“Muffy, would you care for a bit of brunch after tennis? I can make reservations at the Forsythia Garden Tea House.”
The concrete and constant rush of Paris became a little too much for us interns last week, and trains to the Riviera were booked for some beach time and relaxing. Little did we know, it is not always hot and sunny in the south of France, particularly when it isn’t actually summer… Arriving to Nice with bikinis and sunglasses but no coats, small boats or wellies was a rookie mistake, but we persevered and took to the Promenade des Anglais for a windswept and stormy first experience of the sunshine city.
If you want to see the police on roller blades or women cycling in heels whilst casually having a smoke, the Marais is the place to be. Home to Rue des Mauvais Garcons ie. “Bad Boy Street”, the famously gay district is also the Jewish quarter of Paris, so shopping on a Sunday in the Marais is also a posibilité!
This week is Paris fashion week, and in the name of all things fashion I set out to do some bargain hunting in the 4th, prowling the streets for vintage bargains and Parisian steals.
Although this fashion week is dedicated to women’s Ready to Wear lines, the price tags of these pieces have been posing questions more along the lines of “Are you ready to sacrifice eating, having electricity and a metro pass for the next 6 months?”. To the Marais it is!
Thrift stores, magasins vintage, kilo shops. Visions of shopping in the Marais may be in black and white, very chic, full of round rimmed sunnies and red lipstick, silk scarves and old school Chanel. Be warned, be serious and be prepared… Vintage trawls in the Marais are borderline dangerous and definitely competitive, the l’odeur wouldn’t exactly be described as fresh either. However, there are hidden treasures to be found and fought for, bargain baskets waiting for someone to dive into them, and don’t even get me started on the l’étage in Free’P’Star.
Whether you’re looking to simply experience the Parisian vintage scene or actually hoping to pick up a few thrifty pieces, get your ass to the Marais and look out for those baskets of bon cher berets and striped sweaters.
Where to go? Here are 3 must visits:
1. Hippy Market, 21 Rue de Temple, 75004
2. Kawaii Kilo Shop, 85 Rue Saint Martin, 75004
3. Free’P’Star, 20 Rue de Rivoli, 75004
Rain, rain and more rain in France this week, a great welcome for one of my oldest friends Niamh’s arrival in Reims. The weather didn’t put too much of a dampener on things though, and plans were quickly made for numerous outings including a soirée française and a weekend in Paris!
Leaving Reims by covoiturage with a local finance director who for the first 30 minutes of the drive cracked jokes about Iranian women, food, culture and weather and recommended a good YouTube video of something funny that happened in Iran, I finally realised my mistake. When saying I was from Irlande, he thought I’d said myself and Niamh were from Iran. Oops!
So we arrived in Place d’Italie with our broken suitcase and bought the wrong metro tickets (I never get it right), eventually making our way to the Hotel which we were a little wary of as Trip Advisor had warned us that the electricity was turned off at night, which thankfully was just a vicious rumour! Tour Eiffel, L’Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysées (where we found the giant pothole that almost lost me an ankle a few weeks ago), various museums and finally the 4th for dinner with a fellow Irish student filled our first day in Paris. It had been in the plans to go on the Erasmus boat, but after walking what seemed like the length of the Seine and not finding it, it was decided that it must have sank and we kept venturing on.
Disney was of course a magical experience filled with fairytale music, an abnormal amount of people wearing Minnie Mouse ears and what can only be described as giant plastic bags with hoods which I refused to buy (despite the rain) as they were €9. Space Mountain, It’s a Small World, Indianna Jones, you name it we tried it.. 10 hours of Disney later we were tired and all Disneyed out and slept the whole way back to the hotel, soaked through and full from our €10 sandwhichs (note to self, bring a picnic next time).
Another day out in Paris thanks to the extra long weekend (French bank holidays, once again I salute you) meant more walking and more metros and deciding the 3 hour line into the Louvre would not be worth it.. Plan B was the Galleries Lafayette which technically is also like a museum because everything is so expensive you can only look at things any ways, unless you have a spare grand hanging around for a pair of outrageous heels.
Back to the hotel to collect our bags, 27 metro stops and 2 changeovers later we were in East Paris awaiting our lift home. “The car beside the bus stop near the bank”, he said.. And of course there were 3 cars lined up with their blinkers on there. Made a lucky guess and off we were back to Reims with the funniest driver I have ever met. Taking no interest in me whatsoever, he absolutely loved Niamh and her name. After a lot of confusion and pronouncing “Niamh” as “Grieve” for a few minutes, the entire car was soon managing a very long and hilarious “Nnnnnneeeeeeaaahhhhvvvv”, which sounded a lot like an aeroplane taking off. “Nnnnnneeeeeeaaahhhhvvvv what do you do in France?”, “Nnnnnneeeeeeaaahhhhvvvv do you live in Reims?” “Nnnnnneeeeeeaaahhhhvvvv do you like kebabs?” “Nnnnnneeeeeeaaahhhhvvvv do you like chinese food?” “Nnnnnneeeeeeaaahhhhvvvv what do you like about France?”.
After being ignored for the majority of the journey I was informed, “Ashley you aren’t American because the only true Americans are native Americans and you’re not an Indian, and any ways, all Americans think that they’re Irish.” Of course this is where I tell them that “I am Irish”, not American (or Iranian) which leads to more laughter and a few more “Nnnnnneeeeeeaaahhhhvvvv”s.
After an adventurous weekend in the French capital which also happens to be the worlds capital City of Love, I can safely say my Parisienne experience has changed for the better. The city was fresher, the sky was blue, I wasn’t lugging around 60kg worth of baggage and I wasn’t fined on the metro! But 3 main aspects of Paris as a city really appealed to me.
Another week has come and gone and with it the sun – where did you go to this morning sun? But with this week has come some new knowledge (albeit extremely useless knowledge) as well as an ongoing struggle of living in a new city with a scattering of “culture shock” moments. All to be expected really!