Cool Stuff in Paris. By Manning Leonard Krull.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Métronome; Voltaire and the Bastille

Here's another funny bit from Métronome by Lorànt Deutsch. From his chapter about the Bastille neighborhood and the history of the Bastille itself; it's the second and third paragraphs there...

Here's my clumsy but fairly direct translation...

Voltaire, author of a pamphlet that was found [by the authorities] to be displeasing, was imprisoned in the Bastille for eleven months in 1717. Upon his release, he received from Philippe d'Orléans, regent of the kingdom, a pension of a thousand écus [i.e. crowns]...

"— I thank His Highness for this, which he certainly intends to take care of my nourishment, but I pray instead that he no longer take care of my lodging," he replied.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

La bise

(I originally wrote this post for another forum in response to a neat article called Kissing business acquaintances -- X, XXX or XXXXX?, but I figured it might be interesting for readers here. See my article about basic etiquette in Paris for more.)

La bise

I have a lot of thoughts about this! Mostly for non-business situations, as my whole life in France has been mostly very informal; I worked at home and never held an office job, but I'd visit different offices, meet with the occasional client, and hang out with various professional types. In my experience colleagues would only do the two kisses with people they worked with a long time and were very friendly with. (This is called "la bise," by the way. "Faire la bise" is to greet one another with these kisses on the cheek.) For most professional situations, it's a handshake. Anyway, the bise is fascinating, especially in non-work situtations...

Friday, April 24, 2015

Where does the name of Pont-Neuf come from?

There's a bridge over the Seine in central Paris called Pont-Neuf, and I've always wondered about its name. "Pont" is French for bridge, and "neuf," strangely, can mean either the number nine or "new." Is this the new bridge, or the ninth bridge? Or something else entirely? For all I know there was an important French guy named Neuf and they named it after him.

Anyhow, I'm in the middle of reading (very slowly) Métronome by Lorànt Deutsch; it's a fascinating history of Paris that goes from Métro stop to Métro stop and spans a few thousand years. Interestingly, he addresses the name of Pont-Neuf! Let me translate the last paragraph there for ya...

"Our four current bridges are reconstructions from the 19th century, and be aware that Pont-Neuf, finished in 1607, is not the ninth bridge in Paris but the fifth, and it's not the newest but the oldest, you follow?"

Uh, maybe I don't follow; I still don't know why it's called Pont-Neuf! However, I just thought to try Wikipedia, and it's confirmed: the neuf means new, as it was the newest bridge at the time it was built. Whoa, wait a second, isn't every bridge the newest one at the time it was built? Oh man, now I'm even more confused...

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