Friday, 14 July 2017

Booze, Bands and Bastille Day.

Joyeuse Fête Nationale! Today marks the day when the revolutionary forces stormed the Bastille prison and symbolises the demise of the French monarchy. Celebration have already got in full swing. I started the party last night because who doesn't like to make the most of a three day weekend? 
Last night a few friends and I took part in a fantastic Bastille Day tradition: the bal des pompiers. What is this I hear you ask? Every year the fire stations open their doors for a big party full of dancing, drinking and general frivolity. We ended up at the party in the 3rd arrondissement but they have them all over Paris and France. Dancing the night away with reasonably priced wine, we were showered with red, white and blue confetti that I'm still finding around my flat!  
According to an article I read earlier today said that today is the happiest day of the year. I have a funny feeling that all the partying in la belle France might have something to do with that. Last night was a fabulous demonstration of the strong sense of community you feel when living in France. Citizens, young and old, were out dancing in the streets just letting their hair down and having fun. It is real testament to a city that has dealt with so much in the last few years that they can still have such amazing events without being scared of what might happen in reaction to previous events. It was a big deal for me to go to such a well attended event as quite often big crowds especially at night can trigger my panic attacks. Do you know what? I didn't even feel nervous once and I can truly say that Paris has helped me get to this point in my recovery. So, when I'm singing the Marseillaise on the Champ de Mars tonight it is with strong emotion in my heart that I celebrate a country that means so much to me. 

Merci beaucoup.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Green and Glorious Giverny


The rain has made a comeback. You wouldn't have thought that it was July if you looked out of your Parisian window today. I had to do a double take myself as I just couldn't believe how miserable the weather has become. I have a theory that it's because I'd finally got used to wearing lovely summery dresses and secretly the universe has got it in for me and my wardrobe. 
I've taken to reminiscing sunnier times to boost my mood on this grey, dark day. What better moment to lovingly remember than a weekend escape in the sunshine? A few weekends ago I did just that. My Mum was over to visit and suggested we get out of the city for a change. Exploring the rest of France is something that I've been meaning to do so I proposed a trip to Monet's house in Giverny as our day trip. I had been once before a few years ago and remembered it being a nice relaxed excursion full of clean Normandy air and picturesque views. Our number one priority was where we were going to eat and rural touristy France being what it is we didn't have much faith in the village's offering. Instead we packed a proper Parisian picnic of Champagne, truffle cheese, charcuterie and fresh fruit. A feast for for queens. 
The day started on the train from Gare Saint-Lazare. For 25€ each for a return ticket it seemed like pretty good value and the train was spotlessly clean, although we did almost sit in first class by accident! 45 minutes of nattering later and we were out of the city ready to take on our Norman adventure.  I'd researched the next leg of our journey online as I recalled that you had to get a shuttle bus from the train station to the actual village. However, we decided to take another path. Instead of the 10€ per person for the official bus to Giverny we ended up on the mini train that was 2€ cheaper and 100% more entertaining. From the naff commentary to the route along the motorway without so much a seatbelt to hold you in, we arrived at our historic destination giggling and reveling in our spontaneity. 
Arriving at our destination we did what all self respecting Brits abroad would do and joined the queue. Of course being with my dearly beloved maternal companion we also started to make friends with the couple in front of us in said queue. 
A relaxing stroll around the immaculately planted but charmingly rustic gardens was followed by a meander through the great man's house that is filled with his own artwork as well as many other interesting pieces. All in all we were there for about and hour or so. 
After such a nice wander in the fresh air it was about time we cracked opened the picnic which I have to admit was sublime. The sun started to shine as we sat in the gardens surround the Impressionism Museum and had a lovely time munching on our French gourmandises! There are a few quirky little galleries and antique shops in the village which were fun to explore and required me to act as translator so Mum could inquire about bits and bobs! 
All in all, I would recommend it as a day out if you are lusting after some fresh air and inspiring scenery. While on the expensive side when you have taken all of the travel into consideration, it is a great destination for art and horticulture lovers alike! 

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Expat Myths Debunked

People keep asking me how long I've been in Paris. My usual reaction is a weary sigh mixed with a Gallic shrug as I tell them that I have been in this glorious city for nearly four years now. When I sent off that UCAS form all those many moons ago I would never have thought that I would still be living in this gorgeous place and making myself a life here. Sure I anticipated staying here for my entire degree but I didn't predict the magnetism that would keep me from straying away from the romantic cobbled streets and freshly baked bread. In recent times people have taken my love for la belle France as beings dismissal if not a hatred for my native land. In the era of Brexit Britain I decided it was about time that someone dispelled some Expat myths and set the record straight for once. 
1. We all hate our native countries. This is so not true! By being a foreigner in a different country you grow to cherish the little quirks about your blessed place of birth. Most people can tell that you aren't a Parisian just from looking at you so your average expat embraces their Britishness because that's what makes you special. In a French office Yorkshire Tea is thought of as exotic and not a human right and you learn to live with that. It's one of the things I love most about living abroad because the expat communities are some of the most tolerant places in the world purely because they are made up of people who have had to adapt to different surroundings whilst retaining their own personality. Sure I love living in France but I also love my heritage and I never want to give that up. 
2. We all speak multiple languages. If like me your an expat living in Paris then you probably know enough French to deal with everyday life. You can buy baguettes, order a coffee and do basic chit chat but that doesn't mean your completely fluent. I've met so many people who live here only having notions of French but they get by because they have the confidence to try even if they're not 100% sure. I came here to study the French language but many people don't and I would never judge someone for not being fluent because even after 4 years I still find myself saying "Ta" to the cashier in Monoprix every now and again! 
3. We are all rolling in cash. Yes we live in these exotic places and get to see incredible landmarks everyday but that doesn't mean that we aren't working overtime every week to pay rent! We chose to live this life sure but we value our quality of life over our bank balances. Personally, I love Paris for the apéro culture and their work to live rather than live to work mentality as it helps me to find the balance that is best for my personal benefit. 
I hope this short little piece dispels a few preconceptions that the general public has about us Brits Abroad and if you have any questions surrounding it then send me a message or comment on Facebook!  

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Canicule!

We are in the middle of a crisis. No, this isn't going to be a post about the state of politics in the world. Instead, I write this for you to tell you about the freak weather France is currently experiencing! I'm sat in front of my fan with a big glass of iced water next to me to try and cool down ever so slightly. 
Here in Paris we have had highs of nearly 35C, which is to much for this pasty faced Brit. Although that being said the French don't seem to be coping either! Sales of overpriced sun cream and frozen desserts are at an all time high and everyone seems to be off work and basking in the sunshine with a glass of rosé in their hands. It has been difficult to get anything done in the sweltering heat but we persevere. Still guests to be greeted and children to be babysat. 
The French however seem to be having a wardrobe crisis. I've actually seen people still wearing the Parisian uniform of head to toe black, sometimes even including tights! Shocking! I'm currently trying to find the perfect summer shorts that aren't too short but also look chic and floaty. If anyone has any recommendations then let me know! 
This Friday I'll be off to Giverny to visit Monet's house and gardens with my Mum in a vain attempt to escape the boiling city and to find some tranquility in this abnormal weather. It's the perfect spot for a picnic so be prepared for all the Instagram posts and potentially a blog post on how we get on! 

Over and out from this melted Blogger. 

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Bloggers Bonding

Hello! I've had a bit of trouble recently getting something coherent written but luckily I've had a few little moments that have got me reinvigorated and ready to make this the summer I really focus on getting my blog to be the best that it can be. 
This all started last night when I went to the Salon Sessions at Club Rayé on Rue Dessoubs. An informal space to listen to some inspiring people and to talk about all things Parisian, it was a great event that really helped me to think more positively about my blog and how I can grow it. I found out about the even through a Facebook group I'm in for Parisian bloggers that so far has helped me to connected with other like-minded individuals who are doing similar things to me. The blogging community is diverse and lots of people go into it for different reasons. For me, I never saw myself as ever keeping it up for this long. I'm almost ready to celebrate my 4 year anniversary! Talking to the ladies last night, it was reassuring to know that it isn't just me who finds it lots of hard work to keep up a decent attempt at a blog. We discussed everything from how often we write, how we market our blogs to what happens when life just gets in the way. 
On my way home, I vowed to spend the next day preparing a few more blog posts and to get back into the swing of writing because after all I find it a relaxing activity and people seem to like what I have to say! Following on swiftly from that I was blown away when today I found out I was nominated for Expatriates Magazine Best Expat Blogger of 2017. Never did I think when I started out that I would ever be in the running for such an accolade and that was never the point. I started the blog because I wanted to see if I could make it as a writer. It's a coping mechanism for my anxiety and allows me to express thoughts and feelings that otherwise become toxic bottled up in my head. It is however an honor to be in the same category as other bloggers who have incredible amounts of talent and skill and I urge you to check out some of my competition as they are truly deserving of the title! 
Dear readers, I would like to finish this by saying thank you for sticking with me through the good posts and the bad ones, for the times when there has been radio silence and others when I have inundated you with posts and photos. You help to keep me going and this summer I will try to dazzle you with more and more quality content. 
Merci beaucoup!

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Mid-Afternoon Meditation

First of all I'd like to apologize for my absence. I've been stuck in a big slump of writer's block recently and it wasn't until today that I managed to get myself out of it. Life has been hectic and uncertain here in Paris for me but still this city manages to surprise me in odd little ways. I was early for and appointment earlier today so I decided to go on a little wander in the area I was in. I love the Left Bank and know it like the back of my hand but still it manages to surprise me and still there are parts which are unknown to me. I ventured into the Church of Saint-Sulpice to escape the heat and to muse on my predicament. With job interviews stacking up and the summer facts approaching in an dealing with new stresses and having to work out ways to deal with them. It was like my sub-conscious knew that a quite 10 minutes sat taking in the awesome beauty of the church was what I needed to get my head straight. Then imposing architecture didn't scare me off from sitting quietly in the pews, far from it in fact. It felt like a place I could go and explore my brain and to quietly organize my thoughts. Paris is famous for its churches as it has dozens. All with gorgeous design and incredible atmosphere, they have a quiet sense of calm and wisdom that sometimes is needed in the hectic struggles of modern life. Everyone has heard of Notre Dame which I like but is far to busy for my liking and has lost a certain aspect of its spirituality thanks to the crowds traipsing in one and yet the other. L'Eglise de la Madeleine is the first church I properly explored in Paris. My first full summer here many moons ago I was seeking solace from the heat and spent a restful afternoon in the cool shadows of the building. Maybe this summer I shall discover more religious buildings on my wanders through this fair city. Who knows. All I can say is that I'm glad I'm back writing again. À bientôt mes amis. 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Books, Books and Merde.

This year I decided to set myself a challenge. Too many New Year's Resolutions seemed to involve giving things up which seemed all too negative for me. My challenge wasn't to eat healthier or to give up alcohol. I like gin and crisps too much for that. Instead, I decided to read one book a week for a year. Considering I had only read 20 books the year before, I entered into this with trepidation. I had to come up with a plan of action that I could actually stick to and that was realistic. First, I needed to pick a few books I knew I would enjoy so that I could start off on a high note. I plumped for some David Sedaris and Agatha Christie. Then, I signed up to a bookclub. I didn't end up going to the meet-up for a multitude of reasons but it forced me to read something outside of my comfort zone and read it to a deadline. Finally, I needed to buy some more books! Luckily, I won a competition run by The Earful Tower to win a copy of Stephen Clarke's novel A Year In The Merde. A very tongue-in-cheek take on what it means to be a Brit living in Paris, I couldn't help but become engrossed in this laugh out loud tale following newcomer to the City of Light Paul West who has been tasked with opening up a chain of English themed tea shops for his colourful French boss! I found myself chortling away on the metro at the scrapes this hero gets into whilst also thinking how similar some of the tales where to those I have from my first few months in Paris. 
I'm now on my 16th book of the year and surprisingly A Year In the Merde has been my most French book so far. Usually my list is littered with an assortment of literature inspired by la belle France, but this time around I seem to be ready weirder and more eclectic fiction than ever before. Challenging myself to push my boundaries by reading outside of my comfort zone has been a good test for me and has opened my eyes up to genres I would never have considered reading previously. It feels good to be reading so much and to be on track to hit my goal by the end of the year. Still, who knows I might even beat it! In order to stay on the right track, I always have a book on me so that I can spend any free moment racking up a few more pages. The morning commute tends to be where I get the bulk of my reading done, but the occasionally I'll have an afternoon spent sitting at a pavement café with a beer by my side and a book in my hand! 
While I'm doing very well to find diverse and different books to read I am always on the look out for out of the ordinary novels. If you happen to have any recommendations for me then comment on the post!