited her exhibit in the Smithsonian, excitement... sadness (wishing she was still around and that she'd wanna meet me.  She'd like me, I'm no Julie Powell!)
On the corner, why was it TAGGED?
And then, of course, I got to my destination.  Ladies, gentlemen, die-hard fans of Julia Child, I present to you 81 Rue de Loo, her residence during 10 years when she begun The Book in France:

81 Rue de Loo
It was amazing.

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Life in the 15th

The last day in any city tends to be a bittersweet experience.  I'm no stranger to saying good bye as I've lived in several different cities.  I lived in Forks until I was 14 years old, packed bags and moved to Portland, moved all around the city and then jet-setted at 23 to France.

Before Bri + I were a couple, we were just party-buddies in Portland
I was looking through photos and realized that in the 3 years Bri and I have been together we've visted a pretty decent list of place, always with a smile and a back-pack.
One of our backpacking trips
  • 2009
    • Roadtrip from Portland to New York
    • New Orleans, LA
    • Savannah, GA
    • Washington DC
    • Maryland
    • New York
    • Lyon (first time)
  • 2010
    • MOVE to Lyon
    • Venice
    • Paris
    • Barcelona
  • 2011
    • MOVE to Paris
Today is our third year anniversary, and now we start a new life once again in a new city.  We're going to Le Lutin dans le Jardin, a restaurant that has a fabulous discount through 'La Fourchette' (21€ instead of 42€).
This is about 1 year after we got together


View from down our street
Our new life means a new apartment of course, and one that is about 35m2 (half that of the last apartment in Lyon) and 1100€ a month.  Ridiculously expensive. Our apartment is in the 15th in Paris, a quiet neighborhood outside of the bustle of life, towards the south end of the city..

Suprisingly, despite the 30 minute crowded metro rides, I feel suprisingly calm in this city.  It is very similar to life in Lyon, but much much larger.  I was warned before moving about the gens impolis but so far I've only came across kind and gentle people.

I was asked 3 times if I needed help dragging my giant suitcase up the metro steps (including a woman!), I was caught by a nice businessman when I was about to fall over trying to elbow out of my metro stop.

Actually so far, Parisiens are quite pleasant outside of rush-hour.  During rush-hours (9am-10am, 12pm-1pm and after 5pm) they tend to be pushy, but you kinda have to be in order to get INTO the metro.

In the area I live I am 5 minutes away from buses, a step away from a boulangerie, boucheries (3 of them), fruit stands, grocery stores, 2 métro lines... in fact I am even better situated than my first apartment in the center of Lyon.

The air feels much drier in Paris, and my contacts feel polluted after half a day wandering around.  I carry hand sanitizer for after my metro rides, and wash my face as soon as I get home.

There are differences, but they are differences that I can share with my blog, things to discover, things to report about.

So, I'm off for a "Gastronomique Expérience" and get ready for some experiences!

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Monday, January 30, 2012

My Night in China

I can count the days on my fingers before I train it to Paris, and it is passing by quickly.  As Bri isn't here, I'm been busying myself with packing suitcases for Paris (we're doing a move via TGV, more to come later), eating with girlfriends and partying.

Partying?

Let me rephrase that, utterly destroying my French Master's friends with bottles upon bottles of alcohol.

How much alcohol?

About this much.. for those who need a count, that's about 8 bottles of wine, plus a boxed wine (3 bottles), two full bottles of liquer, an 1/8 of a bottle of Absinthe... plus later into cleaning I uncovered 4 more bottles of wine.

Roughly, 11,25 liters of 12% alcohol, and about 2 liters of hard alcohol.  For about 16 people... so.. a lot.

This was the end to a very long week, one event at the Chamber of Commerce in Paris, one morning of terrible illness and then a train at 6am the next day.

All in all I was thrilled when my good Chinese friend, Qingyun, invited me for a free Chinese dinner at some of her close friends.  
The minute we walked into the restaurant, I could see it was clean and family oriented.  Bisous passed around, Qingyun began rapid fire Mandarin with the chef and then her herself pointed to a giant bucket of dinosaur-looking body parts.


"We are going to eat chicken feet tonight!" I smiled, I wasn't shocked, this is exactly what I wanted to eat. I had heard about for years from my Sister, and I was thrilled to eat with the family and be a part of the experience.

The chef's jacket was a little too large.
The kitchen was covered with the dense smells of spices, I noted around me, ginger, garlic, star anise, cinnamon, salt, pepper, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, soy sauce...  The chef expertly used his giant spoon to eyeball out the quantities and toss into his wok that he tossed around as though it weighed nothing.  A giant chef's knife laid on the chopping board, which he's used to chop the toes off the chicken feet, mince up the vegetables.

I watched with intrigue as I realized this dinner wasn't a little dinner, they had made about 5 different dishes.  2 dishes were crab based, one short ribs, one chicken feet, another with mussels, fresh baby peas.  Qingyun jumped on the wok and began doing the same, I sat back afraid to touch anything, but observing nonetheless.



"You like spicy?" She smiled at me, "Most white people don't like too spicy, the French like sweet or bland..." I nodded, of course I loved spicy.  I used to eat jalapenos on my eggs for breakfast!

Finally the meal was coming together, the chef adding the finishing touches, a dash of salt, a ladle full of sauce:
Adding the sauce
Presenting the Crab Dish
I sat at the table, set before me a completely luxurous meal...
Two types of crab, (the mussels and feet came after)
I ate SO MUCH!
So.

Story is, if you wanna have some good Chinese, for not too expensive either A. Find a Chinese friend, or B. Go to Seng Heng in Lyon 3ème: http://www.webcity.fr/seng-heng-lyon/lieu

The owners are incredibly nice, patient and even though they've tried to branch out to Japanese specialities, try to ask for the typical Chinese dishes; dumplings.. Very high quality, clean kitchen and gentille staff.

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