Thursday, September 15, 2011


At the beginning of this program we all signed a pledge to speak french, and only french, for the rest of the year.  I suppose even by writing this I'm breaking that pledge, but it's not the first time! It is utterly exhausting (crevant) to live in another language. I once heard that not being fluent in a language is like taking ten years off your age, so in effect I'm a ten year old trying to operate in a world of people twice my age...that feels about right.  Even in Paris, where the cultural differences are not that drastic, it is necessary to find places where you can be truly comfortable and let the thinking stop.

While I don't want to spend much time in anglophile places, the ones that i've found (besides the american food store called "Thanksgiving") have felt like godsends.  "Shakespeare and Company" is, yes, a tourist attraction, but it has managed to retain its coziness. The downstairs is full-on a bookstore with anglophile literature crammed into every corner, some books only accessible by wooden ladders (which you can use if you want).  The upstairs, however, is my favorite part.  There is a kids books section, a reading room/ library of all the classics, couches, and a tiny type-writer you are encouraged to use to type up your letters. "Shakespeare and Company" is also a venue with readings and shows a few times a month.  I love it.

A second new favorite is a tiny cake and coffee shop in the Latin Quarter called "Sugarplum." Unlike the other cafés of Paris, this one has an atmosphere that welcomes lingering, reading, and working.  It even has a huge wooden table for just that. The coffee is not "espresso-based," but actual drip coffee in real-sized mugs, oh, and free refills.  Ice is another rarity in Paris, but here the unsweetened iced tea and lemonade are perfect. Croissants really are the best ever, but so is cake, and "Sugarplum" has lots of it.  After our first visit, one of us figured out that the man (american) we bought our drinks and desserts from was part of Ace of Cakes! This well bien sur become a regular hangout place.