Wednesday, December 29, 2010

du lèche vitrine

French Lesson #2
du lèche vitrine – window shopping

I loved this phrase from the moment I learnt it at L’Alliances Françaises, 4 1/2  years ago, window shopping but it's literal translation : to lick the windows!

This morning with the seagulls in the background and the on hold recording from British Airways telling me it wouldn’t be long until an operator would speak with me, I impatiently stuck it out this time, to try to talk to someone about my luggage.  Still no luggage.

A decision had to be made,  although I am getting good at doing my hair with my fingers I need a brush and I need a change of clothes.

So without further ado, I hit the shops, I did get a brush but couldn’t find any clothes, that I just had to have.

However I did do a lot of ‘licking of windows’.  Sometimes almost literally, the cake and chocolate shop windows are so seductive, I can see why people become addicted.

Funny thing happened on the way the to the fair, as they say.

Imagine walking down the street, peering at shop windows, on a mission to find something clean to wear. 

I come across a massive ladder that takes up the entire footpath. 

Hmm... do I cross the street or walk under?  Call me superstitious, but given events of recent times, I don’t want to tempt fate. 

I stepped out onto the road around the massive ladder and kind of glad I did.

Did you hear the one about the guy who was walking down the street and was killed by a washing machine that fell out of the sky?

Ok, I try to joke but I watched, mouth agape, this is how the Parisians and note; I didn’t say French but the Parisians move house or deliver new white goods.

This is how it goes … Parisian apartment buildings are small, the stairwells normally spiral and narrow.  If there is an ascenseur, (lift) it is often to put your bags or shopping into and you meet it up the top.  Certainly not enough room for say, a washing machine and dryer.

So the delivery driver or removalist sets up – what looks like to me, a very unsteady and very tall ladder.  In this instance, to reach the fourth floor from the street, on the outside of the building. The second delivery person awaits at the open window ready to take delivery.  The goods are slapped onto a hydraulic lift, that is attached to the ladder and very shakily, up it goes.

After a hard day of licking the windows I decided, that a warm meal in a wi-fi friendly café was in order, to catch up on a bit of blogging.

Here,  I witnessed yet another innovative contraption  - the bar manager waiting by the door as the floor opened up and something was rising out of the floor – I guessed more wine from the cellar but no, it was the wheelie bin!

I love innovations like this!

Later this evening when I met Emilie, where we had a wonderfully and typically french dinner, I told her this, she said it is very unique to Paris and Lyon where there is no way to get things in and out – so this is how one moves.

I am grateful I didn’t walk under the ladder today but sorry I didn’t record it.

Sometimes it is just the little things, like licking windows and witnessing the quirks of other cities.


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