Friday, 30 December 2016

Parisian Resolutions

The New Year is almost here. Is it just me or did 2016 drag on a little bit too long? I've decided to make a few little resolutions to make sure that this year is my best yet. Everything is finally coming together in my life so I'm ready to set myself some goals that I can hopefully fulfill! 
1) Do more yoga. Lists of New Year's Resolutions are always littered with promises to do more exercise but this is less about my physical well being and more about my mental well being even though they are both clearly linked. Yoga and meditation have always helped to keep me centred and relatively stress free. Doing more of both can only be a good thing! I've been a little lax this year in terms of exercise. We are always told that it is a great mood enhancer but for me the exercise isn't the stressful part, it's everything that goes with it, getting ready, planning where to go running, sorting the gym membership... The list goes on. So for me, I think some good, free videos that I can do in the comfort of my own small flat are the way forward. 
2) Become friends with the women in the bakery. I've started this already but I will make a bigger effort next year. My dream when I moved to France was to be known by all of the local shopkeepers who would tell me all of their culinary secrets and give me free food (al very Julia Childs!) Unfortunately this hasn't happened yet. I'm making good progress with the delightfully efficient women who run my local bakery and I am working my way through all of their flavoured eclairs. Hopefully 2017 will be the year I finally become regular welcomed with greetings of "How was your day to day?" or the immortal "The usual?"
3) BAKE! I hope you all read that in the voice of Sue Perkins. If not go back and start again! I used to bake a lot. Back when I could use the stuff Mum had in the cupboards and had a decent set of scales. I remember the night before my German Oral Exam I stressbaked 36 madeleines which is a skill I would like to get back. There is something very soothing about watching cake rise, that's probably one of the reasons GBBO has done so well. In a tiny parisian kitchen it can be hard to create amazing patisserie but a good old Victoria Sponge or three might be manageable. 
So there we have it. My resolutions for 2017. I'm rather glad I threw the yoga in there at the start so you didn't all judge me for my obsession with baked goods. All I have to say in this my last post of 2016 is that I'd like to wish you all a Happy New Year and let's hope it turns out better than this one! 

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

La Cuisine Française

What is France best known for? It's food of course! I have to admit it was one of the reasons I liked learning French at all. Most of my time here is spent thinking about what I'm going to eat and where I'm going to buy it from. Only last night I ventured out into the cold night to acquire a raspberry eclair, which was definitely worth it. Saturday included a trip to my favourite market in the whole world. The one I used to live by on Avenue de Saxe. After some hilarious flirting with the vendors in order to get more samples of foie gras, blue cheese and charcuterie than was decent, I ended up buying myself a very simple but hearty lunch. A roast chicken leg with gratin dauphinoise which was full of garlic and herbs. What could be better than a simple but delicious meal made by someone else that you can take home and savour. That's exactly what I adore about French cooking. The simplicity. Many people think that it is all showy and complicated. Well the stuff you have in high-end restaurants in is, but the food that real French people eat is full of goodness. Why overcomplicated something that is already divine? There is no logical counter-argument. This doesn't mean that is boring and uses the same flavours repetitively, oh le contraire! The ingredients are simple but shown off. Take a simple steak tartare. Incidentally this is my favourite meal. The beef is beatifully tender and succulent. The capers are sharp and cut through the fat of the meat. The frites on the side providing that crisp texture that is so pleasurable. The diced raw onions that are sweet and crunchy. The rich egg yolk perfectly placed on top. You are exposed to all tastes, textures and cooking techniques in one simple dish. This is classic French cuisine at its best. 
The French are very proud of there food, some would even say snobby. With cooking like this, wouldn't you be?

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Flying Home For Christmas

Do you see what I've done there? Changed a well known and popular Christmas song for comic but factual effect. Very clever of me I know. Anyway, enough of that. I'm finally home for Christmas. Let us all rejoice. I get to be in the land of great cups of tea, rain and bacon. It was touch and go whether I thought I would be able to come home but luckily the flights were at sensible times. It has been a few months since I have been back which doesn't seem like a long amount of time for some. However I am certainly in need of a rest and lots of hearty food surrounded by my family. This year I have gone back to the UK more than another year I've spent living in France so these last two months have been rather difficult mentally. I love living abroad. I write about that all the time. It doesn't mean however that I want to spend all of my time here, especially at Christmas. It's hard coping with anxiety at this time of year. You are meant to be happy and jolly and relaxed. On the inside I can feel the complete opposite. So I'm glad that I can spend time with my family and not alone sat in my flat. I'm proud of how far I have come since this time last year and I hope that I can say the same thing next year.
Today was perfect. Mike surprised me at the airport last night so we were able to celebrate Christmas Eve together with my family. A lovely meal out with everyone earlier made it even better. It is amazing home much more relaxed I am when I am in the UK. Not having to translate everything in my head or trying to comprehend different ways of life means that I don't panic as much. I love learning new things as a part of my life in Paris but I do need a little break every now and then! 

Finally all I have to say is thank you dear readers. Every time I see another page view it makes me so happy that people seem to be liking what I write. A very Merry Christmas to you all and be ready next week for the posts heralding in the New Year! 

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Conversations in the Staff Room

Remember those fake debates you were made to practice in school? The ones where you had no real opinion mostly because you were 14 and had never come across GM crops in your day to day life but also because you were more interested in whatever it was so-and-so had said the such-and-such at lunch. Now that I spend most of my time in a mostly French office I have reason to recall these lessons. It turns out that quite a lot of the time people like to have deep discussions at over their soup and sandwiches. The other day, we discussed how we should tackle the problems that the agricultural industry is facing. Recently it was about the French presidential elections. I don't tend to participate unless I feel strongly enough to summon up the courage to construct a sentence in French. However, it does mean that I am learning not just about the world, but new vocab as well. My degree taught me how to talk about complex historical or literary concepts. My internship is teaching me how to swear like a Parisian and different words for cigarettes. I'd say to anyone wanting to learn a language that you should go and work in that language. Studying it helps and gives you an idea of the history and ideologies of a place but the way to become a native-esque speaker is to speak to the people who live there about things that interest not only them but you as well. 
There was a weird Franglais that we spoke at ULIP. Weird, french words would drop in every now and again when we were speaking English. The reverse is true at work. Speaking French I have to drop occasionally British phrases in. Sometimes it is because I don't know the vocab and other times I simply can't translate "have a gander" into French! My language skills are improving so much. My fluency took a knock at the start of this year for obvious reasons so it has taken me time to build my confidence back up. There isn't much better way to do that than to sit and talk about your favourite cakes now is there?  

Monday, 19 December 2016

What Did You Expect?

Is Paris all I thought it would be? Good question. I was reading through lots of other Parisian blogs and it made me think about what I thought my life would be like here. Is this how I thought my life would turn out? Not at all. Has Paris lived up to my expectations? Somewhat.
It is hard to analyse whether it has met my expectations as I didn't really have any. More than 3 years here and I'm still constantly learning. Ok so I thought by now I would be fluent in French, dating a Frenchman and be working as a professional writer. This hasn't exactly all happened. Firstly, my language skills are much better however I'm learning new words every single day. Fluency is really hard to achieve and it's something I think people just expect of you when you say you speak another language. I can't speak like a native as my idiom can be very British. My creativity is better meaning that I don't just trot out stock phrases but I don't use that much slang and my grammar can be all over the place at times. Evidently I'm not dating a Frenchman, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Finally I am working as a writer but not in the way I imagined. For some bizarre reason I thought that moving to Paris would mean that I could become an amazing creator of fiction. That hasn't happened. Instead my blogging has got better and I'm learning how to write advertising. It's all equally creative just not in the way I thought it would be! 
Everyone thinks about Paris in different ways. Most people envisage this romantic destination full of people holding hands and swooning at the sight of the Eiffel Tower. I never really had that idea. Sure I love the Tour Eiffel when it sparkles, but I also adore watching old women talking to the vendors at the market. My preconceptions of France were more that I would spend my life drinking black coffee, eating foie gras and listening to old records. I drink a lot of black coffee, but hey that's office life!
We all arrive here expecting different things. Envisaging different lifestyles. But there is something we all have in common. We are slowly but surely becoming more native than the natives. 

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

An Ultimate Guide: The Only Bars You Need to Know

In an effort to improve my blog and to give the readers what they want I looked at which posts seem to do the best. I have deduced that you prefer it when I tell you what's what in Paris. It's understandable. Why else would you read a blog called More Native Than The Natives if it doesn't tell you how to live like a native?! So that's what this is. I'm going to create a few ultimate guides to help you if you ever end up at a loose end in the City of Light. 
I'm going to try and give you a few different kinds of places to try but in all honesty I tend to frequent establishments that are laid-back with buckets of atmosphere. I don't always care about price or quality of drink however some of the drinking holes I will describe to you certainly deliver on both! 
Ok. So this is my favourite bar. In the world. It's mad, bad and truly dangerous to know. The last time I was there was way back in August for my birthday. If you like weird beer served to your in animal horns, leopard print walls, pub carpet and teddy bears in every nook and cranny then this is the place for you. It isn't the cheapest but it makes up for that with the crazy atmosphere and delicious beers they have on tap. Any night spent here ends up in frivolity and usually some kind of takeaway.
Hotel de JoBo
This one is a bit out there for me. I don't usually find myself in hotel bars for JoBo I make an exception. I may have mentioned it once or twice before on here but it does need mentioning again if not just for some variety in this post. I don't want you all thinking I only go to weird hang-out spots with craft beer and odd décor. Sip a gin and tonic on the astro-turfed courtyard at JoBo for a touch of luxury after a hard day's shopping. 
Potato Bar
Disclaimer: Not the real name of the bar. If a bar is a bit dirty with rude staff would you still go for the cheap beer and free garlicky potatoes? It is a sacrifice I am personally willing to make. The real name of this place is L'Attirail I think but I'm not 100% sure all I know is there are 3€ pints of Stella and it is always packed so you have to get there early. Oh, Mike also took my sister Pip there while I was at work once and they proceeded to sink a few beers as my ears burnt...
It may be a little cliché to go to secret bars now. The joke has worn off slightly for me but this place still manages to live up to expectations. You walk through a fridge in a pizza restaurant to a proper Art Deco speakeasy. There are men in flat caps, gold everywhere and funky wallpaper. They do fab cocktails that change regularly and the glassware is to die for! I might only be able to afford one drink there but sure is damn good.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Working With Anxiety

Working anywhere can be difficult. There are so many different problems that you can come across. Think about it. You're thrown together with people you don't know and told to work together, sometimes having to rely on and trust them when you haven't known them very long. These are all things that I'm learning how to cope with at the moment. In all of my jobs before I've usually been working alone, you don't exactly have colleagues when you're a babysitter! 
I've already talked a bit about my life here in the office but I thought it was important to discuss the mental difficulties. A full-time job has certainly helped my mood. When you choose when you work it is easier to cave in and say "No, not this week" But when you have to be there 9am sharp and you fear letting people down then, for me at least, it helps get me out of bed in the morning. I would put a disclaimer out and say this doesn't help everyone. Certainly I do sometimes need some time to myself where I recharge and figure out what is going on in my head but the routine helps me to regulate myself plus my insomnia is slowly disappearing. But now I have to tackle issues head on instead of hiding from them. I get to practice my coping mechanisms and I can congratulate myself on all the little victories throughout the day. For example, today I asked for the Wifi password without having a panic attack. It may seem like this is a really tiny thing to get anxious about but this is the kind of thing that causes me day to day problems. I think it is hard for people to get their heads around why I have such problems with really small stuff like this and honestly I don't completely understand myself. If I join in with a conversation in French at lunch that is a major thing for me because it is so intimidating and trying to follow everything as well as thinking of something interesting to say! Some days it feels like it is all getting too much to handle but I get the opportunity to witness my progress a lot more frequently now I have bigger problems to overcome. Each small issue builds my confidence until hopefully soon I can function more normally. 
My medication is helping a lot. It prevents me from getting over-whelmed by the big things so I can focus on dealing with the smaller things. If this clears up some misconceptions of what anxiety is in everyday life then I will be immensely pleased but it just helps to express what all these thoughts that are in my head. As my job requires lots of writing and being creative linguistically I'm finding in therapeutic to throw myself into that, just ask Mike I've become a massive watch nerd! 
Before I ramble anymore I'm going to leave it here. Living and working in Paris is wonderful, but not without its difficulties. 

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Top Tourist Tips

The question I get asked more than any other is "Kate, can you recommend some bars/restaurants/things to do in Paris? I'm visiting with friends!" To this I try to give a fairly comprehensive answer but sometimes it is difficult to be the world's best tour guide at a moments notice. So I have decided to pen my ideal day for any tourist in Paris. Imagine you only have 24 hours to get the most in. This plan won't fail you. 

Let us assume that if you are visiting Paris you will be trying to stay as close to me as possible. The effortlessly cool, hipster persona I exude will help you to blend it... I jest but seriously staying either with me or near me is your best bet for a great time. My area has lots of restaurants, bars and is excellently placed for you to get nearly everywhere in the city! 
9am: You knock on my door suggesting breakfast, which of course I accept so I take you to Maison Privat around the corner from me. We order an oranais (pastry with apricot halves, crème pat and sugar crystals) and a coffee which we then proceed to eat outside in the sunshine watching the people walking by. 
9:30am: Now that some caffeine has entered my system I can now be the best tour guide possible. I take you to the market on Avenue de Saxe where I used to live so that you can sample some everyday French life and maybe some more food. From here we make our way to the Eiffel Tower because why not? Everyone needs it on their Instagram to prove they've been to Paris. 
10:30am: We have a wander around Musée Rodin. Simply because it is magical. Also if we are lucky enough we get to see Dior setting up for a show there. 
12:15pm: By this time, I'm probably hungry again. I take you to Da Rocco where we have the best Italian meal you can get this side of the Alps, with some very good red wine. We can also reminisce about my university days because I used to grab a panini from here nearly every day as a little pick me up in between lessons. 
2pm: Having let our lunch settle we wander along the Boulevard Saint Germain and peer in the pretty shops, maybe even stopping for a coffee and cake in Cafe de Flore or Les Deux Magots. We arrived leisurely at Saint Michel where we pick up some books from Shakespeare and Co or Gibert Jeune. We take them to the Ile Saint Louis after pausing to marvel at Notre Dame and for me to show you my old apartment. 
4pm: After a read and a nap I suggest we make our way to BHV for some light shopping which is a hop, skip and a jump over the river. It has everything from DIY stuff to high-end clothes and everything in between. The art section is particularly good, if you were ever in need! 
6pm: The alcohol from lunch is starting to wear off so we nip into Hotel de JoBo in the Marais for a cocktail. It is a hotel themed around Josephine Bonaparte so expect crazy décor and sumptuous drinks!
8pm: We decide that it is about time for some more food. This means I take you up to Aux Refuges des Fondues which is so French it hurts. While drinking wine in baby bottles you sample the meat or cheese fondue after clambering over the table to get to your seat. This leads us perfectly into a post-dinner jaunt to Sacré Coeur to look out over the Parisian skyline. 

If at the end of all of this you still want to do more then we can head back across the river a bit closer to chez moi and dance the night away in Place Monge, but personally I'll be ready for bed! 

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Ladies Who Brunch

Be prepared for me to sound very hipster for the next several hundred words. Right, now you've been warned I can begin. Today's subject is brunch. I'm currently sat in work, stomach rumbling thinking of all the places I could go and eat this weekend. On a Saturday morning do you really want to drag yourself out of bed any earlier than 10am? The answer to that is of course: NO! Therefore brunch is the only solution. What other meal offers sweet and savoury, alcohol and soft? I've decided to compile my top list of brunching establishments for your perusal so that you never go without. 

This has to be top of the list. I went before my graduation ceremony and I can honestly say it was the best part of the day. Their slogan "It's good because we care" is an understatement, because it's not just good it is AMAZING. Can you tell I feel quite strongly about brunch? Especially here though because the atmosphere is buzzing, there is always a queue (great sign) and the food is fab. I had pancakes and bacon which I have to say were life-changingly good. My mum had the same as me and Mike had all sorts of things. Tip: when out somewhere new take a bloke with you who will be able to eat the menu! He had bacon, eggs and a sausage meat patty that was flavoured with fennel that was to die for. 

I tend to end up brunching here alone, but don't feel too sorry for me! After a cheeky wander around the Musée Rodin I nip in for something different, usually with seasonal fruit/veg and a really interesting coffee. There is a large table at the back which is fun to sit at and watch everyone around you while pretending to read your book! A relaxed vibe and friendly staff make this spot a great place to brunch or lunch for that matter. 

Breakfast in America
Unlimited coffee. Do I really need to say anymore? Probably not but if I do then I'll just give you a tad more information! BIA does what it says on the tin. An American style dinner that provides Parisians with their much needed caffeine and French toast fixes. If you are feeling a little fragile from the night before then this is the perfect place for you. The soul music and perky servers are more than enough to sort your guele de bois out. 

There we have it. My shortlist of establishments for sorting out those Saturday morning cravings. If any of my readers have any top notch suggestions though please send me a message with them, I'm always looking for new spots to explore! 

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Water Cooler Thoughts

I've been working in an office now for over a month. It was never really something I pictured for myself, sat behind a desk at a computer. I always imagined myself as someone who would work from home or who would be out and about all of the time. Maybe I just hoped for that. 
I won't lie to you it has been hard. I've been having to work through panic attacks quite literally which is amazingly difficult. Before I started working full-time I could take the timeout I needed to recover but now I have to adapt to it. This means I've been a bit rubbish at keeping up with friends, cooking dinner and doing anything other than sleeping when I get in but it does prove that mental illness is not a barrier to a normal life. Trying to explain why you are struggling to do paperwork or making conversation at lunch time is a struggle when you don't want to let everyone know about your illness. It is the kind of thing you don't want everyone to know about you at work, you don't want them to think you will be worse at your job for it or that you will flake out if things get tough. If anything I find the work I do quite cathartic in terms of my health. I throw myself into it when I'm having a bad day and feel rewarded when I see goals being achieved. I am struggling though, especially with the language barrier. During my worst period earlier this year my level of French really dropped. Luckily I'm getting slowly back up to where I was but it isn't easy when all you want to do is just talk to someone in your own language, or you can't pause and rewind a conversation. All this is normal among language students of course, it just manifests itself in me as stress, anxiety and self-doubt that I have to work out how to deal with it. 
Working in an office has a positive side to it though. I get to practice everything I have been working on in terms of social skills. Saying yes to going for drinks, spending time with people I don't know all that well and having to pluck up the courage to talk to people because it's your job to work with them are all things that have helped me incredibly. We have fun. We laugh together. We moan together. It's just what you would expect from any young office. All in all I'm loving it. The difficulties can seem enormous some days. I just have to remember how far I've come and that this isn't the end of the road. I can still improve. I'm still learning to deal with this so any blip is understandable. 
The benefits of working in a French office are numerous though. I get to practice my language skills and learn lots of new words. Some of the weird things we learnt at school are finally coming in handy. We have discussion about all sorts of subjects at lunch, today's was obesity and health scares! Another benefit is that no one tries to steal my Yorkshire tea so I am safe to leave it wherever safe in knowledge that it will still be there when I come back. We do yoga at lunchtime which is great for my well-being. I hate that phrase but it really is. You need to pause in the middle of the day and reflect on things. My sleep has improved. A thing with people who suffer from anxiety is that you can quite often suffer from insomnia and have panic attacks in your sleep. I've been so tired recently that I haven't even been able of a coherent sentence let alone any complicated worries. 
Being an adult really does have its ups and downs but at the moment caffeine, Beyoncé and my loved ones are helping me to cope with this new stage in my life. 
PS. Ive just returned from the entire office having to go and have a photo taken on Santa's knee. Mum you were right my office is a playground!

Sunday, 13 November 2016

One Year On

What can I say? It hasn't exactly been a year of plain sailing since the events of 13 November 2015. I've had ups and downs along the way, a few have even been documented here. I always knew that today would be a difficult day for me mentally, but I found it hard to predict exactly how I would feel. Even as I write this I am trying to assess my feelings.
It is true that I have come a long way since the attacks. There was a time when I couldn't leave the flat without having a panic attack and still to this day I get flashbacks from that night. Nevertheless in the face of all of that I finished my degree, I have now got a job I love and I am in a much happier place mentally. My journey has not finished by any stretch of the imagination and I still struggle. I would however like to thank all of the friends and family who have been such a support in the last 12 months. Without you I would still be paralysed by fear and would have never sought help for what I was going through.
My chest is tight and there is a tear in my eye as I write this but I feel it is important to do so to prove to myself how far I have come. We won't let the terrorists in this world affect how we live our lives. Paris has truly bounced back stronger than ever before and I feel proud to call this city my adoptive home.

Friday, 28 October 2016


Recently, I managed to blag myself an internship as a copywriter and community manager which basically means I run social media accounts for companies by writing lots of their posts and responding to angry people on Facebook. I'm just about to finish my first ever week in a full-time job so I thought I would reflect on the difference between this and what I had been doing previously. 

There are quite a few obvious differences. This new job is full-time and I'm sat at a desk typing away as well as chatting to my colleagues about whatever it is that we are currently working on. My old job greeting guests was fantastic and I'm still hoping to continue doing it part-time but there is something to be said for not having to wait around all day for people who never turn up or not accidentally setting burglar alarms off! 

I've titled this piece adulting as many of you will probably already know that this is the term used by us millenials to describe the transition from student or young adult into a fully functioning proper human being with a job and responsibilities. This week has been a culture shock but in a good way, I think. I've been sleeping properly which hasn't happened in way over 12 months. Also I've been feeling fulfilled and I can't remember the last time I had a panic attach. I look back over the past year and I now see how far that I have come. I could never have dreamed that I would be able to start work in an office with people that I don't know and get stuck into the work straight away. Anxiety can be debilitating and I've certainly had experience of that this year. However now I can say that it is helping me to push myself forward and it is making me a better person. I have to thank everyone at my previous job, because they were so kind to me and understanding when I told them about what I was going through that I genuinely wouldn't be where I am now without them. 

We shall see what the next few months throw at me but I am positive in saying that I have certainly grown into a better person because of my mental health problems. It has helped me focus my mind into working out what makes me happy and what I can do to implement that. Hopefully I can blog a little more regularly now that I am in a better headspace so keep posted for more of my ramblings and reviews!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Mid Morning Metro Matters

It has been well documented by many Parisians that the metro is a weird and wonderful place. I thought I would let you all know about a few thoughts I had on this very subject when I was using this particular mode of transport to get to work this morning.

This post first started in my mind yesterday when I was surprised by the man opposite me handing me a drawing he had done of me while I had been engrossed in my book (diamond smuggling truly is a fascinating topic!) Now, I had heard of this kind of things happening but thought it must be urban myth or the kind of thing that happens in the minds of romantics. I had a brief conversation with the man before I had to get off at my stop, in fact the man next to me even applauded this anonymous artist on his piece. So I started to think about this most unique public transport system. Underground rail networks in themselves aren't unique but the Parisian metro has a certain air of intrigue and that isn't just the faint smell of body odour you can't seen to escape.

Considering that the system is over one hundred years old it can't be a secret that it has many stories to tell. Admittedly there are some lines that make you feel like you are entering Dante's Inferno (Line 13 I'm looking at you) but what could be more special than taking the overground line 6 from Passy to Bir Hakeim at just the right time to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle and the faces of the tourists, children and indeed the locals light up with delight.

Even the muscians in the metro can't help but to encourage a smile on the faces of even the mos miserable commuter. Specifically I'm thinking of the band in between lines 1, 8 and 12 at Concorde. The length of the corridor helps to amplify the immense sound that this traditional band produces.You can probably search Youtube and find videos of this ensemble as every time I see them they have a crowd of people videoing them for posterity.

Usually I have my head firmly in a book when taking the daily communte but I find it equally interesting to look up and to observe my fellow passengers, From fashionistas travelling to and from shows to groups of exciteable tourists and all the people in between our common transportation is a poetic leveller in my eyes and one that I can't help but find fascinating.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Self Care

It has been just over 3 years since I started this little experiment to see whether I coul keep up journalling my thoughts and experiences during my time spent here in Paris. I've learnt a lot in the past few years, not just about myself but about the world in general. Of course I've learnt things during the course of my degree but I've always thought that university was for way more than simply learning a few dates and grammatic rules. My journey to this point has definitely not been simple or easy. In fact from the very first day I spent as a resident of this magnificent city I had internal and external obstacles to overcome. Self Care is a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot but for me it has been the best skill I have learnt during this highly formative time in my life. 

I've already documented my struggles with my mental health and while self care helps me to deal with this I believe that it can help everyone in their day to day life. Shall we have an example? A few days ago I had an absolutely nightmare of a day in work which involved me being shouted at in Spanish. I got home feeling low and demoralized but I recognized that I needed to take some time for myself instead of the evening out with friends that I had planned. I cooked myself a comforting meal and curled up watching the Great British Bake Off which has to be one of the best mood-improving programmes out there. Self Care isn't about being selfish. It may seem like I was being anti-social not going out but I needed to work on myself in order to maintain my mental wellbeing. If you tire yourself out by trying to do too many things without keeping yourself healthy then you are doomed to fail. 

I wish I had realised all of this sooner. Moving away from home at the tender age of 18 was difficuly emotionally and I wish that I had tried to help myself improve my mood earlier on. Having said that I would never change the journey that I have been on because it has made me the person that I am today, which is lucky because I can't! I'd like my lasting message in this post to be that you have to make yourself your number one priority and that you have to take time for yourself whether that is by taking an entire day in order to clear your mind of all of the negative energy or just a few minutes with a cup of tea quitely watching videos of corgi puppies. 

Thursday, 11 August 2016

The Dead Season

August can sometimes be a bit of a quiet month in Paris. Traditionally all of the Parisians up root themselves and go on their holidays for the entire month. Not a bad life eh? Usually it means that I get rather bored because lots of restaurants/cafes/museums shut up shop for the summer due to the reduced clientele but now that I am working I have less time to be moping about with nothing to do!
However I have decided to put pen to paper and let you know about a few of the places that are still open in this dead season.

What could be better than a coffee with a good book in the shadow of one of Paris' most famous landmarks? Well my first recommendation ticks all of those boxes. Shakespeare and Co is infamous with the Parisian literary scene but their coffee shop with the view of Notre Dame is my favourite place to unwind with an iced chai latte and my newest book.

Speaking of books that brings me onto my next tip for managing summer slovenliness. I am currently working my way through The Man With The Golden Typewriter which was kindly given to me by my kind sister. It's a collection of letters to and from James Bond's biographer Ian Fleming. It's witty as well as fascinating. If non-fiction isn't really your thing then maybe The Night Manager is more your thing. I loved the TV adaptation but I have to admit that the book is so much better it even helped me escape a little from the daily commute. 

It is now three years since I moved to this beautiful city and would you believe there are some places in Paris that I still haven't been to? I decided to remedy this by wandering around Pere Lachaise cemetery the other day. Now this may seem a little bit morbid but I had a wonderful time. There are many famous people buried there from Oscar Wilde to Jim Morrison but I decided not to search for the famous graves but just to soak in the tranquility. A must see for every aspiring Parisian. 

Finally before you all think that I spend my time being cultured I should really write about a bar or two. Recently when my family came to visit we stumbled across a hotel bar that has become a firm favourite. Hotel de JoBo in the Marais is a fantastic place for a girly cocktail or three. You can get the barman to make you something personalised or just a classic favourite. To soak up the booze then you can hop skip and jump along to La Perla which is a Mexicain restaurant on rue Francois Miron where you can get delicious food all night long and did anyone say fishbowls of margaritas? 

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Only The Beginning

It certainly feels quite strange to be writing this post. Nearly a week after my gradutaion from the University of London Institute in Paris I am sat in my beautiful apartment trying to deal with a heatwave and the fact my family have returned back to the UK. Graduating was a more emotional experience than I think I had prepared myself for. Everyone must go through a number of different emotions when you don that black robe but for me it was a moment I hadn't seen myself arriving at considering what has happened in my life in the last year.
I received a 2:2 in French with History which was definitely not what I saw myself doing when we take into account the fact I applied for French Studies as a nearly straight A student almost 4 years ago now. I was diagnosed with anxiety with depression and PTSD earlier on this year which made me think that there was a possibilty I'd have to resit my final year. Luckily the help was there from family, friends and my university as well as the magnificent NHS to get me back on my feet again. From panic attacks to depressive episodes the attacks in November affected me deeply both pyschologically and physically. The attacks in Nice certainly resonanted with me as I waited to receive my degree and I was awash with emotions as I sat waiting. I grieve for those who lost loved ones as well as those who have been affected by them whether directly or indirectly. The day after my graduation I managed to return to the area that I was in the night of the attacks which has been a dark place for me ever since that night but armed with the coping strategies I have gained since then I coped.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that you can do it. It gets better. I am living proof of that. I now speak to you as a graduate of a unique instiution who has a job, a roof over their head and people who love them. I couldn't be more content which isn't to say I don't struggle. There are still days where I am a crying wreck on the bathroom floor but I just pick myself back up again and try to carry on the best I can. Panic attacks and social anxiety are not to be trivialised. If you feel like you can't cope and that you're expressing your stress in the wrong way then don't suffer in silence. I urge you to talk to someone, goodness knows I wish I had realised this sooner about myself.
The closing words I'm going to use about my university life are ones that I hope I adhere to throughout my adult life.
Don't let the bastards grind you down kids.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Mastering The Art Of Being Parisian

Recently the real world has kind of taken over for me. Finishing university was a milestone that I don't think I was quite prepared for but I have been trying to fill the void with work, work and more work! I've also been reading a lot more. Something that I surprisingly didn't have much time for during term time. My concentration levels have dwindled over the past year or so but now that I am getting myself back on track I am finding that I can read more. 

I've been trying to remind myself why I love living here so much and why I chose to live here in the first place! So the first book on my summer reading list was My Life in France by the one and only Julia Child. For those of you who aren't familar with the culinary giant - she essentially introduced proper French cooking to America with her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It turns out that when she moved to Paris with her husband in the 1950s she lived around the corner from where my university is and she used to shop on the road I used to go and get my lunchtime panini from the Italian deli. There were little coincidences like this that made the book truly magical for me. It has reinspired me to not only love France more but to cook more. Cooking and baking are two of my biggest passions but my desire to work on either of them while finishing my degree dwindled. 

A couple of weeks ago I plunged fully into becoming a proper Parisian and I invested in a shopping trolley. The quintessential French accessory. It came from Monoprix and that's where I take it back to pretty much once a week. Now I get excited to fill it full of whatever is in season - I've even started fondling vegetables to make sure they are just right. Don't get me wrong I still love a good old cup of tea and a dunkable biscuit but after what has been going on in the UK recently I'm ready to become fully French, or at least Parisian until Great Britain sorts itself out.  

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

How To Be Parisian

I think by now it has become evident that my aim has been to become a native here in Paris which hopefully has started happening. I mean I do sneer at people who eat on the metro and I do think that anytime is appropriate to sit outside a café with a glass of rose and some nibbles watching the world go by.
Today I was walking to work watching all of the French sat outside eating lunch and it occurred to me why I like living here so much. People take their time doing stuff. You see the grocers chatting away to each other, probably gossiping about all of the locals. I saw this guy obviously on his lunch break from work chomping down on a strawberry tart in a local brasserie while reading the paper. Doesn’t that sound like absolute bliss? Earlier today I wandered through the Bois de Boulogne on my way to see the Fondation Louis Vuitton and what did I see? Groups of old men playing pétanque with bottles of wine in the mid-afternoon sunshine.

I think that this summer I am going to make a promise to myself. I need to be more Parisian. I need to take things more slowly and savour the little things. Whether that is sitting on a bench and eating a really fresh peach in the sunshine or take time to prendre une verre with a couple of good friends. 

Thursday, 12 May 2016

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

I couldn’t help but use a line from my favourite sci-fi series in order to describe the crazy journey that will come to an end tomorrow.  It truly has been a rollercoaster of emotions like all university experiences are. I would not have changed my time here at university for the world. I believe that it has made me the person I am today and without the experiences I’ve had here there is no way on this earth that I would be as strong as I am now.
That doesn’t mean that it has been easy. Anything but. I don’t think I really anticipated how hard it would be to move to a different country when I was barely 18 from sorting out my utilities to cooking for myself everyday it made me grow up so much quicker than I had ever expected. I’ve found out how resilient I can be in the face of adversity throughout my time at university but I would say this has particularly been proved during this last year. Following the horrendous events of November last year I was in a slump that has been difficult to get myself out of until very recently. At that moment and during some of the darkest times I wanted university to just be over with already. However I’m glad that I have got through what has been a really testing term for me. Mental health is a topic the media is always telling us we need to pay more attention to and it wasn’t until it affected me directly that I understood why. By opening up with what I was going through (and still am to a certain extent) I was able to help myself as well as them. In brief I would say that one of the biggest things my time at university has taught me is to be honest with people about what is going on in your head. I am all too ready to bury my head in the sand and but a brave face on but realistically this doesn’t help anyone.
I’m apprehensive about going out into the big wide world just as I was when I finished secondary school but this time it feels a lot more uncertain. The 9-5 is such an exciting prospect to me but im pretty sure that there isn’t a student graduating right now who isn’t slightly afraid of not having the safety net of formal education to help them when things go wrong. No longer will we have student loans to pay the bills or the lovely people in Student Services to dictate our timetables to us. My degree has taught me so many more things than how to write a good essay about Bonapartism and I am looking forward to doing it all on my own so I can prove to myself that I can. It’s just that I have a heavy heart about leaving an institution that has given me so much support and so many life skills that I could never have learnt anywhere else.
This blog won’t stop by any stretch of the imagination. It started as a vanity project and so I could keep in contact with friends and family by letting them know about all of the funny things that were happening in my life. Now it has turned more into a bit of therapy. In fact this post might read like I am pouring my heart out to a counsellor and for that I apologise. I feel it is important though at this point in my Parisian journey to look back and reflect on all of the ups and downs and where I am today. Despite not quite being the fully fledged adult I thought I would be at this stage I do believe that I have grown enormously since that first day of Freshers week where I skipped my way into uni excited to meet my new friends.
I would finally like to say thank you to all of you who have been reading my blog. It really does mean a lot to me when I get the feedback from you all. As someone who suffers from social anxiety I feel like this is a platform that I can use to fully express myself when I struggle to do so in social situations. Seeing the page view counter increasing following a new post I get a sudden rush of excitement that people actually want to read what I have written – something I never imagined would happen.
Before I get too emotional myself I will wrap it up quickly and just reiterate my thanks to all of you who have participated in my university career, whether friends, family or blog readers.  I shall continue to grow in myself and more importantly continue writing! And like the dolphins in The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy I shall no proceed to flick-flack away across the sea to the next part of the adventure we call life.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Caffeine Cravings

It isn’t surprising that in my final exam period my mind is wandering to thoughts of delicious drinks that can keep my awake that little bit in order to cram just a little bit more information into my brain. One of my ideas of what my life would be like when I first moved to Paris definitely involved lounging in a gorgeous pavement café sipping espressos and basking in sunshine. Luckily this has proved to be one of my favourite activities during this Parisian adventure. Grabbing coffee with a friend is synonymous with putting the world to rights and is an activity I am more than well versed in. Here is my shortlist of the top places to pick up your latest pick me up.
·         Strada Café on Rue du Temple and Rue Monge is everything a hipster cafe should be. From the ever changing art on the walls to the deliciously freshly pressed juices you can’t go wrong with anything from here. I stumbled across the Marais branch during a long day schlepping around the city for work and managed to have a delightful pitstop out of the hot summer sun and had an invigorating latte.
·         Café Kitsune on Galerie de Montpensier has some of the best homemade iced tea that I have ever tasted. What better way to finish off wandering around the Louvre that a cup of citrusy goodness? The interior décor is truly sublime and makes the experience you have there.  The little fox shaped biscuits are the best thing to round off a visit to this fashionista hotspot.
·         Coutume on Rue Babylone and Coutume Instituutti on Rue des Ecoles in the Finnish Cultural Institute have to be my two favourite places to work, natter and feast on Scandinavian goodness. The Finnish pastries that they have are truly magnificent and deserve an entire blogpost for themselves. I suggest ordering a chai latte and financier if you happen to be in the Coutume Babylone for the perfect revision aid.

There are obviously many more places to go and grab a good old cup of Joe as our American cousins call it but these are just a few favourites. I’m sure this might become a regular feature on my blog as I really can’t get enough of anything brewed by a beardy barista.    

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Positive Thinking

Recently life had been getting me down a little bit from the emotional realisation that in a few short weeks I shall be out of formal education and in the big wide world to the stress of the final exams I will hopefully ever have to take it has been a tumultuous few weeks. However today on a little wander I had to go and treat myself to a cheeky coffee I decided something. There’s only so much that we can change. I am a great believer in fate and I happen to believe that everything happens for a reason but something today changed ever so slightly for me. After struggling with my mood and various other issues over the past few months I’ve decided to make a concerted effort to be more positive. CBT or cognitive behaviour therapy is all about changing the way you think about certain situations which could and several books that use the teachings of the founders of this philosophy have been helping me recently. My personal motto now thanks to a book I read to try and help me to sleep better is that “Thoughts aren’t facts.” This really struck me as such an obvious but helpful phrase to remember in times of stress and anxiety. Before a recent exam that I was particularly worried about I kept repeated it over and over to myself to quash the feeling that I was going to fail. Surprisingly it worked! I walked out of the exam feeling like I had given it my best shot.

Positive thinking may sound like a naff idea to many; in fact all of this self-help stuff has always riled my more cynical side but using these kinds of ideas in your everyday life can help you for the better. As a modern languages student I think that you need quite a lot of positive thinking particularly when you live abroad because every day you can find yourself in situations where your confidence is knocked from the man on the till in the supermarket replying to you in English as soon as you open your mouth to the daily culture shock one encounters when you realise folks on the continent can’t queue. I’ve decided not to let these little knocks to my confidence stop me from feeling happy about myself and to make the most of the short time I have left being a student. 

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Asian Food In Paris

Revising for exams at home the same time that Masterchef and The Great British Bake Off Crème de la Crème are back on our televisions is not exactly conducive for keen concentration on my work. However I have decided to channel this energy into something useful! A cheeky guide to my favourite Asian restaurants in Paris. This may seem like a crazy suggestion; surely everyone wants to eat French food when they come to Paris? However when my Mum and I visited Paris together to view my first ever flat we decided that you don’t always have to eat French food in France after finding an incredible authentic tapas bar. In fact you can find some of the best multicultural cuisine in the world in Paris.
My first recommendation I basically a recommendation for an entire street. Rue Saint Anne is the heart of the Japanese quarter in Paris and you can get some of the best ramen I have ever tasted there. My personal favourites are Sapporo for Katsu curry at the counter while you watch the chefs perfect their broth and Aki bakery for a yuzu éclair which is the perfect mix of French and Japanese culinary skills. It never hurts to pop further down the road to the supermarket where you can get tens of different varieties of instant noodles and exotic vegetables.
Next we head to Korea for a chilled out restaurant that is soon becoming my go to place for relaxed dining. I recently went for my anniversary meal and I can say that we were definitely not disappointed with the quality of the food. They specialise in Korean Fried Chicken which we had with sides of rice topped with kimchi and nori as well as well-crafted cocktails. I was torn between the Nice Legs and the Thug Life, who can resist names like them? At the top of Rue Saint Denis this establishment is unassuming but pumps out some of the most amazing food I have ever had in such a wonderful atmosphere I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Finally I’d like to recommend a place that I can’t actually remember the name of! Situated on Rue Bayen in the 17th arrondissement this restaurant does some of the best Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwiches of crusty French baguettes filled with pickled carrot, ginger and gorgeous beef or chicken). The dangerous thing about this place is that is it so damn reasonable and happens to be next door to my boyfriend’s apartment which makes it so tempting to just order in for dinner instead of cooking!
Now my taste buds are tingling after conjuring up the memories of these delicacies I’m going to have to go and have a few dozen cups of tea to quench my cravings!   

Saturday, 26 March 2016

The Final Hurdle

In September 2013 I could never have imagined the trials and tribulations that I would have overcome by the time I had had my final ever lecture. I’m sat in the airport lounge; somewhere I’ve spent quite a lot of time in my three years living in Paris. I’m reflecting on the things I’ve learnt and what university in Paris has taught me. My time in Paris as a student has not what you would call an easy few years but I can say that it has been both informative and life-changing. In this post I’m going to detail some important life lessons that I’ve learnt in the past three years, some silly and some serious, as I move towards the final furlong that is final year exams.
1.       Always carry plasters, Werthers Originals and tissues in your handbag. This comes from my time spent with the two girls I used to look after but also from the itinerant babysitting I’ve done since then. Bribing small children has never been so easy when you hold in your power the thing they crave the most – sugar. Or at least the thing they are forbidden the most! The tissues come in awfully handy too either for friends crying in nightclub toilets but for when the inevitable child is sick on the plane back to Liverpool with unexpected turbulence.
2.       Self-care is one of the most important activities of the day. A lesson I’ve sometimes struggled with myself but there is hardly anything more demoralising than pulling all-nighters on essays, skipping breakfast because you’ve over slept or having to turn up to uni in some old-baggy jumper because everything else needs washing. Making sure that I spend at least a day once a week getting all of my personal admin sorted has revolutionised my mood. As soon as I started keeping a mug at uni and herbal tea bags in my rucksack I started to feel a lot calmer and more focussed making my everyday life a lot easier.
3.       Sometimes pain au chocolat, red wine and Pringles can function as a meal. Not healthy whatsoever even though there are benefits of drinking a good Bordeaux every now and again this tip is more for when in the classic student style you have nothing in the cupboards apart from some mouldy cheese and some experimental spices for your Persian cooking phase so instead you have to rush to a corner shop before it closes and grab whatever is closest to hand. France doesn’t have Sunday trading which is both a delight and a chore so you have to be prepared for your unexpected cravings or happy to settle with an eclectic meal from the shelves of a shop that can smell your desperation a mile off.
4.       Buy a Moleskine diary. This has been something that has changed my life completely. When I started working I realised that those little calendars you get on your smartphones aren’t nearly capable of containing all of the information that you need to keep your work schedule and social life on track. There is something about my Moleskine diary that evokes the charm of a bustling coffee shop where people are busy writing screenplays or at least I hope it makes me look that cool and quirky as well as organised.
My exams will all be finished in just under two months. I’ve already expressed how excited I am to enter the big wide world and I am sure I will look back on my university years with nostalgia. More lessons will definitely be learnt but this blog shall continue to document the everyday life of this Anglo-Parisian endeavouring to be more native than the natives every day.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

The End Is Nigh

The finish line is in sight. The end of uni is final upon me. Is there a sense of trepidation in the air? Maybe ever so slightly. University has been an amazing experience but I am starting to look forward to normal life. I’m looking forward to having a normal day where I start at a normal time – I never thought I would be looking forward to a 9-5 but I am, kind of.
Being a student is great, you can go out on a Tuesday night and spend the rest of the week hungover because you have a 5 day weekend and only 4,000 words to write but hey who wants to read your essay about Napoleon? But there is only so much of that that one person can do. I’m looking forward to the regular weekends where you plan stuff to do like cute little day trips and brunch where you don’t just end up in your pyjamas for the entirety of Sunday binge watching Cutthroat Kitchen. Sure having the freedom that you do during university is great and there are many benefits to having so much free time however I’m not sure how many crazy week nights out I can manage anymore.

I looked around my university just under 3 years ago and I can honestly say that it has been three of the best years of my life. It has not been without its ups and downs but I think my student life has prepared me for the struggles ahead, at least I hope so. Taking round prospective students yesterday made me feel nostalgic for the time when I was in awe of this magnificent city that I now know so well. Even though I’m frantically finishing essays and filling out job applications I’m trying my hardest to enjoy every last minute of my final term of formal education, though I can’t help feeling that Paris will never stop being an education.    

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Not Quite A Tourist

Whilst trying to concentrate entirely on my essay about morals in 19th century novels my mind has been wandering to the different problems that one comes across as an expat in Paris. Obviously most expats like myself tend to choose to remove themselves from their native shores in order to become more acquainted with other lands but that doesn’t mean we don’t love Blighty and less. In fact sometimes it makes us love it more.
I was taking a photo yesterday of the Arc de Triomphe in the classic tourist pose – standing in the middle of a crossing zooming in and marvelling at the architecture. I spied a few locals giving me quite bizarre looks and this set me off thinking. Obviously I don’t look like a tourist. You’ll see no bumbag or overcrammed rucksack on my person but all of my behaviours dictated that I wasn’t a true Parisian.

 I marvel at the beauty of the buildings. Looking up in awe at the magnificence of the matching awnings on the windows and how the sun glimmers on the gilding of Les Invalides are things that no Parisian would be caught dead doing. My aim when I first moved here was to become more native than the natives but the longer I live here I realise that actually I quite like the surprises each day of a new things to go and find and new places to explore. I like some parts of the Frenchness  - high quality chocolate eclairs and baguettes being available on every street do tend to help everyday life but there is no point in taking the extraordinary aspects of Paris for granted like you see so many locals doing. I think what I’m trying to say is – don’t just exist somewhere, experience it. 

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Paris Uncovered: Part Four

As Reading Week is upon me and the end of term draws ever nearer I’ve been looking into a few things to do in my newly acquired spare time. So while I go and explore many new things I thought I would let you know about some of my favourite places to go in the next three arrondissements I have to tackle in my quest to catalogue some of the finest places to eat, drink and be merry in Paris.
The 10th arrondissement has plenty of places to go out whether you just want a quiet drink or you’d prefer to dance the night away – it has it all. But there is one place by the canal in this oh so hipster neighbourhood that encompasses all of this as well as so much more. The place in question is Comptoir General. If you don’t mind having a walk through a decidedly dodgy looking gate and down a dark alley to what can only be described as a ghetto museum. With vintage clothes shopping during the day and rum-based cocktails in the evening it ticks all of the boxes for a thoroughly hipster paradise. I didn’t even mind that they played one of the World Cup matches one time that I was in there as it meant that they had a funky food stand serving up exciting delicacies.
The place I’m going to recommend is a recent discovery but it is one of my favourite places ever now. No hyperbole there at all.  East Mamma is an Italian restaurant serving classic Italian food in a fresh modern style. If you aren’t charmed by the staff or the gorgeous plates then you’ll have to try their signature cocktail. An instagrammer’s delight the décor is delightful and the food wholesome but make sure to get there early as I have been caught out there before now turning up too late and having to decide whether the hour and a half wait for a table is worth it. Hint: it definitely is.
An enigma zone for me I don’t know much about the 12th and extensive googling hasn’t helped me much. A fairly residential zone it is home to the French equivalent of the Treasury it does contain a few bars and restaurants but isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire. If anyone out there has any recommendations then please let me know.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Shop Til You Drop

It’s a well-known fact that if you come from the Merseyside area and are in possession of XX chromosomes then you are more likely to treat shopping as an Olympic sport than the rest of the world combined. This being said I was slightly intimidated by the great department stores of Paris when I first arrived in FrogLand. The buildings are so beautiful and the clientele so well dressed it can be hard to feel at ease on first glance if you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into hence this a cheeky guide to navigating all things glam and fabulous all under one roof in a city prided on its fashion heritage.
Let’s start with the one everyone knows – Galeries Lafayette. This mainstay of French culture has been going for over 100 years and offers everything from designer bags to your weekly food shop. It is usually chock-a-block full of foreign tourists queuing to get into the Chanel concession before they make their way up to the below average cafeteria style restaurant on the top floor. It isn’t my favourite shop because it has a slight stack them high sell them not so cheaply approach which tends to put me off. That being said the Food Hall is rather good but it has nothing on the next one…
Le Bon Marche is superb. It was the first ever department store and was founded in 1852 which proves they must be doing something right. The interior oozes elegance and the staff are so charming it is hard to leave without a smile on your face. Le Grand Epicerie next door is the holy grail of food shopping. If you want luxury and obscure food produce then this is the place for you. From Parisian honey to kale crisps they have it all but the section you should really check out is all the booze in the basement. There a bottles of red wine so big I don’t think I could lift them up let alone pour them. Le Bon Marche currently has an exhibition from Chinese artist, Ai Wei Wei, throughout the store which adds to the magical feeling you get from the place.
Printemps has to be the complete opposite. Situated right next to Gal Laf it reeks of a pretentious odour I can only describe as people who have too much money. In my humble opinion it lacks the sophistication of Bon Marche and the Frenchness of Gal Laf. I went into Printemps just to browse a few things during the sales and walked out feeling really rather sick due to the snootiness of the staff. They don’t even have the decency to have a Food Hall.
BHV or Bazaar de l’Hotel de Ville as it is also known has to be my absolute favourite of the four classic department stores of Paris. A hop, skip and a jump from Notre Dame it also happens to be the closest to me! I do most of my present shopping there which made Christmas a whole lot easier this year, which is kind of the point of department stores isn’t it?! The Bag for Life from BHV has a gorgeous drawing of a map of the surrounding area in the standout orange that is synonymous with the store. You can literally buy everything there. Bleach? Tick. Obscure Belgian beer? Tick. Outfit for the weekend? Tick again. They even have their own little shop purely for pet supplies somewhere I shall definitely be taking the Corgis.
There we have it. Two and a half years of intensive research into some of the most expensive places to spend weekends in Paris but when you’re spending time in the fashion capital of the world what else would you do?