Water Levels Rise in Paris & Seine Overflows

 

Feature Photo Paris Flood 3

Paris, France – June 2016 – Photo Credit: Bellanda

Although nothing like the Great Flood of Paris in 1910, the Seine has risen to impressive heights. As you can see, it has taken over the Quai and continues to rise.

edited

Paris, France – June 2016 – Photo Credit: Bellanda

 

 

IMG_20160602_124618

Paris, France – June 2016 – Photo Credit: Bellanda

 

Paris flood fallen tree

Paris, France – June 2016 – Photo Credit: Bellanda

 

Feature Photo Paris Flood

Paris, France – June 2016 – Photo Credit: Bellanda

As a result of the rising levels of the Seine, metro and RER closings have begun for reasons of security. RER C in Paris, the central section, will be closed from 4 pm today.  Due to its close proximity to the Seine, Metro Saint-Michel Notre Dame station is already closed, and several other connections are no longer possible.

– Bir-Hakeim sur la ligne 6

– Invalides sur les lignes 8 et 13

– Assemblée Nationale sur la ligne 12

– gare Saint-Michel (RER B et ligne 4)

– Cluny La Sorbonne sur la ligne 10

Please check with RATP for further updates on metro/RER closings/openings:

http://www.ratp.fr/fr/ratp/c_15907/l-etat-du-trafic-sur-nos-reseaux/

UPDATE: 

Exceptional closure of the Musée du Louvre & Musée d’Orsay on Friday, June 3, 2016 due to the rising level of the Seine. The museum staff will be doing what is necessary to protect works located in flood zones.

Last Days of 2013 in Paris… Thank You For Making This An Awesome Year!

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began this Paris expat blog a little more than a year ago, but we now have 5100+ followers with visitors from 108 different countries across the planet. This has been an incredible blogging journey and I hope that you will accept my heartfelt thanks for such a wonderful reception.  I had heard that the blogging community was strong, but I never imagined that I would gain a blogging family who would also interact with me on Social and Professional Networks like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. What a lovely surprise. You’ve helped make 2013 extraordinary.

The Last Days of 2013

Paris: The Last Days of 2013
Photo: Bellanda ®

I look forward to sharing 2014 and Paris with you.

Bellanda ® Photo : ©2014 Bellanda  All rights reserved.

Bellanda ®
Photo: Bellanda ©2014 
All rights reserved.

Paris Lights The Sky In Honor Of Nelson Mandela

While driving by the Eiffel Tower just before the Christmas holidays, we stopped the car to take in the view.

Paris lights the sky in honor of Nelson Mandela Bellanda ®

Paris lights the sky in honor of Nelson Mandela
Bellanda ®

A true definition of humanity, inner strength and courage… we were blessed by your passage here on earth.

The heavens now shine brighter with your presence. Rest in peace, Nelson Mandela.

Forever grateful,

Bellanda

Do Parisians Really Need A Rule Book On Metro Etiquette?

PARIS METRO

PARIS METRO

Recently, the Paris Transit Authorities published a new rule book in order for Parisians to act more civil on the metro. These rules are written in an old-fashioned and comical way, and are accompanied by humorous sketches. To give you a little idea of their content, here is a rough translation of some of the rules. (The full French version can be found here: http://www.chervoyageurmoderne.fr/Manuel.pdf )

Rule N° 1 tells Parisians to be courteous. It reminds them that the enormous no-smoking sign on the metro platform is not a piece of artwork but a sign forbidding smoking.

Rule N° 2 tells Parisians to be helpful. It reminds them to offer help to a person wearing Bermuda shorts while holding a map in one hand and their head in the other. *Try not to be offended by the whole Bermuda shorts thing… Perhaps you will be more successful than I was.

Rule N° 4 also tells Parisians to be helpful. This time, it reminds them to hold the exit door for the person behind them. It continues to say that in life one should never miss the occasion to cross paths with someone who might give them a pretty look.

Rule N° 9 shows a drawing of a man dressed in old-fashioned clothing looking at the woman sitting across from him with binoculars. The rule simply states to be courteous. It warns them not to stare at people, even if she has killer eyes. Ummm… She? I’m going to let that one pass by reminding myself that this is obviously one of those French kind of things to say.

Rule N° 10 says to be courteous. It reminds Parisians not to provoke a duel with someone who has accidentally stepped on their foot.

Rule  11 shows a drawing of a sweaty French man holding the pole above his head, so as not to fall. Sweat drips down from his armpit onto some poor business man who is trying to protect his head with his briefcase.  The rule tells Parisians that on hot days, they should keep their arms down along their sides and to try to hold the pole from below and not above.

Although I find some of this rule book amusing, I believe it to be a rather ingenious way to push the focus and or blame on Parisians so that we don’t look at what is truly making the metro ride unpleasant for many. Parisians seem to be an easy target due to the existence of a stereotype that says they are rude.  I’m not even sure where that came from. Perhaps back in the day that might have been the case, but the Parisians I see today are modern, worldly and come from all walks of life.  They are a far cry from how they are being portrayed. No, not all Parisians are perfect. That said, neither are all tourists… but really? Are we at the point that necessitates taking time, energy and money to publish an online metro rule book for Parisians?

I am not a true Parisian, nor do I claim to be, but in this case I feel that they are getting a bad rap. After living in Paris for 11 years, I have taken the metro more times than I can count. I have always been an observer, and can attest to seeing Parisians help tourists clutching maps, among other lovely gestures like holding doors and giving up their seats for the handicapped, elderly and pregnant women. I have also seen Parisians jump to the aid of people with a baby carriage or heavy suitcase as they attempted to climb the metro stairs. In France, chivalry is far from dead.

These metro rules are all well and good. They can even be taken in a fun and light way, but somehow while reading through them I couldn’t help but look at the big picture. Let’s just say that when my naive self imagines a perfect metro commute, it doesn’t include any of these so-called rules.

My perfect imaginary world includes a metro station where I do not have to let trains pass during rush hour just to push my way on board one of the later trains. This perfect metro car would have enough room for everyone to fit inside comfortably, and have a ventilation system and/or light air conditioning so that we wouldn’t even have to worry about someone sweating on us as they reached up to hold the pole. The metro car doors in my imaginary world, open and close automatically with a lovely and calming ding-dong-ding chime so that I could keep my zen moment alive. As I dream on, I imagine working escalators throughout a clean smelling network of tunnels. Automated metro exit doors would give me enough time to pass through with my wheeled briefcase and then close softly behind me. *Sigh… if only.

I have read many articles about the Paris transit system’s plans and about how they are currently working on building a better metro system. Some of these articles even talked about adding over 100 miles of new metro lines. Wouldn’t it be great if their dream metro system and mine somehow merged into one at some point in the very near future? I don’t know about you, but that would put me in such a good mood that I’d even smile more than I do. Who knows? Perhaps smiling would even be as contagious as yawning!

Do Parisians really need a rule book on metro etiquette, or do they just need a more pleasant environment to travel around Paris? What are your thoughts?

I’m Not a French Chef, But Moving to France Has Changed This Expat’s Eating Habits!

This Expat Has Changed Her Eating Habits Since She Moved to France.

This Expat Has Changed Her Eating Habits Since She Moved to France.

As someone who has openly admitted to giving Americans a bad name when it comes to food and cooking, I have made huge changes since I moved to France. Although, we will still go to a fine restaurant from time to time to eat things we can’t possibly make ourselves, my New York lifestyle of going out to eat, grabbing or delivering something has become almost non-existent. Most importantly, my pasta no longer sticks to the wall like wallpaper paste, and you can actually cut and chew a piece of meat that I have cooked (much to the relief of my dear sweet man and children).

Although I know that I will never truly be French in my attitude and habits, food has become almost sacred for me. I’m not sure when it happened, but when I was recently asked if my eating habits have changed since I moved to France I was surprised by my answer. The change is in fact so dramatic that I’m not even sure if I should be proud or embarrassed.

As I write this blog post for you, I almost feel like a food snob. Okay, I think the word almost  is an understatement. I’m not proud, but I think that I have actually become one! We buy fresh foods found at the market. By fresh, I mean… literally. I cringe at the thought of buying or eating meat, fish or poultry that wasn’t cleaned/prepared for me in front of my very eyes. I don’t think I ever saw a fish head until I moved to France, and although I get laughed at by my French friends, I still don’t want to see it on my plate. Somehow, I don’t think I will ever evolve to that, nor do I want to. That said, fish and other meat products should be fresh. Who knew that fish doesn’t smell fishy if it is fresh? Okay, please don’t answer that. I’d like to continue thinking that I am not the only one who thought, all fish smells fishy.

Fresh Fish from Local Market

Fresh Fish from Local Market

As if the fresh meat and fish idea isn’t enough, I can’t help but gasp at vegetables or fruit in a can. If you just opened one up for dinner, please don’t hate me. The one thing I noticed here in France, is the ease with which one can find local markets that are open several times a week. Pretty much everything I buy come from the nearby fresh markets, leaving the supermarket for staple items like flour, sugar, etc. There is one hump I can’t get over… I buy mayonnaise and I will never put raw egg on my homemade Fettuccine Alfredo (Now, it is my Mother In Law who is gasping). The germ and virus fearing American in me just can’t get over that whole salmonella thing.

Although my Mom shakes her head and laughs about how crazy I have become about not buying something canned, I somehow feel better when she compliments my cooking and asks me to give her recipes.

Market Vegetables

Market Vegetables
Bellanda ®

Fresh Market Vegetables

Fresh Market Vegetables
Bellanda ®

You might be shaking your heads by now thinking, Who knew Bellanda was so crazy? She seems so normal in the Social Media Circle.  Hold that thought… Things are about to get worse or better depending on where you stand. When my children were little, one of them made a comment about carrots coming from the fresh market.  They were shocked to hear that they actually came from the ground before they made it to the market. Thus began a whole new way of thinking and buying food. We went online in search of a farm, and we not only found one not too far from Paris, we found one where you pick your own fruits and vegetables.

If you caught my Halloween Pumpkin Post, one of our little farms just happens to be the same place we buy our pumpkins at Halloween:  La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny.  http://www.cueilletteduplessis.com/index.php

La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny D20 - Route de Lumigny 77540 Lumigny Photos: Bellanda ®

La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny
D20 – Route de Lumigny
77540 Lumigny
Photos: Bellanda ®

Put on your boots and grab one of the many wheelbarrows at your disposal to start loading it up with fresh delicious fruits and vegetables.  We do!

"Mommy, look what we pulled up from the ground!"

“Mommy, look what we pulled up from the ground!”
Bellanda ®

"Only take the red ones..."

“Only take the red ones…”
Bellanda ®

Oh, and don't be afraid to get your hands dirty... That is the fun part!

Oh, and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty… That is the fun part!
You can wash them later when you rinse off your vegetable at the big outdoor sink.
Bellanda ®

Farm Fruits and Veggies Bellanda ®

Fall Season Farm Fruits and Vegetables.
Oops! It looks like we forgot to tell our little ones not to crush the freshly picked salad.
Bellanda ®

Although we don’t play farmer  as often as I would like to, it is a must for so many reasons: great produce, decent prices, and we get to teach our little ones about buying what is in season.  With the ability to buy any and all fruits and vegetables throughout the entire year, I didn’t even know what in season meant back home.

Much to the amazement of my Mom, we eat a real breakfast and cook two meals a day. I think the only reason she doesn’t call the men in white suites to bring me back home is because from time to time I will make a sandwich for lunch. My children adore them, so I try to ignore and put up with my Mother In Law saying in an almost shocked tone, “Oh, I see they’re eating American today? I guess they can eat French for dinner.” Even though I see sandwiches everywhere here in France, apparently I will never be truly French, no matter how much my eating habits have evolved… but hey, I’m totally okay with that.

Halloween and Jack-O’-Lanterns in Paris? This Expat Says, Yes!

Halloween and Jack-O'-Lanterns in Paris? Bellanda ®

Halloween and Jack-O’-Lanterns in Paris?
Bellanda ®

On a trip to the United States, my dear sweet French man was asked, “Do you have chicken in France?”  I nearly fell on the floor in shock that he was asked that, but a couple of years ago I suddenly felt like that person asking about chicken. Do they have Halloween carving pumpkins here in Paris, and if so where can I get my hands on one?

I have been a fan of Halloween ever since I was a little child. I never missed the chance to dress up for the occasion even as an adult… that is until I moved to France in 2001. “What? Dress up?” After seeing more shaking heads and laughter than I could handle coming from those around me, I began to imagine that they were thinking something to the effect of, silly American. Needless to say, I haven’t dressed up since.

That said, when my children were three and four years old I couldn’t help but think, I’ll be darned if I am going to let my half American children miss out on Halloween. My expat backbone stood up proudly. Who cares? Even if the people we knew didn’t celebrate Halloween, I was going to do so with my children.  I had no idea where to buy costumes and where to find pumpkins, so I did the only thing I knew how to do. I called my Mom and had her ship me over two costumes and abandoned real pumpkins for coloring pages of pumpkins. My kids were going to wear costumes even if they were the only ones doing so.

Although my dear man thought I was crazy, we took the children to the Paris zoo for the day, and yes they were the only ones wearing costumes. I looked at their smiles and the costumes they wore so proudly and thought, you show them! Yes, I know… my kids will probably sue me one day.

How did it turn out? Well, people looked, or should I say stared.  I was pleased that most looked on with smiles. There were a few sneering people, but I decided it best to actually look them in the eyes, give them a huge smile, and turn to laugh and play along with our little angels. Each year, Mom sent over costumes… and with each year, more and more of our children’s little French friends starting celebrating with us.

I discovered a few years after the zoo episode that I was just another clueless expat, fumbling my way around Halloween thinking no one really celebrated. I was so wrong! Some do celebrate… but they do so conservatively in comparison to the United States. There is also a controversy about Halloween being disrespectful to the dead that has even made some villages actually stop all Halloween activities in public places.

Over time, I’ve found costume stores all over Paris that sell and rent costumes and accessories, but only recently did I find the best  way to buy pumpkins!  I’ll save you the pain of searching by giving you one of the locations that has become our go to place for this, as well as for many other things. We found a farm about 40 minutes from Paris (depending on where you live within the city).  It has a pumpkin patch! http://www.cueilletteduplessis.com/index.php  I know, it is far for some, but as you will see… well worth the visit.

La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny D20 - Route de Lumigny 77540 Lumigny Photos: Bellanda ®

La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny
D20 – Route de Lumigny
77540 Lumigny
Photos: Bellanda ®

Look at all of those Jack-O'-Lanterns! Photo: Bellanda ®

Look at all of those Jack-O’-Lanterns!
Photo: Bellanda ®

La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny takes Halloween seriously! Photos: Bellanda ®

La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny takes Halloween seriously!
Photos: Bellanda ®

La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny even gives out Pumpkin Recipes! Photos: Bellanda ®

La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny even gives out Pumpkin Recipes!
Photos: Bellanda ®

Take your pick… or better yet, let your little ones run around screaming with delight as they pick out their own pumpkins! Maybe we’ve lived in Paris too long, but we were pleasantly surprised by the prices. Two or more pumpkins were priced at 2.65 euros each, less than two pumpkins were priced at 3.70 euros each. Although I haven’t included a photo, there were many pumpkins on the ground to make it easier for children to make their selection.

La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny   Photos: Bellanda ®

La Cueillette Plessis in Lumigny
Photos: Bellanda ®

Grab one of the many wheelbarrows at your disposal and start loading it up!

La Cueillette Plessis Photos: Bellanda ®

La Cueillette Plessis
Photos: Bellanda ®

Meet our very own Jack… soon to be Jack-O’-Lantern! The children selected a model image given to them by the farm, and I got to work drawing.

Meet Jack... soon to be Jack-O'-Lantern! Photos: Bellanda ®

Meet Jack… soon to be Jack-O’-Lantern!
Photos: Bellanda ®

Let the little ones get their hands dirty with you… that is if they don’t go off screaming like our little princess.  😉 When all is said and done… this is our third Jack-O’-Lantern in the City of Light. We are thrilled to add the light of our Pumpkin’s candle to this beautiful city we call home.

Get your hands dirty. Bellanda ®

Get your hands dirty.
Bellanda ®

Our Jack-O'-Lantern's light now shines proudly in the city of light. Photo: Bellanda ®

Our Jack-O’-Lantern’s light now shines proudly in the city of light.
Photo: Bellanda ®

Update:

If you are in Paris and would like to celebrate, people don’t usually stock up on candy and many would probably look at you strangely if you rang their doorbell on a Trick-or-treating outing.  There are, however, a couple of interesting places that will be having Halloween Parties and Events this year:

Disneyland Paris

Park Asterix

Le Manoir de Paris

Stade de France

L’Hippodrome d’Auteuil

Hard Rock Café Paris

Monster High Halloween Party with Bateaux Parisiens

(For a French link of event details) http://www.sortiraparis.com/loisirs/guides/43816-halloween-a-paris-2013-pour-les-enfants-et-les-grands 

This year, I will actually be sporting a glitter covered cat mask.  A very happy Halloween to you all!