Friday, April 15, 2016

Technical Matters in Everyday French Living

I noted a number of differences in "stuff" like toilets, lighting, elevators and to give you a feel for being in France, here are some of them.

Lighting Savings:
The French are frugal (read "parsimonious") in many things and leading the list is the light-that-automatically-turns-itself-off.  Right after electricity was discovered, French landlords invented and had installed 30-second timers on flights of stairs so that the hapless tenants wouldn't loll around in the stairwells gossiping with each other.  Get the door open, and run for it!

Perhaps merely an attempt on the part of the landlord to keep the tenants fit (and the rent francs coming  in) and I misunderstood.  My error and apologies to the landlords.  All of whom have been deader than vaudeville for a number of years.

Michelle's condo is so-metered right after a long, twisting tunnel from the street entrance (must have a key) to the elevator (must have a key) in the garage.  She and Richie went up first (small elevator) and I waited for my ride.  Click - and inky blackness!  I literally could not see my hand in front of my face.  I did the only thing possible and froze.  Next day, Richie started carrying a little flashlight.  He needed it because I always rode with Michelle after that.

At the Bar
Have you ever seen this?  We stopped for a nightcap in the hotel bar/breakfast room in Honfleur, for a couple of beers.  The bartender took a glass off of a shelf, turned it upside down over a ring inset in the bar counter top and pushed a button.  Icy water flew up into the glass and the outside of the glass grew a lovely promising rime. 

Wines are sold by measurement which were, in descending order, 46 ml (?)  36 ml and 25 ml.  The 46 is the equivalent of a full bottle of wine; the 25 is a small ladylike serving. 

Old buildings have the old-fashioned one-half person capability brass, open elevators so beloved of cinematographers. 

Modern ones are roomier with added services.  Push the button.  It lights up to show it heard you.  As it nears you, the push button light begins blinking "Almost there!"

The elevator lady talks to you but her French was so fast that I have no idea what she was saying.

"Service compris" still reigns which means that when your tab comes to the table, the waiter's already been tipped 15 per cent.  If you received excellent help, it's customary to leave a couple of coins for the waiter.

Doggie Bags
A concept that has not yet entered the French psyche.  At lunch on Wednesday, when a large pottery dish arrived with my pommes Dauphine (scalloped potatoes) arrived, I confidently assumed that I'd be providing the starch part of that night's dinner.  Michelle quickly informed me of "French rules" - you eat what you were served or risk the chef's wrath.  But she relented and explained to our waiter something rather cutting about American eating habits and they had a good laugh and then he brought an aluminum dish and foil cover.  Yes, he got a tip.

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