|Click map to view larger version
(All photographs can be viewed at a larger size by
clicking on the image)
Summer has definitely gone away and we find ourselves pulling on the woolen
socks, hats and gloves as the weather gives way to chilly temperatures that
come close to freezing at night. What happened to autumn? We’re hoping
for a warm break in November before winter arrives.
But that doesn’t stop the season’s events and the Bastille and
Arsenal are the showground for two major festivals; the first is the oyster
show complete with a life-size display of cultivated oyster beds and fishing
boats, the other is a large contemporary art exhibition. At the oyster show
they have set up several little colorful craftsman cottages wherein one can
learn about oysters and their stages of development. A stage features a couple
of singer comedians singing folk songs and telling tales. The audience is mostly
families who enjoy taking the kids to learn about something new. Surprisingly
there are no oysters for sale; it’s strictly public relations.
The art exhibition is even grander and consists of dozens of substantial wood
shelters that take two weeks to set up. Surrounding the Arsenal they make entering
and exiting quite a task negotiating through a maze of fencing to arrive at
the stairway. The art is very bold and modern and all of it is for sale at
varying prices. Crowds of hundreds mill about the whole time, making the scene
at the Bastille a beehive of activity.
Chez Oo-La-La the month begins with Betty, Rob’s Mom, who has come to
visit after her tour of Ireland. It makes for a great reason to visit the Louvre,
Notre Dame, sit in cafes, have lunch at the Eiffel Tower and just have fun
Notre Dame is only a fifteen-minute walk along the Seine from the Arsenal
and so is St. Germain des Pres, one of the most famous neighborhoods in Paris,
also known as the Left Bank. Lunch at the Jules Verne restaurant at the Eiffel
Tower is a special treat; the view is spectacular and the cuisine exquisite.
Just remember to book about a month ahead of time.
It was lucky to have Betty here the first week of October so she could attend
the monthly barbecue put on every first Thursday by the Paris Yacht Club and
the Arsenal Marina. This month we meet lots of other folks from the United
States, hailing from different parts of the country.
We have discovered a few other outdoor markets within walking distance besides
our regular Sunday morning one featuring French producers of fruits and vegetables,
cheeses, meats, baked goods, olives and spices. Another is open six days a
week and is Algerian/Arab marchands who offer very similar products, however
many of them are kosher or ‘cacher’ in French. Also, one is advised
not to touch the produce directly; the vendors like to pick and bag the produce
themselves rather than toss out a bag for the buyer to fill. It’s different
and sometimes hard to get used to not picking up a pear or tomato to check
for ripeness, but the prices are hard to beat. We haven’t been disappointed
The goods from forays into these colorful street markets usually end up on
the dining table in the ‘conservatory’. This is at the back of
the boat, a tent like structure with four sides, heated so the beauty of the
day can be enjoyed without freezing. So far it’s working very well and
pink curtains have been hung inside to make it even cozier. There we enjoy
dinner parties with friends and relations. This month it was a pleasure to
welcome Parisiennes Marie-Alice and Carole on board. Marie-Alice works with
UNESCO and Carole with the famous Clarins beauty line of products. Also, Fred
and Kitty from Westsail Mariah. They hail from Norfolk, Virginia and are on
a fascinating journey having completed an Atlantic crossing and a tour of the
Netherlands, Ireland and England over the past couple of years.
Around the middle of the month we get a surprise visit from the publishers
of France On Your Own, Diane and George. Their online magazine is very exciting,
full of great information on France and free! Check it out on www.franceonyourown.com.
Stay tuned for we’ll be contributing an article soon to appear early
Our team of port captains here at Arsenal is personable and always helpful.
Bernard, Bruno, Olivier and Guillaume are terrific and there will be more on
them in future articles.
This month is Bruno’s 50th birthday and he has a grand party in style
on one of the excursion boats. Take a look at the size of that champagne bottle!
This is a real bottle that contains 13 times the normal amount and is a big
challenge to open and pour. The job gets done with panache and humor and the
bubbly is consumed with lots of toasts and good-natured stories about the birthday
guy. A great buffet and dancing tops it off.
Friday evenings are reserved for live jazz. Les Associes is a bar/restaurant
just across the street from Arsenal on the Boulevard de la Bastille and lucky
us: they feature a different jazz band every week. Just a five-minute walk
away, 10 PM the music starts and goes on for several hours. It’s a great
spot, elegant and not too smoky. The crowd is young and there are always university
students around since there is no entrance fee. It is really fun to hear a
Frenchman sing songs like ‘It Had to be You’ – it comes out
more like ‘Eet ‘Ad to be Yoo’ so its all the more enchanting
and charming. Maurice Chevalier is still around in spirit.
It’s not just all fun and games. Rob is back in French school, hard
work but he is enjoying the challenge of twisting his brain around verb conjugations,
pronunciation and new words. At least some days he does, it can be very tough
going at times but we have a saying: Il faut persister! (One must persist.)
Marlane is busy word-smithing the book Living the Dream on the Canals of England
to be published early 2004 by Publish America. Check out their website at www.publishamerica.com.
And so the month ends, chilly still, but with one more surprise in store.
A friend from over a year ago, Paul Levy from Montpellier, stops by to see
us since he is in Paris visiting his girlfriend. We met at a café in
Montpellier during lunch one day while we were shopping for the present Oo-La-La
and have stayed in touch ever since. We hope to see him again on his next trip
here. It’s great to move from the south of France to Paris and still
see friends; France is a big country with a big heart too.
.....on to Winter in Paris