Monday, November 9, 2009

Tennis in Paris

Sunday - Cold, cloudy

Well, we decided to postpone the trip to Fontainbleu until tomorrow. The weather was sort of forbidding. No snow thankfully, but chilly and damp. So I  decided to walk over to the Palais Omnisports de Paris on Rue Bercy, an indoor venue, to see if I could watch a bit of the currently running 2009 Paris Masters Tennis Tournament. I couldn't get tickets to the featured match with James Blake as it was sold out but by dumb luck was able to find a ticket counter staffed by an English speaking woman who sold me a ticket for the qualifier matches. These matches are for players trying to break into, or back into as the case may be, a high enough ranking to get into the professional tour. I watched two matches that were about as good as any I saw at the Indian Wells Masters Tournament a couple of years ago and for a lot less money.
The second match between Marc Gicquel and Alejando Falla (Columbia) was real fun to watch because it went into a third set tie-breaker in which the players traded minibreaks until Falla won it. His opponent Marc Gicquel, a Frenchman, has been on the tour before. I've seen him play in some of the bigger tournaments. I don't know why he's currently playing qualifiers; his ranking must have slipped quite a bit after being beat by Andy Roddick at the US Open this year. But they both played well. (3-6, 6-4, 6-7). Gicquel appears in the top photo. The other match between Vincent Millot (France) and Frederico Gill (Portugal) was also a three setter. And again the favorite, the Frenchman, lost.

(I just read that James Blake beat Fabrice Santoro of France 6-4, 6-3 in the first round of the tournament. Blake broke Santoro twice in each set. I'll bet it wasn't all that interesting to watch.)

Today's ticket cost me 10 €, a relative bargain as tickets go. In 2007 I attended a Masters Tournament in Indian Wells, California, my first professional tennis event.  I bought fairly good tickets for the two finals, the men's and the women's, for about $600 if I recall correctly. Both were boring matches. The winners, Raphael Nadal and Daniela Hantuchova, won in straight sets and did it with ease.

I wanted to relate some other stuff too -- assorted factoids about Paris that might be of interest.

In chats with Arnaud, who once was a realtor of sorts, renting and sometimes selling flats (apartments) here in Paris, I learned that the cost to buy a flat in metro Paris is approximately 8K € per square meter! That means a tiny flat, say about 900 sq feet, would cost roughly a million US dollars to purchase. I reckon that the reason most people rent in Paris.

That also means the beautiful but tiny 16x20 one-room cabin I'm renting from David and Jenny in Homer would cost about $320K were it "located more favorably," in Paris, that is. Holy smokes — that's some heavy coin.

We went to a tiny hole-in-the-wall pizza place in the neighborhood (200 meters away) the other night. I chose a 4-item pizza (11€) while Thea and Arnaud opted for a combination; appetizer, dinner pizza, dessert. Arnaud had salad topped with pieces of sauteed duck and Thea had 6 escargot served in-shell as appetizers. Then they each had the pizza followed by dessert. Thea had tiramisu (I sampled it - pretty tasty) and Arnaud had ice cream (3 scoops). They paid 19 € each for their meals. How can a tiny pizza shack afford to stock and serve snails and duck I wonder? The place was fairly full of customers at about 9 pm.

Oh, by the way, remember that beet I bought yesterday at the market, the one that felt as though it were already cooked? Well, it is cooked. I ate it today. Pretty good too. I saw similar beets in the supermarket last night, also cooked, but these are packaged in plastic bags. Weird, huh?

There are dozens of little shops within a small radius of the flat. They all seemingly sell wine, bread, and other freshly made edibles. How do they manage to stay in business? Sure, there are quite a few people living in the neighborhood (several thousand perhaps), and presumably many people choose to eat out because the food is so good, and fresh, and handmade. But still, a cup of coffee, actually a short 2-shot latte, cost me 3.90€ the other night ---that's $5.80 at the current exchange rate. (I must also add here -- the local coffee can't compare to what I get every day at KBay Caffe.) A glass of house wine is typically 3-4€ and a large draft beer is more like 6€, or almost $9.00. And these little shops and bars, bistros and boulangeries, are always busy. It's amazing. Paris is a very expensive place to live and visit. Like other big cities in the U.S. I suppose. I'm lucky to have these great friends living here. I feel totally at home here in Rue Trousseau with Arnaud and Thea.