…a truly fabulous and exhausting week in my favourite city – onwards to the next!
Once again Monday appears to have crept its way unwelcomingly into our lives following a wonderfully sunny, warm and Parisian weekend. I tend also to prolong the misery of Monday it seems by making it, coincidentally, my organisation day of drudging tasks such as room cleaning, exercise and food shopping. If it’s already a bad day historically you might as well humour it!
Despite this, my evening shift was most lovely as my little eight year old fella was so adorably cute. He was mid kick of a football when he stopped and questioned my on when I was leaving. Upon hearing my response of July he looked down to the ground and trundled his way over to hold my hand before clinging onto me in a cuddle. He subsequently told me I was the “nicest” au pair he’d had. Said family have had a whopping total of eleven au pairs and so whilst I appreciate the cute compliment, statistically my odds of being the outright ‘nicest’ are rather slim! He’s a lovely little man and I will be, in his words, very “triste” to part ways from him. There are moments when you truly detest the job yet, fundamentally, upon departure, I can imagine we’ll miss these ragamuffins rather dearly.
Another successful and problem-free shift passed and I, once again, found myself in the pleasant company of my two friends (or rather ‘part-time sisters’) down the road from me. We whacked on our hideous pyjamas, bunged our hair up and cozied on out for the evening even planning a cheeky trip to Madrid. Not a shabby Monday after all hey!
The blinding sunshine was my alarm clock today as it blared and bounded in through the windows like an enthusiastic child eager to play for the day! I was however most happy to see this bright stranger after the long, cold and dark winter that endured rather tediously.
So as to make the most of the rare rays, my friend and I dashed off to our local bridge ‘Pont Bir-Hikeim’ to take some lovely photos and footage for the ‘Paris’ film we are making: a montage of the best and most important aspects of our little family of three’s life here in the city of lights. It was so wonderful to just feel the sun shining down upon our face with the lovely lady Eiffel standing so elegantly and proudly next to us creating a truly movie-like scene.
We are big fans of exploring this city and finding the hidden treats ‘off the beaten track’ so to say. Therefore, after a morning of intensely touristic environs, it was time for some much needed voyaging off far out. You could certainly say where we went was off the beaten track for it took three metro changes to reach it! A small little village-esque community exists just east of Parc des Buttes Chaumont namely ‘Mozaïa’. We had no idea what to expect prior to arrival there but we were so pleasantly surprised. This quiet little nest of quaint cobbled alleyways lined with quirky and colourful little homes (each vastly unique and customised) is accompanied by the sounds of little birds chirping away sweetly as cats saunter on past you before flopping to the floor to roll around in the little patches of warm sunshine they can find. It is a wholly surreal experience in this hidden village that feels truly ten thousand miles removed from the Paris we all recognise.
After all the excitement and walking in the spring sun we had built up quite the thirst that could only be quenched, naturally, by coffee. KB Caféshop in Southern Pigalle was today’s victim of choice. The quirky establishment appears to be host to the hipster apple-mac convention on a daily basis as the benches, tables and outside chairs were simply swarmed by young busy-at-work types all sipping their coffees ferociously. It was a lovely place however that served a very delicious Kenyan blend that you could enjoy whilst in the surroundings of a quirky interior of blackboard menus and crates of oranges dotted around! Shabby-chic indeed!
A lovely and sunny day was concluded in a moment of pure cuteness as, on the walk back home from the dentist, my little fella had a trial go on one of these infamous hover boards (as we simply couldn’t walk past the pop-up sale stand without him going for a spin!) It was so lovely to see him having such fun and I realised, as his little excited face would look up at me grinning in happiness every now and again, that I will miss the little man. It’s coming to that stage of the year now where the end is slowly coming into sight and the realisation that this won’t be forever is kicking in.
Wednesday has appeared to become an infamous day of walking and today’s chosen host for our stroll was the ‘lac inferior’ at Bois du Boulogne. This rather giant lake is equipped with two mini inner islands that you can access via a one euro sixty return ticket ferry boat trip (that is so cute and little!) It even has a section where an army of paddle boats have swarmed the waters in preparation for the summer time influx of visitors that shall descend upon the woodland. The walk itself is most peaceful yet equally equipped with some fun climbing and exploring opportunities. My friend and I, both hailing from countryside lands afar, were hasty in clambering up any trees we could find and navigating our way down piles of big rocks – a truly nostalgic experience just a ten minute walk from our doorstep!
Though my morning comprised solely of an ‘éclair run’ (as I like to call it) in anticipation of my 11 (or rather now 12) year olds birthday lunch, my afternoon was a bit more pleasant. The sun was shining down and so I took myself off to the riverside with some pals for a little pause before the chaos of the evening shift commenced. It was relaxing, enjoyable and a real reminder of why we are here. It is hard to remember often during the week when flooded with work (what feels like ALL the time) that in fact there is a reason behind why we put ourselves through this endurance test!
Said evening shift was actually better than expected as, due to the aforementioned birthday, we feasted upon a hearty meal of meat fondue and homemade profiteroles! I even managed to sneak into the family photo somehow – they’ll have my lovely face to reminisce upon long after I’ve left…lucky them! Alas, today was also the wonderful Saint Patrick’s Day and, in true Irish style, we simply had to go out and celebrate. A group of four of us found ourselves at a free riverside party at ‘Favst’ that even allowed free entry to the under the bridge club there! And so we danced the night away to some brilliant music before exiting to see the ‘Grande Roue’ of Paris all illuminated green – good ol’ Saint Paddy.
After a rather late end to the night yesterday, this Friday had an obligation to be more tame and chilled; comprising of a cute coffee date in the AM at the hidden away ’13 – A baker’s dozen’ café and then a hefty American-style brunch at ‘Twinkies’ all-day breakfast joint. Needless to say I was sufficiently refuelled for the following work shift! It was a truly lovely day spent in great company.
After a hearty breakfast a friend and I trotted off down south to the shopping village ‘Bercy’, not because we were in search of some retail therapy but rather because the layout of this retail park was infamously cute and slightly cottage-like. A row of little shops line a cobbled street in a scene most reminiscent of the Cotswolds (or just generally the English countryside!) It was good fun moseying in and out of the shops tasting free biscuits, looking at puppies in the pet store there and even getting a free massage on one of these trial massage chairs!!
Being indoors for the majority of the morning had left us pretty oblivious to the overcast clouds of misery that had descended upon the city in the interim prompting a cold chill to arrive and wrap itself around us. This called for one thing and one thing only…a café crawl. I kid you not this is exactly what we did. We have had a list of about twenty cafes on our list for many months now and it was about time we began making a sever indentation! Our first port of call was the quirky ‘Caféotheque’ on the riverside where we sipped down espressos and shared arguably the most delicious carrot cake in the entirety of Paris. Perusing our way onwards then to the next stop we nipped into an adorable stationary store selling items befitting of the Harry Potter films (I’m talking feather calligraphy quills, leather bound notebooks and even wax letter stamps!) After that little distraction, we got our heads back in the game and headed onward to ‘Café Loustic’ who, renowned for its doughnuts, did not disappoint. I must say the interior of this little place was one of my favourites in the whole city – it was cosy and kitsch and oh so inviting! On our way to our next target we bumped into the Christian Berst Art gallery that was featuring the works of disabled artists: a super fascinating exhibition if you find yourself looking for something to do in the city soon. Anyway, we hit up the lovely ‘Rose Bakery’ afterwards which specialised in quite British-y cakes. WARNING: you pay by the kilo here and so be careful as pricing isn’t really made too clear. This little café was really not too far from the concept store ‘Merci’ and so we decided to check that off the list too. You think you have seen hipster Paris? WAIT till you stroll into this place (though there is a very cute fiat 500 parked outside the front that we simply had to stop and have the mandatory photo with). En route to our final checkpoint of coffee we found ourselves wandering down a street of hidden art galleries and so had a little gander at two; one, a pretentious architecture display (I’m talking just a few rocks scattered about painted black) and the other, a fascinating surrealism exhibition! We were starting to feel a bit weary after all this action (or rather inaction but still) and so we were happy to see ‘Café Spoune’ in our sights. A delightful little place offering a warm and cosy ambiance equipped with board games and books if you so feel obliged. They even offer a ‘bring a book, take a book’ exchange program!
Our growling stomachs now were desperate for something other than cake at this point and so we stocked up on some supplies to make healthy veggie rolls (a form of counteracting today’s calories!) and, passing by the Eiffel Tower on the way home we even managed to catch it’s switching off for Earth Hour – a truly cool thing to witness!
The evening then passed in true Saturday night style with some rowdy pre-drinks and a ‘dance the night away’ session at Café Oz. We, a group of eight girls, had a fabulous time that saw us safely back in our beds at seven the next morning!!!
Today, naturally, called for a slower start and more tame action plan. At three we were ready to rear our weary heads in order to do something and, of course, that had to be coffee. We rocked up at ‘Le peloton’ café (aka my new FAVOURITE place!) I cannot recommend this little establishment enough! Not only is the coffee some of the best in this city but the décor is so stylish, the music choice is impeccable and the staff are two of the friendliest and most sociable men you will ever meet. You feel truly at home here and I know we will for sure frequent it!
We then perused on over to the quirky number 59 Rue du Rivoli. For those who aren’t aware, this was once an illegal squatting sight for artists which the government just decided to hand over to them and so now it is exactly that still but just legal! A fascinating building that is free to enter is host to copious amounts of ‘artist spaces’ and these guys don’t hold back! Imagine paint and materials plastering the walls, floors, stairs, doors, ceilings and windows and you’ll be about right! EVERYTHING is covered and is so interesting! You feel as though you’ve stepped into the brain of these artists in your roughly twenty minute session of madness and amazement! Try and spot the front door of this place next time you’re walking down Rue du Rivoli (it’s certainly not hard to miss!!)
A casual stroll through Le Marais (taking in the beautifully Easter-y decorated Saint Paul church) and then onwards through Saint Paul village closed off our lovely and relaxing day ever so nicely. I, myself, was immediately in my comfy pyjamas and was tucked up in bed by nine ready to recuperate after a truly fabulous and exhausting week in my favourite city – onwards to the next!