Bienvenue à Paris

It’s a rainy evening in Paris. I found this out the hard way as I ran along the Seine after work, a route I’d come to associate with glorious evening sunsets. Not today. It was almost more like a swim than a run. Noonie and I are snuggled up on our sofa watching the fourth episode of Friends of the evening – and probably the ninety-fourth episode of our colocation – and I have finally opened up my laptop to write something for this blog again. I had been sort-of saving up for a big post on something more specific and more exciting than “so I moved to Paris and it’s pretty cool”, but when I went back to Oxford for Exon Ball at the weekend and some of my closest friends didn’t know what I was doing here, I thought it might be time for a little introduction.

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A Seine sunset on a much nicer day

I’m doing a three month internship with Coyote, a television company. Television! Perhaps the start of my glittering career in the world of media? I’m not sure, but I’m enjoying finding out. I work on a programme called Bienvenue au camping. It’s basically the equivalent of Four in a Bed, that bastion of wonderful British entertainment. Each week, four pairs of campsite owners battle it out to be crowned the winners, visiting each of the other three sites and rating them on their accommodation, their entertainment, their facilities and their general vibe. It’s funny and it’s bitchy and, as anyone who, like me, spent their childhood summers working their way through the Brittany section of the Eurocamp brochure, can imagine, there are plenty of shots of middle-aged men doing aqua-aerobics, and whole families dancing along to tribute bands.

My job at the moment is a combination of very dull spreadsheets, surprise surprise, and some far more interesting preparation for filming. Today, for example, I was scouting out locations for shots of ‘les beauties’, the scenery near the campsites for next series. I do this in a friendly, pretty office in the 17th arondissement, with an atmosphere so relaxed that we don’t start til 10.30am, and one of my colleagues brings his dog to work every day. For four weeks from the middle of May, though, I’m going on shoots as a production assistant! My jobs will primarily involve covering visible brand names on caravans/sunshades/coke glasses with duct tape (thrilling), and pestering guests to sign consent forms to be filmed. This is exactly the kind of bizarre experience I hadn’t envisaged my year abroad entailing. I wait in nervous but curious anticipation. I’m also really glad I’ll get to see more of France: I know I’m going to the Dordogne, the Ardeche, Eure and Belgium in the first two weeks!

Travelling will be exciting but it does seem an awful shame to be spending even less time than my envisaged three months in lovely Paris. I’ll be back for the weekends, but I’m sorry to miss out on weeknights in our cosy little flat. We’re in the 4th arrondissement, the Jewish quarter. It’s an extravagant dream of a home for three months, a five minute stroll from Notre Dame, with the cobbled alleys of the Marais and their charming shops on our doorstep. There will never be time to explore this divine little quartier properly. I think I’ll only just scratch the surface. Slightly further away – and only slightly – is the beautiful Jardin des Tuileries, with its iconic fountains and surrounding chairs, and the glassy pyramids of the Louvre.

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Notre Dame
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Le Louvre
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Jardin des Tuileries

Noonie, my flatmate and primary source of social contact, has been here since September, and is therefore a seasoned Parisienne for whom the tourist attractions are no longer a source of excitement. It’s my fourth week here, but I’m not quite out of the tourist mindset. Sam came to visit last weekend, which gave me the perfect excuse to be a fully-fledged tourist for a few days. DSLR round my neck and guidebook in hand, we looked out over Paris from Montmartre, lost ourselves in impressionist heaven at L’Orangérie and Musée d’Orsay, and climbed the Arc de Triomphe. Ella-the-tourist will re-emerge in two weeks time when four of my lovely friends from Leipzig arrive to visit, but until then, I’m a commuting intern with a Paris metro pass, a trendy apartment and a super chic lifestyle to maintain…

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Ella the tourist
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Sam and some well-earned Monet

A bientôt (a post in German, for the compulsory aspect of this blog, is long overdue…)

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