Deux cents mots.
Sometimes less is more.  Sometimes more is more.  But for the times when the former is in order, you will find it here for exactly two hundred words.  That, in itself, is just about the only thing that binds all of these pieces together.  We have a close friend who says it just right:  “Keep it short.  Keep it simple.”  It’s a tall order but we’ll do our best.
  • The Return:  A City Changed  
  • Bargain Eats:  Avoiding the Know-it-alls 
  • Fab:  Years, Years, Years   
The Return:  A City Changed


When we left in late August, Paris was still slowly awaking from its month-long slumber.  Well, most of it anyway; the interesting parts that don’t need or want 30 extra days of tourist dollars, yens, etc.

When we returned, barely a week later, the city appeared to have moved on without us.  La rentrée, it’s called, a sort of new beginning when a mass of people return from long vacations, suddenly having things to be done, places to go.  They have a word for everything. Our momentarily quiet rue des Canettes went from a place where one could actually imagine little ducklings (canettes is French for ducklings) wobbling on the cobblestones to one where hipsters and the occasional tourists peruse trendy little shops, make hidden food finds, and drink at the many bars (canettes also means beer bottles, so much for having a word for everything).

After dinner, we encountered a family making a ruckus on boulevard Saint-Germain.  A well-heeled, older couple turned to look and shook their heads as if to say:  “There goes the neighborhood.”  We feel the same about this whole rentrée business.  But this is Paris and it changes.  That much is true.  

Bargain Eats:  Avoiding the Know-it-alls


Someone once responded to an article about bargain eats in Paris:  “I’m not flying all the way there to eat chicken chow mein.”  He obviously had not been to 21st century Paris.  Those who actually visit this culinary melting pot today will encounter numerous Chinese fast food joints in tourist hot spots that could prove tempting in light of the exchange rate and after one meal too many of what Mr. Chicken Chow Mein thinks is “French” food.

But having dragged your body and appetite this far, you should be warned that the pretty-looking Asian dishes at these places won’t please your stomach as much as your eyes.  Not least because everything is turned soggy in the microwave.  Think American-mall food-court Chinese and dial it down a few notches.  Instead, head for real sit-down Chinese where the price is not much more and the food beaucoup tastier.  Try Mirama at 17 rue Saint-Jacques in the 5th.

Remember too that while being multicultural is good, serving food as if multicultural cuisines were all the same is bad.  So, avoid places that specialize in “chinois-vietnamien-thaïlandais” just like you would uninformed know-it-alls.  

Fab:  Years, Years, Years


In my balmy Paris summer rotation was a black Beatles number, the cover of A Hard Day’s Night.  One day, at my French language school an instructor spotted that shirt.

C’est très bonne musique,” she said in my direction, “mais vous êtes très jeune.”

When I finally realized she was talking to me I think I smiled or, at most, uttered a weak merci to convey that great music is ageless.  Later, a young classmate who was half my age – half my age – took interest in that exchange.

“What’s your favorite Beatles song?” asked the girl who was not yet ten when half of the group had died.  I tried to think of something off the beaten track, deserving of my shirt and all this attention.

“Eleanor Rigby.”

She gave a blank stare and turned away.  I felt like Father McKenzie and his sermon that no one will hear.  I had nixed, as predictable, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, the demo version with the extra verse:  “As I’m sitting here, I doing nothing but aging ...”  Come to think of it, the Fab Four was just three by the time I was five and still mired in a repertoire of lullabies.  


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