Sunday 13 December 2009

Menu For Hope 2009

Menu for Hope is an annual fundraising campaign raising money for the UN World Food Programme with projects in over 75 countries helping local people in communities facing malnutrition to become self-reliant on food. Find out more information about Menu For Hope on David Lebovitz's website. Alternatively read the article on Chez Pim's food blog

LetThemTalk are offering 2 bid items for this year's menu for hope. You can bid for one or 2 sets of 5 "Cafe Conversation" French conversation courses in Paris, these are French courses that take place every Sunday afternoon in a cafe in central Paris. More details here. In order to bid for these or any other of the items on the auction please follow the instructions below and make your bids by 25th December 2009:

To Donate and Enter the Menu for Hope Raffle

Here's what you need to do:

1. Choose a bid item or bid items of your choice from our Menu for Hope main bid item list.

2. Go to the donation site at Firstgiving and make a donation.

3. Please specify which bid item you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per bid item, and please use the bid item code.
Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a bid item of your choice. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02 - 2xEU01, 3xEU02.
4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.

5. Please check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

Saturday 24 October 2009

Swine Flu Fears at the Workplace

Swine Flu Fears at the Workplace
Originally uploaded by malias.

Sometimes well meaning advice can backfire. Recently posters have been appearing in offices all over France admonishing workers not to do la bise, the ritual kissing greeting performed each time you meet a friend or an acquaintance, or even to shake hands. It's feared that virtually any kind of pyshical contact with a fellow human being will aid the spread of swine flu.

Instead, workers are urged to offer hand gestures from a safe distance. The peace sign, the two finger victory sign or the thumbs up. In an admittedly unscientific survey I've found that not a single person is taking these warnings seriously. In fact they consider them ridiculous. It clearly isn't working. Time to rethink strategy.

Monday 31 August 2009

Merde Sable

Merde Sable
Originally uploaded by malias.

Spotted in the Paris Metro this is the worst marketing blunder I've seen in a long time. An ad for "La Mer de Sable" (the sea of sand), or is it "La Merde Sable" - shit sand? Not something you'd take your kids too. Make up your own mind

Monday 29 June 2009

France to cut restaurant prices from July 1st (maybe)

Originally uploaded by malias.

From July 1st 2009 TVA (VAT) in restaurants in France will drop from 19.6% to as low as 5.5%. The cut was agreed with EU finance ministers back in April in order to kick start trade in the sluggish restaurant industry.

In theory this cut should be passed on directly to the consumers whether cafes and restaurants do this in practice remains to be seen.

Certainly there is a feeling that restaurant prices in Paris are too high maybe this cut will start bringing customers back to the tables.

Monday 1 June 2009

Alcohol Ban on the Pont des Arts

No Alcohol on the Pont des Arts
Originally uploaded by malias.

One of the great pleasures of living in Paris is the tradition of picnicing in lovely surrondings whether it be the Parc de Vincennes or the Canal St Martin or, my personal favourite spot The Pont des Arts.

I organised a picnic recently on a fine spring evening on this delightful old bridge. No sooner had we placed our baguettes on the passerelle, unwrapped the Camembert and uncorked a couple of bottles of Bordeaux than we were approached by two uniformed policeman (see photo of them harrassing some other tourists). "Parlez vous français?" they enquired solemnly. When they discovered that we could indeed muster up a few coherent sentences in their gallic tongue they proceeded to inform us that alcohol is now banned on the Pont des Arts.

That's outrageous! We protested. A French picnic without wine is like having a Ferrari that only goes up to third gear. It's just not the same! After our protests we became rather violent, we threw one of the policeman in the river and tied up the other one against the fence.

Ok, the last bit's not true but nevertherless I cannot see any harm in enjoying a little wine with a picnic. If someone is acting drunk and disorderly that's another story and there are laws that deal with that but a sip of vin rouge? S'il vous plait! So Please Mr Policeman give us back our wine.

Thursday 7 May 2009

Tefl Courses in France

Jon Davies
Originally uploaded by malias.

If you've recently lost your job as a result of the financial crisis or you are fed up with your current position and are looking for a new direction, then you might like to consider English language teaching (TEFL) as an option. It's a challenging career and one in which you can work almost anywhere in the world.

For those wishing to embark on such a career it's advisable to get yourself a certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) first. These are intensive four week courses providing you with theory and great deal of classroom practice to prepare you for life as a TEFL teacher.

If you're interesested in getting your TEFL certificate in France then I would highly recommend studying at a new school just opening up in Toulouse Tefltoulouse. The Director of TEFL Toulouse is Jonathan Davies a friendly Brit with many years of teacher training experience in Spain and France before opening up his own training school in Toulouse.

Sunday 12 April 2009

Cafe Conversation - Au Pere Tranquille

Here we have a video of Au Pere Tranquille 75011 Paris. We held our first Cafe Conversation French group here on the first floor. It's a great location especially on the first floor however I must admit it was a little bit nosier than anticipated so perhaps not a perfect location to study.

Saturday 4 April 2009

Cafe Lou Pascalou 75020 Menilmontant Paris

Here is a short video I took at my local cafe the Lou Pascalou (14 rue des Panoyaux 75020 Paris, Metro Menilmontant 9am - 1am daily). It's trendy and yet doesn't compromise it's old fashioned French style. Prices are reasonable and there is a large terrace outside.

The young man sharing a beer with me is another exiled Brit called James


Wednesday 1 April 2009

Paris to introduce Chevalib city horse rental programme!

The Tower and the Horse by moonsoleil

While the G20 discusses climate change at their London summit. The mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoë has stolen their thunder by announcing a new horse rental programme that is hoped will eventually replace cars in the French capital.

From 1st April 2010 Paris will introduce Chevalib which is similar to the Velib bicycle rental programme except that it will run with horses! You will be able to rent a horse for as little as one Euro for half an hour at one of the many planned horse stations situated throughout Paris. Once you’ve finished with the animal you can hand it back it at another terminal.

This scheme will work on several levels. Firstly, it will reduce reliance on the motor car thus cutting pollution and climate emissions, secondly the manure produced by the animal will be sent to farms and applied to crops in place of artificial fertilizer and thirdly once the animal has gone beyond its use for carrying people it can be killed and eaten!

Because of the harshness of the urban terrain a more sturdy type of horse is being imported from the Isles of San Seriffe.

This is an amazing new scheme let’s hope that other cities around the world join soon. It may not be suitable to every place in the world but as they say, it’s horses for courses.

Monday 23 March 2009

Au Pere tranquille Paris (new French language course)

French language course paris
La Pere tranquille
Originally uploaded by LetThemTalk

This is Au Pere Tranquille, 16, Rue Pierre Lescot
75001 Paris. The location chosen for the new French course. "cafe conversation", which will start next Sunday 29th March. More details here.

Paris cafe conversation French language group

I thought this was a good location for the French course. It was from the end of the 19th century a nightclub and cabaret venue it became a bistrot and cafe after the war. It's a large elegant place with a terrace and a first floor which, hopefully, will be a suitbale venue to study French.

Video here

Au pere tranquille Paris, video

Friday 20 March 2009

Promenade Plantée Paris

promenade plantee parisThis is the Promenade plantée an elevated park built on a disused railway track in the 12th arrondissement of Paris. At ground level the spaces between the arches that held the railway line have been converted into shops and workshops and is known as the Viaduct des Arts.

A railway line carried passengers along this route from 1859 until the 1970s until it was replaced by new suburban routes. For some time afterwards there was a debate as to whether to tear down the viaduct or to put it to some use. Fortunately, the walkway proposal won the debate and the promenade plantée was opened in 1994.
It’s and enjoyable walk along a 4.5 kilometre route stretching from Bastille, just behind the opera to the Bois de Vincences.

Its makes for an interesting stroll both in the park on top of the arches or on the street below. At street level you can explore the arches which hold a number of workshops, and shops related to arts, crafts and textiles as well as some cafes and restaurants. To join the promenade plantée clim the stairways next to the archways at various points along the route along Avenue Daumesnil which runs parallel. From up above you can either enjoy the tree lined route or peer down at life on the streets below.

Wednesday 11 March 2009

French Conversation Course Paris

French course ParisA new French conversation class is starting this month in Paris from Sunday 29th March onwards. It's entitled "Cafe Conversation" and, as the name suggests will take place in a Paris cafe. It will be a weekly affair every sunday between 3pm and 5pm. It will be informal and will be lead by a native French group leader rather than a teacher. So it's not a formal French course.

The plan is to change the cafe from week to week so that not only can the participants improve their French but they also get to know some interesting Paris cafes.
All levels of French are welcome and you're welcome to come if you live in Paris or you just here for the weekend. However, places are limited so if you're interested it's advisable to book early.

For more information please click here Cafe Conversation French Paris

Wednesday 4 March 2009

The Worst of Paris

This is a photo of Charlles de Gualle airport AKA Roissy AKA Dante's 10th circle of hell.

Your experience of it can vary depending on which terminal you're in but if you're unlucky you'll be faced with navigating through a huge ugly concrete mess of a structure with endless passegways and a maze of escalators seemingly leading nowhere.

If you're arriving in Paris for the first time it can be a shock. Not only do you have to put up with the worst major airport in the world but no doubt you'll end up on the train that leads you to Gare du Nord through some of the worst neighbourhoods of Paris. It's not quite the city of light that you imagine.

This weekend I had to fly out of Paris from Charles de Gualle airport. I got past the passport and security checks and had half an hour before I had to board my flight. Unfortunately, in my haste, I had forgotten to pack some essential toileteries. I wandered into the shops in the airport shopping mall and found, much to my annoyance, that you are able to buy indispensable items such as Beluga Caviar and metre long bars of Toblerone but you cannot buy a toothbrush!

Sunday 22 February 2009

Rue de Lappe Paris 75011

This is rue de Lappe. A cobbled street in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, in the Bastille neighbourhood and best known for its nightlife.

When I first moved to Paris it is here that I rented a small attic room of a building built in 1750. I’m a sucker for history, so when I was looking for an apartment and the landlord told me that the courtyard in front of the building, the Cours st Louis, played an important role in the French Revolution for it was here in July 1789 that the Sans Culottes, the radical Parisian working class movement, congregated before marching on to tear down the Bastille an overthrow the king and state, I didn’t need any more convincing. I loved the fact that from the very apartment where I was going to live France and indeed the world was changed forever. Despite its historical significance, a year later I had to move out for a reason far more prosaic – it was infested with mice!

During the 19th Century rue de Lappe became a centre for skilled artisans particularly for ironmongery. Later in the 19th Century and in the 20th Century rue de Lappe started picking up a reputation as a centre of Paris nightlife. By the 1930s 17 dance halls were installed in the street one of which the Balajo (9 rue de Lappe, 75011 Paris) still exists. The Balajo played host to many legendary entertainers of the day such as Edith Piaf and Django Reinhardt.

Today rue de Lappe is still a lively place with a great number of bars, cafes and restaurants. One of my favourites is the Bistrot le Sans culottes (27 rue de Lappe 75011 Paris). It’s a 1920s café with a rare pewter bar. There is also a hotel on the establishment. For more lively places try Some Girls (43, rue de Lappe, Paris 75011) or Bar a Nenette (26 bis Rue de Lappe. 75011 Paris). A good restaurant is Chez Paul at the end of the street on the corner with rue de Charonne.

Sunday 8 February 2009

Le Marché des Enfants Rouges Paris

This is the Marché des Enfants Rouge (The Market of the Red Children) whose colourful name comes from an orphanage which once resided nearby and whose children wore red uniforms. The market stretches back to 1615 which makes it the oldest surviving market in Paris.

It is a pocket sized gem of market situated on rue de Bretagne in the 4rd arrondissement of Paris and you’re more likely to come here to partake of an al fresco lunch at one of the many cafes that lie within its gates than you are to do your weekly shopping. I’d highly recommend the Japanese cafe which serves some of the best Japanese food I’ve had in Paris. There is also good Traiteur Marocain: serving couscous tajines and pastilles, a Caribbean café, a pizzeria and Italian deli and café and a French wine bar and restaurant which is the only place to have indoor seating; plus you can get soca, roti and huitres and a lot more besides to fill your picnic basket.

It’s a splendid place but was once almost demolished in the 1990s to make way for a car park but was saved after a campaign by local residents.

While you are there be sure to check the photography shop specialising in portrait photography and where you can delve through a vast array of old photos and postcards on sale. Watch video here Fabien Breuvart Photographie

Marché des Enfants Rouges: 39, rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris. Métro: République, Filles de Calvaire or Temple.

The market is closed on Monday.

Friday 30 January 2009

LetThemTalk Paris Blog

Speaking Englisch
Originally uploaded by malias.

Here is a shameless plug for The Other Blog that I write. In fact it's principally a blog of links to articles and videos of stuff I use while teaching English here in Paris. There is also a bit of English Grammar thrown in for good measure for those who need it. Nevertheless, here is the link. I hope you find it enlightening. LetThemTalk Paris blog

Monday 5 January 2009

Cafe du Croissant Paris

If you find yourself in the second Arrondissement in Paris near to Metro Bourse you might like to take a detour to the Cafe du Croissant (146, Rue Montmartre, Paris 75002). It was here that on the 31st of July 1914 just before the outbreak of war that the French Socialist party leader Jean Jaures was assasinated.

Jean Jaures was a pacifist and had been desperate to prevent the outbreak of what would be the first world war. He'd encouraged General strikes by workers in Germany and France aimed at forcing their governments to negotiate a settlement. Alas his efforts were in vain. He was assasinated by Raoul Villain a French nationalist who was controversially acquitted for the murder after the war.

A journalist of The Manchester Guardian was present at the cafe at the time of the assasination he reported on 1st August 1914:

"At about half-past nine, when we were just finishing dinner, two pistol shots suddenly resounded in the restaurant. .....we saw that M. Jaures had fallen sideways on the bench on which he was sitting, and the screams of the women who were present told us of the murder.....M. Jaures was shot in the head, and the murderer must have held the pistol close to his victim. A surgeon was hastily summoned, but he could do nothing, and M. Jaures died quietly without regaining consciousness a few minutes after the crime. Meanwhile the murderer had been seized and handed over to the police, who had to protect him from the crowd which had quickly collected in the street. At that hour in the evening the Rue Moatmastte [sic] is filled with newsvendors waiting for the late editions of the evening papers."

If you do stop by at the Le Croissant hopefully your stay will be less dramatic than poor old Mr. Jaures.