Thursday, February 3, 2011


We left Taipei and arrived in Paris 30 hours later (plane change and four hour layover in Singapore airport...very nice and clean airport btw). Paris had the most efficient airport I have ever been through in my life. No custom declaration forms, no interview questions, no searching of luggage...just step up to the immigration window, give them your passport, they stamp it, gave it back to you, and you're allowed into France.

We were picked up by a driver the Taiwan embassy had arranged for us. He dropped us off to Cite de Arts which is located in the heart of Paris. We were then shown the room and it was, do the real estate agents put it? Oh yes, cozy and charming. We're in Paris for 6 months, so I'm not going to complain, but let's just say we have a studio apartment for two people that needed a lot of cleaning before we felt comfortable settling in. We're also limited to a WiFi connection that only allows one person at a time to use. So you can't use two computers or phones connected at the same time, and it's a WiFi connection, so there's no way to use a router or use the laptop as a WiFi "hotspot" to bypass this problem. Again we're in Paris for 6 months so I'll keep my critiques short.

Today we walked to Notre Dame (above picture) which is only a 15 minute walk from our room. This was the second time I had been in Notre Dame, but it was even more amazing this time, knowing there was no rush or tour group holding us back. For the first time, I noticed the largest pipe organ I had ever seen in my life in the rear of the church. When we left, I looked on the church schedule and saw that every Sunday at 4:30pm there is an organ recital, so I know where I'll be this coming Sunday.

There are musicians everywhere in the artist residency as well as the many bars and clubs in Paris. As we were walking through the halls at the residency I heard some mind blowing piano playing. This isn't a conservatory, this is the place where the best players from the best conservatories come to stay and give recitals. I'm blown away. They only allow "professional" piano players access to pianos here, so I won't be playing piano for the next six months. After hearing the players here, I don't think that's a problem, I don't even know if I want to play piano anymore after just hearing these people practice.

The last thing I did was find a bar, Cave du 38 Riv' that had jazz concerts and jam sessions on Monday nights, it is less than a five minute walk from our room. I'm going to the jam session this Monday night to check it out (I have no electric guitar with me yet) but I wanted to see the level of guitar playing, so I went to a jazz show tonight. Well, I tried to go. I walked up to the door of the club at 10:30pm, the sign on the door showed the show started at 8:30pm, so I walked in and no one was there. Just a sign indicating the price, but I heard music from the band downstairs. I waited a few minutes, no one came, so I decided to walk downstairs to check it out. I walked down two flights of stairs and came face to face, stage-left with the guitar player in the band, who gave me a look of "wtf are you doing here?". I stepped back a little, then thought, "oh maybe you walk past the band to get into the club. So I walked up towards the band and saw an entire club full of people and realized there was no way to walk past the band and not disrupt the entire show. I walked back upstairs, waited five minutes, still no one came up, and then I decided to jsut leave. The guitar player was very good (kind of like Alan Holdsworth) but nothing like the skill level of the piano players I heard at the artist residency, so at Ieast I have some level of confidence left to go back and sit in and try my hand at the many jam sessions available in Paris.

Two days into Paris, and it's pretty interesting. I need to work a LOT on my French because there's nothing in English here. People are very friendly after seeing the effort to try to speak French. I mistakenly asked the woman at the Paris City Hall "est-ce que vous parlez Francais?" (Do you speak French? - when I meant to ask Do you speak English?). She just laughed. I apologized and then asked in French for a map of Paris they give out for free and she laughed again at my effort, but understood, and gave me the map and a bunch of other free stuff.

I don't have a big ego when it comes to music or language, but what ego I've got, is really getting crushed quickly. Tomorrow should be fun, we're taking the Metro (subway) to visit one of Charlene's friends. More chances to use my amazing French skills, I'm sure it will be and interesting adventure.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to read you made it to Paris! Get a guitar, fast! I wish i kept one at my mom's -she lives in the 20eme arr., you'd be welcome to borrow it.

    Best, Steph


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