January 31, 2009

Some INFORMATION about what went on today!

"Manifestation sabotages SNCF: 8 policiers blessés, 15 interpellations à Paris" is the headline on Yahoo.fr's website tonight. So, at least I know what was going on in the metro today at Defert... It was a number of manifesters (protesters) who went into the metro and were causing trouble or maybe just fleeing the cops on the streets above were the protest was taking place. Not really sure as to WHY they came down into the METRO... maybe the wanted to manifest or maybe they were on their way home... but it really worked to scare the living daylights out of us unsuspecting voyageurs, let me tell you!!!
I learned from the woman I had accompanied to the RER B with her daughter that some of them pulled the cord on the Line 4, thus stopping it. And that at that time, the cops (? or the manifesters) set of a tear gas bomb (though I happen to think it was the police) and then they manifesters were trying to get away from the cops. At least they were stopped... as I saw a bunch of them while I was crossing over the walk way to get my train at the end of my adventure. I don't even know how many of the actually entered into the metro halls, but I did learn from the news article that there were about 1, 200 protesters. What a day, I tell you!!!!


A manifestation gone bad... for me, at least, and the others inside the underground corridors of the Line B, Metros 4 and 6 at Denfert Rochereau tonight. It was a bit too much excitement for me, and the whole thing really stressed me out, bringing me to tears of fear and frustration as I was trying to figure out what was going on and what to do to stay safe.
Today, Dawn and I had a lovely time at Aimee's teahouse and a nice but short walk down the Canal Henri Martin. We parted at Republic as she hopped on the 9 and I hopped on the 6 and headed home.... Little did I know at that time that a short 10 minutes later, I would be full of fear and terror as I tried to figure out how to get to safety in the underground halls of the metro station!
I was just passing through the turnstile to get to the Line B from the 6 when I heard the word----RUN!!! Someone was screaming and I looked up ahead of me and saw lots of people starting to rush at us, so I turned around and tried to jump over the turnstile as others were trying to do the same. All I could think of was getting caught up in a mob of people charging at us and pictured the mobs at the WHO were people were killed in the stampedes... I was sooo scared. I ran and looked back to see what was happening. There was really no where to exit up to the street level as there were only the metro correspondence lines and no sorties!! What to do?!!! It felt sooo surreal, people were running and scattering, no really knowing what was going on or where to go or what to do. I asked someone what was going on and got- les manifestants!! I didn't really know why, because the mainfs were on Thursday and I didn't know of anything else going on.
I waited in the tunnels trying to see if they were coming my way and to see which way to go... Others were confused, still and there was no one really to ask, as no one knew what was happening!! I asked a man with a stroller and he said there was a lot of "trouble" going on by the Line B, MY LINE to go home, so I figured I could just get on the 4 and go to Montparnasse Bienvenue and grab the B there and that would be the best thing. I was right in front of the 4 line that I needed to take and saw the metro so I made a cautious run for it. Just as I approached the metro, the doors closed. A man was struggling with the door frantically trying to pry it open. Lots of people were panicky at that point. I grabbed the handle and tried to open the door but then the train pulled away. Right at that instant, I turned to the noise I heard on my right... Down the end of the quay I saw the manifestants, and noticed someone masked like DEATH!!! I freaked and at that instant in time my eyes and throat started to burn. A familiar sensation, as I have had this happen to me already twice before since I have been in France, it was la cimogane, or tear gas!!!! I had been caught up in tear gas... I made a run for it as I am asthmatic and I am VERY sensitive to this stuff...
Of course, I started to panic, since I had NO idea what was going on at all... I ran through the corridors asking people what was happening and were it was safe to go... I was in a big daze. It was an out of body experience, and I felt like a hostage in the underground Paris subway system awaiting only God knew what! I made another dash for it through one of the tunnels and saw my TRAIN!! WHEW, I thought.... As I ran to get on, I noticed large groups of police everywhere... About two cars up from where I was were a group of about 20 police... I was waiting for the train to pull out and asked some teens if it was going to Antony... No, it was going the opposite way, to CDG... mais, so what!! At that point, I was only thinking... GET ME THE HELL OUTTA HERE RIGHT NOW!!! I called Alex up and told him what was going on... I sounded like a mad woman and finally broke down in tears... The train wasn't moving .... What's taking so long and BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMM!!! An explosion!!! WHAT THE F**K was that?!! Then, I imagined bombs and terrorists... still not knowing what was going on around me. I asked one teen what the nose was..." Un flashball," he said. WTF?? I was thinking it was a paintball or beebee gun... But, then... I thought it was a bomb or grenade exploding! I got out of the train since it wasn't going anywhere and went back to where I started... back to the corridors... I saw a group of 5 women huddling in a group, some crying, some looking really shaken... I asked if it was safe to pass back over to the 4 and one lady said, "Don't go there, their is a cimogane bomb that went off and it's all over. So, the 4 was out... I asked them where they were going and one lady said, "To Antony," she said, but she didn't know how to get to the right train. Happy to not be alone, I said," I'm going there, too... Come with me, I know where it is... " We walked through a hallway and found the metro but it was the one to CDG. We saw hundreds of police on both sides of the platforms... just waiting and watching for trouble..... I felt glad they were there!
I went up to one and said, "Excuse me, I just got hit with crimogane and I am asthmatic. He said to me, "Bonjour," and told me to get some air because we were in an open area and that would be good for me. I then asked how to get the B to Antony and if it was now safe. He told us (the lady and her daughter) to go up the steps walks cross over the walkway, and go downstairs to the other side of the quay. When we crossed the walkway... we saw soooooo many police there at least 30 or so and they had stopped some young folks - manifestants -- some with their faces painted white.... We crossed over to the other side and found our train!!! I was NEVER sooo relieved! I still had NO IDEA what had happened, if it was over, or what? But, I figured that with the great number of police EVERYWHERE around us, that they had the matter under control and we were safe!
Once sitting down on the train, I started talking to the lady to ask what happened. She offered me a can of Perrier because she saw how shaken I was and that I was out of breath. That was really sweet of her... Her poor, terrified daughter (about 8 or 9 years old) was sooo shaken she was crying and I told her... "I know, me too.. I cried on the phone to my husband!!! I was soooo scared!!" I think that comforted her a bit to know that an adult like me was also scared! WOW... I am sooo glad that was over and that I was on my way back home!!! I called Alex to tell him I was on the train and headed back home and he invited me out for dinner at the Indian resto in our town... He was pretty worried about me because when I first called him, I wasn't communicating coherently since I was so filled with fear and actually more than just fear.... I was filled with terror for the first time in my life... I'm just glad we were all okay, though I am still feeling some of the affects of the tear gas in my throat and on my lips....

January 30, 2009

Protests and Strikes in France...

As an American expat, long time resident and soon to become FRENCH CITIZEN (a year and a half from now and counting)... I do agree that I have brought with me here to France, my "American mentality." Let me share with you readers-- WHEN I lived in America (40 years of my live) I prided myself for NOT being the "typical" American and NOT having the "typical" American mentality.
I have a very extended experience of overseas travel, even living abroad in New Zealand for a short period of time duirng my University years (I did a "work abroad" in New Zealand for three months and traveled through Australia for 2 1/2 months). I did this at age 19 and did it all by myself, too. I have been to all kinds of countries, rich and poor. I have seen a lot and experienced a lot.... So, I can really say that I don't have the "typical American mentality." What I do have is an American cultural heritage which inevitably causes me to see things here in France as VERY different to things in America.
Hey, it doesn't take ROCKET SCIENCE to figure that out.. Toto... We're not in Kansas anymore!!!!
I think the normal way of things when you move to any new country to live forever-- not just for a short visit-- is to go through the whole aspect of cultural integration if you are to adapt to the new culture... This might mean rejecting that new culture by thinking your former one was wonderful... even better and that you really do miss a lot of things from it.. DARE I SAY, baking supplies?!!! It's kind of like shedding our skin and putting on a new one... There are just so many things involved in adopting a new culture!  
Anyhow, I think that part of integrating into and adopting the new culture when you finally feel used to it, that you know what it's about and you can get along on a daily basis without much trouble (not counting things that pop up in life that are indeed troublesome- that happens EVERYWHERE).  
What I am finally getting at is that French culture has sooo much history to it and that there are so many things imbedded in the culture (that I had no prior knowledge before moving here)  that I really do rely on learning more and more each day about the daily things, the routine things, and the things that  lay under the surface at times from a number of different sources, one of them is David.
    Thanks to David, I learned a lot more about this thing called, "La grève," (Read the post here) and not just that it's an inconvenient thing that slows down or stops public transport and makes it very inconvenient to get around for many millions of people living in France.. 
Please stop by and visit David's blog, From The City of Lights, to learn at the strikes as well as many more things in French culture.

January 29, 2009

National STRIKE today in France!

YEP!! Today is a National Strike Day in France! HOW FUN!!! Instead of going up to Paris for fun today, I'm staying home. Alex is staying home, too, because when there is a strike it can take up to two hours on the freeway to get up to Paris... So, it's not worth it to go in for just a few hours and spend four hours in traffic!! Today is a day where IF the metros and RERs are running- it's VERY limited, so you get scenes like THIS below... I have done it once before ... but now that I know what it's like- NO WAY!!! People get very vicious and even violent!! It's horrible!!!
Anyhow.. Alex is giving me a lift to work later this afternoon, so that's nice!! Have a nice Strike Day, everyone... Be careful!!!

STRIKE!!! STRIKE!!! STRIKEEEE!!!!!! Yep!! It's gonna be one of THOSE kind of days today!!
*Pictures taken off the web.

January 28, 2009

Parisianne of The Month...

is NONE OTHER than my super cool friend, Brigitte! Brigitte is not only a FANTASTIC jazz singer, by trade, but she is also a professional make up artist!! Kudos to Brigitte for being awarded the title, "Parisian of The Month," by the renowned Paris Blogger, Ricahard @ EYE PREFER PARIS.  There is no one more deserving of this honor than Brigitte!  I am so proud of her and happy to see her receive this recognition. Richard features a lovely interview with Brigitte 0n his blog posted on the 29 January, so I highly recommend you to hop on over to his blog to read it and to learn more about this talented woman!  Brigitte has a Myspace Page that features some of her recorded music and talks about her career as a singer.  Her other blog,  Pretty One in Paris, is a blog devoted the art art of make up and it what she does.  Please check out her websites and drop her a line.  She's always thrilled to make new acquaintances and is truly a jem of a person to know!  Felicitations pour ton sucess, Brigitte!!  Je suis très fière de toi!!!!  YOU GO GIRL!!!!!

Butterscotch Scotties!

Yesterday, I made some yummy oatmeal cookies with butterscotch and peanut butter chips!  There is NO such thing as this in France.  It's an American invention.  Anyhow.. they're made with oatmeal so they are 'somewhat' healthy!! I'm bringing them with me to my students homes today to pass out to everyone... That way, I don't eat them all myself!!! 

January 27, 2009

Vegetarian quiche!

This is what I made for dinner last night and we had it with a salad!  It was most DELISH!!! Just a basic quiche recipe-- 1 1/2 cups of milk, 4 eggs, some salt and pepper and veggies of your choice.  I sauteed the onions first in a little butter, added some chopped zucchini next and the then the broccoli.  After I added all of the ingredients into a ready made crust, I added the tomatoes (uncooked to the top).  Bake @ 170C for about 45 minutes or until the quiche is firm and a little browned on top.  I even sprinkled a little cheese on top when I heated it back up!

OCTUPLETS just born in California

Jan. 27, 2009 
BELLFLOWER, Calif. - A woman gave birth Monday to eight babies, only the second time in history octuplets have survived more than a few hours, doctors said.

The mother gave birth to six boys and two girls weighing between 1 pound, 8 ounces, and 3 pounds, 4 ounces, doctors at Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center said. The hospital had scheduled a Caesarean section for seven babies, but doctors were surprised when an eighth came out at 10:48 a.m.


January 26, 2009

Our storm on Friday....

Resulted in high winds (Alerte Orange) but was nowhere NEAR what they experienced in the south of France over the weekend.  High winds and rain kept me from going up to Paris to meet friends for lunch.  I stayed inside until it was time to go to work.  My good friend and fellow expat blogger had another story as a result of this storm. She lives in a neighbouring town and they had a tree fall in their yard as a result of this storm!! Thankfully, no one was hurt. See Barbara's story
HERE (Part 1) and Here (Part 2)!

Le Sud-Ouest balayé par la pire tempête depuis 10 ans

The worst storm in 10 years just hit the south of France over the weekend.  Here in the Paris region, we had high winds and were on Alerte Orange.  Over the weekend, the southern part of France was on the highest Alert- RED and suffered much damage as a result of cyclone speed winds!  This is the worst storm seen since the  tempête in 1999! Hundreds of thousands of trees were uprooted as a result of the high winds. Four people reported dead, many injured, and about 1. 7 million homes lost their electricity. Roads were blocked with fallen trees and debris was everywhere.

*Photos taken off the internet.

January 25, 2009

Brunch @ Le Resevoir

     So, as you can all see... I've been pretty busy this month doing lots of fun things with fellow expat friends/Paris bloggers!!  It's been a fun month, I must say, especially since I was really sick in Dec/Jan and pretty much at home 24/7.  
     I did, however; miss this one today.. and hopefully there will be a repeat performance soon.  Jasmin organized this shindig and it was a big hit!!!  It was  brunch, held at Le Resevoir in Paris.  And, just by coincidence, this place is JUST about 1 minute by foot from Cupcakes and Company, where we went a few days ago! What a SMALL WORLD it is.... 

Practical info:
16, rue de la Forge Royale
75011 Paris
Tel : 0143563960
Fax : 0143563173
Email : lereservoir@free.fr
- Restaurant et bar, en attendant l'animation, sont ouverts tous les jours du mardi au samedi à partir de 20 heures jusqu'à tard dans la nuit.
 - Brunch le dimanche de 11h30 à 16h30.

*Photos courtesy of Noëlle

January 24, 2009

Exki Restaurant à Montparnasse

Exki is a chain of Bio restaurants and they just opened a new one in one of my favorite quartiers in Paris, Montparnasse (the 14th arrondissement). What I like about this place, besides having the best bio cappucinos in town, is that they have a VERY WIDE selection of vegetarian dishes and soups! The people who work there are very friendly and when a person walks through the door, they are immediately greeted in a friendly manner by the employees. I told one of the nice girls working there how happy I was to see Exki in my fav. part of town and that I have dined frequently at the Exki in Opéra. Her response was very sweet, " We are here for you!" Quelle service!!! I just love EXKI! Hope you make it over one day if you are in the area.  Here's the address: 82 Bd Montparnasse - 75014 Paris 

January 23, 2009

A great coffee house in Paris....

...is Le Loir dans la Théière (the dormouse in the teapot). This has to be one of my FAV. places for a GREAT coffee and a 'tastes like home' meal.... They're baked desserts are EXCELLENT! So, Noëlle and I ventured to the Marais after our cupcake excursion with the girls...  Our server was sooo nice and very sweet.... I had swiss chard soup- which was DELISH and hit the spot, while Dawn was feeling lemony and had their mile-high meringue pie. That pie is to DIE for!!! I will definitely be going back there soon!!  
Le Loir dans La Theiere
Open Monday to Friday 11:30AM-7PM
Saturday & Sunday 10AM –7PM
3 rue de Rosiers, 75004
Metro: St. Paul

*Photos courtesy of Noëlle, as I lost all my pics while trying to download them onto my computer!!!

Cupcakes and Company- New cupcakery in Paris

A big shout out to Sarah for the top two photos... Mine were eaten and deleted so I relied on the photos everyone else took that day! Whew!

Yesterday me and the gals got together for a little cupcake fun.... It's the first cupcakery or should I say, "cupcakerie" in Paris that I know of and it's called Cupcakes and Company (cute name). It's run by two sisters, who are French gals who LOVE to bake and took their passion of baking to a little shop near the Bastille.
We were very pleased to see that they use good ol' Philly cream cheese for the cream cheese frosting and their frosting was really DELISH- smooth and creamy, and just the right sweetness.. and piped on very nicely. The cupcakes were served in nut cups and you eat them with a spoon. There are a very wide variety of flavors- including lemon, vanilla, carrot, coffe, red velvet and banana.
The cupcakes themselves were not very good! Sorry, but they were more like muffins, and not like cupcakes- much more dense and heavy.. not light and airy like the typical "cupcake" should be! I know that most of the homemade cakes here in France (not the ones from pastry shops) are more on the dry and dense side. But, for me...having grown up with cupcakes my entire life, and baking more than I could ever count... I am simply NOT used to the idea of a cupcake being a "muffin with frosting!" A cupcake should be moist, light and fluffy and kind of melt in your mouth... Oh well, I won't be coming back here anytime soon!
BEST cupcakes in Paris are made by CAT at Little Miss Cupcake in Paris. She's American and makes authentic tasting cupcakes.. I highly recommend her for any other your cupcake needs!! Here is the VF (version française) of Little Miss Cupcake in Paris
It was a fun little excursion and exciting to see a cupcakery spring up in Paris.
I took MANY pictures but unfortunately when I was uploading the pictures into my IPhoto, something went wrong and all but four of them didn't upload. This left me with just the tail end of our little outing, when I snapped a few of my half-eaten cupcakes! I felt really bad, because the pictures came out really nice. I'll have to take a trip back to shoot some more soon.. Right now, I am 'borrowing' a few of Noelle's and Sam's photos... Still waiting to see if Sarah got some good pics and then I will post them.

Little Miss Cupcake in Paris

Hi Everyone!

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce to you a fellow American and expat in Paris- Cat (aka "Little Miss Cupcake) @ Little Miss Cupcake.  I just found her blog this week and was very excited to find someone like ME here in my region.  Someone has shares a passion of baking and who bakes up cupcakes, too.  Please check out her site and leave a comment, too.  
For all of you in Paris centre, here is someone for you to fulfill your party/event needs.  Her cupcakes not only look beautiful, but they look DELISH, too!! 

January 22, 2009

Le marché de Noëlle

Café Tables....

Quel gateau!!

For all of those with a sweet tooth...


Bright GREEN eclairs, OH MY!!!
Is anyone drooling on there computer right now? Just looking at these things made me gain a few kilos!!!!

I just LOVE roses!!!

Beautiful roses at a fleuriste in the Marais.