Spotting UFOs in Parisian Markets

There’s something to be said about waking up on a Saturday or Sunday morning and heading out to one of the markets/marchés in Paris to shop for fresh produce.

When we first moved to Paris, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that a marché was set up every Wednesday and Sunday right outside where we lived, under the metro tracks of La Motte Piquet Grenelle and Dupleix stations. It became a routine to wake up on Sunday, pop by the marché, soak in the atmosphere with the locals and pick up what would be our brunch – e.g. roast chicken, cheese with baguette, oysters, paella, sauerkraut with sausages (yes, we can get non-French food items too ;)).

I’ve often stopped in my tracks to stare at a UFO – “unidentified food object” and Bolly would roll his eyes and tell me what it was followed by an exclamation along the lines of “Tu as jamais vu ça?” (You’ve never seen this before?). Oh well, blame that on growing up in a city and not being in the least bit interested in cooking.

Here are some pictures from our visit to the Marché President Wilson (16th arrondissement) last Sunday with my cousin.  Spot any UFOs? 🙂

I still don’t know what type of flowers these are but they were a beautiful shade of blue…

I never knew that there were so many varieties of tomatoes…

I could get used to a lifestyle of Sunday oyster brunches 🙂

Another yummy dish, escargot in garlic butter…

When I saw this, I thought of a popular dish in Singapore, sambal (chilli-based sauce) stingrays…

This was one of the UFOs that I stopped to look at when I first arrived in Paris…sea urchins…

Marché President Wilson is known to be one of the more expensive marchés with an uppity Parisian flavour. Comparing prices is a must!

Growing up, I almost always only ate button and shitake mushrooms and never knew that there’s a wide range of mushrooms with different varieties coming into season at different times of the year…

Some are obviously huge…

Pheasant anyone?

One of the perks of living in Paris, finally learning to identify different cheeses!

My all-time favourite UFO! Any guesses?


Where’s the Bright Yellow Ball?

The days are getting shorter while the hemlines are getting longer…

The bright yellow ball is mischievously playing hide-and-seek, meanwhile the somber sky lingers…

Flowers once radiant are withering away as winter hollers…

It’s getting cold, it’s getting dark…

If Iron Nun Can Do It, So Can You

“First, you have to have the desire. Then, once you have the desire, you can become a little bit more daring, and with daring you get determination. And with determination comes the dedication, and then the actual doing. Those are the five Ds.”

The person who said this has competed in more than 340 triathlons, including over 46 Ironman triathlons and countless other races.  What makes up an Ironman triathlon? Swim 3.86 km (2.4 miles), cycle 180 km (112 miles) and then run a full marathon (42.2km or 26.2 miles). No mean feat! Well, guess what? The lady who’s achieved the above is also 82 years old and recently finished the Ironman Canada triathlon in August 2012 with a timing of 16h:32m, setting the world record as the oldest woman to complete an Ironman Triathlon. She’s Sister Madonna Buder, a nun who lives in Washington and has earned the moniker of the “Iron Nun” for her amazing feats.

I think I can safely say that Sister Madonna Buder’s achievements puts many of us who are younger than her by 10, 20, 40 or even 60 years to shame.  She’s my daily inspiration and make that an upsized daily inspiration! To those who think that they are too old or their bodies too weak to exercise or go the distance, throw caution to the wind and give your bodies a shot at what it’s capable of doing.

Put on your shoes and go run now! 😉

Where Did All the Time Go?

I remember we used to copy one another’s homework, get hauled up for our short school skirts, make last-ditch attempts to squeeze in one year’s worth of school syllabus in a week in order to scrap through our examinations, shout at the top of our voices to cheer our school’s sports teams, think of ways and means to get a chance to speak to the boys we had a crush on, spend an inordinate amount of time at fast-food joints after school’s out and have girly stayovers at your place where we would chat until we could hardly keep our eyelids open. Those were carefree teenage years and somehow, we grew up and became who we are today. Working adults, wives and you, a mother.

Where did all the time go?

My dad sent me a box of my trinkets. A box that I had stashed away more than a decade ago and long forgotten about.  Opening it was akin to opening a Christmas present as I held my breath momentarily in anticipation of what I would find in there. Badges that we proudly wore on our uniforms in our youth stared right back at me as I clicked open the box.  A wave of fond memories engulfed my mind.

Nostalgia warmed my heart. The times we’ve laughed; the times we’ve celebrated; the times we’ve cried; and the times we’ve quarreled. I wondered if we had imagined ourselves to be who we are today when we were younger… 

Where did all the time go?

Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You

Scams out to trick tourists take place everywhere in Paris be it at the Eiffel Tower, Champs-Élysées, Sacré Coeur, along the River Seine, Notre Dame etc. We saw two tourists fall prey to a scam recently when we were driving along the River Sine and much as we wanted to alert them, there wasn’t enough time to do so before the car had to move off. So, in the spirit of public service, I hope to do our part to raise awareness of some of these hoaxes.

1. Clipboard donations

I’ve seen adults and children carrying clipboards at major tourist destinations (Eiffel Tower, Sacré Coeur and Champs-Élysées etc) asking for donations. A colleague that’s fallen for this told me that once you agree to donate (eg. €2 or €5), they’ll tell you that there’s a minimum donation amount. So if you oblige them, you’ll end up losing the money you give them and could potentially have your wallet stolen when they see where you keep your wallet. I once witnessed an old man handing over a €20 note and instead of giving him change, the girl ran away with his money.

2. Bracelets/Friendship Bands

I’ve only ever seen this happen in Montmartre. As you head towards the Sacre Coeur, men will come up to you showing you friendship bands and they will try to tie these bands on your wrist. Say no immediately and walk away. Otherwise, once the bands are on your wrists, they’ll ask you to pay €5 – €10 for each band.

3. Guess where the ball is

What catches your attention is a group of people huddled over a game. You get drawn to the crowd and see a guy betting €50 while guessing which of the 3 matchstick boxes/cups actually contains a ball. The guy easily wins the €50.  If you stick around and show some interest in betting, those around you would egg you on telling you how easy it is to win. Once you decide to play, that’s where the scam unfolds. The split second that you look away to get your money, the ball is moved away from where you thought it was and there goes your money. The guy who “won” before you and those who urged you to bet are actually from the same gang. They keep pretending to “win” until some innocent chap takes the bait.

4. The gold ring

Another person who fell for this told me that someone would come up to you to ask if you’ve dropped a gold ring.  He would then show you a ring and try to make conversation while attempting to convince you that the ring belongs to you.  When you refuse, he will then ask for spare change either for the ring (which could have a fake 18k insignia on it) or to pay for his next meal.

5. Someone drops something in front of you

This usually happens on trains or when you’re seated down in a café. Someone walks by and drops something beside you (coins, papers etc). If you bend over to help this person pick up his belongings without watching your own stuff, chances are that your valuable possessions (handphone/handbag/laptop) would be swiped away while you’re bent over. It doesn’t pay to be kind? Well, yes, be kind but be alert as well.