BN Paris

By Irene Fogarty

This morning I heard the best news. You can reserve a seat in the metro! Let me explain how cool this is. When you take the metro in Paris to work every day and have 24 stops like I do on the line 9, the most important thing is that you nab a seat and fast. Métro Line 9 is one of 16 lines of the Paris Métro. Linking Pont de Sèvres in Boulogne, where I work in the west with Montreuil in the east, it cuts right through the city center of Paris. And so is the fourth busiest line on the network. So you can imagine how hard it is to get a seat if you’re not pregnant, look ancient or have crutches.

So now simply reserve your very own place just as you would on an airplane. You pay 1€ for a strapontin (strap hanger) or 2€ for a ‘real’ seat. See above.

Sorry you’ve, like I, have been april fooled. They have that over here too. In fact in Italy, France, Belgium, and French-speaking areas of Switzerland and Canada, April 1 tradition is often known as “April fish.” (‘poisson d’avril’). Although it’s not clear what the fish has anything to do with the day, a common prank here, especially among French schoolchildren, is to tape a paper fish to the back of an unsuspecting friend, only to shout “Poisson d’Avril!” when the fish is discovered.

The holiday itself originated in Paris in the 16th century. In 1564, apparently King Charles XIV decreed that the New Year would no longer be celebrated at the beginning of April, as it had been for years. Instead, January 1st would mark the start of each calendar year. Unfortunately, without reliable communication between the King’s court in Paris and the rural areas all over France, many of the French throughout the countryside either did not hear the news for several years, or simply did not believe that such a major change took place. So tricks and pranks were often played on those still following the old calendar rules—and a fun and silly tradition began.

And of course, no French tradition is complete without food to commemorate it, and le Poisson d’Avril is no different. All throughout Paris today, you’ll find chocolate fish for your April Fools’ enjoyment. These fish-shaped candies are known as ‘fritures’ and come in milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, and even orange flavors, as well as marzipan. A traditional Poisson d’Avril treat is a ganache-filled chocolate “sardine,” which looks much like the real thing in its silver wrapper.

If chocolate is not your thing( you’re weird), you can fill up on delicious real fish to celebrate le Poisson d’Avril in Paris. Today, every restaurant offers a fruit de mer special for the day, from shrimp to crab to scallops to oysters and more. So if you happen to be in Paris, enjoy a meal of fish as only the French can prepare it! Happy April’s Fool’s Day! Enjoy!

Originally published April 2014
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