Posts Tagged ‘living’

Ma Vie à Paris

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

I have realised that I haven’t written about life à Paris for quite some time. My focus has shifted to my experiments in the world of linoleum and paper and I haven’t kept you up to date with the latest and greatest happenings in Gay Paris. Times, they may be a’changin’, but I shall now redeem myself with a longwinded discussion on the ins and outs of the French capital. Vous êtes prêts? On y va!

Weather

Allow me to start with what everyone is talking about – the fact that it is now June, and therefore apparently summer, yet I am wearing pants, a long-sleeved shirt AND a cardigan. Today the sky is covered in varying degrees of grey cloud and the forecast for this afternoon is rain, rain, rain. This is seriously going to disrupt my friends’ and my plans of having a picnic by the canal. Sure, the sun doesn’t set until after 10pm these days, but that’s difficult to enjoy when you can’t actually see the sun anyway. We had a week or so of glorious sunshine and last Saturday I got sunburnt. The following day I was wearing jeans and a jumper. Something is wrong here.

Politics

France has elected its new President, Monsieur Hollande, and he seems to be fitting in just fine. I haven’t really heard much about him, nor have there been any scandals involving him and a younger woman (yet). So really, he’s quite boring and we can tell this just by looking at him. He looks like a maths teacher (or, as I have been informed by my American friends, a MATH teacher). Not that I have anything against maths teachers – they just make for fairly limp Presidents. Maybe Sarkozy will give him some hot tips on how to be a slime-ball.

In the meantime, France is gearing up for the NEXT election where they vote for their local representatives. I really don’t understand how this works because it seems candidates can stick their hand up to be a representative in any area of France that they want. I’m sure there are some rules, but it is probably just as long as you have a friend who lives in that area or you went camping there once then you can be a candidate. This has resulted in the extreme-left candidate from the Presidential election (Melanchon) challenging the extreme-right candidate (Le Pen) in an area in the north-east of France. This is risky business and could result in Melanchon not being elected which would be a DISASTER because really he’s the only candidate with any sort of human sentiment. It would also mean that Le Pen gets in and every foreigner in France will pack their bags in anticipation of their departure. Anyway, we shall see. I believe the first vote is this weekend, with the second round the following week. Exciting times.

Fashion

The latest in summer fashions are in the stores and despite not having been shopping for at least three months, I can report that the style for this season is beige, beige, beige with FLURO PINK or FLURO BLUE or FLURO ORANGE. It is extraordinarily awful. The BoBos have been out in force when the sun does peak its head out from behind the clouds and big, thick-rimmed glasses are still a must.

Food

Weird and disgusting as this may sound, the latest craze in the French food world is… American hotdogs and hamburgers. WHY?? I really don’t know. Actually, I do. While BoBos are proud of their native country and French ways, they also crave the style of New York and therefore a van driving around the city selling over priced hamburgers (on gross sweet ‘hamburger’ buns I might add) is considered to be “trés Brooklyn”. The hamburgers I can manage, but the other day I noticed a new restaurant on Rue du Faubourg St Denis that is a “New Yorkaise” style hot dog restaurant where you can buy a “real American” hot dog for 4 Euros. They even were proud of the fact that you could add fake “mustard” in your sausage in a bun. Needless to say, I haven’t tried these hot dogs and never plan to. I’m happy to stick to good traditional French food that is full of fat and cheese and cream and everything that is delicious and artery-clogging.

Life aux Récollets

Life in the convent is plodding along nicely. The next few weeks will see the departure of some residents who have become good friends. It is a hard aspect of living here – I get to meet so many great people but often they will leave after a short period of time. It is nice to know that I will have people to go and visit in Italy, the US, Canada, Poland, South Korea, Germany, Greece… But still. It would be nicer if they would just stay here.

My electricity still turns off at least once a day and the internet continues to be painfully slow. There hasn’t been much action from the ghost downstairs but I think he/she might come out when summer finally arrives. Becky and my vegie garden is growing like crazy and we will have tomatoes before we know it. We just need to build an anti-rabbit/bird/mouse/snail/monster contraption to save our plants. Something is very, very hungry and likes eating our green-leafed plants. Very annoying.

So I think that is about it. Most of you will have heard or worked out through amazing sleuth-work that I am now a single lady living in Paris. This has both its ups and downs as emotions are still quite raw and so any form of romantic liaison between people on the street can result in floods of tears. This is problem considering Paris is the city of love and sitting on every second bench or lying under every other tree are gross, soppy, lovey-dovey couples kissing and cuddling and doing all sorts of French things. I have considered going over and asking them to stop but I have refrained. Anyway, life is all about changes and growing and discovering new things, new places and new people and that is my plan. I would just like to sun to come out so that I can wear a skirt. I’m bored of pants.

The Future

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Recently I had developed a dream-like world which I was quite certain would exist for me next year. I was going to extend my stay at Les Récollets and simply hop-skip-and-jump between France and non-schengen zone countries to avoid returning to Australia and applying for a new visa. Unfortunately, in the last few days, reality has hit.

It appears the “Schengen Zone” doesn’t want visitors, or people like myself who think they can avoid paper work by country-hopping. They have set a stupid rule that says you can only stay within the Schengen zone (an area of about 15 European countries who have formed a pact to keep the foreigners out) for a total of 90 days within a six month period. This would mean I would have to go to England or Switzerland for three whole months, which a. I can’t afford and b. I don’t want to do. Here lies Problem Number One.

Problem Number Two for my achieving my dreams for next year is that I am not allowed to extend my stay at Les Récollets. Dang. It turns out that a lot of people want to come and stay here (fair enough) and they have already been turned away and put on a waiting list. Basically, if I am allowed to stay here then I would be jumping the queue and really I shouldn’t even be staying here in the first place.

So there we are. My first reaction to all of this news was to break down and declare that my world was over. I then went for a jog, drank some wine, and slept on it and I have since realised there is potential in these new developments.

Potential Number One: It looks like I will have to go back to Australia (I’ll get to use my return ticket after all!) and apply for a new Visa. I am currently trying to find SOMEONE who can tell me if I can apply for a long stay visa in France. No one seems to know or be willing to divulge such information. I wouldn’t mind going back to Australia for February as that would mean I would get to see a REAL SUMMER instead of the rubbish summer Paris put on for me and I could go to a REAL BEACH. Plus I would have to then fly to Sydney to apply for my visa, allowing me to visit my best friend AND I’d be around for another friend’s wedding. So it ain’t all bad. Oh, and I could eat some of my mum’s cooking. Go chicken and asparagus!

Potential Number Two: We would get to live somewhere new. We haven’t entirely decided if we’ll stay in Paris and just try and find an apartment (a scary adventure in itself) or if we will change countries. I am still voting for staying in Paris as I’m not finished with this city and I haven’t written my award winning book yet, but this turn of events has made for a much more interesting spin in my epic tale! Other options include Germany or Holland. I have to say I love the Germans as they are already winning in the “Come and live here!” competition. I can apply for a travel work visa for Germany in France! I could even go to Germany and apply there! That’s amazing. But then I couldn’t go swimming at the beach. And I’d have to learn German. And I’d get fat from eating sausages and drinking beer.

Anyway, that’s how it is at the moment. Lots to think about. I am sad that I am going to be leaving the residency as I have made so many friends through it, however it won’t be far away and I know I’ll be allowed to come to all of the parties. I hope to find an apartment somewhere nearby as I really love living in this area. So much to see and do. But there’s a lot more of Paris to explore. Let the new adventures begin.

Dreaming of a Midnight in Paris

Friday, August 12th, 2011

I have been meeting a lot of new people during my six months in Paris and recently, whenever I mention that I am a writer who has moved to Paris to ‘be inspired’, the person I am speaking to asks if I have seen Woody Allen’s latest film, Midnight in Paris. As I generally dislike Owen Wilson, don’t really enjoy Woody Allen’s work, and found the advertising posters for the movie to be particularly off-putting, I had avoided seeing it. However, everyone insisted that I go and see it and so Tom and I finally spent a rainy afternoon sitting in a tiny cinema, reminiscent of the Luna cinemas in Perth.

Midnight in Paris

Oh it's so awful...

Ok, I will admit it straight away – I cried at the end of the movie. Not because the movie was so amazing or the script so wonderful, but because Owen Wilson’s character was me. Someone searching for something that they can’t necessarily get but hoping that Paris will provide them with the answers. No, I haven’t gone back in time and met amazing writers from the past or fallen in love with someone from the 1920s but I do walk the streets of Paris wearing rose coloured glasses and seeing this city as the be all and end all. The main reason for my tears was that the movie painted Paris as I see it – amazing sites, beautiful people, constant excitement – and it frightens me that I am going to lose it all soon. Owen Wilson’s character arrogantly decides to “move to Paris” – although I do wonder how French immigration feel about that – and all I want to do at the moment is make that declaration myself. Luckily for Owen, visas don’t exist in the movies.

Anyhoo, the movie itself was fun and easy to watch and I didn’t completely hate Owen Wilson but I think that’s just because we suddenly had something in common. The script wasn’t bad, the plot was acceptable and Woody Allen managed to make a fairly exaggerated story line seem somewhat acceptable. It is a fairy tale for adults but who doesn’t like to escape with the fairies every now and then? Plus it was fun to play spotto with the scenes in the movie – I get a bit of an ego kick when I watch a movie set in a city like Paris and tell you exactly where they are. Owen Wilson spends a lot of time down near the bridge Pont Neuf (built by Henry III in the 1500s) and keeps walking past where I explained the history of Paris to my tour groups.

Pont Neuf

Pont Neuf in real life

Oh, and I think the reason why I managed to like Owen Wilson was because I detested his girlfriend and her family so much. Those characters were a bit excessive with their dislike of Paris and their over-the-top wealth. I found them to be more unbelievable than the characters from the past.

Five Months Down

Friday, July 1st, 2011

I’m feeling rather ‘bleerrr’ today as today marks the five-month point of my stay in France. This means I only have seven months left which, considering how fast the past five months have gone, are going to disappear before my eyes. This makes me very sad. I thought I’d do a bit of a recap on the past five months – what I have done, what I have seen, where I have been etc. Ready? Go!

  1. I have been to Versailles (twice), Bretagne (Morlaix, a few small towns along the coast and Mont Saint Michel), Lyon, Nancy, Madrid, Holland (various towns), Koblenz, and Crete
  2. I have eaten at least 15 nutella crêpes
  3. I have found some really great restaurants and shops in my neighbourhood
  4. I have started organising events for Les Recollets residents (that started this week but it still comes within the 5-month mark!)
  5. I have been a tour guide for my parents, Tom’s parents, and various friends
  6. I have seen Morcheeba, Architecture in Helsinki, and some other random bands live
  7. I have been up the Eiffel Tower twice
  8. I have experienced -3 and 37 degree temperatures in Paris
  9. I have been swimming in the Libyan sea
  10. I have applied for a few jobs and have finally almost been successful
  11. I have started four sock creatures and completed one
  12. I have competed in a 10km fun run
  13. I saw Rich Hall in a tiny room with about 30 other audience members
  14. I have been (unsuccessfully) to the hairdresser once
  15. I have established a nice home to live in
  16. I have seen some amazing works in some spectacular galleries
  17. I have attended French classes although skipped most of them
  18. I have been sick more times in the past five months that I normally do in a two year period
  19. I have eaten lots of delicious food
  20. I have sat by the Canal Saint Martin on numerous occasions and had a beer/picnic
  21. I have maintained my weight from when I left Perth
  22. I have run 5-7km almost every day
  23. I have updated my blog and flickr site relatively frequently but have failed to write anything of any significance
  24. I went mudwalking and survived
  25. I ride Velib bikes around Paris, dodging traffic like a true Parisian, on a daily occasion

Twenty-five things isn’t bad. There’s potentially more but I am starting to make things seem more significant than they really are so I should stop. To be honest, I am currently feeling like I haven’t done enough in the time I have been here. I think I set myself some high expectations when I left Perth and I’m not fulfilling it as I would like to. Things I wanted to have done and haven’t are:

  1. Improved my French
  2. Made friends
  3. Travelled more (although maybe not as I do enjoy the daily life of being in Paris)
  4. Met more people
  5. Started to write something which has the potential to be published/used/good
  6. Started more creative projects
  7. Taken art classes.

I seem to feel this way a lot of the time that I am here and maybe I am not doing enough to change it. I know it isn’t entirely my fault as it is hard and while five months sounds like a decent period of time, in the scheme of making things happen it is really very short. But I am a bit disappointed in myself. I mustn’t waste another seven months.

I have made some moves to change things a bit. In this last week I have initiated two new activities that will hopefully help me feel a bit better about being here and what I am doing. On Tuesday morning I had an interview with a guy from NewEurope tours who run a series of tours in cities throughout Europe. It was a significantly more successful interview than my last (mostly because it was in English) and I am now in the process of learning the history of Paris in under a week. Well… elements of the history of Paris. I have been given a base script and an outline of where the tour goes. It is a three-hour walking tour through Paris and it is run on a tips-basis ie. the company doesn’t pay me and I will be relying on people giving me tips. I have been on one of the tours to see how they are run and this afternoon I will go on my second. There’s lots to learn and my biggest concern it being asked a question that stems outside my range of knowledge. But this is giving me a good excuse to sit down and learn some French history. Next week I will do an audition and then hopefully I can start. I am looking forward to it.

The second change also happened on Tuesday. I have started to organise events with the residents of Les Récollets and the first one was last Tuesday. I had organised it for 6pm and as the thunderstorms after a stinking hot day rolled in at 5.45pm I had to run around changing the venue, worrying about whether or not people would come etc. At 6.30pm it was still only Tom, myself and Diogo, a guy who is also keen on organising things within the centre. But slowly people started to arrive and by 8.30pm there were about 15 of us sitting around a very small table drinking wine, eating nibblies and talking about what we all do. It was great! Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves and some of us didn’t leave until after midnight. At one point, the two italians of the group went off to their apartments and whipped up pasta with a spicy tomato sauce for everyone. It was really wonderful to meet new people and to get the ball rolling for some more gatherings. I am going to send out an email for a wine and cheese night next Tuesday night. Should be good.

I think as long as I continue to bring new things in to my days then I will be content when I have to leave at the end of January. I think I might need to look into become a student again, only this time in Paris. The idea of doing a creative arts course in Paris is very appealing I just doubt they would let me in with my lack of experience and the high demand for those sorts of placements. Perhaps museum curation… We shall see.