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I saw a movie Tuesday afternoon, Medianeras ; slow-moving, silly and formulaic, but also sweet and fun. It was ideal for me because the audio was in Spanish — which I understand un poco — and it was subtitled in French, which I followed easily. There was even a surreal moment when the movie included a clip from Annie Hall, with audio in English and subtitles in both Spanish and French. That kept me busy! In general I avoid English-language films (in v.o., i.e. original version, not dubbed into French)  because I could just as easily see them at home; Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris being a logical exception. I also find it challenging to follow spoken dialogue in a French-language movie without subtitles.

After a light dinner at home I caught up with Jeff for a drink. The rendezvous was amusing because Jeff had, after a hasty Internet search, given me the name and address of the wrong bar. When I arrived at Le Troisieme Lieu as instructed the waitress gently informed me that this was a lesbian bar. When I explained that I was meeting a guy there she was surprised but kind, saying that we would be “the exception that proves the rule.” After exchanging text messages — Jeff: “I’m way in the back”  Bob: “I’m right in front” — we both roved urgently through our respective bars, scrutinizing the other patrons to see if we had somehow failed to recognize our respective friends. After we discovered the problem we decamped to yet a third bar, on my own block, for a relaxing conversation and a couple of beers.

Wednesday I finally got in a swim, at the pool in Reuilly, which I thought (correctly) might be less crowded than the one at Les Halles. It was nice to get some aerobic exercise. If you ever want to swim in a French pool don’t forget your bathing cap, or your Speedos, since boxer-style swimsuits are forbidden. My friends often complain about French bureaucracy but I wholeheartedly approve of this particular rule.
Shorts Interdits

After my swim I was drawn to a nearby vélib‘ stand. I grabbed a bike and rode along the Promenade plantée out to Porte de Montempoivre, then dropped it off and walked up to Porte de Vincennes.  This eastern edge of the 12e was full of sterile high-rises so after walking for twenty minutes or so I grabbed another véliband rode up the eastern side of the 20e, which I found marginally more interesting. I dropped this bike at rue Vitruve, near an area of twisty streets that had piqued my curiosity on the map. This proved to be a charming village, Charonne, that had only been incorporated into Paris in 1860, and still retains quite a bit of character.

Saint Germain de Charonne

Saint Germain de Charonne, from rue St. Blaise

I next spent a couple of hours exploring the area between the church, at the top of rue St. Blaise, and the Avron métro station at the bottom of the hill. The whole quartier is quite diverse and although some areas felt a little rough (reminding me of Central Square, Cambridge, where I live!) I found the area on the whole quite interesting and attractive. Here’s a row of quirky houses on rue de Buzenval.

rue Buzenval

rue de Buzenval

When I got to Avron I planned to go three métro stops to Père Lachaise, then transfer to line 3 to ride home. But what should I see at Avron but a tempting vélib‘ stand, and a dedicated bike lane along Boulevard de Charonne? Needless to say I biked up to Père Lachaise, which is a lot more interesting, and weaves one’s idea of the city together almost as well as walking. I didn’t stop at Alexandre Dumas, the intersection with rue de Bagnolet, but I noticed it as an interesting spot for a future visit.

So now I’m a bit tired but very happy with my excellent flâne, and the really wonderful vélib‘ system.

Off to Strasbourg tomorrow with Jacques! I’ll probably have email access but won’t be posting here for a few days.

Mot du jour: “osée” in the Le Monde article about Anthony Weiner.  “Racy,” as in “photos osées.”