Perhaps it’s the comforting knowledge that London is only a few hours away by train – just as it is from Wolverhampton – or perhaps it’s the fact that overhearing conversations in English here doesn’t make my ears prick up with excitement at familiarity, but life in Paris feels a lot more like ‘real life’ than my time in Leipzig or Lyon did. This means, essentially, far more evenings spent casually with friends – or lolling around in front of Friends – and weekends spent brunch-ing and shopping, and far fewer day trips and sightseeing missions. With just over three weeks to go, I have just about accepted that some of the quintessential Paris must-sees – Versailles, Saint-Chapelle, the Louvre, for goodness’ sake – may not happen for me this time. It also means that in terms of fuel for year abroad blog posts, I am lacking somewhat. Here, with a selection of fun snippets from the last few weeks, I persevere.
Recent things of interest
1. Mum and J came to visit for a night. We spent Saturday evening wandering around in the sun, along the canal, and later sitting by the river sipping rosé. Sunday was less idyllic but perhaps more typical – it rained – but we had a lovely day. I got up before midday for the first time in all my weekends here, and we had the most divinely French breakfast of coffee, croissants, and freshly squeezed orange juice. Then we joined the pompi-queue to see the pompi-view from the Pompidou (sorry), as well as some ‘modern art’ – much of it baffling, some of it, like a set of wonderfully delicate Japanese architecture models, lovely. Later we walked to Galeries Lafayette. J was excited about the shopping; I was rather more enthralled by the ceiling. We finished with delicious crêpes – the final taste of Paris – before they caught their Eurostar home.
2. I’ve finally pulled together plans for July. I’m doing a week of work experience in a law firm in Birmingham, and then two weeks at a literary agency in Oxford. (I really need to choose which path to pursue soon…). I am SO excited to be working in England! In English! And to be able to think things and say them without trouble! And to have a personality again!
3. Sam and I are planning a roadtrip around France in late August. Highlights are going to include Brittany – “the Cornwall of France” – and a return trip to my beloved Lyon. I haven’t seen anywhere near as much of France as I did of Germany, and it will be so nice to be back without any stressful year abroad realities.
4. It’s rained so much in Paris recently that the Seine has flooded, sweeping the usual riverside paths out of sight, and crashing onto the walls. The water levels are so high that boats can’t fit under the bridges. Today I watched a woman take off her shoes, roll up her smart office trousers, and wade out to a rubber dinghy, which her husband then pulled into their houseboat. Reality is suddenly a lot less idyllic.
5. Noonie and I finally brunched at the famous Breakfast in America. There certainly wasn’t anything Parisian about it. I ordered a stack of dark chocolate, raspberry and almond pancakes so huge that I had to admit defeat halfway through. Verdict: good, but I am still feeling considerably heavier days later…
6. One of my colleagues is dog-sitting for the most adorable little bundle of fun, Lika. She runs in every morning and jumps straight onto my lap. The dog, that is, not my colleague. Work has therefore improved considerably.
7. We ate at an Ethiopian restaurant for Imogen’s birthday. Ethiopian food was a brand new experience. No cutlery. No plates. No tables, really. Instead, a sourdough-y flatbread each, from which you tear a piece and use it to take mouthfuls of food from the communal flatbreads in the middle: deliciously spiced meats and lentils, and, to my horror, a few rogue eggs. Completely delicious.
8. Noonie and I went to Roland Garros on Saturday to watch the Tennis. Things did not run smoothly. After an hour of queueing and several security checks, our tickets didn’t scan properly. We were sent to Customer Services. They faffed, a lot, and eventually told us that we had two identical copies of one ticket. This was not our fault, a fact which made no difference whatsoever. I graciously said that Noonie should go in without me, and set off, subdued, for home. An hour later, the glitch had been fixed, and I was back. We saw Murray – admittedly Jamie, not Andy – and his Brazilian Partner in the Men’s Doubles, and sat in front of the big screen watching Serena Williams on the too-expensive court. After an hour or so, the sky darkened and the heavens erupted. We sheltered under an Information stand before eventually resigning ourselves to the inevitability of soggy shoes, and heading home. It hasn’t stopped raining since.