Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Saturday, March 31, 2012

What's in a name?

It's been a while since I've had a good chuckle over an English Weekend snafu, but today's had me rolling on the floor.  We had made plans to meet up with an old, old friend** (hi A!) and her new husband as they'd just moved to Paris, and C was asking me what their names were.  I replied "A and....shoot" and sat there for a minute trying to think of it.  I knew it was French and that it started with a C, but was having a temporary mind blank.  Meanwhile, my own C shouted from the other room: "Shoot?  That's a weird name. How do you spell that?" At which point I collapsed in laughter on the couch and he came out with a confused look on his face. Thank you dear husband - after a rough day at work yesterday, I needed a good belly laugh.

**We were able to reconnect thanks to my blog - that's the power of the Internets people!


Sunday, March 25, 2012


This past Friday night, thanks to a tip from Edna, I was able to participate in a really cool new event called THATLou, which stands for Treasure Hunt At The Louvre.  It's the brain child of a lovely American named Daisy, and I have to say - it was a heck of a lot of fun.  As an added bonus, it was a Blogger's THATLou, so I was able to meet a bunch of new bloggers and twitterfolk that I've recently started following.

We met up at 7pm and were split up into teams of four.  Daisy gave us a packet showing a picture and a description of each of the oeuvres we could find. Each one had a different number of points based on its location and how easy/hard it was to find - and some also had bonus points, which we unfortunately didn't figure out until near the end.  There was a total of 1000 points possible but given the time frame (1h15min), it was impossible to find them all, so each team had to come up with their own strategy for getting the most points.  Do you try to hit only the big ones?  Or the ones that are mainly grouped together?  Or the ones with the most bonus points?  No matter which strategy you choose, the goal is still to find as many as possible as take a group picture in front of the piece.  As a side note, have you ever tried to take a group picture of a work of art that's on the ceiling?  I can assure, it's not an easy task, even with the help of a friendly French janitor.

My team was made up of Edna, Jennyphoria, Annie and myself.  We got off to a little bit of a rocky start by going in the wrong direction (it's been ages since I've been to the Louvre), but we had a strong finish that included a major find at the end and race through the Louvre in order to get back to the final meeting point on time (think ANTM when the models have to go on all of those casting calls and then be back by X time**). It wasn't pretty, but we made it.

While we didn't end up winning (nor did we win the second place prize for the team that tweeted the most during the hunt), I think it's pretty safe to say that we all had a great time. Especially since the second part of the event involves a drink at a nearby bar to count up the points and chat with the other participants. Friday night's bar was picked by Forrest from 52Martinis - it was Why Paris, which is small bar near Les Halles with a big drink list. I've been there a few times now, and I highly recommend the Bee Sting - it is delicious!

For now, Daisy is running a Sunday series the first Sunday of every month. The April 1st theme will be "Fish & Water", which means (duh) that each of the pieces will be related to fish and water.  And she'll also be doing a Kid’s Treasure Hunt on Saturday 7 April at 14h30, and a Parisian Entrepreneur’s THATLou, for Wednesday 25 April, at 18h30.

THATLou definitely gets two thumbs up from me, and since the theme changes each month, it is likely something I will do again. I think it'd be really fun to do for a birthday party or a group get-together.  It'd also be great for school groups or families with teens who think they are too cool for museums - to quote Edna: "Running full-speed through the Louvre makes you feel like you're in the Da Vinci Code". Which is 100% true. It's also renewed my desire to go back to the Louvre - I'd forgotten just how grandiose and beautiful it was in there.

**Yes, I just admitted that I sometimes watch ANTM.  Don't judge me.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Le Jour du Macaron

I'm very excited for Macaron Day tomorrow - we missed it last year because we were in the US, but this year I'll be in Paris. For those who have never heard of it, every March 20th, several bakeries in Paris give away free macarons (though you are encouraged to donate) in order to raise money for Autistes sans frontières (Autistics without borders).  Paris By Mouth has done up a great map with all of the participating sites in English here, so check it out and see if any will be near you!  I'm going to try to hit four different shops during my daily errands.

As a side note, apparently some places in the US are also celebrating le Jour du Macaron. For example, my aunt sent me a link to the Sofitel in Minneapolis - though unfortunately it doesn't look like they are using it to raise money for anything.  But still, who doesn't love a free macaron?

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

For the past week or so, I have been seeing a food review column from the newspaper I read growing up popping up all over the internet and I couldn't figure out why.  I mean, we're talking about a small-town paper and an average chain restaurant here - but after seeing this, I now know why:

I'm guessing it must be a slow news week for this to be making such a fuss, but it is still kind of funny to see a columnist I used to read so many years ago show up on national TV.  I also think, at 85 years old, it's hilarious that she mentions she had no idea what "going viral" meant and that she says "blogger" sounds like a dirty word.  Apparently she is now in NYC this week reviewing some of the city's top restaurants - which may bring another string of unintentionally funny resto reviews.

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Monday, March 12, 2012

I had a little bit of extra time at the airport on the way to my latest trip to the US, so I decided to sign up for Parafe.  Parafe stands for "passage automatisé rapide des frontières extérieures", or Fast Automatic Passage from External Borders", and it is a free program that was put in place in 2009 to allow certain people to skip the passport check lines. It is open to all adult EU & Swiss citizens and members of the EEE.  According to the website, those holding a European residency permit could also apply, but this option was crossed out on the poster at the airport, so I'm not sure what's going on there.

You can sign up for the program at either CDG (in terminal 2, near Exit 10 on the departure level) or at Orly (South Terminal, right before entering into hall 1 on the departure level).  There were only a few people waiting, so I joined them, only to find out when it was my turn that I didn't need to sign up since I had a biometric passport and my fingerprints were already logged in it. 

They directed me towards the security line and I just had to scan my passport and index finger and walk on through - no more waiting in long security lines for me!  (Though you still have to get your carry-on scanned).

The same thing happened yesterday on the way back - I was able to skip the passport check again and just walk right on through to pick up my suitcase, making the plane to car time less than 20 minutes total. I tell ya, that has endless appeal to a person like me who is obsessed with efficiency.

A similar system exists in the US and they are rolling out a frequent "verified" traveler version that won't even require you to take off your coat/shoes, take your laptop out of your bag, etc, but this one requires major background checks (like your addresses and jobs for the last five years) plus you have to do an in-person interview and pay a non-refundable fee of $100. I might try it out if my work will pay for it, but only once the wait times for the interview have gone down.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

As a follow-up to yesterday's post, I thought I'd post a video that kbh sent me. Click and enjoy:

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Gross
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Monday, March 5, 2012

I've been watching the whole birth control debate play out in the US with much interest.  It's such an intriguing conundrum to me - women's rights will be infringed upon if her employer refuses to pay for birth control, yet the employer's right to religious freedom will be infringed upon if they are forced to pay for something they are wholly against. 

The debate came to a head this week when a law student names Sandra Fluke spoke before a congressional committee, talking about how birth control can cost up to $3000 over the course of law school. 

In return, everyone's favorite political commentator (not) Rush Limbaud had the following to say: "What does it say about the college coed ... who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex."

He went on to say that if that was the case and they were going to "pay" for her to have sex, she should at least post the videos online so that they could watch.  Republicans have yet to speak out against him.


In what world is that kind of talking okay?  I just don't understand the direction the US is heading.  Last month we have a breast cancer charity cutting funding to Planned Parenthood because they provide abortions, and now this?  It's like we're moving away from a woman's right instead of toward them. I hate to think about what else will happen if the religious right gets elected in the fall.

And it's times like this where I am grateful to be living in France - a country that still respects a woman's right to choose her own health care plan, instead of having a committee of old men do it for her.