It was so relaxing and wonderful to be sat, with a view of the Notre Dame, surrounded by the most important people in my Paris life…
And the award for the experience with the most rapidly fluctuating ups and downs goes to … au pairing! I was feeling as though I was on cloud nine this week just passed; the sun shone down, I had my best friend from home by my side and a cold ice cream milkshake in my hand – nothing could have seemed dandier! Naturally then, anything trying to follow that subsequently is bound to be quite underwhelming and disappointing in comparison – which just so happened to be Monday. True to form she was a cruel mistress this infamous day of misery, lethargy and sorrow. Not only was I feeling the ‘post-Parisian weekend blues’ but I had also been thrust the lengthy task of working overtime as both parents weren’t due home that evening. Whilst it was a tediously long shift, it was filled with some nice moments; little things but nice ones nonetheless such as English homework fun, drawing and a team ‘man-hunt’ for my little fella’s retainer at nine o’clock (some last minute chaos before bed!)
The consistent factor I seem to adore about Mondays is the routine trumpet soloist who makes an appearance at the same time each week on this day. His soulful sound resonates around the entire neighbourhood reaching every last nook and cranny. It is truly all-encompassing and so beautiful to pause and listen to. Today’s performance was of the classic ‘My Way’ – ain’t nothing like some good ol’ Frank Sinatra to kick start your week.
Today we were blessed with some overdue sunshine and happiness and so, as to optimise upon this, a friend and I strolled down to the nearby Eiffel Tower between our work shifts to sit, shoes off, soaking up the rays and munching upon our first batch of strawberries of the season: perfection.
It is almost as if this week received a summer memo as today continued in the tropical style of yesterday with glorious warmth and clear blue skies! As always on a Wednesday I find myself in the company of my friend from home who is out here au pairing in Paris also and today we were delighted to exchange our ritual indoor coffee date for an alfresco picnic of ice tea and juicy fruits! We nattered the morning away before duty summoned her to her tedious Wednesday shift and so I headed back to the bright lights of the city.
I had seen so many adverts about a certain exhibition taking place in the Musee des Arts Decoratifs of recent and I had be initially been put off by the price. I had, however, forgotten that being between the ages of 18-26 as an EU resident pays off in the form of free entry into almost everything…this museum included! Therefore today, I found myself entering the heavenly pink gates of the Barbie exhibition. You heard me right! An entire two floor exhibition dedicated to this childhood queen of sass! Imagine walls, shelves and boxes just lined with a seemingly infinite number of Barbies creating a true young girls paradise. I am now an expert on her history, production, packaging, wardrobe, family background etc etc etc! I felt my inner child being revived with every glance in this pink and sparkly exhibition.
I left feeling most content and decided to continue my day in sunny style and take the short walk into the Tuileries gardens to place myself (like the elegant Parisian Barbie I am…) on one of the famous green chairs around the fountain to relax and listen to some music. I even saw and old man feeding the ducks there some crepes – how very French indeed! Alas, work was lingering over me like a shadow and so I strolled the length of the river back to my neighbourhood enjoying the peace and serenity before a chaotic shift with the little ‘uns commenced!
Despite my day always being broken up by the lunch shift I work, my friends and I decided not to waste our few free hours and so go for a stroll around our quartier taking in some adorable cobbled streets and a local park before hopping across the river to visit the Japanese institute situated there. We sipped upon some fresh rice tea (a new one for me!) which I was informed acts as a bit of a detox: given the number of crepes and croissants one consumes in a foodie city such as Paris, perhaps this was a good thing!
A long and relatively tiring shift was followed by a truly magical evening spent up on the rooftop bar ‘Le Perchoir’ sipping down a cocktail with a view of the Sacre Coeur and its environs whilst myself and one of my closest pals here in Paris snuggled up in cosy blankets and chatted the evening away: so special.
A hearty breakfast was followed by a voyage up North-East to see the newly-filled Canal Saint Martin. It has been a bit of an eye sore of recent, the empty and dirty canal; and so we were delighted to see the sunshine bouncing off the ripples and twinkling away in delight at its newly-restored state and vitality. A group of four of us met then at a lovely little café nearby namely ‘La Chambre aux Oiseaux’ that I can only describe as looking as cosy and sweet as your grandmother’s front room. It was so adorable and cute (and the iced coffee gets high praise from me).
We spent a good while chatting away here (what’s new) before we headed off towards Paris New York burger. I, after chomping down a huge breakfast earlier, could only handle a portion of their delicious chips but I hear from my friends who went all out that the burgers were a meaty delight, for those curious!
My lovely morning was followed by quite a long shift indeed that, despite its length, wasn’t horrific. I had a very productive English session with my twelve year old host child followed by a little bonding session with the sixteen year old about our favourite music and the currents hits of the time. She cranked the volume up and blasted some popular French music out into the kitchen that put a smile on everyone’s face (including my host mother who then took to the floor to perform a little impromptu dance to the tune – much to her daughter’s horror!) It was a nice little moment that reminded me that, although sometimes work can seem like such a burden, in reality it’s never as bad as you think and is, more often than not, filled with little happy moments such as these.
Despite an active morning of an energising run, the majority of our time then prior to lunch was spent stationary in the queue for the Catacombs. Although now being resident in this city for a total of seven months now, I have never visited this ‘must-see’…until today that is. We waited for an hour and a half in a sluggishly-slow-moving queue but when we finally crossed the finish line of the entrance door we were full of enthusiasm and excitement once again. It was most fun to embody Indiana Jones for an hour or so navigating our way around some creepy and dimly –lit underground tunnels eventually reaching slightly bigger rooms full of bones and skulls! Catacombs = done!
A brief dinner work shift was followed by a lovely night out with some pals at Comptoir Generale where we danced, chatted to strangers and (as always when we go out) played some dares! Despite leaving in enough time (or so we thought) to catch the last metro, we ended up just missing it and so the tedious task of locating a night bus commenced. It would have been easy to do (given we were at Republique – a hub of transportation activity as we all know) had there not been a bizarre youth protest/festival occurring in tandem that night! Food stalls, young people in huddles (some of whom having rap battles casually!), banners, posters, tents and even bonfires swarmed the square cutting off all bus routes in proximity. We three, like detectives, navigated our way along the bus route ourselves before intersecting it a bit further along. There is nothing more satisfying than plonking yourself down then on a seat and being carried away by a night bus to your home! Finally in bed just before four, my friend and I settled down for the night in a cosy warm bed and chatted about nonsense until our weary eyes shut for the night.
I think today was arguably my favourite of the entire Paris experience. The day commenced by meeting my best friends siblings for the first time who were visiting which was just so lovely and special – a real reminder of how wonderful it is to meet new friends here in Paris and how exciting it is to have your two lives merging along the way. We subsequently, now a group of four after sending the visitors safely off on their way home to Denmark, collected some food essentials before voyaging off to the riverside (picking up two additional gals) to set up for a summery picnic. It seemed as though everyone in Paris also had this idea as the riverbanks were lined with folk scoffing down baguettes and cheese like ourselves. As the day progressed we sunbathed, listened to music together and were graced by a few musical performances by people who had brought instruments to the river themselves (such as guitars, a banjo and even a man singing an Arabic lullaby!) One by one we would trot off for a bit to stretch our legs and go off and pick up anything we needed (one of my friends even made the “imperative” stroll to Shakespeare and Co to buy a book to read whilst we chilled). It was so relaxing and wonderful to be sat, with a view of the Notre Dame, surrounded by the most important people in my Paris life whilst we chatted and laughed the Sunday away. As the sun began to lower slowly we and the fellow picnicking Parisians around us all seemed to now have a cool, crisp beer in hand as the magical day drew to a close. It was a day where we all discussed how truly blessed we felt to be here in this city and how happy we were to have all met each other. I’m so proud and lucky to be a part of this little Paris bubble with this truly wonderful people.