Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Paris: Neighborhoods (Jewish, Japanese, Latin)

This blog entry goes through a few distinctive neighborhoods in Paris: le Marais (the old Jewish Quarter), le quarter japonais (Japanese Quarter, around la Rue Sainte-Anne), and le quartier latin (Latin Quarter, near the Sorbonne - so called because university scholars used to speak Latin).

Here's a typical storefront in the Marais advertising merchandise in Hebrew and French. Incidentally, the word "Librarie" doesn't mean "library" - it means "bookshop" (the French word for library is "bibliotheque").

This excellent restaurant, "l'As du Fallafel," advertises its signature attractions in Hebrew: falafel (פלפל) and shwarma (השאוורמה). It's worth noting that the origin of falafel is disputed; some would claim it is Arab in origin. Whatever its origin, the food is delicious.

A closer view of the take-out order window reveals playing card aces (the word "As" in the restaurant name means "ace") and the motto of the establishment is "Toujour Imité Jamais Égalé" (Always Imitated, Never Equaled) - a nice jab at all the rival restaurants that have opened up nearby.

Along the Rue Sainte-Anne there's a stretch of Japanese restaurants - here's the menu for Naniwa-Ya, which probably has the best Japanese noodle soup I've ever eaten. The Japanese menu reads in the traditional manner, up-down and left-to-right. Oddly, the menu uses the letters YA rather than the kanji (character) 屋 or や (ya).

On one of the walls inside the Sorbonne I saw this sign advertising a photo competition for an international language study program. "No entiendo" is Spanish for "I don't understand," and the French translation ("Je ne comprends pas") is the URL for the website. I find it ironic that the acronym ESL (English as a Second Language) doesn't need any translation.

Inside one of the bathrooms in the university, some pedantic graffiti. One person demands that the maintenance staff replace the hand towels, and another person corrects the first person's grammatical error, correcting "essuies-main" to the proper French form "essuie-mains" (hand-towels).

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