Just when you’re beginning to spot all the radars on the road, these show up. The new radars they’re installing all over France are higher up than the old box ones and they can do much more than their predecessors. For example, not only will they flash you if you’re speeding by it, they can also measure the distance between you and another car (so the tailgater, whether a local or not, will get ticketed). They come in two sets so they also can measure your speed based on the distance between the two radars. The ones we noticed were about 5 kilometers apart. In other words, if you’re not speeding when you pass the first radar but begin to speed afterward, if your average speed is above the limit you will get ticketed because the second radar is also watching you and clocks you. This means you can get ticketed even though you’re not speeding by the radars (but were in-between). I’m not explaining this very well but simply watch your speed and keep an eye out for these new radars. Of course, if you never speed while driving, you have nothing to worry about.
radar and flash
I’m not advocating that you join the ranks of formula one drivers (please drive safely!), and I realize that it’s best to stay within the legal speed limits. However, sometimes we’re not sure of the speed limit. It’s merely a heads-up because frankly, we just need to know.
For what it’s worth, there are surely apps to let you know where radars are and/or where you can inform them of new radar locations.
At some point in time (I don’t know when because I wasn’t paying attention), the kebab places in France branched out and offered kebabs wrapped in flour tortillas (they call galettes) or inside the usual pita pocket bread. It made me realize that big tortillas were available in France somewhere! I had to find some for me to use at home. These are the large, flour tortillas that you’d find wrapped around a yummy burrito somewhere in the Mission district in San Francisco. You know, the gordos! They seemed impossible to find in France. The small, dried out tortillas in the supermarkets here just don’t do the trick.
So how can you get these tortillas since they still do not offer them in the markets? The most logical answer: your kebab place!
I got these (in the photo) from our kebab guy. They’re labeled as Dürüm ekmeği, which I think means (durum) wheat flour (wrapping) bread in Turkish. There are 18 halal tortillas and there are no trans-fats and they are easily freezable according to the packaging. Just make sure you place parchment paper in between each tortilla when freezing. I measured them (yes I have a ruler!) and they are 12 inches in diameter. Exactly one foot! Hmmm.
There are so many gorgeous places in France, it’s hard for us to see all of them – especially if we keep returning to one place. We can’t help it. We find ourselves going back often to Annecy and its surrounding areas. We sat by the lake and I turned on my camera to capture the moment.
After living in France for nine years, I just had a realization about the drinking glass sizes in a cafe. Better late than never, I suppose. Okay, what am I talking about? When I go to a cafe, I oftentimes order a Perrier with a syrup, for example, a “Perrier Cassis” (Perrier and black currant syrup). For the longest time, it annoyed me that they’d bring a glass with the syrup at the bottom along with a full bottle of Perrier. The entire contents of the Perrier would never fit in the glass so I’d have to drink it then when there was more space in the glass, I’d add more Perrier thus diluting the taste of cassis each time. I’d wonder why on earth they couldn’t give me a glass to fit everything at once. I now know why. They brought me the wrong glass. For nine years! So if it’s a bottle of Perrier, the glass has to be a Perrier glass. If it’s an Orangina, the glass has to be an Orangina glass. Same with other drinks. And so, if they match, everything fits perfectly. Thank you awesome cafe in Dijon. You’re the only cafe that does it right.
I shot this video on a pedestian shopping street in Arles, France one day and just stood in one place with my camera while people watching. Sorry I ddin’t have a tripod so it’s a little wobbly! I really love how the video turned out with the live music (accordion, violin) in the background, the two guys shaking hands but not stopping to chat with each other (does that happen in the U.S.? I dunno.), every day flower buying in the foreground, but what I love especially here is that everyone ignored me completely. I love being ignored! Really. This is what I love about France haha. It sort of reminds me of New York (being ignored) except there’s prettier architecture.
Me: WHY can’t we find corn on the cob in France? I want to bbq some during the summers!
Him: We can find it, cherie. Didn’t you see them in all the fields around? I’ll just go pick some for you.
Me: What??! No, dude. They might be the GMO, pesticide ladened, industrial, poisonous varieties.
Him: Anyway, corn on the cob is pig food.
Me: Yet. French people eat canned corn.
Him: Yeah, so?
Me: Canned corn comes from CORN. ON. THE. COB.
Him: Corn on the cob is for pigs.
…and people wonder why I have to make fun of France. Back to corn. Did anyone notice that canned corn is labeled differently? I remember when canned corn always had instructions to rinse the corn before consuming it. I always did that, never realizing that it was probably because of the Bisphenol A (BPA) inside the can (or dirt). These cans still have BPA but the labels to rinse them first have disappeared! Weird, but I guess it alerts consumers that there’s something wrong with the corn. And, as most evil industrial minds reason, the solution is to remove consumer information so they don’t know there are risks. Yea, keep them in the dark! It’s like the law that was just passed in the U.S. where salmon does NOT need to be labeled that it’s genetically modified so people won’t know that the salmon they’re eating is not only bad for them, it’s also potentially dangerous to their health. écoeurant.
Shouldn’t you go to the little shops BEFORE you buy all your groceries? Nevermind, these “lockers” for shopping carts are still a great idea. Just leave a deposit and get it back when you return the locker key.
A quick note to let you know that I’m on Twitter, especially for the people reading RSS feeds. Please look for me there because I definitely tweet more about France than I blog, for what it’s worth. You can find me here: PT Ford on Twitter (ptinfrance).
Although the government is about to reduce the subvention amount for environmentally smart home energy, it began offering a different incentive for electric bikes. Receive 25% off (up to 400 euros) if you purchase an electric bike in Paris. For the moment this offer is restricted to Paris and Paris residents only, which means you’re supposed to have a Parisian address to qualify. We were lucky to receive this offer when we purchased our first vélo électrique, which is awesome. We bought this bike here.
I’m not sure if this offer will apply to other French cities.
The following massacred French recipe was committed by the folks at that omnipresent family cafeteria/restaurant in France, Flunch, not me this time around.
We strolled by a Flunch yesterday and saw this huge sign for a new offering: The American Galette. While you’d think it would resemble a French sandwich américain, with its nonsensical bratwurst, grilled veggies and fries inside a baguette – surprisingly, La (chouette/nice) galette américaine sort of makes sense (in a Frenchy way) sporting basically a burger and its fixings inside a galette (a savory crepe usually made with buckwheat flour). Is it any good? I dunno but I think it needs fries inside!
My sweetie HAPPENED to be in the Montmartre neighborhood of Paris’ Best Baguette of 2010 and grabbed a couple of warm baguettes to see how spectacular they are. A few shops down, he found an award winning charcuterie for their fromage de tête, Christian Durant Charcuterie, and picked us up some artisanal foie gras (I wouldn’t have minded some of that award winning fromage de tête but oh well!) Both baguette and foie gras were pretty fantastic. A slight bémol regarding the baguette. It could’ve been perhaps more airy inside but that’s how I personally like them. They were, in any case, deliciously thin and crispy on the outside and soft in the inside – and paired with the foie gras, a perfect and typical French indulgence for any time of the day!
Le Grenier à Pain
The Best Baguette in Paris 2010
38 rue des Abbesses
75018 Paris France
Charcuterie Christian Durant
30 Rue des Abbesses
75018 Paris France
This is a guest post from Why Travel to France contributor, Patricia. (Thanks, P!)
I thought readers would appreciate this funny, French item I found in a supermarket the other day. It made us laugh out loud but somehow I’m not sure any French person would notice it. It’s an ironic twist on air fresheners: a foot! Just guessing, but I have a feeling who ever came up with this item, was another marketing exec who had no idea that some consumers (like me) might see it as “funvertising.” I mean, using a foot to freshen a car … is brilliant, isn’t it? I love it. Frenchies, you are priceless, and you made my day when I found this Smelly Foot Air Freshener.
Maybe the tagline should be: Rafraichissez l’intérieur de votre voiture avec un pied qui pue...
Wait a minute. Do French people LIKE the smell of feet? I didn’t think of that.
Today marked the 17th “Grand Prix de la Baguette de Tradition Française de la Ville de Paris” which translates to the “Best Baguette in Paris” contest. By luck of the draw, I managed to be selected as one of the jury members and spent an incredible 4 hours sitting next to Ghislaine Arabian tasting close to 150 baguettes.
It may seem hard to believe, but a lot of mediocre bread can be found in France. Walk into your average corner bakery and if you don’t know what to look for, or to ask for, you risk walking away with a very average, and at times inedible, baguette.
We barely watched any of the Winter Olympics this year but did catch a few minutes of the biathlon (target shooting, cross country skiing) one night. The French athlete, 23 year-old Vincent Jay had apparently been in the lead for a long time and remained in first place as the race continued. Then, my sweetie says, “He’s going to crack and lose.” Me: “Wha? Don’t you want him to win?” “Yeah, but he’s going to lose. I know it and everyone in France watching right now are saying the same thing.” Me: “They said he just won the gold medal yesterday.” Him: “He got lucky. The French ALWAYS lose.” Me: “No they don’t.” Him: “Yes they do.” Me: “Where is your Olympic spirit!? I want him to win! You know, this collective Franco-negativity consciousness is going to MAKE him lose.” Him: “Wish all you want, It ain’t gonna happen.”
It turned out in the end Jay dropped to third right before the finish, but at least won the bronze medal. Him: “See, I told you. The French choke in the end.” Me: “!!!” Him: “You should’ve known.” Me: “Living here this long, I’ll eat pizza with a fork and knife, and I’ll drink morning coffee from a bowl, but expect failure without exception? NO.” Him: “What can I say? C’est plus fort que moi.”
This was another one of many clashes of cultures we experience: American Optimism (realistic or not) vs. The Undying French Pessimism (among other things). I call it “Ces impossibles Français,” which happens to be the name of a book recently released. I had to get it once I heard about it, although I haven’t gotten too much into it yet. Written by a French Canadian (Louis-Bernard Robitaille) who has been living in France for over 30 years now, it promises to be a light-hearted, warm and funny read, I think particularly for expats living with an impossible Français, or any expat living in France. Note: The book’s in French.
After having left the south of France for Burgundy, finding cheddar cheese where we live was ambitious if not impossible. We’d resort to grabbing a huge block of it from Phillippe Olivier in the north of France. Of course, that meant that we’d have to drive a long seven hours to get there. (Nevermind that I could visit my in-laws at the same time!) Now, it’s a little easier, seeing that I’ve stumbled upon Seriously Strong Cheddar cheese (from Scotland) at a nearby supermarket, which is part of a huge chain.
For an industrially produced cheese wrapped in plastic, it’s actually pretty good. It’s crumbly, which supposedly means it’s a high quality cheese. (Info I’d gotten from a cheesemaker in Vermont). The one I bought said it was aged for 12 months, and while its brand name claims it’s strong, I didn’t find that it was particularly strong at all, but that’s okay it tasted good. I’m not fond of when the cheese is so sharp, it stings the palette in your mouth. In any case, this will be good for cheeseburgers, Mac n Cheese, Cheddar Cheese scones and just with bread or whatever, when you’re looking for variety away from the home grown French cheeses.
By the way, mature hard cheeses (Mimolette, Comté, Beaufort, Tome de Savoie, etc.) develop their sharpness in flavor because of the millions upon millions of dust mites inside them (not just on the rind). In fact, many of the master cheese makers trade these microscopic bugs, which has been a well-hidden trade secret for a long time…and for obvious reasons!
France’s reputation for culinary genius has traditionally set the standard to which all other countries aspire. It has always been synonymous with outstanding cooking, with its kitchens as important a part of Gallic culture as its art and language.
Not any more, according to a devastating investigation behind the kitchen doors of restaurants in Paris.
Rather than master chefs and fresh ingredients, restaurants in the world capital of haute cuisine are increasingly relying on microwave ovens and deep freezers to feed their customers, it found.
Industrially produced ready-meals, “flavour sprays” and untrained catering staff are all part of an unsavoury mix which is dragging down standards in French cooking, according to a documentary shown on France’s Canal+ station at the weekend.
It sought to prove that such deception is becoming increasingly common. Using hidden cameras and even searching dustbins, investigators found numerous restaurants trying to pass off third-rate food as the real thing.
The last year or so in L.A. has proven that food trucks not only have evolved far past their “roach coach” days but also have inadvertently contributed to reducing people’s carbon footprints. These roaming restaurants that come to you, offer anything from gourmet Korean tacos, grass-fed beef hotdogs, cupcakes, Banh Mi, BBQ, sushi, crepes – you name it, you can probably find the meal on wheels you’ve been looking for. I like the idea of the Green Truck running on vegetable oil, using biodegradable containers and serving organic food. The only glitch is that the food is not local, which is understandable in L.A.
France has had food trucks for many years in the form of pizza trucks in the south and French fry trucks in the north, not to mention the awesome cheese trucks, butcher trucks, bakery trucks… oh! and roasted chicken trucks and more. Aside from the pizza and fries trucks, I haven’t seen much innovation in rolling fast food until recently, and this one is pretty cool.
Taking food trucks to a whole new level and incorporating today’s “green” needs, Christopher Mauduit and Fabrice Vanderschooten launched Hippo Facto last November near the city of Caen, which is located in north west France just about 10 miles inland from the English Channel. What’s not to love about it? Pulled by Percheron draft horses and dedicated to sustainable living and organic, local products, Hippo Facto couldn’t be more brilliant. Respecting the environment and serving fast organic and local fare that’s simple, healthful and creative, you can order fruit/vegetable juices, tartines, soups among other offerings. The containers are also compostable.
You’re right, I can’t imagine a food truck like this in a megalopolis such as Los Angeles. Picture the road rage of people behind the horse and buggy! Hippo Facto seems to work where they are. Of course, it takes them two hours to get to Place de la République in Caen. That’s all good considering there’s no fossil fuels involved, they don’t live in a speedy world and besides, some people commute longer than that in cars every single day. Now THAT’S crazy.
Every Wednesday & Friday
Place de la République – Caen France
On Weekends, they’re on the coast:
Bernières-sur-Mer, Lion-sur-Mer and Courseulles
Website: Hippo Facto