Wednesday 26 March 2008

Sarkozy Speaking English

Nicolas Sarkozy is paying a state visit to the UK this week. He'll be a guest of the queen at Windsor Castle and will address both Houses of Parliament (in French). He won't have any difficulty communicating with the queen who speaks fluent French (let's hope he keeps his Blackberry in his pocket this time) but his British counterpart Gordon Brown unlike his predecessor, Tony Blair does not speak good French.

English is Sarkozy's bête noire. At the age of 24 he was rejected by the Institut des Sciences Politiques because he failed the English exam.

Apparently Sarkozy has finally realized that knowing English might be an important attribute for a politician on the world stage. So he has started taking intensive English lessons. Where he is taking them we don't know and I can categorically deny that I am his Professeur d'anglais in Paris.

If the Embedded video is anything to go by then President Sarkozy is in dire need of English lessons. If he manages to learn English then perhaps it will act as a beacon of hope to the millions of English students out there struggling with the language. If he can do it then anyone can.

Saturday 15 March 2008

The Paris Project (Version 2)

Have you got a movie in you? Ever dreamt of directing and staring in a multi-million dollar Hollywood production? well, keep on dreaming because I'm afraid, I can't help. However, on a somewhat smaller scale you might like to participate in The Paris Project, version 2 has just been released. Please have a look and try and guess the locations and the languages. If you are in Paris and you want to take part (version 3 coming soon) then all you need is a digital camera or phone with a video function. See the website for more details.

You won't earn millions but you might make a few people smile.

Wednesday 12 March 2008

The Jewish Neigbourhood of the 9th arrondissement Paris

A highlight to any visit to Paris is a stroll through the historic Marais district to the Jewish quarter around rue de Rosiers with its cafes, restaurants, bookshops, and kosher supermarkets.

This neighbourhood is well and truly on the tourist trail. The once impoverished area has been spruced up to such a degree that it's beginning to become just a little bit too chic with trendy fashion retailers and souvenir shops taking advantage of the deluge of monied foreigners in search of that special gift.

However, there are other Jewish neighbourhoods in Paris such as the one in the 9th arrondissement centred around rue de Richer and Rue du Faubourg-Montmartre, Metro Cadet or Bonne Nouvelle. It's far less chic than the Marais but no less vibrant and interesting.

The Jewish community started moving to this neighbourhood from Eastern Europe in the middle of the 19th Century. Today, much of the community is made up of Israeli and North African Jews. (the photo is of Chez Bob de Tunis rue de Richer). There are 12 synagogues in the area.

So one of these days you might want to abandon the hoards of tourists in the Marais and head for the 9th. Especially if you don't like crowds.

Sunday 2 March 2008

Vegetarian Restaurants in Paris

Originally uploaded by malias.

Life for a vegatarian in Paris is no bowl of organic cherries and although I've noticed that French restaurants are gradually putting a few more vegetarian options on their menus it's still far more difficult to satiate that meat free hunger than it is in London.

If you eat fish then you'll get by, if you don't then there are always the salads and cheese. If you're vegan then I guess you'll be going on a diet.

There are a number of vegetarian restaurants in Paris, but I'm yet to come across a really good one (if you know of one then please, please let me know). The Grenier de Notre Dame (18 Rue de la Bûcherie, Paris 75005) is not going to win any Michelin stars but a has a few tasty options. La Victoire Supreme de Cour (29 rue du Bourg Tibourg 75004 Paris) has a great atmosphere though the food is a little bland. Try Tien Hiang (92 rue du Chemin vert 75011 ) for Chinese vegetarian food.

Sometimes even the concept of vegetarianism is beyond the realm of understanding for some people here. Recently I was in a Japanese restaurant and glancing through the menu I didn't see anything I could eat. I called over the waiter asked him what he suggested, he stared at me incomprehensibly for a few seconds and then said boeuf ça va? (Is beef ok?). No, ça va pas!