Alice’s au pair diary – week 20
It was a weird and wonderful mashup that we certainly enjoyed just stumbling into…
Today was the day that the city of Paris waits for… Fete de la musique. This annual festival of merriment sees the streets of this city lined with music acts upon every corner specialising in a variety of styles as well as shops open until all hours (many indulging in the festivities and opting to blare music out of their own front doors too) and heaps upon heaps of happy, drinking and dancing folk getting lost upon their meandering strolls. It honestly feels as though the entire population of Paris (and beyond!) has come out to dance and be jolly until the early hours. The novelty of this night doesn’t stop at the all-encompassing music every which way you turn but rather extends even to the transport system! Paris, a city known for it’s infamous inconvenient and wholly un-cosmopolitan closing hours of metros etc, sees its transport brave the dark hours and remain open the entire night. You feel a sense of obligation, therefore, to optimise upon this rarity and challenge yourself to take the metro as late as you physically can. It truly seems as though this is the same for all other festival goers as the city is crazily buzzing, lively and so busy up until the first light of dawn starts to rear its sleepy head. We spent our time chilling by the canal with so many other young and merry folk before wandering sans-destination amongst the likes of the jam packed Republique and the flamboyant Marais. We danced, sang and chatted with people we met upon our path during this incredibly social and annual night time ritual.
A pleasantly warm Wednesday saw my weekly trip out to the suburbs to visit my pal, be a lot more summery indeed. We opted to sit en terrace (as they say here in the land of leisure) in order to soak up some of these precious (and rare) rays before moving to the nearby green for a spot of ice cream – would be a sin not to! We spent a few hours chatting and laughing away as always before we were summoned in our different directions for the day. I’m lucky not to have to work until quite late on a Wednesday so I trundled back off into the city in order to meet up with another pal of mine. She took me to a ‘hidden park’ that is so secret it doesn’t even appear as a green space on the map of Paris! It was so big and full of lively locals that really contributed to the summery vibes of the day. I will certainly miss Parisian park life when I get back to England. I am from the countryside so I won’t be short of green space but I will certainly be without the scene of lounging folk and playing children. It’s important to appreciate the things here you can’t take back with you.
I accompanied my pal to pick up one of her infants from nursery then and we (now three) made our way to another park for a few hours of playing and even snapchat filtering (if you think it’s funny face swapping with your friends, wait till you face swap with a baby!!!!) He is such a sweet little fella, singing sweetly whenever he feels like it, wearing my sunglasses upside down and even offering out high fives. Kids can be cute…sometimes.
It was a late start at work today and when I arrived my 9 year old had been substituted for another 12 year old (a friend of my eldest host child). This was no bother as the temporary guest was most kind and polite and plus, as every au pair will tell you, it’s a godsend to have friends ‘come to play’ as you get a well-deserved rest!
My 9 year old returned later but went straight to his bed to sleep…I knew something was a bit wrong. I went later to hang some washing up in the room next door to the boys and I could just hear, quietly in the darkness, the sound of sobbing. I entered to find the little fella crying alone in his room in the pitch black. This broke my heart for sure! I turned on the light to discover he was all hot and flustered and riddled with a sore head and stomach that he reported to me then. His sister and I fuelled him up with medicine and cooled him down with some cold flannels. It’s very sad when you see a child ill but there is absolutely nothing you can do by way of relieving their burden – it is purely a waiting game. After a little chat and giggle to calm him down, it was time for him to sleep it off again and for me to leave.
I met my friends down at Trocadero for a relaxed evening of chilling, sweetie eating, chatting to football fans all around us and even practising our French with some locals. It was altogether a very lovely and lively night which was certainly needed after the turbulent evening.
I awoke to a message from the host mother asking me to come to work at a painfully early hour as the little boy was too unwell to go to school and thus needed to be looked after. It was a tiring morning (one that I would’ve gone to be bed earlier for had I had known it’s hour of commence!!) but alas this is the nature of the job. Family life is spontaneous and that is what you have to be prepared for I’m afraid as an au pair.
I was free after lunch as, in true tag team manner, the mother tapped in for the afternoon shift. I was therefore able to meet up with my pals who suggested an ice cream session in order to counteract the ROASTING heat we were experiencing today. In order to give a little perspective here, when going to pick up the daily baguette for the children at around 4 o’clock, the lovely lady who works at the bakery brought me over to the window to see the 38 degree figure popping up on the temperature-reader sign outside the pharmacy. It was truly a scorcher that day. You know it’s bad when the usually boiling hot underground corridor into your building that you resent is actually pleasantly cool and thus becomes a little haven hideout spot! Madness!
After a relatively long shift I joined my pal to go and see one of our friends performing in her orchestra recital. It was so peaceful and lovely to be surrounded by such incredible music; a real treat for a Thursday evening.
Today was a big one. I awoke in anticipation of either some incredibly relieving or terrifying news. The results of my country’s EU referendum were announced. Merely looking at my phone was enough to tell me the outcome. A series of sad texts and messages plastered my lock screen. I desperately scrambled my way onto the BBC news homepage to see if I was wrong but my worst fears had been confirmed: a narrow win for Brexit. As someone living abroad in Europe currently I have seen first hand the incredible opportunities being a part of this community brings. My fellow British au pair pals and myself assumed subsequently a state of misery and somewhat mourning. We met up with a couple of our other pals and headed for some comfort food at Au p’tit grec on Rue Mouffetarde. It was nice to distract ourselves from the void of uncertainty with a hearty portion of stuffed savoury crepes in the nearby environs of an old amphitheatre we found.
Luckily my misery wasn’t exacerbated by my work as it was a short and sweet session. It was the little fella’s last day at school and so he came bounding into the house full of excitement to rip up his books from the past year (the little anarchist!!!!) I was glad he tore his work up after he showed me he was marked poorly for a lovely picture he’d drawn of a cat. No child should get a 10 out of 20 for their clear efforts! Darn that school system sometimes – it sure is tough in France! We talked of my imminent departure and we both got a little sad at the prospect of soon no longer seeing one another. We had a little cuddle about it before he proceeded to give me his old English book (that we have spent countless hours working from over the past year) as well as a little picture of himself by way of remembrance.
I then met up with my fellow British pal to head down to the river. We chilled in our habitual ‘Seine spot’ as we like to call it for old times sake. We had a wonderfully deep chat before heading for a stroll around the 7th arrondissement. It was lovely and peaceful. By some sort of weird coincidence we stumbled into a large electricity box painted with the EU flag. We proceeded to recommence then our mourning with the result of the day.
This weekend was the last weekend with my best friend before she leaves for home.
The three of us English gals from our group met up for a canal chill accompanied by pizza from the nearby ‘Pink Flamingo’ (<simply the best!), our favourite tunes blaring out and ice cream. The perfect way to celebrate our final weekend together. Oh how we laughed under the sparkling sunshine as we played hang man and other silly games – I will really miss the free time we have here in Paris.
It was time to get our resting bodies moving and so we trotted off for a casual stroll over to Republique. There was a weird event going on there that included a stage when people preached the benefits of drugs, a children’s area of wall climbing and horse riding and then a giant half pipe for skaters to show their skills. It was a weird and wonderful mashup that we certainly enjoyed just stumbling into. If you love spontaneity then you’ll love Paris; it is simply crawling with little things popping up here and there.
Onwards to le Marais next taking in the lively likes of le Marche des enfants rouges and the pop up stalls along the cobbled streets around. I even found 2 little music boxes playing my favourite songs of all time.
It wasn’t long after that I had to leave for work where I chatted with my host mum about the atrocious Brexit result. It seems the French are just as shocked and disappointed as myself!
It was off up to my room afterwards to predrink and eat dinner with two of my favourite people where we decided also to have a spontaneous photoshoot with my Polaroid camera … whilst this sounds normal, we very much made it strange by each dressing up very weirdly! This included wearing tights on our heads, objects in our hair, glasses on upside down and string around our faces (amongst other things!) It was a funny way to capture in a few shots the utter madness of our trio in a special and small homage to this year together.
Once we’d finally substituted the ‘unique’ look for some fancy clothes and makeup, we trundled off to our beloved Bastille. This renowned nightlife area is of special significance to myself and my fellow English pal as back at the very beginning of this year we always went there. We were still getting used to Paris and so weren’t brave enough to venture out to the likes of the places we do now. It is at Bastille that so many memories were made for us, so many friends were made, so many happy moments were had and so much fun took place. We therefore felt that, on our last weekend together as a duo, it was important we went back to ‘say goodbye’ to this, one of our significant spots. As we emerged from the metro we were giddy with nostalgia at the familiar scene. We headed straight for our old ‘usual’, the pub ‘Yellow Mad Monkey’. This place is full of such significant moments for us that it would’ve been morally corrupt not to head back here one last time!! It was lovely to spend the night chatting to so many people. A swarm of Brits were present (due to the Euro2016) and so it was wonderful to just chat to everyone (especially being so soon post EU referendum). It was nice to have people there to empathise with you and share in our anger at our new situation!
We even found some fun Portuguese people whom we spent the rest of the night with chatting, dancing and drinking. We even got one of their bucket hats as a souvenir of the session. Good times were had all round!
It was homeward then via the infamous night bus (for old times sake) but we carelessly got off a few stops too early and so found ourselves near the Louvre. We decided to embrace it all and began dancing and spinning around in the open and people-less space before running barefoot along Rue de Rivoli just because why not! 5:30 in the morning and the sun was just rising thrusting a weary and congratulatory salute to us, successful soldiers of the all-nighter scene.
Once our fatigued yet adrenaline fuelled bodies were safely tucked up in our covers we chatted and giggled until sleep eventually overcame us. There’s something very special about going to bed as the morning birds chirp away outside your window – a sound and feeling I will so closely link to this Parisian year.
Twas the day of reckoning for the French football fans. The quarter final of the Euro2016. We, a group of seven, headed to the brilliant ‘fan zone’ at the Eiffel Tower. I’m very lucky to be based so close to this, a Mecca of football themed merriment and patriotic spirit. It is especially ideal if you have had a late night the day before as you can quite literally embody the idea of rolling out of bed and into the action.
The atmosphere was, as ever, incredible. The sun was shining down joyfully over the tricolour wearing, flag waving French folk as they belted out supportive chant after chant after chant. We naturally bumped into a few more Brits in the area after the game as they (also clad in the Saint George’s cross flag) approached us in an act of solidarity. It always nice to find people from home when you’re so far away from it yourself.
After a necessary and refuelling Macdonalds, myself and some other locals lasses headed to the swanky ‘La Gare’ restaurant/bar just down the road from ourselves. We sipped on lovely juices in cute little bottles and mason jars and felt very fancy all the while. I will miss so dearly the spontaneity of Paris. That feeling of waking up and not being able to predict the day’s agenda. It is a level of freedom that I must remember to fully embrace and appreciate as it won’t be constant; something that I can accept also as it just makes the whole Paris bubble even more special and precious.