Holidays in the Countryside, Bread Bandit, Foreign Exchange, Down, Tuk-Tuk & 2012 …

Like each year, spent our holiday break with M’s family in the countryside, about 1 hour away from Paris. It was a wonderful few days away from the mayhem of Paris. Instead of photos of us opening presents and drinking, and in the spirit of all the cat photos/videos that flood the internet, here are a few images of their ornery critter.

Cat Eyeing Dessert

Cat Eyeing Food

Cat Crouching

Best story of the last few weeks, which you may have already heard about, was about the Bread Bandit. Here’s what I’m talking about:

French police are on the hunt for a “serial” croissant thief. In the last 10 days, a man believed to be in his 40s has robbed five boulangeries, or traditional French bakeries, near Paris. But instead of asking for the contents of the cash register, this thief goes for the buttery baked goods. In every robbery, he uses the same technique: calmly orders a generous helping of croissants, pains au chocolats and a few other viennoiserie, or baked goods. When it comes time to pay, he brandishes what is believed to be a fake gun. Then he grabs his breakfast and runs out the door. The total value of all five robberies comes to under $92 and no one has been injured. Nevertheless, the man the French press has called the “serial chocolate croissant thief” could face a prison sentence if caught. Augusto Dos Santos, a baker and croissant thief victim, told French reporters he has no problem giving away free food every now and then if someone really needs it.  In fact, if the thief had only asked, “We’d have said, ‘Take them!’” he said.

It’s such a great French story; it reminds me of the story of the French guy a few years ago who kept stealing expensive pieces of art not to resell them for money but instead just because they were so beautiful he just wanted to look at them in his bedroom.

Another interesting recent news story is a new form of “foreign exchange” program:

Wealthy Parisian couples looking forward to an elegant, expensive and naughty New Year’s Eve — of caviar, lobster and wife-swapping — may have to think again. Les Chandelles, the most exclusive of the wife-swapping clubs in the French capital, is under investigation for allegedly allowing prostitutes to operate on its premises. Les Chandelles (‘The Candles’) has a reputation as the most snobbish “boite echangiste”, or wife-swapping club, in Paris. To be admitted to the glittering premises between L’Opera and the Louvre, you have to be wealthy, famous or good-looking — preferably all three. Clients are reported to have included members of the political and media elite. The restaurant and bar have the elegant look and quality of a five-star hotel. Guests who wish to do so can move on to the “libertine” activities — partner-swapping or group sex — in the lounge and private rooms.

However, it is now alleged that some of the female “guests” are not what they appear. An investigation by the vice squad has concluded that the club is a haunt of high-class prostitutes. A police report recommends that the club should be shut down, at least temporarily. Wife-swapping clubs have become an accepted part of Parisian nightlife in the last 30 years. More than 50 establishments are listed in entertainment guides.

For the French who are not wealthy, famous or good-looking, there was another story of interest this week:

Despite having food, wine and scenery that are the envy of the world, a new study has revealed the French to be the most downbeat people on the planet. The annual survey spoke to the residents of 51 countries across all five continents to measure levels of optimism and pessimism. The survey found that wealth has little to do with overall happiness, with the gloomiest people to be found in Europe while the happiest were mostly in Africa and Asia. The unhappiest countries were in Europe, with France at the top with a negative score of 79. “We have never seen a score this low in 34 years of doing the study,” said Celine Bracq of BVA-Gallup. The cheeriest people were in Nigeria.

A recent development in Paris:

A new fleet of ‘tuk-tuk’ taxis have taken to the streets of Paris this week, offering free journeys around the French capital. The service is set to run seven days a week, using 24 tuk-tuks and stopping at 150 points on some of the most popular fixed bus routes in the city.

Paris Tuk Tuk

The service is operated by entrepreneur Kheir Mazri, who aims to cover costs by selling advertising on the side of the vehicles and by selling a variety of pastries, tea and popcorn to passengers during their journey.

And I enjoyed this:

Happy, healthy and preposterous new year to all …

Some photos of the week:

Holiday Cheese Plate

Decanting the Wine

Holiday Carousel - Hotel de Ville

Americanized Eiffel Tower

Hand Painted Barrier Warning Sign (with scarf and falling umbrella)


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