This is my last summer holiday in the education system. I have one more year of university, and then real life is going to hit with a vengeance. Faced with free time and a desire to do something new, I decided to move to Paris.
So here I am in a Parisian café with a chocolat chaud, jotting down my experiences while I attempt to eavesdrop on the French people sitting next to me (a rather tricky feat when your linguistic skills only extend to certain food and drink products).
I have been here for a few weeks, but I wish to start at the beginning with my first week in Paris and all the joys of doing new things as a Parisian.
Getting started in Paris was surprisingly easy, mainly because a friend of mine was coming here at the same time. I managed to wrangle a place in her studio, which she found on Paris Craigslist. It is absolutely tiny, but this is really the norm with places here, especially if you’re on a small budget. I found a lovely French school on the Internet called l’Atelier 9, which suits me perfectly because it’s small and relaxed and, most important, has free filter coffee for students—joy!
So with a little structure to my life and a home to sleep (as little as possible) in, I was all set to explore the city. The experiences that stand out are centered on walking and watching.
I sat with newfound friends from my language school on the steps of Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre. There’s an amazing view of Paris here. We watched as it got dark and the city lights came on. It can be very busy, but that, in my opinion, only adds to the experience. With the addition of the seemingly ever-present buskers, there is a rather festive atmosphere, and to make it even better, some enterprising street hawkers sell beer for two euros if you want to take in the scene with a drink.
Another day I wandered from Notre-Dame, which is so wonderfully Gothic that it is easy to imagine Quasimodo swinging in the rafters, to St. Michel, which is very touristy, but in a rather charming, ramshackle way. Then on to the Luxembourg Gardens, where I sat with a French friend and ate a baguette and watched as families pushed toy wooden sailboats around the pond (you can hire the boats in the park).
I had my first solitary glass of white wine near the Pompidou, in the Marais area (which is a little like the Soho of Paris), on a scorching-hot day and watched as the beautiful people walked by.
To close the week my flatmate and I went out dancing in the 11th Arrondissement, at l’Alimentation Générale, a bar/club that is normally free to get into and is full of very cool French people. We met a wonderful musician and thus confirmed my belief that nearly everyone in Paris is unbelievably cool and arty. It closes at 2 a.m., but there are lots of bars in the area to move on to if you feel that the night is still young.