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Thursday, February 24, 2005

"leche vitrine"-- a favorite pasttime

leche vitrine has got to be one of my favorite french expressions-- literally, it means "window licking" but is the equivalent of the american expression "window shopping." as these last few weeks of winter drag on, doing a bit of window licking is a great morale booster and reminder that printemps is soon on its way. the soldes are finished, making way for bright and inspiring colors. [nevermind that it is snowing in paris and we can't really wear the new stuff in the boutiques....] minty and lime greens, baby and fuschia pinks, khakis and bright whites are all over the place here. pink seems to be making it's comeback for the ump-teenth year in a row, but that's okay-- it feels fresh, once again, and the melody playing alongside it is "april in paris." my advice for beating the winter doldrums? bundle up, put on your most comfortable kitten heels, and hit the pavements for a bit of drooling over the new spring things.

Friday, February 04, 2005

starbucks invades paris: bien ou pas?

like many americans in paris, i was secretly thrilled when starbucks announced its opening in paris last year. since then, i've been there on occasion, to relish a superhot extra large boission or a muffin, treats from home. although it seemed destined to become a hangout for the local expat community, more and more french have taken a liking to it as well.

last week i had a starbucks craving and so i stopped by the odeon branch after a long day of shopping tours. i was surprised to find that not a single table was open, and in fact, i had to wait to get a chair. gaggles of girls from the nearby lycee made up a few tables, as did neighborhood college students and the random american student. for the most part, though, it seemed like the french way outnumbered the americans.

is this a good thing? will the french abandon their cafes for overpriced, 5 euro coffee drinks? je ne crois pas. is it the latest trend from the US? i think so. i still have mixed feelings about it, and as long as it doesn't replace the neighborhood cafe, pas de probleme. the most pathetic scenerio, i believe, is seeing tourists, in paris for only a limited time, lining up to pay beaucoup for a latte, when they could be paying half the price and gaining oodles of ambiance by going to a nearby cafe. if you are just grabing a hot cup of joe to take with you on your stroll along the quais, great. but if you want to see the real paris, sit in a cafe and watch the city go by.