Wednesday 27 June 2007

Cours d'anglais Paris

Mushroom etc
Originally uploaded by malias.

I hate to admit it but I quite like teaching English. After 15 years in the IT industry it comes as quite a refreshing change here in Paris. It wasn't always like that. I first taught English in Madrid after finishing university and it was quite stressful because in the UK we really learn very little grammar at school.

When my students asked me the difference between the present perfect and the present perfect continous I was non-plussed. How do you explain the difference between big and large? And what about between baggage and luggage? Gradually you pick things up. And once you do it's a great skill to have because you can work anywhere in the world.

My cours d'anglais Paris are mostly conversation classes so I'm usually just chatting with students.

But if you do have a grammar question, go ahead, ask. I'm ready.

Tuesday 26 June 2007

If Eiffel In Love With You

If Eiffel In Love With You
Originally uploaded by malias.

I've been in Paris 4 years and I still haven't been up the Eiffel Tower. Last Saturday afternoon with time on my hand I wandered West to the Champ des Mars with half a mind of doing just that. However, when I say the queues which stretched around 100 metres beneath the base of the tower I soon put that plan to rest. Getting to the front of the queue would have taken something like 2 1/2 hours. And once at the top would it be worth it. After all, from the summit you can't see Paris's most famous monument - the Eiffel Tower itself. You're better of climbing the Montparnasse Tower.

I had my camera with me and I wondered whether it would be possible, in any way, to take an original photo of this, probably the most photographed monument in the world. The answer is, no, it isn't possible. At least not for me.

Friday 22 June 2007

Le Vide Grenier

The Perfect Spot
Originally uploaded by malias.

The vide grenier or attic sale a popular pastime in Paris. In the UK these things tend to take place in fields and car parks and are called car boot sales but in Paris they sprawl along the high street for anything up to half a mile (very annoying if you just want to get from A to B).

In both places though the crap you find is pretty similar. An old Subbuteo set with several players without heads, a ceramic flamenco dancer that you got on a trip to the Costa del Sol in 1991, old videos, chipped mugs, smelly t-shirts, typewriters with keys that stick, computers from the last century that only run on the DOS operating system.

Yet people come in their droves they rummage and they buy. What is it that draws people to them? Is it is the prospect that amongst all that junk they might just might find a real treasure going for a song. I must admit if there is one in my neighbourhood in Paris I may pop down for a look. Though I still haven't found anything that's any good. But who knows.

Where there's muck there's brass.

Thursday 21 June 2007

Fete de la Musique Paris

place De Vosges
Originally uploaded by malias.

So today 21st June is the longest day. Make the most of this long summer evening because from now on it's a downward spiral to the dark, cold, wet winters just around the corner.

Here in Paris and elsewhere in France it is celebrated with the Fete de la musique a 24 hour music festival which takes place all over the city. The events are free and a great way to spend the day is to wonder around the city from place to place enjoying a taste of a wide range of music on offer. A timetable of events is available on the website.

Wednesday 13 June 2007

Paris Outlaws Snacking

Walking along a Paris street the other day I spotted this.

At the bottom of this ad for a hamburger there is a government health reading which reads Pour votre santé, évitez de grignoter entre les repas. Which translates as; Don't snack between meals it's bad for your health.

First they informed us that smoking was a killer, then they encouraged us to practise safe sex and drink less alcohol all with good reason. Now it's snacking. But perhaps this is a warning too far.

Does the French government really need to tell us when we can and can't eat a croisssant or a pain au chocolat? I realize that obesity is a serious problem but some things should be beyond the realm of state intereference. Surely it should be left to the parents and the schools to educate the young on how to eat properly. I can't see this having any positive effect at all.

And what will the next warning be about? "Take a shower at least 3 times a week or else you'll smell", "Watching reality TV will turn your brain to mush", "Mixing strips and checks is a bad fashion combination".

Let's wait and see.

Friday 8 June 2007

International Switch Off The Internet Day

Tiny Buttons :)
Originally uploaded by betsyjean79.

It seems that every day of the year has been appropriated by one group or another. There is an International women's day, International No Smoking Day even an International Talk Like A Pirate Day on September 19th . Meanwhile Saturday 9th June has been designated world wide knit in public day. Incidentally you London knitters out there might like to know that there is a Central Line knitters group. You go round and round the circle line knitting and drinking tea from a thermos. Sounds like fun.

So I want to start up a day. I gave it some thought and have decided that we all spend far too much time on the internet these days. We need at least one day a year to switch off and go out into the big wide world to do whatever we choose. Play tennis, read Chaucer on the Paris Metro, build a scarecrow out of lego, go for a walk in the cemetery, grope an anteater. The choice is yours. To give us sufficient time to prepare let's say December 13th is International Switch of the Internet Day.

Hooray for that. But now I'm off to sharpen my knitting needles for tomorrow's grand event.

Monday 4 June 2007

Madeleine In Paris

Madeleine In Paris
Originally uploaded by malias.

You are probably aware of the disappearance of 4 year old Madeleine McCann from her parents’ hotel room in Portugal. Now the search for poor Madeleine has even reached the streets of Paris. Tragic as this case is the amount of publicity that it has generated is out of all proportion to the event. Madeleine’s parents have had an audience with the pope, the Prime Minister has got involved and an International Madeleine Day is planned with David Beckham and J.K. Rowling rumoured to be taking part.

Meanwhile as the British and international press indulge in a fury of publicity many other worthy new stories are shoved off the front page. Every day children get abducted all over the world but their cases receive little of no coverage whatsoever.

If every missing child had a poster put up for them in the streets of Paris then you would never see the bricks of the buildings.