Posts Tagged ‘canal St Martin’

Returning to Paris

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

My life in Paris seems so long ago now. A lot has happened and changed in the year and a bit that I have been living in Manchester. Now all that I used to call home seems like some sort of false memory. Occasionally it dawns on me that I used to live in one of the most vibrant cities in the world. I learnt how to walk around the entire city without the use of a map, I became friends with my local boulanger, and I hung out with the BoBos. I was never Parisian but I wasn’t just an expat.

Returning to Paris for a long weekend was surprisingly challenging. While I really wanted to see my favourite city again, there was a part of me that knew it just wouldn’t be the same. Paris is no longer my home. I no longer have an apartment that I can return to to escape the car horns and throngs of tourists. I knew things would have changed and people would have moved on with their lives. That’s what happens.

However as I stepped off the plane and went to collect my luggage, I smiled to myself as I watched all of my French co-passengers rush to stand as close to the carousel as possible, blocking the view and access of everyone else wishing to collect their bags. Clearly some things will never change.

I only had three full days in Paris, one of those being dominated by the half-marathon. On the Friday I managed to cover 60 per cent of my favourite areas of Paris. My highlight: hiring a Velib city bike and zooming through Paris with the wind in my hair. There is something about this sensation that makes me feel so alive. I used to love riding a bike through the city and being able to head back to my old canal-side haunts in the 10éme instantly reminded me of why I love this city so much.

Canal St Martin

Canal St Martin

It was nice to see Canal St Martin and visit Les Récollets again. I caught up with some of my old friends but others I will need to go back again to see. The weather turned on the sunshine for me and my black jeans and long sleeved tops turned out to be poor choices. I had picnics, ate great food, sat in the sunshine, went for long walks along the Seine and discussed new romances. What else would you do in Paris?

It was great to be back and the intoxicating buzz and electrification of my senses that smacks you in the face and makes you feel so alive hit me once again. But I was happy to come back to Manchester, the city where I have created a new life and a new identity for myself. Perhaps this was because I had contracted gastro and just wanted my own bed. But ultimately I think it is more that inbuilt need to be in a place that understands you and offers you the comforts and opportunities that you are seeking at that point in your life. Paris was my crazy world one and a half years ago. Now I have something new and I like it.

The obligatory visit to the Eiffel Tower

The obligatory visit to the Eiffel Tower

Bugger.

Monday, November 14th, 2011

I conducted a small social experiment this morning. Clearly I was bored with my usual morning run or I was delirious from not sleeping well last night, and I decided to trip on the annoyingly bumpy cobble stones that are along the edge of the canal and hence fall forward onto my hands and knees. That was fun! Not. I managed to avoid sliding too far but as a result planted myself quite heavily on my knees. Let’s just say it hurt but we’ve all been there and done that – we all know what it is like to fall over in public.

As I sat on the ground telling myself how stupid I was, I switched my attention to see what the numerous Parisians who had DEFINITELY seen me fall over were going to do. Would they rush to my aid? Would they appear concerned for my well being? Would they point and laugh? Turns out they did none of the above and instead pretended they hadn’t even seen me. As I stood up and wobbled my way over to a bench to sit down, a man who would have had a very clear view of my tumble, did everything possible to avoid eye contact with me. A group of men who were a few metres away looked at me at first but then turned their backs to avoid any sort of involvement.

I am 100 per cent certain that if I had been in Australia someone would have come to see if I was ok. As I sat there thinking, “I want my Mum” I hoped someone would come to my rescue and offer to drive me home. But no. Nothing. Not even a glance. Not even a furrowed brow of concern. Not even a “Ca va?”. Nothing.

So! As I sit here unable to bend my knees and thinking about all of the metro stairs I have to climb today, I would like to give a big high five to Australian comradeship and a big BOOOOOO to Parisian “If I stop and help her she might ask me for money”ness.

That said, after a little rest I was completely fine and managed to run the rest of the way home BUT for a moment there it was the end of the world as I knew it.

Boating on the Canal

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Something that I love about Parisians is despite their snooty attitudes, strict style guides and general up-turned-nose at anything seemingly ‘different’, they still manage to celebrate strange, somewhat banal things with vigour and passion. Yesterday delivered a prime example of when I had to stop, shake my head and laugh at the ridiculous contradictions that were appearing before my eyes.

Tom and I went for a walk along the canal, heading to a show for regional produce from Provence. Along the way, we passed Point Ephémère – a hip and happening bar/club/restaurant full of bobo-Parisians hanging out and being seen. This all seemed normal except for the wooden boat floating in the canal, the folk music and the number of people dressed up in traditional costume. It was the Festival of Estonia (apparently) and for some reason they had set up a small exhibition with wood turning, music and general information about Estonia and viking boats for those who were interested.

Estonia festival

An impressive banner.

Tom and I joined the Bobos for a drink and as we sat by the canal, a group of well dress Parisians (most of them with children) jumped into the viking boat and took it for a spin along the canal while a ye-olde-Estonian played a horn-like instrument in the back.

The juxtaposition of snooty French people not daring to do anything out of the ordinary, and the fact that there was now a viking boat replica being paddled around with a group of ultra serious Parisians was really too much. I just sat and stared and wondered how on earth this could be happening and why it is ok for these Parisians to do something that dorky and yet me wearing a slightly old jumper is just SO INAPPROPRIATE.

It was fantastically entertaining. I also particularly liked the fact that kids were being allowed to use the wood turning machine with no eye protection and were getting bits of saw dust flung straight into their faces. What is health and safety?

Estonia Festival

Wood working at its best.

What’s in the Canal Today?

Monday, October 17th, 2011

It was a bright and sunny weekend, so lots of ‘outdoor walking time’ was had. Yesterday we headed north along the canal and spotted a few interesting objects floating in the water along the way. I thought I would share these with you. I saw:

Couch in the canal

A couch.

Cans and bottles in the canal

Various consumed beverages.

Estonian viking boat

An Estonian Viking Boat.

During my run this morning I saw a double mattress in the canal. I contemplated using it as a raft to paddle myself home but wasn’t confident on how it would fare in the locks.

Before the Paris Sun

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

I have never had that much trouble getting up in the mornings. I am a morning person rather than night – after 9.30pm I am useless, often grumpy and I generally want to be in my pyjamas with a cup of tea and a good book. However, since coming back from Portugal things have changed.

Most mornings my alarm goes off at 7.15am (so not even THAT early) and I go for a run along the canal. During summer this is the perfect time to be out as there is a beautiful golden sun glow on the canal water and most Parisians are lazy and sleep in so it is nice and quiet. This morning when my alarm went off I thought it was a joke. It was pitch black. Even after waiting an extra 15 minutes in the hope that there was just a very thick cloud covering the sun it was still dark. No sun at all.

As I stepped outside, Gare de L’Est was glittering with street lights and neon signs, yet there was so much action. There were people on their way to work, clearly used to this ridiculous lack of light at this time of the day at this time of the year. Running on uneven footpaths, dodging Parisians and avoiding dog poo when there is little light is difficult. But remarkably enjoyable. The lack of light meant I ran further than I had planned, as a bridge covered in a neon “Cabaret Sauvage” pulled me along and encouraged me to do that extra kilometre. It was a bonus that it wasn’t cold – I’m not sure how I will go when winter sets in and the mornings start to become cold as well as dark. Then there’s the rain. And then the snow. I’ve never run in snow before. Not sure how smart an idea that is.

I realise I haven’t told you about my running buddy and my amazing running achievement pre-Portugal. Recently I have been joined on my morning runs by my friend Becky (another resident at the Récollets.) Having someone to run with makes the time go so much faster and stops me from slacking off. We set ourselves the ULTIMATE CHALLENGE of running to the Eiffel Tower one morning. We planned a week in advance – Becky worked out a direct yet scenic route and I just mentally prepared myself for a slow and painful death.

To be honest it was kind of disappointingly easy. We saw the Eiffel Tower after running just two kilometres and we were there within seven. We decided to add a detour in order to make it a decent length run, feeling that tiny Paris had let us down. Our epic run that was supposed to impress and awe the world had turned into being shorter than our usual morning jogs. Still, it sounds impressive and we did get to stand underneath the Eiffel Tower at 8.30am with no tourists around (although they were starting to arrive!)

Run to the Eiffel Tower route

Time: 54mins; Distance: 8.91km; Calories burnt: 635

We contemplated running back home but I had an early morning appointment so instead we caught the metro. It was rather funny riding the metro through Paris stinking out the tiny carriage as poor Parisians looked on in horror and disbelief at our red faces and sweat patches. It definitely isn’t the “done thing” and we broke every rule in the Parisian style manual. We spoke loudly in English to reassure the locals that it was foreigners partaking in this strange act and no one they were associated with.