5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

Yet another weekend of beautiful weather here in the French capital.  Here’s what I was up to for the last 72 hours.

1) Went for a one-way long run

I started off my long run mid-afternoon, set to go one-way out of the city.  I figured I’d eventually end up near a train station or somewhere else I could hitch a ride home on.  My goal was to explore some new ground.

About 5 miles away from the house I was mostly out of the city and along the semi-quiet sections of the river.  Here, a few guys had cycled out and were just lazing around in swimsuits on the dock…in the first weekend of April.  Yes, purely awesome weather.


I’d keep on going far beyond any distance I’ve headed this direction before.  Usually I turn around by now.  But I’m glad I headed this way.  The river got super-quiet, almost silent, with a little trail that just ambled along near the water.


I’d ultimately end up actually looping back on myself a bit as the river does the same.  So ironically I only ended up about 8-9 miles from the house, versus the nearly 17 I ran.  My stopping point would be this track, though, I had intended to run further but ran out of edible nutrition (I just couldn’t stomach the leftover stuff I had rummaged up from a bin in the house).


I grabbed what ended up being three trains to get home (not optimal).  But I did think it was interesting that in the first platform I boarded there was a sign for the Paris Marathon expo, open to all:


But, more on that Paris Marathon in a minute….

2) Watched a movie in English, except when it was in German or Dutch, as then it was in French.


For the first time ever here, I actually went to a movie theatre.  Yes, almost two years living here – and no nights out at the movies.  It’s funny though, without the constant radio or TV commercials that you’d get in the states, you actually kinda lose track of what’s out in movies.

We do see tons of movie ads in the subway systems (large paper ads), but we have to always do a bit of looking up to figure out what the US name of the movie is, as often it’s changed entirely when released in France.

For most expats living in France, you’re generally going to seek out a US-produced movie shown as version originale, which means that the audio is in English (original version), while there are subtitles in French.  Obviously, for a US-produced movie, that’s what we wanted as well.  In our case, we were going to see The Monuments Men.

Now, what’s funny about this is that the movie actually starts off in German.  For those in the English speaking countries, your subtitles would have then been in English (with the speaking in German).  Except here, the subtitles were in French.  Which, was fine for us.

Then, the next scene was in Belgium, and again, the subtitles in French, this time for Dutch.  Which then culminated a scene or two a few minutes later being set in Paris, in French, with no subtitles at all…given the French audience.

Now, it’s actually kinda funny comparing the spoken original English in the movie to what’s translated into French on the screen.  There’s an incredible amount of context and wording that was consistently lost in the translations to French, which were highly simplied.  Thus explaining why many of our French friends note how they very much prefer the original English versions, than the translated French versions.

Following the German-Dutch-French-but-not-English movie, we grabbed two Velib’s for the 2-3 mile ride home.  With the temperatures in the mid-60’s, it was a beautiful night for a slow ride home.


3) Watched the Paris Marathon

While last year we ran the Paris Marathon, this year we took on a spectator role.  The race started at 8:45AM, and by time it looped back around near us, it was the 14-mile marker.  So around 11AM we walked the few hundred meters away to watch the tens of thousands of runners cruise on by:



As is in the case in most of the European races I’ve taken part in here, there were plenty of musical bands along the route, including one right near us.


We ended up grabbing Velib’s and following the route a little bit (albeit, on the other side of the river).  The course at this points dips below the roadway for about half a mile, into a long tunnel.  Eventually it emerges right next to the Louvre.


Meanwhile, we’d meet back up with it in front of the Eiffel Tower, at a water stop.



Directly after the water stop, it got pretty packed, with the crowds narrowing the gap to just about a single lane’s worth by time it’s under the bridge.  Though, it’s hard to see it from this angle.


Up on said bridge, it was equally as packed:


It was here we found a gentleman who not only brought out his own cymbals, but also his own jukebox.  Seriously, just look at it.


He found a friend though in this little girl, who only a few feet away rang that bell like nobody’s business:


Here, a short video of the two of them going at it:

Meanwhile, the runners streamed on by:


We’d eventually ditch our Velib bike share bikes and grab the Metro home.  The opposite side of the platform full of runners that had finished already…waddling their way back to homes and hotels.


Congrats to everyone that ran the Paris Marathon yesterday!

4) Went to Ikea…and a few other stores…and then our car broke.

Post-marathon spectating we headed out to Ikea.  We had a few miscellaneous things to look at there, as well as some stores nearby.


Obviously, once inside, we found the restaurant.  Who can go to Ikea and not get meatballs?


Clearly, not us.

Unfortunately, post-Ikea after driving away we made one more stop at a grocery store before heading home.  In doing so, we managed to break our little Autolib car-sharing car.  For reason we don’t quite understand, the system somehow forgot we were renting the car mid-way through our rental, and thus considered our rental period expired.  The only way around that was apparently sending a technician to the car, which would take an hour.

So instead, we just left our car behind and got a taxi home.  Kinda a bummer as we ended up losing an hour of time between troubleshooting and phone calls and taxi waiting, but at least Autolib paid for the taxi.

5) Got surrounded by pink things

Lastly, the last week or so it got all pink around these parts.  For example, the trees on the side of Notre Dame have bloomed:


It’s always interesting to watch how different folks interact with the trees.  Specifically, kids of different nationalities.  Sitting from my window I can watch at noon each day as the local school kids head into the church’s gardens and ‘interact’ with the trees.  Specifically, jump up, grab the flowers, and shake the branches until the flowers fall off.  It happens every day, and happened last year as well.  Odd because the French adults don’t bat an eye.  Yet, the other tourists in the area generally freak out when this occurs.  Anyway…noted.

Speaking of other pink things, we did our usual weekly run to the restaurant supply store for the CupCakery.


They had pink napkins in stock, which sounds funny, but it’s not always dependable.  So, we bought all they had.  I think about 6-8 reams of them.  I think each one’s a few hundred.  Either way, it’s actually the single ‘ingredient’ we have a tough time staying in stock on.  Thus, sometimes folks get purple or grey napkins when the store goes on a pink napkin drought.

Outside of the pink napkins, it was mostly the usual for a week…270 eggs, enough Nutella jars to last most people a few years, and  a lot of flour…and a box of mangos for the house.

With that, thanks for reading, and have a great week ahead!


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  1. Tom

    I particularly enjoyed the marathon runners with “Where the Foch is the finish?” printed on the back of their vests! Gave me the chuckle I needed to push on through to the end.

  2. Remco Verdoold

    I might have missed it, but which movie did you watch?

  3. Pat

    Nice to see they had water in the Paris marathon – not like the fiansco that was the Sheffield half marathon, see link below:
    link to bbc.com

  4. Rem

    Seems that the river along which you turn around is “La Marne” that make an almost complete turn around the city “Saint-Maur des fossés”. (my Home town :) . Great place to run about , one of my favorite run being “Le Tour de St-Maur”.

    You could have reach RER A Station St-Maur – Champigny to go back to Paris , just 300m away from les bords de marne.

    @Remco : Movie was “The MonumentMen”.

  5. Jurgen De Bruyne

    Thanks to come over and watch me on my first marathon ray :-) It’s an amazing experience, the scenery, the people, volunteers and organization are all super!

  6. David S.

    Ray–I thought I saw somewhere that you were running it this year?

    I remember seeing the cymbal guy with the batman mask and thinking to myself, “what the hell?”

  7. Fiona Terris

    Hey Tom, that was my running group with the t shirts, the Bristol Convocations Running Club. Last year we had Follow Me and I’ll Show You an Eiffel. Watch this space for next year!

  8. Alfie

    Hi Ray,

    I have yet to sample the meatballs at our local IKEA that has been here for years and I shop there a couple of times a year!

    One thing I find interesting about the marathons and half marathons run in Europe is that they give you a whole bottle of water and not the tiny paper cup that we get here in the states. Are there fewer water stops which is why they do it that way? Also, do you feel it is better/worse/about the same with this method vs. the US method. I’m really curious as to the reasons and the impact!

    • I prefer the US method, for a few reasons. First, in Europe the water stops are pretty consistently every 5K (3.1 miles). Whereas in the US, they’re generally every 2 miles (or every mile in most triathlon out/back courses in hot weather). Second, it’s way easier to handle a paper cup than a water bottle. With the bottles I have to undo the cap, hold onto it, then drink, and then do the whole thing in reverse.

      But the biggest reason I prefer the paper cup is that the whole bottle thing just seems really wasteful. You never end up drinking the whole bottle, so you throw the bottle away, thus wasting the bottle as well as the water. And since you’re realistically trucking in 2-3x more water than you need to (since much of it gets tossed), which means you’re spending more time/fuel on it.

      Of course…the real trick to it all is that at least in France the water bottle companies are major race sponsors.

    • Tom

      Bottles are definitely easier to drink from. Even if you pinch the end gd of the paper cup to make a ‘spout’ if still goes everywhere!
      And bottles are a branding opportunity j guess.

    • Empewu

      I agree with Tom. Thats what i have never learned – how to drink from a cup, running, without loosing half of the cup or literally drowning myself.

      I was yesterday in Paris – my wife was running, I was supporting her :-) Overall we’ll organized race (and Bekele was amazing) One thing very odd was to have only one toilet in the coral. People ended literally pissing on each others’ shoes waiting for the start.

    • mucher

      Well in Poland it’s both the cups and the bottles – though running with the pacemakers can be tricky at the stations. I agree with the wastefulness of bottles – still I think it’s easier to drink from the bottle and not lose it all ;)

    • frank d

      I can drink from a bottle while running – I always take one for the road ;) – but not from a cup. Maybe there is a learning curve, but I can’t even fast walk with a cup or tray of anything liquid without starting to spill it. To me that is too similar to attempting to drive with an open fish tank ;) So, if that’s the norm, they better be big cups that are only 1/3rd full.

    • Uwe Hercksen

      The water bottles seems to be a french method and not a general european method, here in germany I found the paper cups in three different towns.

  9. Gingerneil

    I started my debut marathon on Sunday in the UK (Bungay!) but ended up on crutches! Calf niggle turned to calf rupture and a visit to hospital. I was going well and ahead of pace, but bombed out at 16m. Gutted – but already planning a new debut attempt!

    • @keyserSuze

      GIngerneil: sorry to hear about your calf. Bungay was my first half marathon as it’s locul [sic] to us in Norwich. Boy, that is a hilly course – don’t believe anyone who says East Anglia is all flat, they clearly haven’t ever run here!
      I was in Paris with the ‘Where the Foch is the Finish’ crew, but I had my NRR vest on for the race.

      Good luck with recovery and DC, thanks for the blog post.

    • gingerneil

      Thanks for the well wishes. I tend to fix up quite quickly so should be back on it soon….
      I much prefered the first half of the course to the second – the hills made it a little more interesting and weren’t so tough as to make them a problem, but the second felt like a long hard slog despite being flat. I had looked at Halstead – but that does look hilly!
      I’ll hopefully be back to Bungay next year – if I dont get a VLM place.

  10. Seb

    Hi Ray,

    for your long run, try “La coulee verte du sud Parisien” which starts close to Montparnasse Station at “Place de Catalogne” and go up to Massy-Verrieres. You pass just behind the “Parc de Sceaux” so you can run one or two loops around the castle and the bath of the this park.
    You follow the RER B line in its southern part so it’s easy to go back to Paris especially if you live close to Notre-Dame.

    All infos are here:
    link to fr.wikipedia.org


  11. drattoc

    Very nice marathon, it was my second time in Paris.
    I love this marathon, the weather was a little hot at the begining but sunny :), the crowd was cheerfull and very helpfull.
    it is always something special to finish a marathon for me, i am stressed two days before, but when it starts i feel released and i enjoy it. It still very hard for me around 30k/35k but feel happy when i cross the finish line.

  12. Eli

    As someone who works in International Post Production (for television, not for movies), I can say that figuring out what can and cannot be subtitled from a legal perspective, and deciding in what languages the subtitles should appear for foreign dialogue (as opposed to English) is the most complicated and fascinating part of my job.

    Wish I’d had the time/resources to run in Paris when I was there last summer. Looks like that’s a marathon that might be worth the trip in the future.

  13. Sabine

    Sigh, I miss Europe…..reading your “home” blogs.

  14. Andrew

    After reading one of your earlier race reports I decided on a trip back in November to run a half or Semi marathon boulogne -bellancourt. It was fantastic! Love the late start times, dried bananas! Yes please! Only thing I had a little trouble figuring out was the medical form I need to have a Dr. Fill out. Plus the little chocolate croissants every where what’s not to love.

  15. Heiko

    Regarding the “hydration method” (bottles vs. cups): I am from Germany and i never got whole bottles in competitions – just regular plastic or paper cups. Maybe it’s a french thing?

  16. Empewu

    Water in bottles was also during San Sebastián marathon last year. So it’s not only French thing

  17. Bert

    Hi Ray,

    Would you mind sharing your long run route with us? I’m always interested in finding new terrain for my runs! Recently I’ve been running at Bois de Boulogne quite a bit, however the “diverse crowd” can be a bit weird :-)

  18. dECEIT70

    To Fiona:

    Reading the back of your shirts were one of the few guilty pleasures I found running the Paris marathon last sunday!

    ‘Where the Foch is the finish’? Brilliant…

    On another subject, water bottles aren’t found on every race in France. It depends on the sponsoring and the company running the show.
    Anyway, I used most of the water I grabbed that day, either drinking it, filling the water pouches from my hydration belt or pouring some on my neck and arms…

    I hurt like hell, but it definitely is a great race!

  19. Scott

    I just imagine there are two people in all of Paris who need pink napkins, and they keep buying out all the stock.

  20. Janet

    Random thing I did the same weekend… Walked up to a guy who looked exactly like you in a restaurant in the Champs-Élysées and said: “Are you DC Rainmaker?” The guy and his girl just stared at me. I was in Paris for the weekend (all the way from South Africa) and I was so excited to finally meet my gadget nerd hero! Better luck next time!

  21. Lucylu

    Hi Ray,

    Just curious – I can’t remember if you’ve mentioned already why you and the girl didn’t run the Paris full this year? Will you ever run it again? I just registered this morning; I’m stoked!

  22. Lucylu

    Gotcha. I was debating on registering for Paris 2015 since it is so close to Boston. Then reality sank in…It will be easier for me to BQ to run in 2016 (I will be in a new age bracket – haha!) so Paris, here I come! Hope to see you on the course. Thanks, Ray!