Monday, 17 October 2011

Poisson sans boisson c'est poison! Lit; To eat fish without drinking wine is poison!

Well we are back to Monday and the last week of half term before the holidays and don't I know it... I may have murdered at least one child by the end of the week, they're so fractious even the whistle has come out and that's a proper final measure! Worked though.

I digress;

The weekend the weather was fabulous and I made the most of it but before the weekend there was Friday night and I headed into central Paris to meet Mishy her boyfriend Chris and Rich. We all met at Goncourt and headed to the cork and cavern a very Irish bar located at the beautiful Quai de Jemmapes

This place is so Irish if you even attempt French at them they'll just look at you funny. It sells traditional food and even a full English breakfast but at a crazy 15€ for the pleasure (I found out why so expensive on the Saturday though so will explain all later).

A glass of vin chaud was most welcome as the temperature here has plummeted somewhat it's not so much l'automne here as hiver for sure but the colours of the trees say otherwise!

It was a great evening, I have to pinch myself a lot here still as I'm sat in Paris with friends on a Friday evening I mean what is their not to pinch myself about. I'm in Paris, I'm out on a Friday night and I'm with friends! Lovely friends at that I'm a lucky girl to meet such great people all the time! If you're reading this guys yes I take cheque...

It's very olde world decorated inside and when we first arrived we managed to get a corner table but the bar was heaving so Chris and I were sat on/in actual Guinness barrels. Not comfortable I assure you as they are biologically designed to do damage I'm sure, so we moved before Chris could worry too much about how his future chances of having children would be affected. When we moved we moved to a lovely table right next to the dart board which was fine til some tipsy French students decided they were going to play and most amusing it was to watch too. But preferably from a distance. Soon as they arrived avec darts to The board Rich had the hindsight to move and come to my side of the Table away from potentially lethal head piercing darts especially as the marks on the wall from matches past indicated there was a very real possibility of this happening.

Whilst Michelle and Chris were being impossibly cute with each other (it's Friday after all and we are in the capital of luuurve) It left Rich and I chatting. Seeing as we are both single I get the feeling mishy is doing this on purpose. Bad panda ;) Anyway we got onto the subject of French language and how hard it is to learn and I told him I was finding it really really difficult it's just not going in at all, I'm picking up very little and get chance to practise little. Now normally if I say this to people they say 'right that's it from now on English is banned from this conversation you may only speak french'. Which is exactly what Rich decided to do. Now this is all very well but my French vocabulary is extremely limited and just because I'm told I can only use French words, this does not mean my french vocabulary is going to suddenly expand by itself...

When I asked him how he'd feel if I said right that's it we can only speak RUSSIAN from here on in... He got the point. You gotta know it to be able to use it :p

We stayed out til midnight at which point mishy and Chris headed back home and rich and I headed off to chatellet. There was the option to stay with Rich and meet up with his American friends for an all nighter in St Michel but i had planned to get up early Saturday morning to meet Chris for the rugby in Montmartre so he left me at chatellet where i caught the last RER back to chessy after midnight.

I cannot explain quite how it feels to emerge from the station when you are heading home and have to walk past Disneyland... It's a lot quieter at that time in the morning too ;)

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I went to bed knowing I didn't have long till I had to be up only to receive a text from Chris to say he was ill so I decided instead to stay in bed for the rugby although was mostly engaged in Skype conversations for most of this time!

Ah yes the rugby. They're very excited about this here

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So anyway unless you've been living on the moon you know that the French won their rugby match and are now in the finals. So herein having been out here a couple of months now and loving my adopted new home country I'm gonna have a 'enough of the anti French rubbish English people' style rant and I'm in as good a position as any to say it because the difference between those who say it and this who don't is our location.

I know it's often friendly banter but if I have so much as shown an inkling that I'm pleased France has done well at a sporting event someone somewhere goes 'oh look at her she's been in France 5 minutes and thinks she's French'.

Well no, but my ancestry dictates I'm as much French as half the UK born Wales and Ireland supporters... This was recently actually said to me as I was pleased at the results for France over Tonga and some people obviously were not, so i quickly reminded the people who were badgering me over my support of the French, that I was pretty certain they had no affiliation with new Zealand...

Plus at the end of the day I believe England are now home and France are playing in the final this weekend? Good work boys. Credit where it's due.

Anyway back to we hate the French.

Remind me again just how LONG ago was the battle of Waterloo?

Myth dispelling time for the non ignorant;

I am always being told how miserable the French are... Um have you looked around at some of the faces in England recently??

The foods terrible...well if you don't like garnish no France isn't the way forward but the French are not obese and I've had no indigestion problems at all. What else... Oh yes one person said to me:

I don't like Paris there's no buzz, London's a 24 hour city Paris is finished by midnight. Midnight?? Are you kidding me?? They are usually only sitting down to dinner at midnight! (I experienced this first hand Saturday night...) if you go out for the night meeting at 9pm is early if you go to a club you'll go about 3am, you never see people walking home from a night out because you can literally keep going for 24 hours here so people come and go from bars and clubs at will.

Another one - the French aren't very sociable. Even walking through my village Saturday night I noticed if several houses in a row were vacant it was because they were all gathered at Jean-pierres 3 doors down!

oh and the last one I can think of was someone saying they found London to be more open with more green spaces than Paris. I guess they went to a different Paris to the one I'm in then for sure. If anyone can find a valid reason for being anti France/French who has actually lived and spent a reasonable amount of time here then I'm listening. Meanwhile, stop it you are boring me.

Any who that rant over Saturday I wasn't up to much it was a lazy day, so i went to Val d'Europe, managing to catch a direct bus from the next town which was lucky. Thing is they dint like working lunch times so my bus timetable gies sort if 7-10am then they just decide they aren't going to lay on anymore buses until about 5pm so you have to time it right at a weekend! So I walked to Montry as the condé bus ceases completely at weekends. En route I thought I'd finally grab a picture of this:

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It's amazing that this tiny sleepy little village holds such amazing artwork and this is down a side street so it's not really ever going to be appreciated by too many!

The guy has been all over the world though and someone very cleverly found his website for me

I'm guessing he is also responsible for the huge birds and various cats in the area. Just incredible.

I stopped in one of the local shops en route to grab a drink and conversation exchange with my local friendly shop keeper. We have an agreement, every time I go to the shop I teach him 4 new English words as he's trying to improve and he teaches me 4 French. I may be able to form a whole sentence soon!

Anyway i finally caught the bus and promptly headed to Auchan where for the first time ever i found the English section! So I bought some custard creams for the english dept. Meeting next week and then spotted these...

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Yes that is 1.48€ for 1 tin. So now we know why a full English costs 15€ in central Paris and I actually really miss baked beans so treated myself although I may just keep them for posterity at that price! I'm not doing it again, I'm back in the UK next week and will be stocking up then! I have a list long as my arm of things people want bringing back it's amazing, chocolate hobnobs, corn pops, baked beans, crumpets, fruit mince and mince pies! (who knew it's pastry and the French don't sell them...)

I headed back to the house after my shopping excursion as Anne was having a dinner party and I was on Sasha duty! So once again I wandered back through Disney.

Now why would you post these guys at the entrance to the happiest place on earth??? I hear mickey can get a little crazy sometimes;

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Got back to find my landlady wandering round the house in just a bra (somethings cannot be unseen) and decided this would be a good time to elope with Sasha so grabbed her lead and off we went!

We decided to head down here

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And discovered this

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Then decided to go up here...

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Then I had nooooo idea where we were but we were in the woods somewhere (what gave it away was all the trees). Then I finally came across a sign that told me we had ended up in Couilly Ponte aux Dames which is the next town. oops. Worse it was getting late...

Note to self never go exploring with an hour til dusk

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Luckily this turned out to be my road!

So anyway once we were home Sasha was then confined to my room. With the guests arriving she was having a champagne reception and Sasha has a super swishy tail which she feared would end up taking out the expensive glasses so Sasha was sent to doggy borstal.

She was not happy

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Anyway after 2 hours I swapped shifts with the mysterious Gerard Depardieu lookalike who lives upstairs and went down to join them as a guest. As the per the French custom they don't eat til about 10pm so thats what time our 4 course meal started which was absolutely delicious! With little saucissons for starters (they love these chewy little dry sausages out here!) and of course mains, a cheese platter and dessert (and of course wine, there's always wine, in fact the biggest bottle of red I have possibly ever seen in my life) either way This I declined because you can't have wine EVERY day. Well you can but I was starting to feel like an alcoholic as a glass of wine everyday for someone who used to be teetotal just feels odd so I stuck to the funny tasting sparkling water they also have here. My only issue was with the starter. Doesn't matter how many times I tell the landlady I don't like fish she nearly always offers me some fish dish and offers it me usually starting with the words "now I know you say you don't like this but..."

Tonight was no exception. Prawn cocktail for starters. I've never eaten a prawn in my life and these were HUGE! I ate it BUT if I said I had actually chewed a single one of them I'd be lying.

Dinner went on til well after midnight and the guests were there til at least 2am but I retired as wanted to get up and explore Paris on the sunday!

Luckily Sunday was as beautiful a day as Saturday so I walked the canal path to Esbly, hopped on the train to the Gare de l'Est then headed to the Gare d'Austerlitz for a wander along the seine. Now here I must apologise and stand corrected for my error in last weekends blog where I said I took line 6 to Bir Hakim to take in the view provided by the only train that goes over the seine. Well line 5 also crosses over the seine. Fail. But a lovely suprise fail for me at least :)

I had no set plan from the gare so when I spotted people heading into an area that looked like the entrance to the park I just went with it. Beautiful afternoon, no agenda... This is how I discovered le jardin des plantes. Perfect, I had no expectations today but if I had then this place was just what I was looking for.

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Hmmmm so going back to London and it's green spaces ;) I'll stop now I'm just being bitchy but I do love it here.

Here they had a zoo, labyrinth, botanical and medicinal gardens with all plants explained, geology, zoology and natural history museums are all here also.

Anyway I do love parks in cities they are extremely recreational and here people come to together to just enjoy themselves! Families were picnicking there were scout groups galore visiting, old friends, new friends, boyfriends, girlfriends it was such a lovely atmosphere so I sat on a bench to absorb it for a while.

Lazy Sunday afternoon:

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After I'd relaxed and wound my way through the labyrinth and inspected the flowers and watched the world go by I headed off to walk along the river as per my original plan. As I left le jardin and crossed the road I noticed a lot of police activity as they were blockading the road and then I noticed the skaters! Hundreds of people out on skates travelling round the city!

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Not sure how many participants there were but they were still arriving at the blockade as I walked away, there were individual skaters, couples, entire families and some had brought stereos along so they were playing music it looked awesome fun!

My mission however was along the seine.

Such a beautiful day

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Now what i was looking for today, when I first came to Paris for a holiday a couple of years ago I went on one of the river cruises and en route had seen an area that had steps built into it forming like a mini amphitheatre around which people with seemingly all the time in the world were sat, some had stereo systems blasting away and on the platform/stage part people were dancing.

I had always wanted to be one of those people sat on the steps, watching with seemingly all the time in the world, or maybe even one of the ones dancing, but just to have the time to do that as opposed to being on holiday so dashing about seeing the sights! Well today I wanted to find this place and I wanted it to be me so off I went hoping I'd gone far enough down the seine to find it.

Hmmm what's going on here then...? HERE IT IS!!!

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line dancing afternoon held by 'si seniors' a group for 'country seniors'. Obviously in for the long haul with their food (and of course wine...)

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Bit of night fever and yes in the background of this pic, that is one of the river cruise boats passing by on which I'd been sat in May 2008 which means; that person I was talking about earlier? The one sat on the steps watching the dancers, the one with seemingly all the time in the world... I'm now officially THAT person.

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Happy with my lot in life I wandered further down the river noting all the people socialising along the river bank as I went.

Parisian picnic essentials no. 1 a spot by the river (see opposite bank for further evidence this is the place to be) 2. Good company and 3. A baguette and last but by no means least (actually it's just a Parisian essential in general) no. 4 a bottle of wine. Usually red. Don't leave home without it.

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Bit like this guy (down n out Parisian style, a classy tramp; drink red wine, fall asleep under poster advertising alcohol, do you think they have a problem out here?)

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But then why wouldn't you picnic out here with this view of the ile de la cite, you cant pay for such a view from a restaurant! (well actually yes you can but I guarantee you it's considerably far more than the 3€ it will cost you for a baguette and a bottle of red will...)

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And in my wandering this is something i saw amongst many sights but I just loved this...

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Oh and this is for my mum having had a conversation with her that morning about their 25th wedding anniversary spent in Paris where she mentioned a man sat by nitre dame playing a squeeze box. As I said to her; "mum there is ALWAYS a little man by Notre Dame playing a squeeze box. Case closed:

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I headed down to St Michel and at this point received a text from Michelle to say she was on rue de Maine with the girls if I fancied joining them. That was a he'll yeah, so 20 minutes later I found myself on a sunday evening drinking a mojito outside a typical Parisian cafe bar in Montparnasse with an international bunch of girlies. I feel the return of my inner Carrie Bradshaw.

This is how my Sunday evening also ended as obviously as night arrived I waved goodbye to central Paris and Michelle and I were just in time for the 8pm train back to Esbly.

Good times indeed!

So now it's 4 days till my holiday plus have had a bit of an exciting turn of events in the housing situation for Michelle and I but seriously do not want to jinx it just yet. Just fingers crossed that something amazing (how much amazing is one person allowed in their life let alone a matter of weeks) is on the horizon. Will know by next week though.

Bon semaine to you all!


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