What’s Been Happening

Photo: Heating it up at one of the Firemen’s Balls, Paris. Credit: Bals des Pompiers website

FRENCHMEN-IN-UNIFORM ALL OVER THE PLACE. For those lucky ones who are in Paris right now (or plan to be for next July), the city heats up July 13 and 14 for the annual Bal des Pompiers (Firemen’s Ball). These ‘hot’ events are hosted by the fire stations throughout Paris. Come out and join hundreds of revelers to see, dance and chat with the gorgeous, friendly and charming Frenchmen-in-uniform. Need we say more? CLICK HERE for more information.The most important holiday in France happens July 14, when the commencement of the French Revolution by storming the Bastille and the ideals of liberte, egalite and fraternite are celebrated throughout the country. Dancing, military parades and ceremonies, and general festivities center around the place de la Bastille and all along the Champs Elysees. Watch the spectacular Eiffel Tower fireworks from the Champs de Mars.Tour de France: 94th race began July 7th from London and continues until July 29th, covering 3,550 kilometres. CLICK HERE for official site, and the exciting, day-by-day results. Tour de France blogs to check out: Martin Dugard’s blog, best-selling NY Times author of Chasing Lance, gives a behind-the-scenes look at life in the Tour de France Podium Cafe comprehensive tour blog FRENCH KISSES. Dear Karen, We so missed you on our recent trip to Paris, but thanks a lot for the tips you gave us. Just had to tell you that on one of our lunch sojourns to that adorable litte fromagerie/bistro in the 6th you recommended, we asked (the born and raised Parisian) staff there for a recommendation for a resto in the Marais near Place des Vosges, where we were planning to go later during our stay. They came back to us and said, "better to email Karen and ask her, she knows where all the best places are." Your reputation in Paris precedes you! Patricia and Randy, Vancouver, Canada

TITANIC WORLDWIDE EXHIBITION. Who didn’t love the Titanic, that mother of all disaster films that drew us in on so many levels, namely: tragic disaster, travel/adventure, forbidden love/hot & steamy sex, decadence, faith, hope, greed, life and death? The movie and intriguing story came flooding back as my friend and I entered the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, Canada and were presented with an official-looking Titanic Boarding Pass. On the back, we were told, were details of an actual passenger who had been on the ship. At the end of the exhibit, exhibit-goers check the lists of 1st, 2nd and 3rd class passengers to see if their ‘passenger’ had lived or perished in the disaster. I was immediately hooked as we wound through the ‘ship’ which was brilliantly displayed with all manner of artifacts. I became my passenger and felt as though I was wearing her beautiful clothes, living in her 1st class quarters having every whim catered to, and consuming fine foods and wines.

My passenger was a lady of high standing, Mrs. Emily Maria Ryerson, and was traveling aboard the Titanic in 1st class with her husband Arthur, daughters Suzette and Emily, son John and maid Victorine Chaudanson. She was the same age I am now (not telling, wink). The family had traveled to Europe to find suitable husbands for their daughters. Shortly after arriving in Europe, however, the Ryerson’s received horrible news that one of their sons was killed in an auto accident and were hurrying back on the first ship available. They boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg, France. We had completely forgotten that the Titanic had stopped in France to pick up passengers!

Even though I hang out in Museum-City (Paris) and have seen the best of the best, I have to admit that I was completely smitten by this interactive exhibit and highly recommend that you board this ship! There is even a huge chunk of iceberg. Oh, and how did my lady and family fare? They all survived, as many of the 1st class passengers did. Later, my friend asked, what about your maid? OOPS, I had forgotten to check the status of my maid!! Feeling very bad about that (my friend has nick-named me the maid-abandoner), later online I discovered the Encyclopedia-Titanica: Victorine survived, I am happy to report.

Check the official Exhibition site and see where in the world the Titanic Exhibit is presented.

View the Titanic Passenger List, CLICK HERE.

Who’s Still Alive Today? CLICK HERE.


Photo: Titanic Exhibit Boarding Pass

SERVICE, S’IL VOUS PLAIT. I rule. I am always right. I get what I want, when I want it. My needs are anticipated. I don’t wait for anything. Who am I? THE NORTH AMERICAN CUSTOMER, that’s who. And while in NA, I’m taking full advantage of this status that we all take for granted. Yes, I’m enjoying my service as we don’t know it in Paris. Even if it’s largely given by tweeny-somethings who all look the same (big boobs, black mini-skirts and blindingly perfect, bleached smiles). And who have names like Amber and Brittany. No matter, I am lapping up my consistently competent, friendly service like a thirsty dog. Yet all the while, wistfully missing the (we’ll call it service) I had grown accustomed to in Paris. Delivered by confident men named Jean-Pierre or Michel. Who are smartly dressed in black pants, white shirts, ties and vests. Worn on impossibly fit-looking bodies, even though they have never exercised a day in their lives. And dishing out a perfect blend of attitude, superiority and flirtatiousness on their serving trays. Reminding us North Americans just who really does rule (hint: it’s NOT the customer). But, oh, is it ever fun and never, ever predictable or boring, because you never know what you’ll get. Delicious.


False Creek near Granville Island, Vancouver, Canada. Photo: Olivia Fermi (www.fermi.ca) Pompiers
The Seine, from Notre-Dame, Paris, France. Photo: Michelle St-Lambert.