I was walking down the Rue Hautefeuille in the 6th arrondissement yesterday when I stumbled upon one of the few remaining medieval "corner towers" in Paris. I'm told they used to build these so that they could have a wider view in all directions -- in case there was trouble coming down the street. You can see that there are 2 visible windows plus there is actually a 3rd you can't see from this angle. What I loved about this tower was the lovely carved-stone detail work at the base. Let's face it it wouldn't have been structurally necessary to decorate such an exterior feature, but whoever commissioned the work clearly had the money to pay the stonemasons to be creative. Wonder what it looks like inside that little "room" with a view?
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The Champs Elysées may be the most famous street in Paris, but it is not the street with the most money being thrown around. That honor probably goes to the Avenue Montaigne, where you can find many of the major haute couture houses as well as the Plaza Athenée which is the most expensive hotel in Paris. I've not yet ever had the nerve (or been dressed well enough) to go into the lobby or bars of the Plaza Athenée, but I've always loved the exterior with all the flower boxes hanging from every window: The hotel just reopened recently after a year-long luxury renovation. Although Avenue Montaigne is known by women for all the couture houses, I just recently realized there is something on this street that would interest a lot of men: the luxury cars that are parked just in front of the entrance to the Plaza Athenée. Every day for the past 3 weeks, as I have passed by on my morning bus to work, I've seen this gold Lamborghini, complete with license plates in Arabic, so clearly there is some sheik or oil baron having a long stay in one of the hotel's best suites. I...
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So, now that my coworkers and I all know we are getting the boot at work, of course everyone is talking about it. It's not just the reservations team that is impacted; there is an across-the-board staff reduction that takes place at this time every year for the 15 years they've been in business. It's just the nature of the seasonal tourist industry, I guess: they need more guides and tour hosts and reservationists when things get crazy for six months out of the year, and then they no longer need that many people, so most of the jobs will always be temp jobs. It was always thus, and probably always will be... thus. Different people are reacting in different ways, of course. Some of the staff left weeks ago because their own plans changed; one girl had gotten married and needed to go back to the US to deal with her new Visa to stay in France with her French husband, and others have headed back to school or back to their home countries to see family or get other jobs. Some are working until the end of their contract but have already made plans to either get another...
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This week in France was the rentrée. Technically that means the "return" or "re-entry", the time when people come back to work after their vacation and when the kids go back to school. Because so many French (especially Parisians) take most of August off for vacation, when everyone comes back nearly all at once, it's like Paris goes from being a sleepy summer town to a crazy metropolis, almost over night. Once again, the lovely half-empty buses and metro cars of summer are packed like sardine cans at rush hour. It's always a busy time for us because we still have a school-age child at home. His first full day of school was yesterday, so now we're back to our normal school-year routine on the weeks when he's staying with us. In a few days, my little peanut will turn 13, too -- although he hasn't hit his full-on growth spurt yet, he's no longer the Little Guy. Now we have a teenager on our hands. For me, I was already back at work two weeks ago; for Georges, he went back to work last week but because many of his colleagues were still en vacances, it was pretty quiet...
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