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Posts from the ‘Paris, Trains, Facecream’ Category



How I ‘m going to miss those great knives!!!!!!!!!!!

In 32 hours we will be taking possession of our fully furnished one bedroom apartment with a kitchen that is heaven sent.  I cannot wait.  But all that being said – it is going to be difficult to leave the lovely knives from the previous owner behind.  I still do not know his name.  There is a French barrier here and we haven’t seen the woman again that gave us the temporary apartment, so I cannot ask her.  But, hopefully soon I will find out which of the 10 fabulous chefs it was that won that coveted prize  whose award winning tile hangs brightly from this temporary kitchen apartment.  It’s such a connundrum.

Who was this mystery chef?

Ah well, to the new apartment we travel………..





I don’t really hate France, but this doo doo on the street has got to stop.  Has anyone TOLD THESE PEOPLE THEY NEED TO PICK UP POO POO from their darling Chien around here?!?  Apparantly not.

I’m in the land’s of Hotel Dieu – GOD’s HOTEL, I am serious and the town is actually Pontoise.  We had to go here this morning to complete another ordeal in the process of procuring a FRENCH SOCIAL SECURITY number, most coveted, and most difficult, but alas, this is what you do when you want free health care in France, and you already have it because you’re part of the EU.  (David)

SO, that being said, it is worth 1) the 500 steps up and down, down and up, after the 30 minute train ride into the country 2) more steps up and down, wrong instructions for the bus, another 50 down, another 60 up, several different bus drivers all shaking their heads  “NON! It is not THEEES BUS!   David looking at the wife (moi) with a scowl that he really does not want to see.  I also do not want to know that he has not totally planned out this trip on the internet fully and completely as I DO FOR ALL MY BUS- METRO TRAVELS, only to find out later that this FRENCH SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICE doesn’t have a map of public transportation because it’s in GOD’s HOTEL – or rather a sleepy bedroom community way way  out in the country. Now, just so you know, this is not the first time he’s tried.  You never try just once,  in France,   for ANYTHING; you try multiple times, and then add another 5 or 6 or 20 times and then you’ve just about got it!

The SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICE is determined by your ADDRESS.

You see, you MUST have an address (that coveted address in France, here me out) to even GET a JOB, get a BANK ACCOUNT,to get ANYWHERE.  We had such an address, and that address belonged to someone we knew well, a friend,  who so kindly gave us her PARIS address.  This Paris address we thought we’d use to obtain our French Social Security, until we found out that someone from the UK had used the address of their employment (a Company in a very posh arrondisemont) and that because of that decision, the Social Security office taxed to high heaven this fellow AND the COMPANY because he had listed not a modest apartment somewhere, but an address in some of the pricest, tres cher real estate that one could possibly acquire.  THIS – we did not want to happen. So, we thought about it, and realized that the person who had “loaned” us her address for purposes of a bank account and a job, was in a splendidly Haute Couiture area, one of which would most likely have taxed US out the ying yang   NOT a good idea.

So, when we finally got into our little modest apartment on the outskirts of Paris, this is where we would now search for a social security office that was in or near our LIVING area.

The beautiful thing about the French (for me) is that when I have reached my breaking point, having stepped in the third doo doo of the day, or climbed way too many steps with my bad knees, the French, somehow come through.  This was the 5th bus we had tried, and now we heard the busdriver saying to David that she wasn’t sure and then evoked response from the entire bus “Does anyone know where this SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICE is?” and the entire bus load of people are talking to David, in FRENCH, ofcourse and I’m kicking him and saying -”She is telling you this” – “NO, he is saying something to you…. no wait – she has it here”…..Honestly, it just melted my heart to see these lovely lovely people trying so hard to help these poor English speaking people find their way to this very important office.  Just as we get it all together and profusely thank them, the bus glides past the HOTE DIEU – GOD’S HOTEL, and I’m thinking, this is just so cool……I’m in a town with GOD’S HOTEL and we are really REALLY going to find this FRENCH SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICE.

We got off the bus, took the path that the entire bus TOLD us to take, and we indeed, found the office.

Did he get a number? Did he get THE social security validation that he needed for all medical care and all the rest that you need now to be “IN” in France??

Sadly, no.  Why?  Because the BRITISH BIRTH CERTIFICATE WAS TOO LONG and didn’t fit in size with all the other papers he brought with him i.e. the SS form, the validation of our apartment and address, the 6 page contract (in French) document from his employer stating he was employed and payroll slip copy, the European Health Card, the Bank “RIB” number, so they know you actually have a bank account. So, only one last thing,- reducing that really old British Birth Certificate (sorry darling,) to the exact size of the OTHER documents and then, VOILA !!!  He’s in like flint!  It was not a bad day.

PS. On the train back to our little village, we saw , magically a number on the top of his French Social Security Form!!  It is real and it is THE number.  But, we still have to reduce the size of the British Birth Certificate!!  🙂

The Yarn Shop which resides in Heaven……..

La Droguerie

Today was an exceptionally good day.  I did the metro, several stops and changes all by my little self.  I needed to buy yarn for my first knitting class (at the American Church in Paris) and it was at 5PM.  I arrived at Les Halles Metro and became mezmorized by the amount of shops.  I needed to buy YARN, not boots, but I couldn’t take my eyes off all the shops with shoes, especially boots, and then purses, and then scarves, and so on . I kept telling myself, forget the scarves, you are going to KNIT ONE, and forget the boots, you know where your boots are (in the Marais) and you must get a JOB before you can buy those boots!!!!!   Continuing on, I looked for signs for SORTIE.(EXIT)

I saw those signs, I just couldn’t get OUT of LesHalles……there was a Piscine (better than the JCCA, I kid you not) and there were cinemas, and every kind of shop and restaurant imaginable   But, I finally found the right sortie, and exited.

When I exited, I looked up and saw THE tallest escaltor that I have ever seen in my entire life. Les Halles, and it’s vast shops and markets must have been in the true bowels of the underground.  As I glanced up,  I thought  – “WOW – the stairway to heaven”…….only when I looked again, the escalor going up, was going no where – it was kapute… I looked to the left, took a deep breath, said a little prayer to God to help me up those incredible high stairs with my knees that suck, and I was on my way……… heaven………because, when I got to the top huffing and puffing – – what did I see?!?!?  E. DEHILLERIN!!!  The COOKING store that is the mother of ALL COOKING STORES!!!!…..the place where Julia Child frequented constantly when she lived in Paris.  Ahhhhh, Dehillerin. I pressed my nose to the glass and saw other people doing the same and looking at copper and kitchenaids and clafluti rimmed pans and marie bains and bowls, and measuring contraptions and on and on and on and I had to snap out of it because I had a KNITTING class awaiting me!   So, pulling myself away from Dehillerin, I walked around the corner and there it was – La Droguerie- THE KNITTING SHOP of Paris – the “MAXIMS of YARN” if you will…………

And once again, I  couldnt’ take my eyes off all the GEORGEOUS COLOR everywhere.  I asked some people if they were “in line – in Queue” and they said in broken English that they were…….and that they had to wait there to be WAITED ON…….I was confused and said, “Oh, Okay, well, I know what I want, so I’ll go here”……..NON! They said – “we are in line and you go behind us.”  “OH.  I see.” I pouted.  So I did – and I waited and I waited and I waited…….to be “waited ON”…….Finally, the lovely tall salesclerk came to me  and said “Yes?” And I explained that this was my FIRST knitting course and I simple wanted the cheapest yarn that I could find and the cheapest needles possible and then I’m out of here.  Okay, well, I didn’t exactly say those words, but I did say the word “ACRYLIC” and you would have thought that I just asked for Walmart jeans in a Versace boutique!  Okay, then, I’ll take wool, I say, knowing full well that I am going to ITCH myself to DEATH if I wear it anywhere near my face.  But this is Paris, and this is La Droguerie and I must do what any self respecting KNITTER or “knitter to be” would do.  GO WITH WHAT THEY TELL YOU.   About 10 minutes later, my beautiful salmon pink with specs of mauve colored yarn is brought up to me, (they go in the basement and wind your color in a lovely shape, so lovely, infact,  that you don’t even need to MAKE anything out of it you’re thinking) that I exclaimed, ‘oh wow, for me?? It’s so PRETTY!! ”  and she ‘s looking at me like – this lady is really very strange……..and I pay for it and the beautiful wooden needles that were also a fortune. I say my few nice french words to thank them and have a good evening and I’m on my way out the door passing up about 10 people who have just come in line behind me. (They are “Dyed in the Wool TRUE KNITTERS!!!” –  I just had to say that!!) 🙂 This is an amazing, very colorful, very tactile-ish  experience that I would NOT have passed up for anything.  It also means that because I have paid a tiny fortune for simple wool yarn that is spun somewhere in France, and where they paid no high shipping rates for it to come from far away – whereever – New Zealand or Scotland – who knows – that my question is: why in the world is it so pricey?? I’ll never know, but It was worth the trip to this colorful threaded, yarn, baubles, buttons, ribbons and bead shop and I’m sure it’s not in vain??? And that this scarf will be one that I will never ever ever forget making. ? I’ve already taken the stitches out atleast 5 times now. Once in the knitting class at the church, and 4 more from the train to David to I don’t remember where else.    Oh! And while waiting for David to finish teaching, I was still knitting and doing what Antionette (from Church) said to do with my beginning stitches  when, out of the blue,  I got to a place that I was simply stuck.  I tried, this way, and that way, and nothing was working with the stitch that I had just done a hundred times.  So, I looked to the left and to the right and then straight ahead and made eye contact with this really nice attractive lady.  I said, “Do you speak English”?  And she said – “Non! “ and then I said – and pointed to my skein of yarn – do you know how to do this? I have forgotten something and can’t continue on……..” She gets up and says, in French, – something something something and raises her intonation at the end, so she is ASKING me a QUESTION, to which I have not the SLIGHTEST idea what she is ASKING!!!  So I say, “I don’t know -J’ai ne comprand pas –  this is the way the INSTRUCTOR said for me to do this” and this lady is now evoking everyone in that little waiting room to help her out here with French vs. English,  and one girl comes to help and it’s not helping…….and this nice lady is just NOT understanding why I am doing these stiches on TWO needles and I say, “Because the TEACHER said to do it this way!!” and the lady is shaking her head, saying something something something and before I know it, she’s REMOVED the beautiful work that I’ve just been doing for the last 2 hours and whips it off the needles!!! I ‘m like  ‘W H A T?????” and then I realized – she had a “better way” – it’s called the FRENCH WAY, actually, because she probably secretly knew that my TEACHER was AMERICAN and that it was NO GOOD to be doing my stitches this “wierd way” _ (I never heard that actually) but when you listen carefully to this language that you do not understand, the word WIERD, does come out, I swear it does…..)  So, I had to laugh kind of – inside, that she just dropped all my stitches; No, not DROPPED, – REMOVED everything I had done, and was now proceeding to have me totally start over and do it HER way, or not at all.

So next week, when I go to pick up David, and I show her my progression of my knitting project I better be sure that I am doing it HER way, because I can explain all this stuff to my AMERICAN teacher and she’ll be sure to understand, but the FRENCH one????  NOT-  A –  CHANCE!!!!!!!!

That’s my story, and I’m knitting into oblivian……….

What it’s like to try and open a bank account in France

To just OPEN a bank account is more than you could ever imagine.   YOu could ROB the bank easier, I swear.   But never fear, THE BUTTON that must be “pushed” that actually ACTIVATES your long awaited account has been “pushed” and David was able to succeed in less time than anyone (that we have known or read about) to get the darn bank account OPENED!!  This was all   AFTER   – 1) a copy of our federal income tax returns was scanned and emailed via our girls in our house  (in less than two hours!!)    2) copy of a passport    3) address where we are staying confirmed by the OWNER of the property,   4) copy of the owner’s identification (that is non-expired)    5) copy of the owner’s utility bill  (We had a very nice person who did this for us)   6)  verification of employment  7) statement of wages under French contract   8) declaration of value of personal assets – including real estate   9) completion of 9 pages of account opening documents (all in French ofcourse)    10) & when David asked if he could make now an opening deposit – the response was “NON!!” – we have no CASH here!  …..For THAT – you have to go to another branch 5 blocks away!!

OH!  And if that isn’t enough……..

You also MUST show that you have a FRENCH SOCIAL SECURITY CARD in order to be employed!!!  The saga of THAT little gem is this  – It’s basically a HEALTH CARD – so if you get sick  – you can get treatment. (He’s a member of the EU).

The process is – when you first come to France – you have to register for this – you get an ENGLISH (UK) European National Insurance Health Card – So D contacts England for this –  to send it to him (his Uncle, actually)  – who will forward it,  then he shows that  plastic card and goes to a GP and REGISTERS with them.  THEN,  if you need a Prescription, you show this to the Pharmacist so you’re not charged .  Under the “TREATY” if you have the card in ONE EU country – you are entitled to get it in another EU country.  Lovely!

SO, JUST to be EMPLOYED here all of the above has to be completed perfectly and totally IN ORDER to be HIRED anywhere.    David completed this unimaginable feat in less than ONE week and 2 days.

I knew he was good for something!!!  😉

YES AMY!!! The Washer actually IS a DRYER!!!!!!!!!

Place du ParvisI mean who would have “thunk”?  My little washer in my little kitchen actually CAN * DRY*  the clothes as well as WASH them??  I’m in heaven.

So apologies to you my dear ami, but you know that I always hate to see you right when I think I’m right and you know that I know we’ve had this going on for quite sometime.

The funny thing about having a friend for so long is that as you age and you start forgetting stuff,  before you know it,  your old friend becomes a new friend all over again.  That’s really a joke but then it’s not. 😉

“We’re off to see the Wizard”  again today, which translates into – I’ll end up where ever I end up because that’s what happens in Paris when you’re learning the vast public transportation system and that means RER, METRO and BUSES and did I mention WALKING?  All of those things put together in one afternoon to get from A to B, and to stroll amongst very beautiful streets with markets galore (especially today) is an exciting prospect.  HOW am I EVER going to go back to OVERLAND (Missouri)?!?!  Ah well, we enjoy what we have while we have it and hope and pray that it lasts just a little teeny bit longer than you thought it would.


Au Revoir mes amis!!!

My friends have gone back to West Palm Beach and it’s quiet & a little sad.  It was a splendid visit first with her and Sarah who saw as much as you can in 2 days and then just girlfriend time with Amy the next week.  The funny thing is that she had to bring her own bed as we live in this unfurnished apartment until our other apartment is ready.  But then we’ll still need the beds because there is only one bedroom in that furnished apartment and no “extra room” so – these beds or “BUBS” as we nicknamed them shall remain! (BLOW UP BEDS)

(Oh, did I tell you?  My friend Amy thinks my French (very complicated Washing Machine is a Dryer too!!!)

Anyway, —We did the metro everywhere that first day until I was about to drop.  Amy and I were a pair I tell you as she has a bad back from the years of lifting bags and carrying 4 babies – and I have these awful knees from throwing bags in the bins of aircraft plus the lifting, so you should have seen the 2 of us up and down all those metro stairs, not to mention the walking!!! But the walking was fine actually. The stairs not so much.   We stayed in the Eiffel Tower for 3 hours taking in the first level then sitting down in the sunshine up there telling stories, then eating on the middle level what turned out to be a fabulous and not expensive lunch.  We even had mulled wine!  AFter that we went to the very top and oh!!- so much fun that was.  The cold wasn’t that bad at all either…… infact the sun felt wonderful up there and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had anyway, going up there.   I don’t know how many times I’ve been up, but it’s been a few since mom took me there around 16.  Hmmmm. …..  16- 60+……that’s a lot of years, and a lot of mileage on my feet -and KNEES!!   I’m just glad the lifts didn’t break and we’d be forced to walk down from the top!  HA!

We ate – we played well – we loved well – and we laughed well.

The things we saw in 2 days:  CDG – Gare du Nord (a lot to see just from the trains, on the trains, off the trains, the train station itself.) I’ve never seen so many people in my life actually.  Then, lunch at Enghien-les-Bains Cafe where Sarah relished in the fresh salmon with a sauce and Amy chose a red wine to die for…..but didn’t.  And then we came back to the apartment for their “jetlag rest” and then out again to see the city of lights after picking up David from his work in Les Invalides.

What FUN!  As I said, there were too many metro STAIRS, but other than that, and the fact that the BATEAU MOUCHE was closed by the time we got to it…..nevermind, we hailed a cab and got back to our very busy Gare du Nord Train Station where there is always a train going to where you want to go.  UNLESS, there is a strike.  Alas. No strike.  We got back and got a good nights rest so that we could start with a bang in the morning and go and go and go!  While all the GOING was GOING ON – I have to say that Sarah got doors opened for her, taxi’s screeching to a halt when NONE of us could get one, uh hem…. and drivers giving her their phone number on their card(s) the entire day.  One guy sang to her in the metro, another one coyed up to her in the train and well, the list goes on……and on….and I pray that her mother doesn’t bring Sarah’s friends along next time or we’ll never ever see any of them again!!!!!!!   😉

Well, we did the City of Lights from the heights of the Eiffel to the depths of the metro …  and it was – I must say – for 2 “older girls” and one young 19 year old and one “older man” – we did really quite fine. Thank you AMY for bringing me hangers, and Irish Spring soap, and the BEDS and blankets and sheets and most of all  YOURSELF!!! AND SARAH!!!!  I love you, I cherish you as a friend and Paris will never be the same without you both!!!!!!   All my love,   Marti


One can get high as a kite in Paris,and it’s all nat-u-ral, actually

Just to be brief because I have friends waiting.  But,  yes, the hangers did arrive, plus the washcloths, plus the Irish Spring deodorant soap and those little things were just pure bliss.  Much to do ’bout everything as we are flying here and there and everywhere to absorb the City of Lights and not sure whether they’re wearing me out or visa versa. In any case, staying at the top of the Eiffel Tower is and was a natural high, no, not was, as we’re still on it; not to mention the mesmerizing maze of metro trains, culinary delights beyond belief and photos are to come, but how do you photograph TASTE!!??

There’s more

But not now…………

If you see coat-hangers on the sidewalk, can you just pick them up and take them home?

I saw these great coat-hangers today.  You might say that the word Coveted actually crept  into my mind about them.  They were just lying there and they were all alone needing someone (like me) to pick them up and give them a good home.  Alas, my husband wasn’t so sure. Afterall, they had a little tie around them and then some kind of little scroll in between the crook of the hanger and the triangle part.  I looked at him and said, ‘Do you think it’s like a message for MI5 or something?”   I put them down.   Then looked at them longingly once again.   They were pathetic.  I needed to take them home.  My husband says to me, ‘Well, when we return from the Pizza Place tonight, if they’re still there, maybe it would be all right to take them.”
Long story short.  It’s cold and rainy and we never did go out to the Pizza Place but instead had a cozy dinner inside the apartment with no stove, but alas a new microwave and was able to pull something together  with soup and salad and wine and it was divine!

I just really really wanted those hangers though !!!

First day on the job -and no trains running!!


It’s a big day.  The first day on the job.  Everything set and ready to go, timetables present, Navigo-Decouvert in pocket, Attache, etc, so OUT the door he goes for that coveted train!  Not so fast there David!  What?  NO!!  He gets to the station right on time for his 7:00am train. He’ s allowed a full hour since  we’ve already timed this  and it’s 40 minutes max from our station to Invalides to his NEW JOB.

When he arrives at Enghien-les-Bains he sees a BLANK screen.   Not only is the screen blank but the faces of the passengers are more than blank.  It’s dark, it’s rainy,   people are going back and forth kind of like little mice not knowing how to get out of a trap in a cage – and  there is NO ONE, not a soul to ask about information because it’s too early for anyone to be there.  Hump!  he says.  “I know” he says again………”I’ll go to the  little snack bar  and see  if they know what’s going on.”   Wrong.  It’s closed.   It’s saturday.

SO – he’s sees a gentlmen  about 40-ish,  wearing a black leather jacket,  nicely fitted, and  he appears to be some sort of businessman that might know something.  David watches him go  through the turnstiles sees him look up at the screen and sees words to the effect that there is NO service on LINE H. At this point the black leather jacket gentleman looks again,  mutters a few expletives,  whereupon David asks him “Are you going to Gare du Nord?”  The gentleman looks at David,  says an emphatic OUI!! and then gives the “french shrug” and continues, don’t know if I’m going there NOW.”  He then goes back into the station and David follows him.  He looks at the sign once again, then miraculously the ticket window flies open and  they   both ask the woman, ” what is going on?”  whereupon  she gives the French shrug and says “NO SERVICE !  You will have to TAKE THE BUS! ”  Everyone is peering into this little window now and waiting for her to say something else.  Then someone says “WHICH bus?” And then she says in super fast French – (something something something) and the passengers say  “HUH?!?” and she repeats “154” whereupon the entire line turns en masse looking towards that bus-stop. Off goes the black leather businessman and David  right behind him, the crowd trailing behind THEM.  They never say a word  to each other — and now they’re walking super fast down towards the bus-stop and when the bus finally comes, the bus driver looks shocked because  now an entire train load of people are there to get on his usually very quiet, very uncrowded bus!!!!

The BUS DRIVER starts arguing with the Black leather guy and then he hears the Bus Driver say an emphatic NO!!! (French say NON! -VERY nasal) – and continues…HOW did you find this out?   The BL guy says – “well, the lady in the station said this is the bus!”  The BusDriver says, ‘WHY ARE YOU TAKING THE BUS?!?!”  BL guy says “BECAUSE THE TRAIN IS *NOT* WORKING!!!!!”   – so they continue their French diatribe back and forth for what seems like many minutes………..AND THEN, (there’s this long pause )- while EVERYONE (like atleast 50 people) are WAITING to hear a response from the BUS DRIVER.

The  BusDriver then says, “You’ll have to take the BUS 154 -”  And everyone is looking at him like………AND……….DOES it COME HERE???

NON!!!   THIS is the bus stop for 256!!!

Everyone leans forward…………

“WHERE, do we GET this bus 154???”

Bus Driver:  You must go to the right and then in front of the station whereupon everyone turns around (again – en masse) and off they go down the road to stop 154!

Now, all these people begin to look at this long pole where there is a teeny tiny Schedule afixed to it – and it’s dark and they’re trying to figure out when the bus is actually going to leave.   There is much muttering back and forth about the time, because the Bus Driver (256) never said what time….oh! That would be too much information for him to impart, oui.

Then, David ‘s “friend” in the BL jacket is nervous now and starts pacing up and down the street  shrugging and muttering, “Where’s the bus, where’s the bus”….. They wait.  And they wait.  More people arrive.

The bus (154) finally arrives.   So now, EVERYONE gets on the bus and someone confirms that they are, indeed, going to Saint Denis – where they will pick up the RER to Gare du Nord!

David is in a packed bus at this point.  He can hardly see the BL guy anymore….The bus is on the way and then it stops about 2 blocks away to pick up more people and then another 2 blocks does the same and this continues  and David looks up at the schedule on the bus and between where they got on and Saint Denis,  there are a whole lot of  little dots.  “Surely,” he thinks, “this bus is not going to stop at  EVERYone of  of those little dots??” Hmmmmm.  Yes, it is a fact, that this bus or any bus that is 154 from here on after is going to be stopping at all those 24 little dots!!!

David checks with his BL friend who is, by this time, looking out the bus window very despondently.  There is no eye contact.  Sometimes, he can’t see his friend at all, it is so packed, but every now and then the bus sways and there is a slim crack between all those bodies and he can still see his “friend.”

Just as David is getting very used to all the stops, there’s a braking of the bus on one of those 24 stops and with a slight opening towards the back David’s friend all of a sudden looks towards him and gives David “the NOD”.  David jumps towards the door and out he goes and so does the  BL friend.

They’re out now, but  there’s no BUS or  TRAIN STATION and he’s wondering why they got out here.  There are no words exchanged.  David’s friend starts huffing and puffing towards the station in an eery run down area with lots of cement and weeds growing up all over it . Suddenly there’s a slim little opening lined with bushes and a tiny narrow bridge over a little canal and all these lochs.   David’s friend climbs over the bridge walking very very fast now and David’s keeping up with him  and thinking,  “Where the heck are we going?”   A large ugly building is right before them now with more ugly cement and weeds growing hither and yonder but!  They are at the BACK of the Saint Denis Train Station where they both go into the terminal and lo and behold, the TRAIN is WORKING!!


They get on the train, David and his new Black Leather Friend, David thanks him profusely in French and his new friend gives him a big smile.

Had it not been for this “black leather friend” with ne’er a word exchanged,   David would never had made it to his NEW job, on his FIRST day,  on TIME.

Aren’t the French grand?!?

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