I think this is the second “final countdown” I’ve had in a year. Oh my ever-changing days. My job in France is officially over, and now I have about a month of Paris time left to take tourist pictures, and explore about a million places. A google search on “free things to do in Paris” brings up an awful lot. Mostly they involve being in parks. Or museums. That’s a hot weather plan and a rainy day plan all in one. Hooray.
This is just a flipping excellent view
A long time ago (maybe a month?) I bought last-minute evening tickets to Roland Garros, went on a Saturday, queued for a very long time, and ended up on court Phillippe Chatrier just in time to watch Roger Federer play some pretty good tennis against French boy Gilles Simon. Obviously the local crowd were fairly Simon-supporting, but I have a soft spot a mile wide for Federer. He plays tennis like it was invented just for him. Incroyable. The game was quite the tense one, going all the way to five sets – definitely giving us our money’s worth. I am now devastated Federer is out of Wimbledon. Especially since I have a whole free week to watch it now! I will enjoy the sunshine (please come back, sunshine) in one of the many recommended parks instead.
Federer, doing his thing
Last weekend was Fete de la Musique in France, so I went adventuring with some girls across the capital. There were performers everywhere, all night long. We ended up at the Grand Palais, for a Wanderlust club night. That building is such a beauty. The metro was running all night to take me home, and great fun was had by all. Highlights included the gay club that spilled out into the streets, with bubbles being blown up into the sky, and a Brazilian drumming group that were playing for hours and hours near Hotel de Ville. They were excellent.
And other cheesy blog post titles.
Summer arrived with all guns blazing in Paris in early April. Now she seems to be hiding. I managed to get a little bit of tanning time (in the Parc Monceau – oh how I love you), and plenty of iced coffee and reading in the sunshine time. Now I’m just waiting for her to come back.
My favourite summer spot so far, aside from the aforementioned Parc Monceau, is the Canal St-Martin. Sitting on the edge, dangling my legs over the water, with an excellent coffee (my favourite in that area, of course, is Ten Belles) and a book is perfect.
This is my happy place. And those are my happy trousers. They look like pyjamas.
This is another of my new favourite places, the Jardin du Palais Royal. It’s hidden away in the very centre of Paris, and always has a couple of lovely garden seats available. You know the ones, people fight over them in the summer in the Tuileries, and the Jardin du Luxembourg. You can always get a seat behind the Palais Royal.
The Tuileries look beautiful at this time of year. Even if you can’t get a seat. It’s a popular spot for a reason. Go for a quick walk, then settle with your book elsewhere, away from the crowds.
And we come full circle (triangle?) back to the Canal St-Martin. It’s great, if you can fight your way to a spot to sit in. If the sun around midday gets too hot (wishful thinking?) go sit inside at ten belles. They sell great soup. I had a really good non-Cornish pasty once, as well. The other, very popular alternative, is to order Pink Flamingo pizza, and have them deliver it to you at your perfect picnic spot. Yeah.
Hurry back, sunshine.
One of my favourite things about France is how easy it is to live within a tiny radius of your home, and never want for anything. It takes less than a minute to walk from my front door to a fishmonger, butcher, greengrocer, florist, cheesemonger (is that what they’re called?), 2 very good boulangeries, one average boulangerie, and about 4 bistros. There is a supermarket, too, but why bother with a supermarket when you can go to the knowledgeable source?
Why would I leave my neighbourhood when there are such beauties on my doorstep?
I love exploring Paris, and I really love that there is so much of it to explore, but knowing that I can go buy bread baked around the corner freshly each day is a joy. I can’t wait until I can bake my own bread! Also, the greengrocer man is the absolute friendliest. He always has a hello and a smile when I walk past, and the asparagus in his shop is the nicest I’ve had in France.
About 15 minutes from my house on foot is the most beautiful park in Paris. The Parc Monceau is especially lovely right now, with all of the flowers, and the sunshine, and the people enjoying the flowers and the sunshine. It’s my favourite.
Yep, Paris looks goooood right now.
In other news, we were at the Jardin d’Acclimatation recently (another local joy), and there were bagpipers! I think they were part of a Brittany celebration (do they have bagpipes in Brittany?). Bagpipes follow me everywhere. And they aren’t subtle about it.
Burger joint number two is the wonderful Koff, which hides out in Montmartre. Boy was visiting for two weeks, and we went on quite the burger binge. One Sunday lunchtime, we were starving and wandering around Montmartre, when I realised Koff was around the corner, and I still hadn't tried it out. Winner.
Unfortunately Koff hasn't got a website, so I can't check a menu for our choices. I had a bacon cheeseburger (I think), and boy had a blue cheese covered burger. We ordered both rare, and that's how they came. Anglophone rare, not French rare, but that's pink enough for me. I had the best fries of my life – why doesn't everyone leave the skins on the potatoes? It's so much better that way. Boy had a GIANT hash brown. It was also delightful, but I think the fries were better.
Both burgers were excellent, toppings were great, and buns held together just the way they're supposed to. We didn't go for any sides this time, just a diet coke for me and a Canadian ginger beer for boy. Good choices all round.
Not ordering sides meant we had room for dessert. We shared a banoffee pie. I think I actually ate most of it, but boy was nice enough to pretend we split it evenly. It was delicious. Unfortunately it wasn't very photogenic. Sorry.
Then it was time for tea and coffee and a lovely walk.
I'm going to pretend that this year isn't an exercise in touristing with the “but I live here” excuse in my pocket for extra street cred (do the kids still have street cred?) and say that I was a tourist for a week this month. Visitors make excellent excuses for touristing events, and visiting Mothers are the best if you want to visit every museum possible. Even better is the rule that handicapped visitors get free entry for themselves and a companion, and (best of all) get to queue jump. When the weather report app on your phone says “feels like -9,” queue jumping is better than sliced bread.
We visited Montmartre (not a museum, lots of walking, very cold, but gorgeous), the Louvre (twice, and still didn't see even half of it), the Pompidou centre (with 3 hour waits for the Dali exhibit we walked straight into), and the Musee d'Orsay (better than the Louvre, but you aren't supposed to take pictures). I took her on my favourite metro journey, we discovered a vegetarian restaurant, and we watched the Tour Eiffel sparkle at night.
All of this beautiful touristing made me realise that I have a limited amount of time left in Paris, and I'm not sure I'm going to manage to do everything I wanted. Earlier in the year, I was homesick, and just trying to get through a day at a time, and now I'm terrified I'm wasting my time here. Grass is always greener, and all that.
When I was young (cough 16 cough) my imaginary baby name short list contained, among other questionables, Hieronymus Euripedes. I named all of my instruments (nerd alert), but it was too soon after everyone I'd mentioned it to had told me that it was a mild form of child abuse to throw away my dear baby names on mere instruments. Enter the age of the iDevice, and I have a number of wonderful inanimate objects to give the names of my childhood dream children. Ideal.
Hieronymus Euripedes is a much better teller of stories than I am, even if I play with his narrative too much with Instagram filters.
Here are some of his recent shorts.
Box of bunnies, anyone? I was tempted.
It snowed, and Montmartre wore it well.
And then it was beautifully sunny and Notre Dame was fit.
I bought myself flowers, and was taught a little bit about flower arranging. Picking flowers to go together is really hard. And I'm really bad at it.
And then I ate the best burger of my life. So far. More on that later.
In other news, I've been watching and rewatching Buffy season 2, and, spoiler alert, the death of Jenny Calendar is always a heartbreaker. I can't even talk about Becoming, parts 1 and 2, because they are tearjerkers like nothing else.
This week, I really love Edinburgh.
Maybe it’s because it (finally) feels like it’s maybe not such a struggle to get out of bed and ready for class in the morning.
Maybe it’s because Spring has certainly sprung, and oh gosh, Edinburgh looks amazing.
Maybe I’m just having a good couple of weeks. If so, I intend to enjoy it for as long as it lasts.