petite anglaise

August 18, 2006


Filed under: city of light — petiteanglaiseparis @ 11:14 am

I wait for the downpour to finish, craning my head out of Tadpole’s window to see if there is any forked lightening to accompany the ricochets of thunder. It’s a good job she’s not here with me. Last time we witnessed a storm she pressed anxious hands to her ears and begged me to make it go away, testing my omnipotence to the limits.

“Mummy, tell the clouds to stop bumping!”

I realise I should probably start reading up on a few things I have forgotten since GCSE science, now that we have entered “why?” territory.

There is no sign of a taxi at the junction, so I plunge down into the bowels of the métro instead. I am struck by how natural this feels, after my awkward experience in the London Underground. My hips instinctively know the height of the turnstile barrier and precisely how hard it must be nudged. My feet lead me to the optimum position on the platform, aligned with the exit I need when I get off. I feel the familiar bumps of the podotactile through the thin soles of my shoes.

With the KLF roaring in my earbuds, I sit back and close my eyes. I know how many stops there are before I reach my destination; I know the quartier (Bastille) better than the village where I grew up.

As the train pulls into the station, I raise the handle so that the double doors glide open while the carriage is still in motion, allowing me to alight, gracefully, at the precise moment it reaches a standstill. I walk along the platform, springing steps in time with the music in my head.

Sometimes, just sometimes, I feel like I own this city.


  1. Oh no! You’re not an Ipod junkie are you?!

    Comment by Tom Amos — August 18, 2006 @ 11:18 am

  2. I do love the Ipod when I’m alone. I like having a soundtrack.

    Comment by petite — August 18, 2006 @ 11:24 am

  3. Me too! and “I like having a soundtrack”…what a great way of describing it, I’ll remember that and tell my family who pour scorn on me for my Ipod habit!

    Comment by Susannah — August 18, 2006 @ 11:32 am

  4. I’m stuck in rainy St Andrews, missing Paris terribly, counting the hours until I get back on sunday. And I have to do the “getting home from the airport” run (kicking my bag under the barrier) before I get to embrace my inner parisienne again… I’m just a wee bit jealous!!

    Comment by sas — August 18, 2006 @ 11:37 am

  5. I can appreciate the feel of a soundtrack too, as you make your way along the streets of Paris… I’ve become a recent ipod addict — I’m a bit behind the times actually! — and I find myself plugging it in more often than not. Although sometimes I actually just need to be alone with my thoughts, and in that case I don’t put it on at all…

    As always, a very vivid description, Petite. I could totally see you making your way along the métro hallways!

    Comment by Always Ace — August 18, 2006 @ 11:38 am

  6. I could really smell the metro reading that description: it has a very distinctive smell.

    Comment by lilacstripe — August 18, 2006 @ 11:55 am

  7. I love using my MP3 phone for an aural background to life. Somehow it makes me feeling like I am living on video.

    The Paris métro is good for this and taxis are almost non-existant under the rain. Too bad the métro isn’t open all night like the New York subway.

    By the way, I love thunder!

    Comment by Lost in France — August 18, 2006 @ 12:07 pm

  8. meraba

    Comment by murat — August 18, 2006 @ 12:30 pm

  9. selam

    Comment by murat — August 18, 2006 @ 12:31 pm

  10. :)

    Comment by Andrew — August 18, 2006 @ 12:34 pm

  11. Now you’re having me miss Paris again, not for the first time.

    Comment by ontario frog — August 18, 2006 @ 12:53 pm

  12. Sounds like this would be the site for you…

    “The air around the lightning strike becomes extremely hot. So hot that it actually explodes because the heat causes the air to expand so rapidly. The explosion is soon followed by what we all know as thunder.

    Thunder is the shockwave radiating away from the strike path. When the air heats up, it expands rapidly, creating a compression wave that propagates through the surrounding air. This compression wave manifests itself in the form of a sound wave. That does not mean that thunder is harmless. On the contrary, if you are close enough, you can feel the shockwave as it shakes the surroundings.”

    Comment by ellybabes — August 18, 2006 @ 1:47 pm

  13. “Sometimes, just sometimes, I feel like I own this city.”

    Sorry if I sound like a literary critic (I’m not!), but one of the things I like most about your blog writing are the the “one-liner” endings, for lack of a better word. Like this one from May 15th : “The jury is still out”. Your slices of life would not be the same without this kind of “punchy” ending, that closes the subject and at the same time opens the discussion on another level.

    I could say that it is part of your technique, but I’d rather say it is part of your talent (I wanted to say genius, but as someone already said, you’be probably had enough adoration already… :)

    Comment by Gilles — August 18, 2006 @ 2:07 pm

  14. i’m so jealous. sometimes i feel like i’m the only one left that doesn’t own an Ipod. i wish i had a soundtrack. instead it’s more like a silent movie with patrons talking the backround.

    Comment by Hammers — August 18, 2006 @ 2:09 pm

  15. Soundtrack? What about:
    The Lightning Seeds
    I’m Going Underground – The Jam
    …then you emerge from the Metro to the soundtrack from “Ghostbusters” (I LOVE this City!)

    Comment by Murphy — August 18, 2006 @ 2:33 pm

  16. I remember when I was in China, it had a soundtrack. Helped get through some rather awful days… and now, when I hear those songs, I’m back there.

    Comment by Anna — August 18, 2006 @ 2:42 pm

  17. It has taken me several weeks til I was able to know exactly in which position to press my bag against the navigo plate and, in the meantime, at which moment my hips should hit the turnstile barrier. And doing so while listening to the Ipod is a little tricky, because since you can’t hear the navigo buzz anymore, you have to really feel when the moment to push the barrier is right.
    Well, when you become an expert at that you really feel like you own at least the metro.

    Comment by pardonmyfrench — August 18, 2006 @ 2:42 pm

  18. Wouldn’t it be funny to associate/end each post with a soundtrack ..? You did it sometimes, and it gave a supplementary “thing”.

    (where “thing” does not necessarily equals “commercial partnership” ;))

    Comment by aymardo — August 18, 2006 @ 2:48 pm

  19. Heard about you in the newspapers, like most people I guess… I really like your writing. I love Paris, and would have loved to go and live in London…
    I wonder if my life there would have been like yours in Paris…

    Comment by xyz — August 18, 2006 @ 3:06 pm

  20. My hips instinctively know the height of the turnstile barrier and precisely how hard it must be nudged.

    I know what you mean. Although I have to say I’m working on a ‘double-nudge’ system, particularly in the RER, having been caught out several times by the turnstile going half-way forward, then back to its original position just as I run the Navigo over the reader and hit the turnstile with my 15 stones of in-a-rush-to-catch-the-train English guy. Highly not recommended, unless you think that the ‘severely bruised-thigh’ look is very becoming ;-)

    Comment by Iain — August 18, 2006 @ 3:08 pm

  21. So are there days when you feel more Parisian than English?

    Opening the doors on a moving train???

    Comment by Dave of the Lake — August 18, 2006 @ 3:14 pm

  22. The thing I used to love about the Paris metro was how wonderfully cheap it was. When I was living there, it would cost me under £30 a month to use it, and being there recently I noticed that it has only gone up marginally since.

    The London Underground, however, cost me £99.90 a month to use and runs well approximately 0.005% of the time. And every year, our beloved mayor ‘Red’ Ken Leninstone slaps us hard across the face with inflation-busting price hikes. I wouldn’t necessarily mind quite as much if the cash actually went to making it run more efficiently. Instead, however, the private companies that are supposed to be overhauling the system are actually doing almost fuck all (resulting in a summer of speed restrictions on the District line) and making big fat profits in the process.

    How I miss Line 2!!

    Comment by David In London — August 18, 2006 @ 3:19 pm

  23. I am going to Paris for the first time in a couple of months. What is a “must see/go/eat/walk” for a Parisienne virgin?

    Comment by tomatopuree — August 18, 2006 @ 3:37 pm

  24. I just read your word of the day piece about podotactile, and the bit about Caecilius. I did chortle – we studied the same books in Australia. I remember getting to the big about the female slave – was it Metela? – and thinking, “Finally, Latin gets interesting!”

    I do like the Metro. It seems so much more jaunty than the tube.

    Comment by Damian — August 18, 2006 @ 3:46 pm

  25. ellybabes. All that explanation is not neccessary.
    “the richochets of thunder” describes it beautifully :-)

    Comment by rodney — August 18, 2006 @ 4:09 pm

  26. What happened on the Richard and Judy show then?

    Comment by David — August 18, 2006 @ 4:41 pm

  27. Lovely. I remember feeling like this that time I felt I belonged there. I think it’s got something to do with kiddies age, also- feeling you belong so much in the/your world.

    Comment by fjl — August 18, 2006 @ 4:50 pm

  28. Another blinder in true Petite style!

    Maybe at this moment in time you do own the city, your audience certainly seem to think so. :)

    Such moments of contentment/freedom often get buried in the humdrum of living, enjoy the moment!

    Comment by Tattieheid — August 18, 2006 @ 5:38 pm

  29. OH Yeah. That’s how I am about the Smoke. It’s my city. xx, e

    Comment by ellie — August 18, 2006 @ 6:13 pm

  30. When we become adults we get to chose our home, and it often has nothing to do with where we started. Sometimes there are barriers to getting there, but if we’ve found it, we’re obligated to ourselves to try until we’ve arrived. Thank you dear for helping me remember that.

    Comment by Sophmom — August 18, 2006 @ 6:49 pm

  31. awww, you’re so cute and petite the turnstile comes all the way up to your hips! ;)

    Comment by maitresse — August 18, 2006 @ 7:03 pm

  32. Waoh, your words are so precised that they made me feel like someone did in fact managed to put into words what I felt there, what it is like to be an “habitué du métro parisien”

    As a former parisian exiled for an indefinite period of time somewhere in the US, I hope I could feel the same, so far from home. This post definitely gives me confidence.

    Sam, qui a découvert ce blog récemment et en est devenu un inconditionnel en quelques posts.

    Comment by Sam — August 18, 2006 @ 7:35 pm

  33. je me surprend à lire ton blog à la maison.
    I like this quote (I don’t remember the true words):
    “there are slices of life, I want to shot pieces of cake”.
    A. Hitchcock

    4 roses

    Comment by 4 roses — August 18, 2006 @ 8:35 pm

  34. zut un verbe irrégulier… to shoot…

    Comment by 4 roses — August 18, 2006 @ 8:40 pm

  35. The podotacile strips are for traction/slip resistance too.

    Comment by seren — August 18, 2006 @ 8:50 pm

  36. Please, please do not close your eyes on the metro! I was pretty violently attacked the other day outside La Defense on the RER A. I had my eyes open and still didn’t see it coming!

    Comment by angela — August 18, 2006 @ 9:44 pm

  37. I’m bored with the ipod. Waiting for the next best thing.

    Comment by Banana — August 18, 2006 @ 10:23 pm

  38. Good pictures you posted on the “Today, I…” post. Don’t know if everyone scrolled down and saw them though. I did it by accident…

    Comment by Gilles — August 18, 2006 @ 10:25 pm

  39. I think the quote you refer to is “a lot of movies are about life, mine on the other hand is like a piece of cake” (I don’t know what it is in French). Another one of his is If you have got them by the balls their hearts and minds will follow, which I think probably shows Hitchcocks notorious sadistic streak.

    Comment by Gerald Sibleyas — August 19, 2006 @ 1:25 am

  40. I love how she said, “tell the clouds to stop bumping!” So cute!

    The Tart

    ; )

    Comment by Cheap Tart — August 19, 2006 @ 2:09 am

  41. I totally get the “soundtrack” experience.

    There are times when I am wondering around Melbourne, that I will actually change the pace of my steps and the directions I travel just to fit in with the music.

    Current favourites lie within the soundtrack for the tv show “lost”, it is suprisingly good.

    As for Paris, when I was there, I couldnt resist being very very retro and kitsch and listening to Plastic Bertrand’s “Ca Plane Pour Moi” whilst walking through the Louvre. I had to have a Clarke Griswold moment.

    (i feel quite uncouth for admitting that fact now)

    Comment by Phillo — August 19, 2006 @ 3:46 am

  42. For the first time traveler to Paris comment, my answer to that question is…Rue Mouffetard. It sounds cliche but it’s true.

    During thunderstorms, my fifty pound retriever jumps on my lap and hides his floppy ears and head beneath my arm pit. I guess this is a much better coping method than when he would have an accident instead.

    And I agree with Sophmom about chosing our homes and doing what it takes to get there. I use to feel that magic in New York, but it faded somewhat over the past couple of years. Then I went to Paris, and that old feeling came right back again.

    Comment by Sam — August 19, 2006 @ 4:31 am

  43. The Paris Metro:- I love the way the driver hoots the horn…. as an “aussie” I felt right at home with Paris, the people and the metro for sure.. :o)

    Once, I bought some groceries from a little shop in ru didiot. Not speaking a word of french, almost ahamed.

    4 months later i was back in paris, and as I walked past the shop, the man said “bonjour aussie!” he rememembered me… I think I was a few inches taller that day…. :o)

    Comment by simon — August 19, 2006 @ 9:07 am

  44. ashamed! geez… I cannot even type english. sorry!

    Comment by simon — August 19, 2006 @ 9:08 am

  45. Hmmm. My experience has been that on the London underground everyone is so polite that, especially in the morning, they are all silent and reading their morning newspaper. People don’t look at one another.

    On both the New York subway and the Paris métro (in my younger sluttier days) I have “connected” with people. Perhaps I shouldn’t have mentioned that, but I think there is a cultural difference there.

    Comment by Lost in France — August 19, 2006 @ 10:02 am

  46. This is a nice piece of writing Anglaise – it invites you to read more…..

    Comment by Zizou — August 19, 2006 @ 12:16 pm

  47. I stopped soundtracking my life. I need to hear my thoughts. I need to hear clothing and body rustle.

    Comment by Bruce — August 19, 2006 @ 1:28 pm

  48. It’s funny that you should mention “the soundtrack experience” and Melbourne in the same breath, Phillo because last year I took the overnight train from Melbourne to Adelaide and couldn’t sleep (I think I was high on the complimentary champagne!) I ended up listening to my Ipod all night and kept playing Roy Orbison’s “I drove all night”, I only have to hear the first few notes of that song now and I’m transported back to the land of Oz!

    Comment by Susannah — August 19, 2006 @ 1:56 pm

  49. P.S. Phillo, I love the way you say “there are times when I am wondering around Melbourne.” what a wonderfully descriptive style you have!;)

    Comment by Susannah — August 19, 2006 @ 2:03 pm

  50. What is a KLF ?

    BTW – you might want to edit forked lightening to accompany the richochets of thunder you have forgotten some of your English and developed some alternatives ! LOL

    Comment by Rick — August 19, 2006 @ 7:08 pm

  51. I am always amazed at how you make me miss Paris.
    Reading your site makes me feel a little bit closer.
    Thank you

    Comment by Mad William — August 19, 2006 @ 7:22 pm

  52. My little grand daughter has got an ipod and she is only seven she danses around the house to it. Kitty cat dolls is her favourite she has it on so loud that I can hear it as well.

    Comment by Mildred — August 19, 2006 @ 7:56 pm

  53. Have you read this?

    Comment by Louise — August 19, 2006 @ 8:35 pm

  54. Sometimes a city coupled with a form of personal music will make a person escape into their own private bubble…a sphere of anonymity amidst a crowd of millions.

    Know the feeling well…just wish i was able to experience it once again. Living in rural america (pop 18,000) sort of takes away from it.


    Comment by Jon — August 19, 2006 @ 11:01 pm

  55. well, now that my iPod is showing the sad iPod face of doom, I think maybe I won’t be having this experience much in the future…

    Comment by petite — August 19, 2006 @ 11:53 pm

  56. Ah, that’s a shame Petite, I hope your Ipod holds out. I can certainly understand why you have fallen in love with Paris, though and I try to visit whenever I can. Last time I was there I stayed in the Montmartre area which was wonderful, very bohemian and has been the home of many famous people from the world of art and literature including Picasso (I’m sure you already know all this, Petite).

    When I was on the plane from London there was an anouncement that we had to fill in a special form if we weren’t European residents, of course I am A European and it just made me feel so proud to be one.

    Comment by Nicholas — August 20, 2006 @ 12:13 am

  57. In July 2004 when starting blogging Petite posted at least one a day and sometimes several but sadly, now I’ve caught up on the archives, far fewer.
    Not having one, what exactly is the sad iPod face of doom?

    Comment by Andrew — August 20, 2006 @ 1:03 am

  58. Thank you for your comments Susannah!

    Embarrassingly enough, I didnt intend to say “wondering” but “wandering”.

    That said… in hindsight, it makes total and perfect sense.

    Comment by Phillo — August 20, 2006 @ 1:33 am

  59. improve your playlist… don’t give up !

    Comment by Aymardo — August 20, 2006 @ 3:23 am

  60. Rick – you must be younger than 30 if you don’t know what the KLF is! It’s a band from the early nineties. Have a look at this for more info.
    Petite, my mum used to tell me when I was very young that thunder was the angels banging on drums and having a party with flashing lights. When I was older she said it was hot air and cold air bashing together which is much more like the truth I suppose. A lovely post yet again, even just when you’re dealing with the métro! Keep them coming…

    Comment by Paris Lights — August 20, 2006 @ 5:53 pm

  61. Petite,
    Don’t despair regarding the ipod face of doom. I bought one for my husband, his did the same face after a while and Apple’s advice was to wipe it and start again. Cue, much swearing and pouting, so much so he shook the ipod and guess what? It sprung back into life! We’ve since successfully administered such brutal abuse to the ipod ever since. It may not work for you but nothing ventured…

    Comment by Welsh Cake — August 20, 2006 @ 8:21 pm

  62. Sadly it is so very unhappy that I can’t even put it into disk mode and restore it. The computer is oblivious to its existence. And as it was a replacement for the last one which broke, it was under guarantee for a further 6 months, now expired. So… I’ll send it back, and if the repair bill is too high, it will bite the dust until I can afford a new toy.

    Comment by petite — August 20, 2006 @ 8:32 pm

  63. Petite it sounds to me like your pc’s USB port could be dead. Have you tried the Ipod on another computer?

    Sorry…I’m in the IT field and dumb questions like this one are in my nature…I posted about you and the ipod today :)

    Comment by Jon — August 20, 2006 @ 10:14 pm

  64. a) beautiful writing, beautiful.
    b) nice to see you have some nonesense-talking spammers too.
    c) I am glad I am not the only one who pretends they’re in a music video when walking with ipod. Everything has meaning with music. Cars hooting, dogs pissing…


    Comment by Billygean — August 20, 2006 @ 11:59 pm

  65. First the iPod face of doom. Then iPod rage, followed no doubt by post-Pod Trauma conselling backed up by endless cups of coffee at the iPodless Bereavement support group.
    Makes me glad I enjoy the country life where the only thing you see in ears is wax. Oh, and deaf aids (from the annual shoots).

    PS i-Pod – good name for a baby?

    Comment by Andrew — August 21, 2006 @ 12:40 am

  66. Belle étrangère

    Dans Paris
    Quand le ciel gronde et zébre de ses traits lumineux
    Loin de ses terres natales,séparée de ses proches,

    Seule à Paris
    S’invite le SPLEEN:

    “Quand le ciel bas et lourd pèse comme un couvercle
    Sur l’esprit gémissant en proie aux longs enuis,
    Et que de l’horizon embrassant tout le cercle
    Il nous verse un jour plus triste que les nuits;

    Les autres strophes peut etre un autre jour de pluie et d’ennui ;-)

    bisous français (;-))

    et puisse le sort vous être favorable dans vos infortunes diverses du moment

    Comment by spleen — August 21, 2006 @ 9:35 am

  67. Petite,
    Sorry this has nothing to do with your ipod but a lot to do with Paris! My husband and I are attempting a filthy weekend in November and I haven’t booked anywhere to stay yet. I used to live there but I still can’t decide which quartier or even arondissement is best. Money is most definitely a factor i.e we have little and Alistair Sawday’s suggestions are a bit pricey. Just somewhere ‘bijou’ yet atmospheric, near stuff!! Thanks. Marriage under strain due to husband living away all week and four kids straining at the bit for is attention when he does arrive. Ergo, hotel of some importance…

    Comment by Welsh Cake — August 21, 2006 @ 10:15 am

  68. Gosh, I always find hotels tricky, because apart from finding cheap ones near where I live for my parents, I don’t have much experience of Paris as a proper tourist.

    In the past, I’ve pointed people in the direction of Time Out Paris (book or website), and specifically the hotels in the Marais (3e and 4e) as it’s my favourite part of town for a stroll/drink/dinner. I think there are a few that won’t break the bank and have some character.

    Maybe one of my readers will have a suggestion? Where to go for a filthy weekend, people?

    Comment by petite — August 21, 2006 @ 10:46 am

  69. Paris is definitely a taxi deprived city. I , like you, have opted to take a taxi instead of the metro, so many times but could never find a taxi, so end up in the metro anyway.

    Comment by richard — August 21, 2006 @ 11:12 am

  70. My hotel reccomendation is the Terminus Orleans at Porte d’Orléans – 48 euros a night on Spotless rooms and great service. I was pleasantly surprised

    Comment by artaud — August 21, 2006 @ 12:53 pm

  71. Although, for a charming filthy weekend near stuff it is perhaps not what you’re looking for! There are a couple near Maubert Mutualité worth considering, or else near the Canal St Martin.

    Comment by artaud — August 21, 2006 @ 12:57 pm

  72. Hotel du Septième Art in the Marais (Rue St Paul)- have always wanted to stay there, but never get a booking on time . At the lower end of the price scale for Parisian hotels, but looks wonderfully quirky (at least from reception, I’ve never inspected any rooms) – especially if you’re a film buff like me. It is consistently recommended in guidebooks too – although I can’t speak from any personal experience of staying there.

    Comment by Nikki — August 21, 2006 @ 1:16 pm

  73. Welsh Cake, I can’t yet vouch for this hotel, but I’ve just booked it for a September wicked weekend: Hotel des Archives in the Marais. The rooms have red walls–that’s got to count for something! Booked it, with Eurostar, through, which was cheaper than through the Eurostar short breaks site.

    Comment by phillyukgirl — August 21, 2006 @ 1:31 pm

  74. I routinely use Mister Bed at Bagnolet, Métro Ligne 3, station Galieni. 20 min from Opéra. Simple but clean I assure you that you can have a wicked weekend there and not end up bankrupt.
    Jim x

    Comment by Jim — August 21, 2006 @ 3:24 pm

  75. Close enough to walk to any of the central sites, but in a nice neighborhood with lots of art galleries that really isn’t touristy, I love Hotel Verneuil. I found it reasonable and romantic while still being convenient!

    Hope the city works it’s magic on you both …

    Comment by dora pirate — August 21, 2006 @ 3:57 pm

  76. Update! The ipod is now working again! A miracle!

    Comment by petite — August 21, 2006 @ 4:50 pm

  77. Hoorah for fully functioning ipods! I didn’t even know that they could go on the fritz so easily… I consider myself forewarned. Here’s hoping it doesn’t happen anytime in the near future, because some days I really need it to get me out of a funk — along with a good Petite Anglaise fix!

    Comment by Always Ace — August 21, 2006 @ 4:56 pm

  78. It’s probably in the very nature of an iPod to behave like that :-( – time and again…

    Comment by alcessa — August 21, 2006 @ 4:56 pm

  79. Don’t fall into that trap, one can never own a city. Remember, no city ever cries when you leave it or rejoices when you arrive. I always recite that to myself to keep my urban ego from getting out of control. ;)

    Comment by T. — August 21, 2006 @ 5:19 pm

  80. oh, I know that city-owning feeling which, strangely, intensifies “sans poussette”

    Comment by Flighty — August 21, 2006 @ 5:58 pm

  81. simon (#43) “Once, I bought some groceries from a little shop in ru didiot. Not speaking a word of french, almost ahamed.”
    I bet it felt like the Rue d’idiot… ;) (sorry!)

    Comment by Hywel Mallett — August 21, 2006 @ 6:01 pm

  82. Wow, reading this blog is more or less how I survived the endless drudgery of Finals revision (it was a French degree so surely counts as “research”?) and is my sole lifeline as I do the late shift for a silent switchboard – all in the name of “earning money for a year in France”. Can’t wait to move back to Paris is October and this blog reminds just why I love it so much!

    Comment by Aurore — August 21, 2006 @ 6:28 pm

  83. Apple has an excellent Ipod service, support and troubleshooting page.

    When my girlfriend’s Ipod freezed (it would not shut down or respond to any commands), I quickly found the reset procedure, which involves pushing a few buttons simultaneously, and it worked. Some problems are more difficult to fix however. You were lucky yours seems to haved fixed itself…

    Here’s the address :

    Comment by Gilles — August 21, 2006 @ 7:36 pm

  84. Just found on the Cyberpress here in Quebec, an article which links this blog’s subject (lightning) with the Ipod. A crazy coincidence, but true! It seems a 17 year old was struck by lightning in the US and was saved because he was wearing his Ipod!

    Here’s the strory, in french :

    «La foudre frappe régulièrement aux États-Unis, comme c’est le cas des tornades et des ouragans surtout à cette période de l’année. Le jeune Américain Jason Bunch, âgé de 17 ans, a subi les caprices de Dame nature à Castle Rock. C’est au moment de sortir de la maison qu’il a été frappé par la foudre, son iPod à la main et les écouteurs sur les oreilles. Le groupe Rock Metallica était à l’honneur sur son baladeur au moment de l’événement.

    Bunch et sa mère croient tous les deux que le iPod est responsable de l’événement. Le jeune homme a plusieurs blessures sur le corps, et certaines suivent la ligne des fils partant de ses oreilles jusqu’à sa hanche droite où il portait le baladeur. Les spécialistes croient plutôt le contraire. Selon les tests, la foudre a provoqué des blessures sérieuses seulement aux deux oreilles; celles-ci ont été brûlées à l’intérieur, ce qui lui fait perdre quelque peu ses facultés auditives, principalement dans l’oreille droite. Bref, selon les experts, c’est grâce au iPod que la foudre aurait épargné des organes vitaux comme le coeur qui n’a subi aucune séquelle.»

    Comment by Gilles — August 21, 2006 @ 7:55 pm

  85. Welsh Cake, re weekend in Paris…when my husband and I went to Paris last year we stayed somewhere called the Hotel Beaumarchais which is near the Marais and Bastille. It’s such a charming little place and the bedroom we were in had a mirrored ceiling. I don’t recall how much it was but don’t think it was too expensive…whatever the price it was certainly well worth it, believe me!!

    Comment by Susannah — August 21, 2006 @ 8:01 pm

  86. To everyone helping me have a dirty weekend in Paris, I thank you! The one Dora Pirate suggested particuarly appealed to me due to the L’Occitane goodies in the bathroom! God I’m so shallow. Anyway, I’ve made enquiries..

    Comment by Welsh Cake — August 21, 2006 @ 11:58 pm

  87. Am over thirty and have not heard of KLF either, but maybe am just sad. Thunder was described to me as the angels and demons fighting a battle, and the rain was the angels crying over all the casualties.

    Comment by j — August 22, 2006 @ 12:49 am

  88. 1. I can recommend a hotel in the Latin that might fit the bill, if anyone is desperate. I stayed there when visiting on offical duties, and received a late night call from the male receptionist, saying he was going off-duty and if there was anything extra he would come up to my room…

    2. Petite, you’re so naive – please don’t shut your eyes ever on the metro/RER. I did that once in my 20s, as I was exhausted after a delayed flight from London. Opened then again to find everyone had left the carriage and I was alone with a teenage twat who assaulted me. I hope there aren’t any closed carriages left on Paris trains…

    3. I don’t even have blonde hair.

    Comment by Dr Analyst — August 22, 2006 @ 4:12 am

  89. Oh, I say! What’s this, then? Jolly good blog, jolly good show! Bloody yobs!

    Comment by Sir Pantsalot — August 22, 2006 @ 6:57 am

  90. Hi,
    Me again, turning into a pest. Reading up on your old stuff. Perhaps you are quite strong and manage quite well, but I remember how difficult it was to be in the Hexagon. Especially when things were not right. Hang in there. I sense you are not on top form. Thinking about and not too far away if you need anything.

    Comment by collie — August 22, 2006 @ 9:38 am

  91. iPods enriching and saving lives since 2001. All this is making me determined to steal my dad’s one (of several). It’s certainly coming on my inaugural trip to Paris this weekend. Although the stories of muggings on the metro are not enormously encouraging.

    Comment by Hugo — August 22, 2006 @ 10:39 am

  92. The only person in ten years who I have heard of who got mugged on public transport was travelling late at night on the RER from the airport to Paris (which travels through some less salubrious suburbs on its way, which is why the bus can be preferable, or a taxi, or at least take an RER which goes direct without stopping).

    But the métro? Maybe I’m tempting fate by saying this, but I’ve never had a problem. Pickpockets exist, but my bag is always closed with just a headphone wire protruding. Don’t wear a rucksack on your back that you can’t see, and don’t have your wallet protruding out of a back pocket, you should be fine…

    Comment by petite — August 22, 2006 @ 11:54 am

  93. Petite

    Don’t tempt fate – my wife was attacked on the metro (by a deranged woman), and some friends were on the blue line up in the north when someone threw a teargas cannister into their carriage!

    Comment by James H — August 22, 2006 @ 2:23 pm

  94. I can relate to your feeling! Everytime I go to Paris I have a little walk I do which commences at Gare de l’est down Lafayette to l’Opera, Place Vendome, Rivoli, Concorde, Champs Elysée upto l’Étoile where I take the subway back to my hotel. The sound, the smell, the occasional pin pom tell me I’m back. I may not own the city, but once my walk is finished, I feel that I have never left Paris.

    Comment by rohan — August 22, 2006 @ 3:48 pm

  95. Living at the end of the RER B line I remember having to regularly switch carriages mid-journey between Robinson and CDG in order to avoid 1 or 2 shifty characters who, despite an otherwise empty carriage, would insist on sitting opposite me and staring me out. All very well, but when you’re hauling a 43 kilo suitcase (much to the bemusement of the lady at check-in) it’s no longer funny. Especially when the dreaded question is ventured “si on faisait un petit tour chez moi?”

    Comment by Aurore — August 22, 2006 @ 5:42 pm

  96. Oh, I was on the platform when the teargas thing happened, wasn’t nice. But generally, so long as you have your wits roughly about you, the metro is a fairly safe place to be…your back garden could be dangerous if a mad wolf suddenly got in and attacked you while you were watering the penstemons!

    As for hotels – Hotel Regents on rue Madame in the 6th arrondissement is very reasonably priced, really comfortable, and well-placed too…

    …and the beds are nice and bouncy ;-)

    Comment by redlady — August 22, 2006 @ 6:41 pm

  97. I wish we had something like that to get around here in Michigan. But we’re not big enough for a subway system. In the meantime, I’ll envously read your blog

    Comment by Tarah — August 22, 2006 @ 8:15 pm

  98. i-pods are great, there’s nothing like travelling with your “theme music”.

    Comment by Jonathan — August 22, 2006 @ 9:01 pm

  99. redlady, did you find out what the teargas thing was all about? I was initially convinced that my friends were lying, and I think it was ignored by the press.

    Comment by James H — August 22, 2006 @ 10:21 pm

  100. Et si, pour finir, les aimables recommandations de logement données par nos amis ne convenaient pas , il reste une solution : quémander auprès des multiples associations caritatives de Paris une tente ,et camper à la manière des SDF français dans les quartiers chics ; après tout voilà une façon bien peu onéreuse , plus confortable que chez les collègues sdf londoniens étendus eux à même le sol(ainsi que rapporté récemment par skyniew ), et dans l’air du temps , car après “Paris plage” , voici “Paris tente” ;-)

    Comment by sdf — August 22, 2006 @ 10:43 pm

  101. Nice. Very nice.
    RE:Thunderstorms – beautiful, but I remember hating them when I was very small.
    RE:GCSE science & explanations – good luck. Ramble about the water cycle & hot air rising, you’ll both get confused.
    RE:owning cities – one of the awesomest (yesyes not a word I know) feelings ever.

    Comment by Amy — August 23, 2006 @ 12:20 am

  102. Comment 67.
    Re Hotels in Paris. I can recommend “The Mistral Hotel” in Rue Cels, Montparnasse. Just off Ave du Maine. The accomodation is basic yet clean fresh and tidy. Also a nice breakfast and very handy to Metro. You can walk to the tower, river etc (if you are fit). Plus there is a lovely market place to shop, around the corner in Rue Daguerre.
    For a nice meal with real atmosphere/history.. Lipp Brasserie, or try Le Coupe Chou (latin 1/4)


    Comment by simon — August 23, 2006 @ 5:09 am

  103. Welsh Cake Re hotels in the Marais – the Saintonge is not expensive tho’ some of the rooms are very small. Related to it is the St. Merry where you can have a fourposter or a former confessional – I think it was a monastery – but it is more expensive. In the Latin quarter is the Residence Hotel Monge on rue Monge. Much more ordinary but ask for a room at the back looking out onto the Roman arena. And the front entrance is only one block from the rue Mouffetard. All of these are on the net somewhere so you can find their prices. Have a lovely filthy weekend.

    Grannie D

    Comment by Grannie D — August 23, 2006 @ 6:03 am

  104. Hywell (81) Yep! you got it right. What was worse was spending 2 weeks stumbling through my French phrase book at the hotel, before asking if the man at reception spoke english..he said “as a matter of fact i speak english very well” it was like a scene from a pink panther movie ;o) we all laughed..

    Comment by simon — August 23, 2006 @ 9:14 am

  105. Petite, I have never experienced problems in the Paris métro when I visit but, then again, I never did in New York, either.

    I hope that your new writing career, whatever it may be, will be successful, and that you might choose to have a “résidence secondaire” in the beautiful South West of France, that I have discovered.

    Comment by Lost in France — August 23, 2006 @ 10:27 am

  106. why is it when one person or even 3 have a bad experience everyone must then expect it is going to happen to them? Of course in any city we need to be vigilant, but it is not good to give into the panic either.

    Comment by collie — August 23, 2006 @ 6:21 pm

  107. If it were to be the SW of France I can heartily recommend the Pyrenees-Orientales.
    Can never understand why it’s called the South-West, since it’s so much south-er than Cannes or even Marseille and on the East coast, which for those who lack an inner compass is the Mediterrranean edge.
    But we all have out favourite bits of France I guess.

    Comment by Andrew — August 23, 2006 @ 8:15 pm

  108. Perhaps I missed it, but how did you get on with Richard and Judy? (I’ve been away – lapsing into bad habits)

    Comment by Donta — August 23, 2006 @ 8:24 pm

  109. Great blog, over the last few weeks I’ve read the whole thing. I got my Ipod (his name is Bertram) and my ipod shuffle (Bernard) for free a few months ago, and its hard to imagine the world without a soundtrack. I think you mentioned using bittorrent to watch lost on your computer, could you please enlighten me on how to open/use the godforsaken files once downloaded?

    Comment by Whisper — August 23, 2006 @ 8:38 pm

  110. Still on the metro theme, the last time I was in Paris there was a woman singing Edith Piaf’s “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” in the subway, she sang it so beautifully and with such pathos that it brought tears to my eyes. I’ve always found that song very moving and wonderfully nostalgic but somehow hearing it in Paris made it seem all the more so. In fact I’m getting a lump in my throat just thinking about it now.

    Comment by Susannah — August 23, 2006 @ 9:06 pm

  111. When I first read the request for hotel/restaurant info I really didn’t expect Petite and her readership to be so accommodating. I have been so pleasantly surprised with the many helpful posts that followed. But today after reading post #106 I just had to comment as my friends and I have had the very same conversation. I couple of years ago I took a cooking class in Southern France and then extended my trip several weeks with a Europass and a string of hotels arranged via the internet(yes, traveling solo, except that I much prefer to people-watch over the one-handed book method). I practically memorized my maps, brushed up on my conversational French, traveled with my dictionary and one of those little electronic translators. Sorry to be so general but, just as the French have the predisposition of being perceived as rude, we Americans have a host of general stereotype to overcome. In my own experience, the people that I met were all very nice and helpful, a few rude ones in the airport or city street (just as they are here) so I have to say that I didn’t come away with only one general opinion of the French/Italians/Germans. My over-all opinion that people are pretty much the same everywhere…respect is like a bank, it takes a deposit or two to yield any return.

    Petite, I spent a week in Paris and walked everywhere, when I read your people and city observations it takes me right back.

    Thanks for the smiles!

    PS. No, I’m not some rich, bored American. I work in the restaurant business, just came off working in a California-French restaurant in the wine country and wanted to experience French food in France. Love that your blog is so foodie :) And just in case you’re wondering…I’m a female chef…gasp!

    Comment by California Reader — August 23, 2006 @ 10:39 pm

  112. PS.S.
    I only wish I had my iPod when I took that trip. I did have a Walkman and you’d be surprised what people will say right in front of you while on the train when they think you have the sound on!

    Comment by California Reader — August 23, 2006 @ 10:53 pm

  113. KLF is a fantastic choice and a proof of good taste !!!!

    Comment by Negrito — August 23, 2006 @ 11:15 pm

  114. The bear says I have good taste! I am truly honoured!

    And truly lazy. Sorry for the short interruption to service. It’s August, in Paris, I got bitten by the bug and felt like pulling down the shutters for a couple of days…

    Comment by petite — August 24, 2006 @ 12:41 am

  115. Go ahead and pull the shutters, Petite. While the ipod is working, it’d be a good time to consider making a full backup.
    Autumn is a dot on the horizon. I sense adventure looming.

    Comment by Gruntled — August 24, 2006 @ 5:44 am

  116. You’re so right Andrew, I think everyone has their favourite bits of France, for me, it has to be Aix en Provence. I spent time there as a student and it’s such a beautiful place, I love all the fountains and like to go back whenever I can to soak up the atmosphere…I always come away feeling rejuvenated and glad to be alive (although I always feel the latter, anyway!)

    Comment by Susannah — August 24, 2006 @ 10:22 am

  117. @Andrew, you are right about the Pyrénées-Orientales being beautiful. The foothills to the Pyrénées are so green and the coast is so rugged. But the Midi-Pyrénées region is certainly beautiful, too. And sometimes, just sometimes, Cannes and the rest seem more like the left coast of Italy than southern France.

    You’ll see I went to the Pyrénées-Orientales at

    Comment by Lost in France — August 24, 2006 @ 10:57 am

  118. petite, I certainly understand what you mean about having difficulty working in August. For me, it’s like looking at a brick wall ….

    Comment by Lost in France — August 24, 2006 @ 11:35 am

  119. Tell me about it…

    Empty office, empty streets, neighbours away and waiting for friends to return from their holidays.

    And to top it all, the weather is horrible.

    Anyone have any bright ideas to cheer up the last week or so of the annual Parisian marathon of dullness?

    Comment by James H — August 24, 2006 @ 11:57 am

  120. Well, my answer was Rock en Seine – but I suspect I may need to purchase wellington boots if the weather doesn’t improve!

    Comment by petite — August 24, 2006 @ 12:00 pm

  121. Sorry, what’s Rock en Seine? (My computer won’t open the link – too old and too slow!)

    Comment by Aurore — August 24, 2006 @ 12:57 pm

  122. Do you need to buy tickets in advance?

    Fortunately, I have a pair of unused wellingtons

    Comment by James H — August 24, 2006 @ 2:23 pm

  123. Thanks to everyone helping out on my quest for a good hotel to encourage plenty of rare time away from the kids, sex! Dora Pirate suggested a hotel, it was fully booked but the partner hotel, Hotel Therese was available. It’s on Rue Therese. Any good Petite?
    By the way, whilst you are all on the subject of metros and subways, years ago my mother and I found ourselves late at night in the subway in NYC trying to find our way to Brooklyn. The only other person around – please don’t hate me for saying this – was a big black guy, built like the proverbial brick shit house, wearing a hoodie, covered in bling. He looked rather intimidating but my mother, who obviously had never watched any racial stereotyping type movies, went up to him, put her hand gently on her sleeve and said in a thick Welsh accent, “Excuse me bach, could you tell me the way to Brooklyn”. This is where I die I thought. Instead he beamed at her and walked us to the correct platform, told us to be careful and waved as our train hurtled past him down a tunnel. Taught me a lesson.

    Comment by Welsh Cake — August 24, 2006 @ 2:45 pm

  124. I believe it is sold out, but maybe I’ll have to steal your wellies, James.

    Comment by petite — August 24, 2006 @ 3:12 pm

  125. There’s a bit of a rock concert going on this Sunday at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff…The Rolling Stones…and I’ve got tickets!!!! Can’t wait.

    Comment by Lucy — August 24, 2006 @ 4:48 pm

  126. Soundtrack??? The best is from ‘Amelie’…..since Ive heard i love it …..and ur blog..always read at work !

    Comment by Agnes — August 24, 2006 @ 4:58 pm

  127. What a wonderful way to express how it feels to be in your home–whether it is where you were born or not…I used to feel the same way when I lived in Scotland, and would return to St. Andrews from visiting the US. I could practically anticipate every pothole the cab would bounce over was we made our way into town from Leuchars…

    Comment by Ryane — August 24, 2006 @ 7:55 pm

  128. I don’t know what happened to my previous posting but what I was trying to say was a good hotel to encourage good sex in a rare time away from the kids! Sorry if I sounded freaky…

    Comment by Welsh Cake — August 24, 2006 @ 8:22 pm

  129. mmmmmmmm Good sex! I made a mistake in my last posting too about The Stones concert it’s on Tuesday not Sunday, I’m getting so excited that I got the wrong day….it must be all this talk of sex!

    Comment by Lucy — August 24, 2006 @ 8:53 pm

  130. Ahem. No sex please, I’m British.

    Chance would be a fine thing.

    Comment by petite — August 24, 2006 @ 9:10 pm

  131. Ahh poor Petite. Don’t forget, though, you never know what’s round the corner, it might just be the man of your dreams waiting to whisk you off your feet. I hope so.

    Comment by Susannah — August 24, 2006 @ 10:41 pm

  132. soundtrack : “and the grass won’t take no mind”. Neil Diamond, Greek theatre, 1972….

    Comment by Aymardo — August 25, 2006 @ 3:49 am

  133. “Ahem. No sex please, I’m British.”

    Hmm…….Does that make Tadpole an immaculate conception?

    Comment by Dave of the Lake — August 25, 2006 @ 6:04 am

  134. Actually it makes tadpole God. Now that is really interesting, hmmmn and you are clearly British but not an essex girl right?

    Comment by warrior — August 27, 2006 @ 1:40 am

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