The Adventures of a 12 pound Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie) going to Paris.


Tom & Maxine like to travel. Blogging helps us create a record of the trips, and share with friends and family...

Friday, September 22, 2006

Coffee, Versailles, Speaking French, People in Tents

On Wednesday I went to a coffee shop as part of the MeetTheParisians program (we had previously been to a cheese shop through this program -- a prior blog entry). The guy at this coffee store is a second generation coffee roaster/retailer. His father opened the store (at this location, with this coffee roasting machine) 60+ years ago -- his father retired from the business 6 months ago at age 97.

I've had other coffee that I've enjoyed. I'm not even sure that this is the 'best' tasting coffee I've ever had. But, I have never been more pleased to drink coffee that someone has made for me! By 'made' I mean that the beans were selected from a burlap bag at my feet, they were roasted in a 60 year old machine 10 feet from where I was standing, and brewed on the spot. I enjoyed the taste, I could taste a depth of flavor that I don't ordinarily notice in coffee, and I respect the idea that someone would be spending their work life getting good at coffee, something that is so ubiquitous.

On Thursday Maxine & I went to Versailles. It's very famous so I won't add anything by writing about it. The one particular thing though which struck us was this. We went to Versailles before, in 1985. At that time the guy who sold the tickets could speak only French and we had to enlist the help of a passer-by to communicate. This time the ticket person (a different one obviously) was happy to joke with us in English. We've really noticed a strong move towards speaking English. People are definitely pleased when you speak French to them, but it is also the case that just about everyone we've met (retail and otherwise) can speak more English than we can speak French (and, we put what seemed to us like a pretty good effort into improving our French language skills before we got here!)

Finally, a contrast we've noticed between Los Angeles and Paris. In LA it is very easy to be insulated from the rest of the city. You get in your car and you drive from your PointA to the Point B you are headed towards. You might see some economic diversity, but in LA, not very much. However, here in Paris we've seen many people living in tents (mostly along the Seine River). This paragraph is not a comment on poverty in France versus the US, or about how economic diversity (OK, the poor) are treated in other places. All I'm looking to do is to observe that, at least for me, seeing people in such bad circumstances matters in a different way -- you know they exist differently if you pass them by than if you read about them...


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