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The Duck Is On Its Last Leg


A wobbly little attempt at "shoot the duck" on Pont des Invalides two nights ago. This kid and two girls were attempting to trick skate -- always amusing to see in France. There's something about the French -- they do a number of things very well (my friend Mark calls them "The three F's": food, fashion, and fucking), and then there are a number of things they don't do so well, capitalism, dancing, and rollerskating.

When I'm here in the summers and I see a froggie on rollerblades (except for a few whiz-bang young guys), I leap out of the way like I used to when Americans first got them. And I say that as a snob skater -- I'm basically Tonya Harding on wheels, but without the boyfriend with the crowbar.

Anyway, it's kind of amazing to me that the French are so motion-challenged. Perhaps somebody can explain it?

I probably should've asked this very interesting girl I just met, the Paris-based apartment-finding consultant Susie Hollands. She's Scottish, adorable, very smart, and very savvy, and like me, an entrepreneur who saw an opportunity in the marketplace and seized it.

I went over for tea and a chat with her yesterday afternoon. Three years ago, she came to Paris for two months, saw how hard it was for non-French -- even people with money -- to rent apartments here for more than a short vacation, and vowed to do something about it.

She's built a nice business -- part real estate, part psychoanalysis -- finding the right rental apartments for people from outside France, and cutting through all the crap and red tape. Now, she's starting to help people who want to buy apartments -- for example, my Los Angeles/Paris friend Laurie Pike, who Paris-blogs here.

Susie's also a blogger, with a very interesting and informative blog on Paris real estate. Plus, after three years here in real estate, she can't help but have a very realistic picture of France and French society. Read her blog for more on that. In fact, read this piece commenting on a New York Times piece on the area where I'm staying, in the 17th arrondissement.

Posted by aalkon at October 28, 2006 11:27 AM

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Thanks Amy. Just a note, don't get me wrong, I love parts of the 17th. I have nothing against it. I just get annoyed when influential magazines make off the cuff statements like they did in that article. It's hard to categorise whole areas just by saying the 17th arrond. is good and the 19th is bad. All over Paris the fun is finding the pockets you love and all over town their are the coolest enclaves you can imagine. For investors, there are parts of the 17th that are "sought after" as real estate agents would say, but there are whole swathes of it that are not so cherished, even though they have their charm they're not for people who say, "Hey, 17th, proximity to Etoile and La Defense, BUY." Because parts of it are out on a limb and a bit rough round the edges if you are hoping to rent the newly purchased apartment to a tourist or business person. I just don't want anyone getting a nasty shock when they can't rent their new pad!

Posted by: susie at October 28, 2006 3:23 AM

I totally get that. It's a very important service you perform -- introducing people to reality, for starters!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 28, 2006 3:27 AM

I suck on skates but then I recently found out that I'm half French, so perhaps that explains it. I guess I'll just have to stick to fucking.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at October 28, 2006 8:40 AM

As tours of duty go, it isn't exactly one of the worst.

Hmm...since we've had food and fashion...tomorrow's post will be about fucking.

Coincidentally, I spent some of this afternoon watching people either doing it or talking about it. Blog item on that tomorrow!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 28, 2006 3:47 PM

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