No we don’t wear shorts in Paris. Our American in Paris inferiority complex forbids the use of shorts in the city, since even when we bring all our dressiest clothes *and* wear them, we still look like slobs. So we don’t usually go to Paris in the summer because it’s too crowded and too hot. But this time was different. We had arranged to meet friends and family, and see the last part of the Tour de France, so what choice did we have but to put up with the heat? We still didn’t bring any shorts.
Here are a few short thoughts on the proceedings.
The new camera this time was the Panasonic LX-3 point and shoot. I have already expressed my admiration of this small machine, and it continued to please. I probably only took one third as many frames with this camera as my “real” camera, but the percentage that I picked out as favorites was much higher. In particular, the macro mode is great for taking pictures of food which you can then use to taunt the people back home. Thumbs up.
Cars! Cars! Cars!
Spent a lot of time gawking at cars for no reason. Apparently I have some kind of sickness. Lots of hatchback and wagons for cabs this time. That’s great. The Ford Mondeo wagon was the best cab we had. The Fiat 500 is cute. Alpha Romeo makes this two door hatch that is neat looking in red. I can’t believe I never noticed how many hatchbacks there were before. I think I saw more Audi A3s and A4 wagons than I’ve ever seen in my life.
Diet Coke Review
Diet coke in Paris tastes a bit different because they use a different sweetener. It’s also always warm because the French do not believe in adequate refrigeration. Remember to grab the coke from the back of the cooler.
A couple of years ago I wrote a piece defending the surly service at Brasserie Balzar. I’m going to officially retract that article right now, as when we went this time around they were surly and they served us a well-done steak without asking first. It turned out that the fourth in our party didn’t like the dish she had, but was perfectly willing to eat a well-done steak. So while they insulted us horribly, it all worked out in the end without needing to argue with them more. Avoid.
Yet More Camera Bag Thoughts
I almost bought a new bag to bring on the trip. Since I was going to the TDF, I was bringing a third lens along, which put a chink in my camera bag routine. So I looked for a bag that could carry three lenses comfortably on a 3 mile hike, be quick to work out of, and maybe take my laptop on the plane as well. I have decided that such a bag does not exist. The possibilities fall into three main categories:
1. Briefcase bags that can hold a camera kit and a laptop.
2. A traditional larger shoulder bag.
3. A camera/laptop backpack.
The problem with the briefcase bags is that the ones that can hold a laptop are too big. And if you actually put a big camera and three lenses in them, you can’t carry the result all day anyway. And you are saddled with a camera bag that is too big.
The problem with the traditional shoulder bag is that the ones that are big enough to carry three lenses are too big, and the resulting load is too heavy.
The problem with the backpack is that while it will be comfortable to carry, it will also be as big as your house. In addition, the ones that can hold a laptop assume that you also want to be able to carry a 300mm lens. So they are even bigger than your house. Backpacks are also hard to work out of in tight situations. For example, it would be hard to change lenses while standing on a ledge between two people while you all crane to see the Tour de France go by.
I conclude that the strategy to use is to never need more than two lenses. Just pick two and take pictures that use those two lenses at their maximum advantage.
I would also like to call a moratorium on people saying things like “I like camera bag A because it doesn’t look like a camera bag” or “This bag doesn’t scream cameras inside.” Here’s a hint: when you take the camera out of the bag people will have a pretty good idea that it’s a camera bag because you took a camera out of it. Get over it.
Anyway, I ended up taking my two lens briefcase shaped bag, and another bag for the laptop. Maybe by the next trip someone will design a smaller camera backpack with a laptop slot in it.
My Crazy Organ Meat Ceiling
We went to Le Violin d’Ingres for lunch. It was fabulous. It is run by the same people that run Cafe Constant, where we had a fabulous lunch on our last trip. Any place that has deep fried foies gras is going to be good. On a perhaps misguided whim, I passed up the roasted lamb, and the beef stew with the lincoln log sized frites, and the pan fried sweetbreads and decided to try one of the last of the classic French peasant dishes that I have not tried yet: Tete De Veau. I’ll let you look it up in Google. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. The vanilla souffle with salted caramel sauce made up for it. I’ll get the sweetbreads next time.
For this trip we got to take advantage of the new direct flight from Pittsburgh to Paris on Delta. This direct flight lets you avoid visiting everyone’s favorite circle of hell on Earth also known as the Philadelphia airport. That’s awesome. Go while you can. Who knows how long this will last.
The flight also lands in Terminal 2E of CDG. US Airways always landed in the CDG terminal that was an endless obstacle course of uphill and downhill moving walks, clear tubes at impossible gradients and miles and miles of walking with luggage. In Terminal 2E, you walk off the plane and across a wide and smooth and perfectly flat landscape until suddenly you are at the taxi stand. It’s heaven.
Boy I hope this flight sticks around. There is almost no hope that it will though. Really, go while you can.