Paris Journal 2014 – Barbara Joy Cooley      Home:

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The 3 Ducks Hostel was a plague on its neighborhood for years.  Then it was closed a few years ago.  A huge and thorough renovation project began.  It stalled.  Then finally, on April 18 of this year, the 3 Ducks re-opened.


The improvements amount to a transformation.  The 3 Ducks is even air-conditioned now!  Or so they say.  Air conditioning in Florida means one thing; in France, it means something else – something far less powerful.


The building is historic:  a former coach house (roadhouse) that was at the heart of the village of Grenelle. 


The reason the hostel was a plague on the neighborhood was not only because of its extraordinarily dilapidated state, but also because of the drunken and rowdy behavior of its guests, who are mostly young English-speakers.


So many times, we’ve heard drunken groups of 3 Ducksters stumbling home late at night, shouting, laughing hysterically and loudly, awakening the neighborhood.


Now, the 3 Ducks is part of, which operates several other hostels in Paris.  The 3 Ducks is the oldest, and most historic one.


The transformation/renovation is very much in keeping with what’s been happening in the neighborhood over the past couple of decades.  This part of the 15th arrondissement is no longer frumpy, not in the least.


Has the behavior of the 3 Ducks guests improved?  My guess is that it has, due to something called the “broken window theory.”  Do you know it?


Wikipedia defines it this way:  The broken windows theory is a criminological theory of the norm-setting and signaling effect of urban disorder and vandalism on additional crime and anti-social behavior. The theory states that maintaining and monitoring urban environments in a well-ordered condition may stop further vandalism and escalation into more serious crime.


Having deliberately chosen to live in urban environments for decades, I am a firm believer in this theory.  If a broken window appears, fix it quickly.  If gang graffiti appears, remove it immediately.  Otherwise, those things send the message that anything goes in this place – that anti-social and disruptive or even criminal behavior can go unchecked.


Some people have used the broken window theory to justify a “stop, question, and frisk” policy for law enforcement in places like New York.  I don’t see the connection there.  In fact, such a policy may just make matters worse, by reinforcing the notion that this is a place for crime and other bad behavior.


But fixing those broken windows sends a clear message that this is not that kind of place.  So I applaud the transformation of the 3 Ducks Hostel, even if it is now more expensive for its budget-minded guests.


We walked by the elegant, historic 3 Ducks building on our way to dine at Bistro 121 last night.  I’d reserved a table with (, and incredibly, we were immediately remembered and recognized by the host when we entered!  Warm greetings were exchanged, and we were given a cute little table in an alcove/corner.  It was almost like having our own little dining room.


Tout le monde arrived within ten minutes after we were seated.  The Bistro was occupied by locals, mostly in their 40s or so, and decidedly upper middle class.  Soon, the place was filled with the energetic, low roar of dozens of lively conversations.


We shared a croustillant of escargots as a starter, and then Tom had a luscious, big veal chop with delicious veggies for his main course.  Since the evening was cool and damp, I opted for the joue de boeuf and jumbo macaroni:  rich and satisfying (photo below).  Of course I shared the pasta with Tom.



For dessert, Tom had an apricot tart that was amazingly good (he let me taste it).   We were delighted with the dinner. 


We dined at Bistro 121 (located at 121 rue de la Convention) many times last year.  It seems that we’ll be returning there for numerous dinners this year!


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Friday, July 11, 2014


The renovated 3 Ducks Hostel on the Place Etienne Pernet in the 15th arrondissement.  This Place was the heart of the former village of Grenelle.


Google Photos’ special effects version of one of my 3 Ducks shots.


My photo of the Bistro 121 ceiling – no special effects here.


Veal chop in a delicious reduction sauce, with veggies (above), and amazing apricot tart, below.



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