J’arrive à Paris

Et voilà – I am in Paris. My flights were uneventful – an hour-and-a-half late leaving SFO, but I still made my connection at ORD with ease. Dieu merci that my flight to CDG was in the same terminal or my goose’d’ve been cooked. I actually arrived at the gate just as they started boarding. And let me just say that my new United Explorer credit card perk of pre-boarding is fantastic. Plus, I managed to switch seats and had an aisle and window all to myself for the trip across the Atlantic.

Didn’t sleep much and arrived CDG weary but alert. Train from airport to Gare du Nord (quel dump!) was really easy. Had a bit of trouble finding a taxi, but eventually found one (the driver was handsome and had a sexy scar on his face – o la la!) and I quickly arrived at my apartment, welcomed by my hostess Thuy-Tien. She was kind enough not to mention that I was sweating and stinky… The apartment is great, located on a small street in the 4th. And despite its compact size it has an amazing shower, which I jumped into as soon as I’d unpacked.

Had a quick walk around the neighborhood after a nap. Ahh Paris… I had forgotten how amazing life is here. Every street is filled with cafes and restaurants and nearly every one of them is filled with people all the time. Doesn’t anybody have to work..? Le sigh… La vie Parisienne… The other thing I noticed is that, while people certainly use their phones here, everyone is talking to one another rather than staring into a little screen and texting somebody who’s not with them. And people on their own are all reading books and magazines. It’s delightful.

Stopped in a pharmacy and was able to request and obtain Band-Aids and hydrogen peroxide en français. I was quite proud of myself…

Dinner later at Chez Jenny, an Alsatian place in my ‘hood, recommended by mon bon ami Ralph. I had the choucroute (though I forewent the version with the pork knuckle – it seemed a bit much…) and thoroughly enjoyed it. AND I did all my ordering en français – unlike the Brits next to me, who were handed English menus. Quelle horreur! Though I’d better not get too cocky – I’m likely to wind up ordering calves lungs or something at dinner one night…

Walked around later to the gay bars in the Marais – including the mysteriously named Le Bears’ Den. Some very lively places, though, as in SF, many people out with their BFFs, so I didn’t get to do much socializing. Oh well…  We’ll see how things go – but I’ve certainly had plenty of practice at people not talking to me…

The thing that is kind of hilarious about most of the bars is that they are quite small, so everyone hangs out drinking in front. They put up ropes to designate the area that is still the bar and where one may drink – but have staff who regularly adjust to ropes to make more room and also scold you if you’re standing too far from the proximity of said ropes.

Got lost on the walk home (oh these twisty little streets) but a taxi got me there eventually. Up early this morning, grabbed a croissant to have with ham and eggs prepared chez moi and now I’m off to the Balenciaga show at Les Docks. À bientôt!

How much sharper than a serpent’s dent

Liliane Bettencourt and François-Marie Banier

The NYTimes has been periodically covering the French scandal involving Liliane Bettencourt, heiress to the L’Oreal fortune and the richest woman in Europe, and her daughter, Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers. And boy is it juicy!

Mme. Bettencourt-Meyers is alleging that her mother is surrounded by manipulative sycophants who are scheming to enrich themselves from the Bettencourt fortune.  One of the beneficiaries of Mme. Bettencourt’s largesse is “society photographer” François-Marie Banier who has received, among other things, an island in the Seychelles.  The daughter filed a lawsuit against her mother in 2007, attempting to wrest control of the family fortune from a mother she portrays as doddering and out of touch…  Sacre bleu!

And it gets better – the French Labor Minister has been forced to resign amidst allegations of nepotism, after his wife was hired to help manage Mme. Bettencourt’s money. There are also whispers that he overlooked Bettencourt tax obligations during his stint as budget minister in charge of tax collection.  Other accusations include the distribution of cash-stuffed envelopes to politicians who visited Mme. Bettencourt for tea.  Plus, an apparently disgruntled former butler for Mme. Bettencourt secretly recorded her having discussions that touched on tax havens, tax evasion and Swiss bank accounts.  Apparently a movie is already in the works…

But my favorite part thus far is Mme. Bettencourt’s comment during an interview on TV:

My daughter could have waited patiently for my death instead of doing all she can to precipitate it.

How do you say “Oh, snap!” in French?

French Heiress vs. Daughter and Political Intrigue