Paris en famille

I started writing an entry ages ago and then got distracted so I have decided to sack it and start again. Here is a brief summary of the tales you will have missed. Some students did nothing to dispel the “France is racist” rumour by responding to “why is Avon so popular in South Africa?” with “because white women buy make up to not look like black women”. We have also (almost 2 months into our stay!!) now been to a club, amazing I know! Upstairs was a bar that you had to buzz to get into and where drinks were classically expensive. Downstairs was much more fun and was designed to look like a metro station, which is quite funny as now, looking at the photos we look like we’re just hanging out in the metro. Long story short I ended up drinking bottles of red wine in an alley with some Spanish boys. Standard.

Anyway, to more pressing matters. I’m just back at work after La Toussaint which was 1 week of glorious holiday time. Looking back, I feel like I crammed a lot in but that’s mostly due to the fact since I only work 2 days a week, it was 12 days of holidays. The Wednesday, I was au-pairing and got paid for the month in cash (ca-ching!) which set me up nicely for the holidays. I left early morning on the Thursday to go to Paris, where I met my lovely amiga, Ava, on her lunch break from uni, got a quick hello, directions to her new flat and her keys. She lives in my favourite area of Paris and a 2 minute walk away from all my favourite vintage shops, so there’s no prizes for guessing what I was up to while she was in class. Headed out that night, to a party that could’ve been the UN for all the nationalities that were there.

The Friday my parents arrived, so I headed to the airport to get them and then we headed to our hotel. I liked our hotel because every receptionist told me how well I spoke French. Given that it’s Paris I think a tourist saying “bonjour” would qualify for this flattery, however. That night I’d booked us into a teeny wee restaurant that was like eating in somebody’s dining room. It was so good and I discovered a new dish that’s become a favourite – oeuf cocotte. My dad, much like a highly-trained sniffer dog, managed to root out (I’m mixing my animals here) a pub which sold not only a fine range of beer, but Brew Dog, no less. Small world!

On Saturday, we met Daniel at the Arc de Triomphe. I mean met in the sense that it was planned, it’d be great if I’d bumped into someone that lived 4 doors away from me at the Arc de Triomphe but no, there was planning involved. Headed off to Montmartre where we had a swatch about the Sacre Coeur and were entertained by a brass band playing Black-Eyed Peas and Plan B covers and then had a wander around. It was good to see Daniel again, it’s weird that we spent every single day together at uni and now live hours apart. Thankfully, I’ve invited myself chez lui (to his gaff) soon. That night we returned back to our newfound beer den, which provided some slapstick comedy. A woman inexplicably had brought her cat to the pub which she let out its carrier and it was strolling about around the table, on a leash. So the waiter walked past carrying a tray of drinks and the cat (quite deliberately, the wee bastard) ran several times round his legs, essentially binding his feet and causing him to sway forward and back whilst trying to balance the drinks. At the same time an angry man from the bar and the cat’s owner tried to disentangle him, then they got into a big argument. All over, it was comedy gold. Another barman also said to me “ahhh, Quebecoise?” when I ordered my drinks. Quebec has the most ridiculous of all accents in French, so being mistaken for a Quebecoise is a back-handed compliment, but I was none the less chuffed to be mistaken for a native speaker. Next time someone thinks it I’ll have a marginally less hilarious accent, like Belgian, perhaps.

The next day we met Ava in Le Marais, after a bus tour and a trip to see the Louvre. We were heading up the street, trying to find a restaurant for lunch when we saw a man casually peeing against a lampost. Bear in mind this is a pretty well-heeled area of Paris and lunchtime. So Ava and I both must’ve given him a look of disgust because after finishing he started walking next to us going “what are you giving me shit for? Just cause I’m taking a piss, huh?!” so our natural reaction was to slow our pace lest we have to walk the entire way with this mental. Obviously still wanting to vent his anger, he fly-kicked a large potted plant outside a shop, which sent water flying everywhere, then carried on up the street, kicking over a sandwich board and finally, for good measure, punching the window of Starbucks. If I was single, I’d definitely be in there.

Our last night in gay paree was a mad-dash sprint to the Eiffel Tower to see the hourly light slow (it’s like being in a fairy wonderland), which started the second we stepped off the train, it was like movie-timing, just perfect! However, the highlight of that had to be the Champ de Mars (a big garden/park where the Eiffel Tower is) which was holding an exhibition of Buddy Bears. We were unsure what Buddy Bears were but we soon came to realise it was a German art project where each country in the UN had comissioned an artist to paint a 6ft ceramic bear with some sort of symbolism to represent their country, to encourage tolerance and awareness of other cultures a ton of painted bears, some painted so badly we were crying with laughter. Ireland and the States (not countries widely reknowned for their subtlety) had gone for a leprechaun and the statue of liberty. Some of them were brilliant though and were really well done.

This entry has already rambled on far too long, so I will leave you with a word of warning. The phrase “you can’t get a bad meal in Paris” will not seem side-splittingly ironic when you’re running into CDG airport trying not to shit yourself.

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