Saturday, 21 June 2008

Freewheeling Paris Style

The proper way to go about things
Working in an actual office really does do wonders for your motivation. My energy levels last week were twice as much as the week before, when I was seemingly incapable of completing even the one task I had for any given day. Nowadays, I hop out of bed with alacrity before my alarm has even made a peep, and pass-by the post office to pay bills and send letters before I've even got to the office. I'm a full-on multi-tasker, storming through conference calls in French nd being the general go-to girl for the office.

And then I got a little cocky. Today I decided it was high-time I included some exercise in my regime, and took out a "Vélib" bike on my way back from work. Velibs are the free bikes stationed in every quartier that you can pick up and drop back at your destination. After some jolly chats with the business-types at the stop by the Assemblée National, I selected my bike and pressed my thumb to the metal pad to release it. As simple as that! I powered down Boulevard Raspail, feeling the wind in my hair and the evening sun on my legs, a happy worker on her way home, nature's way.
Then came the traffic-lights. And I noticed my skirt had ridden up and was impossible to tug down to a modest level unless I rode side-saddle. And people were looking! On a bike at the lights you are effectively a side-show for anyone waiting to cross, or sitting in a cafe enjoying an apéro and people-watching. Not to mention the fact that the people in cars next to you have a direct pants-level view up your skirt while they hang out their window getting a van-tan and an eyeful of the amateur velibist's legs. Perhaps I was especially conspicuous being the only person in Paris wearing a neon-day-glo vest over my clothes, I'm not sure. Safety first!

A quick getaway was what was needed, but that's a lot harder when you're pedalling on an incline in the sizzling heat, with a slightly flat tyre and weak chicken legs. I think a moped is the only answer. One rev and whoosh! You're gone, leaving onlookers with smut in their eye and only the fading memory of your knickers. Now, a scheme with free Piaggios on every corner is one I could really get on board with. 

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Rear Window

Paris is known for its high density population, and our flat, with its inside windows a matter of feet away from the facing building across the cour is no exception. Now that "summer" is here, the open windows provide an even greater degree of intimacy between the two builings, something which has not escaped my Gemini curiosity.

I have to admit to absent mindedly taking a passing interest in our neighbours, especially at night, when the glare of lights turns the flats opposite into veritable theatre-sets. This is what happens when you don't have a TV. The guy in the studio diagonally below always seems to be having a great time, with a constant stream of friends sitting round his table, eating take-away suppers or in full-on party mode. We like him, he has actually engaged in casual banter whilst leaning out the window for a cigarette. The hotel on the other side has a constant stream of unsavvy residents, little realising we've all got ringside views into their bedroom. The poor sods. It's like, "Get a room! Oh, right. Sorry, carry on!"

Then there is the duplex above the party guy, with a puzzling mixture of inhabitants ranging from a bearded forty-something man to a teenage girl via a mixture of twenty-something female students (from the looks of their folders out on the table etc.) They never do anything interesting; as far as I can make out they seem to have a cosy cooking rosta going and each sticks to their own room. All this information has been gathered over the last 6 months mind you, I rarely turn the lights off in my bedroom and settle down at the windowsill for a proper gawp.

This morning I got more than I bargained for, when bearded-houseshare-guy decided to spend a full four minutes airing his behind, perfectly framed by the green shuttered windows. It was a Photo Opportunity if ever I saw one, but I drew the line at actually photographing my subjects and posting them on the internet. That would be an entirely different blog