Sunday, June 7, 2009

un dimanche à Paris

These were all snapped along the way during my first week in Paris. The last one is my most prized because it is the little cafe where I frequent. It is about two blocks from my apartment but it is two seconds from my heart. It is called Cafe Martini. And I love it.
It was started by two brothers, the one who works in China bought it and the other stands behind the bar correcting your pronunciation and perfecting the foam on your Kriek cherise. The inside is bare sand stone decorated with a line of twine where customers have attached their pictures by clothespin.
The chairs are red and the conversation is animated.
Dark wood floors and low lamp lighting makes any single table occupant feel that they should be writing a book, editing a memoir or finishing up a weathered paperback bought on a side street for a couple of euros.
The doors are windows that are perpetually open and the narrow cobblestone sidewalk is the table sitting next to you.
The menu is handwritten on elongated black boards where "n's" are written backwards and "m's" have three and a half humps.
He calls you his forever friend and you are eternally grateful for the extension of edearment.

It is hard being an American in Paris. The action of being American is not the difficult thing; there are Starbucks & name brands if you look closely, menus can be translated and everyone is eager to practice their french. Stereotypical aloofness between the French to Americans is easily avoided if the latter makes an effort to speak the language of the former, and pride in a society so celebrated is bizarely endearing. The real discomfort is how easily you can get by without trying.
There are few places you actually have to speak in a major city: eating and asking for something (whether it be directions, a price or a stamp). Waiters, after asking you what you would like, are hired to listen to you and the desired order that follows the question. After hearing my accent that is very obviously not french, nine times out of ten, they will speak back to you in English. While I understand that maybe they are excited to practice their English, I want be expected to speak the language of the country I am in. Cultural emersion.
Madame just made me cheesecake.

I love the French.


  1. Beautiful photos!! I would have Loved being the one in the cafe finishing the paperback!lolol...hughugs

  2. lauren holdsworth!! hey lovely! how is paris??

    i just wanted to say i totally understand what you mean about the whole language thing...i am in italy studying abroad for the summer, and its the same way. i am trying to speak italian that i took for 4 semesters so i could come here, and everywhere i go they all speak english even when i speak italian to them. ha.

    i am out to change all that. ha.

    you are beautiful.
    hope things are well with you!

    Les Alba