Why this blog?

To understand why this blog was created and where it got its name, start here

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Moving day

Yay! The sun came out and the weather was beautiful today.

However, we didn't really get to enjoy the outdoors because we had a busy day with my final move from the 15th arrondissement to the 12th arrondissement.

The move came about fairly suddenly when I received a call from the owners of my apartment, René and Sophie. They have found a new tenant who wants to move into the apartment on the first of September. My lease originally extended to the first of October - but as both René and Sophie and Patrice and I are leaving town this week - I needed to vacate the apartment sooner than anticipated - but I saved a month's rent by doing so.

So that does it. I no longer have an apartment in the 15th, and I am officially living with Patrice in the 12th. And we're very happy.

Friday, July 29, 2011

July in Paris

Brrr. Paris has been cold and rainy most of the month of July. So while many of you have been sweating through heat waves in the U.S.; we've been wearing coats and raingear during most of the month. The average high temperature has been in the low 70s (or ~21 degrees C).

I'm looking forward to our trip to sunny Colorado. We'll leave Paris next Saturday, August 6th, and we'll spend six weeks visiting the western U.S. Patrice will meet my family and friends - and maybe we'll put away our umbrellas for awhile.

p.s. Photo credit goes to Eric Tenin and his blog Paris Daily Photo.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


"Bricolage" refers to home projects or "do it yourself". Patrice is great at this. We've been preparing for my permanent move by rearranging closets and creating more space for my stuff. This week we built shelves downstairs in the cellar. The walls are concrete, but that doesn't faze Patrice who has a tool for every task.

He's very adept at all sorts of tasks, but I held my breath as he tapped into live wires in the switch box while standing on top of a ladder. He seemed to know what he was doing, though, and the job was finished in a flash. We have a great partnership when it comes to household tasks; we share the work, the decisions, and the cost of our joint projects

(OK, maybe I didn't drill all the holes? ;-)

Oh, by the way, did I mention that we also share the cooking??

Tour de France

I didn't see the finish of the Tour de France this year, but I couldn't resist stealing this photo of the race that appeared on French TV.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Paris Tour Guide (part 2)

Of course, no visit to Paris is complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower. It is especially beautiful at night.

And if you happen to be nearby, you'll see that it sparkles every hour on the hour for five minutes.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Paris Tour Guide

I love showing friends around MY Paris. Marty, a good friend of Philippe and Rachel's, was in Paris this week. I was pleased to lend him my apartment and to spend a few hours walking around Paris, telling stories.

I met Marty at Au Sauvignon, my favorite wine bar near St. Germain, and from there we walked east towards St. Michel and the Latin Quarter. Then, across the Seine to Notre Dame followed by a beer on the Ile St. Louis.

We crossed the Seine again and checked out the Paris Plages (beaches). Each summer, the city of Paris closes off the street along the Seine and brings in tons of sand and creates a summer getaway for those who can't leave Paris. I wrote about this last year.

Here are a couple of photographs from this year's event . .

Amateur sand castle

Professional sand castle!

This couple didn't want their picture taken

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


July 19th was the three month anniversary of the day that Patrice and I met. Three months. Is that all? It feels like we've known each other forever. A huge surprise to us both. And probably to many of you, too.

We have been living together since the middle of May. We have decided for many reasons to live in Patrice's apartment on the east side of Paris: 1. He is the owner rather than renter, 2. There is more usable space, and 3. The monthly charges are half what I was paying before. I have given my notice to René and Sophie, and will be officially giving up my apartment at the end of September.

We observed the anniversary by going back to the scene of our first meeting and drinking another Kwak to celebrate.

Here's what Patrice had to say on the occasion of our anniversary:

"Three months! It’s at the same time a long and a short period.
Three months of happiness!
I wonder how many people haven’t known even a single day of happiness ?
And, you know, it’s only beginning. . .
I can never thank Christopher Columbus enough for having discovered the New World. It’s really a New World for me and, I hope, for Elaine too.
We are on our way for the next twenty years, at least."

Friday, July 15, 2011

14 Juillet

Thursday was France's national holiday - the equivalent of our 4th of July. The day is always marked with a military parade on the Champs Elysees. We didn't make it to the parade, but awoke to the sound of the jets streaking overhead.

Later we went to the nearby Place de la Nation to check out the tanks and other vehicles on display for the public.

You can see that kids like to climb all over over these things. .

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Atlantic Coast

We didn't spend all of our time in the oyster beds of Arcachon - we also visited the coastal town of Cap Ferret. On the way, we stopped and dipped our toes in the ocean. I forgot my swimming suit that day - and besides, the water is pretty cold - about 64 degrees F.

On the way back, we stopped by a little restaurant where the special of the day was paella. Yumm.

We also climbed up a lookout point with a narrow winding staircase.

The view from above was exquisite. But maybe we weren't paying attention?

By the way, do you notice anything significant in this photo?

I've started wearing skirts . . . occasionally . . . . uh oh. What next?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Oyster beds

Last August I visited the oyster beds of Arcachon with Francis and Frédéric Dubourg. You can read those posts here. and here.

Last week Patrice and I returned to the Arcachon oyster beds and we were lucky to spend two more days on the boat with Frédéric as he further explained the intricacies of oyster farming.

You will recall that oysters lay millions of microscopic eggs once the water reaches a temperature of ~23 degrees C. The larvae then spend about two weeks swimming freely - at the end of which time they must attach to a surface in order to grow a shell. Last summer, Frederic distributed 1800 tiles in an area protected from winter storms - hoping to return this year to find that the oysters have attached and grown to the size of a quarter. A few days ago, he recovered a few hundred tiles, and scraped off the layer with the year-old oysters. Here's what they look like now.

Next step: distribute the baby oysters into a different area where they will grow for another year.

It's a labor intensive process. The oysters grow more quickly when they grow directly on the sea bed, but they must have plenty of space, plenty of oxygen, and plenty of food. Frederic does this by raking the soil, but with primitive machines such as this,

and the old fashioned way like this:

Furthermore, Frederic alternates the oysters between different beds - much the same way that a farmer will rotate crops - in order to find the perfect growing conditions for his free range oysters. The Dubourg family is the last of the oyster growers raising oysters directly on the sea bed. It's a labor of love, and the oysters honestly taste fresher having spent their lives submerged in the waters of the Arcachon basin rather than being bunched together in bags which are out of the water for longer periods of time.

Frederic works almost entirely alone in the oyster beds - doing the back breaking work of seeding, spreading, sorting, raking, tending, repairing, gathering, sorting, bundling, and shipping the precious cargo directly to the Cabane a Huitres in Paris. That's where Francis takes over - greeting and serving the customers, sometimes shucking 60 dozen oysters in a single day. The entire production of Dubourg oysters is consumed at the Cabane in Paris. Direct from the water to the table within 24 hours.

Heading back to port - Théo, Frédéric's son, Frédéric, and Patrice. Maybe Théo will take over from his dad - making him the sixth generation?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Arcachon (continued)

Arcachon is a resort town with some incredible houses that date back to end of the 19th century - built by wealthy vacationers from all over Europe. They seem to be all turrets, towers and trim. Most houses have been divided into apartments, but are still quite striking. Here are a couple just down the street from where we are staying.

I'd hate to have to paint the trim on one of these!

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Francis (from the Cabane a Huitres) has graciously lent us an apartment in Arcachon where we have come to get some fresh air after last week's events. Unfortunately, the apartment doesn't have internet access and I am suffering from computer withdrawal. I am now in an internet cafe on battery power, so I don't expect I'll be posting much for the next few days.

Thank you for your kind thoughts regarding the loss of Patrice's brother.
I'll be back online in a few days.

Happy July 4th!