I realised how vital it is you have good people beside you because you can never predict when something is going to go wrong during an experience such as this…
A chilled out Tuesday began with a hearty French breakfast feast whilst lazing around in pyjamas. I feel that regardless of if you’re living the ‘Parisian dream’ for a year, everybody is entitled to a few slob days: and today was just that! A friend and I lay around listening to music, nattering away and stuffing our face with baguette slathered in a variety of accoutrements feeling most content indeed!
My slow paced start to the day however was made up for later at work when my littlest host child summoned me outside for a session on the scooters. This involved racing one another, time trials (where it was imperative we beat our PB each time apparently *collapses to the ground in fatigue*) and we even attempted a few tricks that, naturally, I failed at! It was so wonderful to see him happy out and about in the sunshine laughing and having fun. We even filmed ourselves and reversed/sped up/slowed down the footage ending in us bent over in stitches with laughter at. It was a lovely afternoon together that culminated in a pleasant stroll (or rather scoot) around the local area whilst we enjoyed a ‘tete brulee’ sweet each; for those unaware, this ‘bonbon’ is a bit of an endurance test with its acidic coating! Oh how we chuckled about the involuntary contorted facial movements we made as we tried our best to eat this little sour beast. Our eyes were streaming in the pain yet we ploughed on and it was a nice bonding moment with the little man: I know I’ll miss him when I leave.
A successful work shift was followed by a lovely evening spent in the company of a fellow Brit at the ‘Café L’imprevu’ near Chatelet. This little hidden gem (and I mean seriously hidden) is a labyrinth of cosy corridors and rooms decorated in a complete concoction of styles. Our choice of table was amidst a cosy and slightly Middle Eastern inspired space that came equipped with random and quirky seating possibilities. I opted for the sofa whilst my friend Alice felt more drawn to the thatch throne next to the palm tree in the corner of the room!! A lovely evening of good wine, good humour and excellent conversation.
I’m most lucky to find myself work-free on Wednesday (unlike the majority of au pairs here in France. I describe this affair as my little ‘mid-week weekend’ and I aim to fill the freedom with as much adventure as possible. I always start the day in the same fashion out in the suburbs visiting my close pal and today (what with the sun rearing its head again) we took ourselves off to a local green park to chat and chill the morning away in one another’s company – pure bliss.
I had lined up a long over-due visit after this to Palais de Tokoyo. I have never been to this little hipster haven despite living in the sixteenth arrondissement and thus all of ten minutes away on foot – shameful behaviour I know. A friend and I (who was also first-timing this modern art gallery) spent the afternoon roaming around indoors being amazed at the edgy place where the exposed industrial interior is softened by cool middle eastern rugs covering a portion of the floor upon which people lay stretched out, reading and chatting etc. This funky place even comes equipped with a quirky gift shop that you could easily spent a great deal of time lost completely in and fascinated by the many unusual books and oddities lining the tables and shelves (for example a fake pill proclaiming it has the power to “Make your cat sing like Celine Dion” < why not!!) We eventually rested our weary and wandering feet in the café based here which I almost insist you visit if you find yourself near the vicinity due to its incredibly cheap goods. A cappuccino can be all yours for a mere two euros thirty; anyone living in Paris can verify that such low prices are wholly unheard of!
We were ready to roam after this quick pit stop and so we perused outside the nearby surroundings of the gallery only to stumble upon a small section of the old Paris city wall that remains. It was so much fun to stop and imagine this city we know and love back in her defensive days as we gazed upon arrow holes that dotted themselves strategically amongst the stone bricks. So much history lingers in all of the nooks and crannies of this lovely city. But alas work called and brought us back down to earth and reality rather abruptly as we sauntered sluggishly home.
We decided after our long shifts to summon a larger group of us to Palais de Tokoyo once again as its inviting doors are open until midnight. Taking advantage of its free open chilling space, a gathering of us living close by in the 16th arrondissement spent the evening colouring, nattering and laughing away until we were informed by a security guard that they were closing up for the night: time flies when you’re having fun hey!
The morning commenced with a nice hearty Parisian breakfast to fuel me for my lunch shift (an occurrence thrice a week!) I’m always able to motivate myself for this Thursday session in particular as I often remind myself that once it’s complete it will be a downhill ride smoothly into the weekend!!! After French children were fed and sent back on their way to school I darted off with a spring in my step to le Marais to join some friends for a strawberry session chez Place des Vosges. The green park was full of hustle and bustle as youngsters lay stretched out in the sunshine picnicking with their friends during their lunch breaks – a true taste of summer.
My day was made even better when my host mother handed me a Lindt bunny that she said she had forgotten to give me for Easter. Chocolate is appreciated by me regardless of it is supposedly overdue or not! The little coco fella was devoured almost as soon as I was set free that evening by my friends and I en route for the bar ‘Le Kitsch’.
This place can only be described as THE cutest bar in Paris. I’m talking tables covered in floral coverings, walls plastered in weird and wacky posters and objects whilst people sit upon odd and un-matching colourful chairs and stools. I loved every second spent here with my pals, especially as we sipped upon the bars unique cocktail creation namely ‘ The Shrek’ who’s green appearance is topped off with a little jelly penguin sweetie chilling on the beverage’s surface, of course!
A productive morning was spent in Hexagon café with my Danish friend as we planned a spot of our upcoming Madrid holiday before I voyaged off in the direction of Invalides. Getting off the metro a smidgen more southerly than there, I bumped into the rather abandoned ‘La Pagode’ oriental theatre whose creepy and quirky appearance stands out boldy amidst the pretty and classic Parisian buildings – I love these defiant little gems dotted around this very uniformly traditional city. I decided I would nip off to see the Army Museum also after this as it was a mere few metres away and I had yet to visit it. What I had thought would be a quick flying visit turned into two and a half hours of intense fascination, education and absorption in French history ranging from medieval combat all the way through to the second world war. A step by step story line carries you through the timeline of the world’s battles and France’s connection to said fighting. I learnt so much and found myself just utterly engrossed in the phenomenally well put-together museum which concludes in seeing Napoleon’s tomb in the magnificently beautiful Eglise du Dome. You are engaged constantly in posters, artefacts, large cinema rooms where powerful videos encompass your senses entirely. I was just gripped in the stories and even found myself moved to tears and one point – which says a great deal about the museum as I’m not particularly a history enthusiast and I certainly have no prior passion or interest in war! The museum is certainly the best I have visited here in Paris and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone with a few hours to fill.
After having slept the night at a fancy hotel (courtesy of my friend’s father who wasn’t able to visit in the end or cancel his booking) we arose with determination to finish up our Spain planning and so off we headed for Fondation Café whose cute interior and tiny size was most cosy (especially when an April shower struck and we were able to sit warmly on the right side of the glass window as the smell of fresh coffee and cake encompassed us).
A lovely Saturday was concluded with a lively night out with my friends. We pre-drank together playing our favourite homemade drinking game before we darted off out into the city for the night where we danced the night away all the way through until the morn. Taking one of the first metros home, a friend and I were keen to wait the additional fifteen minutes for our local bakery to open (a baguette felt mandatory!) and so we strolled to Pont Bir-Hakeim situated a few steps away to park ourselves up on the bridge wall to watch the sunrise over the Eiffel Tower. We had the most lovely conversation where we shared a great deal and, as the city began to awake, we felt very lucky to be sat taking in the beautiful scene and we truly appreciated how special it is to be here in Paris with all of the wonderful friends we have made here.
After a long, long, long lie in, we arose (most wearily and unwell) to meet a fellow night-out survivor we had partied with the night before for a cold and lovely juice at the most adorable spot in le Marais called ‘l’improbable café’. The cute garage style space is home to comfy sofas, swinging chairs and beans bags (most ideal after a night out!!!). The interior is so quirky and adorable which you will appreciate from the outset as the first thing you lay eyes upon is a cute hippy van INSIDE the café! We then strolled off to fuel up with a sweet treat courtesy of Bagelstein in the form of a warm Speculoos bagel (no words can do this one justice!)
A lovely (albeit sleep deprived) day went rather askew when I had a disaster with my sink in my room. A pipe had become disconnected and a great deal of water semi-drowned my cupboard and its contents!! A huge deal of stress was experienced (especially as my host family were on holiday and thus incapable of aiding me) but luckily I had my level-headed friend by my side to calm me down and take control. She restored the order and I realised how vital it is you have good people beside you because you can never predict when something is going to go wrong during an experience such as this. I just thank my lucky stars that I bumped into such good eggs out here in Paris.
This first ‘official’ day of my holiday began with an exploration of the not too well-known area in the east of Paris namely ‘La Campagne a Paris’. As the name suggests this somewhat countryside-esque region is so laden with beautiful greenery, quaint cobbled streets and adorable and quirky houses. Being a country gal myself it was so lovely to have a time out from the chaotic city life for a few hours and be showered in fresh air and cheerful chirping bird song. We even chatted to a friendly local lady here who told us a bit about the streets we crossed paths upon. See, all it takes is to be a few kilometres out of central Paris and the hostile Parisian persona I’m sure we’re all very familiar with vanishes!
We ate a spot of lunch al fresco before heading back into the city for a well-earned coffee and the new establishment ‘Beans on Fire’ – well worth a visit if you’re looking for some friendly English speaking staff and some super tasty coffee.
The sun was blaring outside however and we felt obliged humour it by soaking up some sunshine in the nearby park of ‘Place Maurice’ whilst enjoying a scrummy ice cream. The area was full of so much activity and summery happiness and we walked away with beaming smiles upon our faces…although that could have easily been the work of our just-consumed indulgent treats!
The day drew itself to a close as we found ourselves riverside of the Seine enjoying some homemade dinner in the pleasant company of the Eiffel Tower – not a shabby start to the holidays at all. Off we trot now to Madrid tomorrow to enjoy some Spanish sun and sangria.