Bonjour Paris!

Bonjour Paris!

Salut everyone! So sorry that it seems to have taken almost a decade for me to write a new blog post. As you can imagine, this week has been very busy meaning that my time has been limited. I am currently back in Paris, and have been home (where I call home now) for the last week. After New York, I headed down to London to attend a conference (which I am also in en train de writing – some present progessif for you) and arrived in Paris on Sunday. Unfortunately I had the train journey from hell from the Airport to the house, taking me nearly 3 hours to get home! Normally it only takes an hour, so you can probably understand my frustration. Basically, the trains decided that they would not continue to my stop, despite leaving me stranded at the station just before mine. And to make it worse, it was raining cats and dogs, so you can imagine that along with two heavy suitcases, the last thing I wanted to do was walk home. Then, to top it off, the rail company had organised a coach to pick us up and drop us along the route home – yet, after waiting nearly 45 minutes (when they said it would be 20mins), the driver spoke no French or English and had no idea where he was. What!? Never mind. I managed to get home, and all was fine. Well nearly. During the chaos that was my journey I actually fell down the escalator with my heavy bags, and ended up hurting my leg pretty badly.

Anyway, moving on from all that (and sorry for ranting!), this week has been busy yet really enjoyable. It’s been really nice to get back into the daily routine of the Au Pair life again. I am back at school, which is going really well. My French has improved so much within the last few weeks. Although I am still really nervous and timid speaking French, my reading has vastly improved. I think I may even take some extra individual classes that the school is offering, because I really want to make the most of my time here. I’ve also been hanging around with friends, having nice coffee, exploring the local Primark (that experience really does deserve a whole blog post by itself. Probably one of the most extricating experiences ever. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Primark in Paris was MUCH worse than any other one I’ve experienced in the UK. Top marks to them!). Last night I also went for a lovely Indian meal – the first one I’ve had in Paris – for a friend’s birthday. And this week also saw me attending the International Medieval Society’s aperitif which was really interesting – more on that in another post. Below are a few of the pictures that I have taken around Paris this week!

Boats on the Le Grand Canal, Château de Versailles
Boats on the Le Grand Canal, Château de Versailles
Le Grand Canal, Château de Versailles
Le Grand Canal, Château de Versailles
A little house in the Jardin de Château de Versailles
A little house in the Jardin de Château de Versailles
Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe
Place de la Bastille, July Column
Place de la Bastille, July Column
Graffiti on a van found in Bastille
Graffiti on a van found in Bastille
The Tree of Jesse, Notre-Dame Cathedral
The Tree of Jesse, Notre-Dame Cathedral

One French Film per week challenge!

I have decided to set my self the challenge of watching at least one French film a week. This way, it not only helps me to immerse myself in the language, but it allows me to understand and experience the culture and the French je ne sais quoi, so to speak. The films included on this list may shock you, as some of them are classics that I have not seen – so please do not judge!

My French Film challenge:

  • Amélie
  • Romantics Anonymous
  • A Very Long Engagement
  • Populaire
  • I Do
  • The Fairy
  • Bird People
  • OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies
  • Kings of Pastry
  • Serial (Bad) Weddings
  • Le Chef
  • Entre Les Murs
  • Amour
  • Coco Before Chanel

These are the only films that I could think of, so if you can think of any films that I have missed, or urgently need to watch – leave a comment below!

Do something different challenge

I recently stumbled onto this amazing blog, which is run by Anne, an American expat in Paris. Pret a Voyager offers an amazing array of information, guides and tips to living and exploring the city that I call home, Paris. One of the posts that I really like the sound of is ‘Do something different everyday’, which includes a list of the various things that the blogger did during her free time. The aim is obvious, to do something different everyday. So I’m going to give it a go! But rather than something everyday, I’m going to make it my challenge to do at least two different things each week! So keep watching this space to see what I get up to. If anyone has any suggestions of what they think/know is off the beaten track here in Paris, please leave a comment to let me know!

 

Check Anne’s blog and useful pages here:

http://www.pret-a-voyager.com/2010/05/do-something-different-everyday/

http://www.pret-a-voyager.com/search/label/Paris%20Travel%20Tip

What a weekend!

Jay Z and Beyonce smashed it!
Jay Z and Beyonce smashed it!

I have been in Paris as of two weeks today. Time has flown by so quickly! Last week was my first ‘proper week’ of the Au Pair lifestyle, which included picking up the children from school on my own, making dinner and making sure there was no fighting! I had a blast, and can definitely tell that I am going to enjoy my year here. As well as looking after the children after school, I also went into Paris on different days, including enrolling in person for my Language school. However, this post is all about the amazing Beyonce and Jay Z who came to Paris for two nights to complete the end of their On the Run tour. Ruth, the family’s previous Au Pair, had a spare ticket to the concert so I tagged along – and boy am I happy I went! It was amazing! The concert was at Stade de France, near Saint Denis Abbey, and pretty much the whole venue was packed (as you can see in my photos). Jay Z and Beyonce put on an incredibly show. Even though we were pretty far away, we had a perfect view (thank goodness for the big screens!) and danced the night away.

It was such a surreal evening, and we couldn’t believe what we had just seen. Have I already said how amazing it was?! There was also a surprise appearance from Nicki Minaj, who joined Beyonce for one of their recent collaborations. I still can’t get over how amazing Beyonce’s body is?! – How does she do it!? Anyway, it was an awesome night, and hopefully it will be the first of many concerts and gigs that I attend in Paris this year.

The crowds gathering for the beginning of the concert
The crowds gathering for the beginning of the concert
Jay Z and Beyonce
Just before Jay Z and Beyonce came on.

 

This video shows the beginning of the concert:

Semaine un à Paris

Salut from France! I thought it was time to update y’all on the happenings of my life so far having arrived in Paris on Monday. It’s so hard to believe that today is Friday already! Seriously, where has the time gone? For those who don’t know, I am an Au Pair for three children (who will be referred to by initials throughout my blog) P – 15 years old; Con – 13 years old girl; and Ch, the youngest boy at 8 years old.

Lundi – arriving in Paris

On Monday I left England via Liverpool Airport, and made my way to Paris. Everything went smoothly, including trying to pull my two extremely heavy bags whilst negotiating the Parisian airport (which was very confusing). It took me about 10 minutes to finally find the bus stop. However, it all began to go down hill from there. I ended up getting off at the wrong stop. I am still adamant and will only take 50% of the blame for this occurrence, as there were no signs of intended bus stop for me to get off. So, it’s partly my fault for not asking the driver, and the council’s fault not properly sign posting the name of the stop! Instead of the stop I was meant to get off at, I ended up coming off at the Arc de Triomphe! It looked absolutely spectacular and majestic in the evening sunlight, but this was not the time to have a look as I had to find my Au Pair Mother (M from now on)! Anyway, after attempting to carry my bags down this very big hill and negotiating the french traffic, I gave up, as did my Au Pair Mother, and she came and picked me up. I was afraid of disappointing her, but she was absolutely fine about it which was very reassuring. We then drove to the house in the beautiful town of Garches, and then I met the rest of the family! They were very welcoming, and exceptionally nice which was lovely. I have been made to feel right at home here. After dinner, it was bedtime! It all felt surreal at this point (as it still is four days on), and as I lay in bed, I tried to make sense of everything. The internet is very good here, so skyping and whatsapping with family and boyfriend is great. It’s almost as if I am not that far away from everyone, a bit like being back at uni. Anyway, after a long day traveling and getting used to my surroundings it was time to sleep.

Jour un, Mardi

On Tuesday I woke early, as the night before M had offered to take me to one of the local markets in Versailles. It was such a beautiful day, the sun was shining and at 8am there were already a lot of people going about their day. The market was massive! It included stalls outside as well as some inside various buildings. There was so much fresh fruit and vegetables, oh, and plenty of cheese! M must have bought about 10 big pieces of various cheeses, but hey, I’m not complaining! It was really refreshing going to the market, seeing all the different foods on sale and just getting used to the French way of life. This is something that I am not used to back home. Usually we just go to a supermarket, as the UK doesn’t really do fresh markets on this scale, which is a shame.

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Beautiful array of colours of tomatoes
Beautiful array of colours of tomatoes

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After the market, we then walked around Versailles for a bit, as this is where the children go to school. Then it was my turn to venture around Garches and attempt to get my bearings of the place that I will call home for this year! It’s such a quaint little town. It’s not very big, but it has everything you could need, with quick access into the centre of Paris as well.

In the afternoon me and Ch (the youngest of the children, he’s 8 years old), made cookies! Sadly, our patch only allowed for us to make 12 cookies, so as you can probably guess, they were all eaten up pretty quickly! Probably one of the biggest surprises was meeting the family cat. For anyone who knows me, I am a little bit obsessed with cats, and miss my one very much. So learning that the family had one was lovely! Except, the family believe that he is living a double life – living here, but also living with an elderly woman next door. They know this because the cat some times comes to the house smelling of what M calls ‘Old lady perfume’! I will make it my mission to get the cat to choose us over her!

The family cat
The family cat – too shy!

 

Jour deux, Mercredi  

Every Wednesday there is a local market in Garches that I will go to in order to get food for the week, and today, me and M went to have a look around. The market was not as big as the one yesterday in Versailles, but there was still plenty of cheese!

In the afternoon, I decided to go for a walk to get used to my surroundings, and found myself walking into Saint-Cloud Park. It is absolutely beautiful. Because it’s just becoming Autumn, all the trees were magnificent colours, and it was still fairly hot today in Paris. Saint-Cloud Park is amazing, and pretty huge. As I kept walking I could’t help but think that this was a never ending Park – which is seems as if it is, it goes all the way to the river Seine. If you’re visiting Paris I would definitely recommend coming to Saint-Cloud Park, as it’s the perfect destination to get some peace and quiet, and a beautiful spot for a picnic. I also ventured into the local tennis club at Saint-Cloud Park to have a look, and it turns out Hugh Grant goes there! They had a picture of him on one of the courts in the club house – maybe I should think about joining there!! One thing that you may also not know about Saint-Cloud Park is that Sinead O’connor’s ‘Nothing Compares 2U’ was filmed there – I’m going to have to re-watch the video and perhaps do a parody some time! Saint-Cloud Park is definitely the perfect place to go running, so hopefully next week I will get the time to have a run around. When my parents come, I’ll definitely have to tell my Dad about it as he is a keen runner, he’d love it here!

After my little adventure, I later played football with Ch and P in the garden. It turns out that I am awesome. David Beckham, watch out!

Parc de Saint-Cloud
Parc de Saint-Cloud

 

Parc de Saint-Cloud
Parc de Saint-Cloud

 

Parc de Saint-Cloud
Parc de Saint-Cloud

 

Jour trois, Jeudi  

I spent the morning with M practicing driving. The reason why is because during the week, I have to pick up the children from school and take them home or to various extra-circular activities. So it’s really important that I can drive! I’m not finding it too hard. Although I must admit, on the first day I did attempt to drive on the left hand side of the road, much to M‘s dismay! The car I am having to drive is a huge people carrier, or what I would call a truck/bus. It’s massive. And to make things worse, I’m finding it really hard to grasp whether I’m too far on the right or the left, which means going down very narrow two-way streets a nightmare (there are many of those around here!)

After taking Con to school with M, I decided to venture into Paris. I had a browse of some of the main high-street shops, and then had a lovely lunch and a stroll around the Seine. The house is very close to Paris, taking only around 18minutes to get into the centre which is nice. It’s like having the best of both worlds! I had a great time wondering around Paris, and it just reminded me how lucky I am to be calling this my home for the year. I’ve also decided that Garches, where I am living, is almost like living in Wimbledon – close enough to the centre to get in quickly, but surrounded by lovely scenery, feeling not too much like being in a busy city centre.

The Sainte-Chapelle emerging
The Sainte-Chapelle emerging

 

Tour Saint-Jacques
Tour Saint-Jacques

 

Hôtel de Ville
Hôtel de Ville

 

People relaxing outside Hôtel de Ville
People relaxing outside Hôtel de Ville

 

A one man band!
A one man band!

 

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Square René Viviani
Square René Viviani

 

Notre-Dame Cathedral
Notre-Dame Cathedral

 

Bouquinistes along the river Seine
Bouquinistes along the river Seine

 

For those who have never been to Paris, the river Seine is lined with many Green ‘shops’ like these. They are called Bouquinistes, and sell many things from used and antiquarian books to postcards, both new and vintage, and posters. If you get the chance, stop and have a look at these stalls – I’ve bought quite a few things from them, which make great gifts to either yourself or friends!

A funny face appearing from a wall
A funny face appearing from a wall

 

Shakespeare and Company
Shakespeare and Company

 

Jour quatre, Vendredi 

Yesterday was pretty easy going. M and I practiced some driving – I’m beginning to get used to driving on the right side of the road, but my visual awareness of being too far on the right or the left is very hard, so if anyone has any tips I would be incredibly grateful! In the afternoon I played tennis for about 10 minutes! I was meant to have a tennis ‘test’ to have my level accessed, but the coach turned up an hour and 15 minutes after we said we would meet, so I was only allowed to play for a short time. It was so nice to get back on the court, I’ve really missed it! They invited me to come again next friday to see if there are people I can play with, and if I join the club I could train with the first team and be their reserve, but sadly the membership costs a bit too much so I will wait and see. All I really want to do is just play! After driving with M to collect Ch from school, we came back and I made a big dish of risotto with bacon, yum. To round up the day, me and Ch watched Ice Age 3, or as it is known in France L’Age de Glace.

 

I’ve been having a great time so far. The family have made me feel really welcome into their home, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year has in store!

 

[UPDATE] I forgot to post a picture of the wonderful gift hamper that the family made for me when I arrived! It was full of many things Parisian related, like specialty chocolate and biscuits to wash soaps and stuff for my language school. How sweet!

A welcome gift from my Parisian family!
A welcome gift from my Parisian family!

 

C’est officiel, je suis arrivé!

View of Paris

Bonjour from Paris! After what seemed like an age of travelling, I have finally arrived. Despite getting off at the wrong station to meet my Au Pair mother (not the best ways to start the trip, but never mind) I have begun to settle in, getting used to my surroundings and ‘family’.

Tomorrow I will blog about the last few days – what have seen, done and encountered etc. But for now, I am trying to catch up with the latest episode of The Great British Bake Off!

Salut!