As my time in Paris comes to an end…

Hi everyone!

Today, someone said to me that they were checking into tickets for the Foire de Paris, which if you have been reading for a year will ring a bell. It’s a big exhibition show in Paris in May. I almost fell over when I came to the realization that my time in Paris, the one year mark, is coming up very fast. The sun is out in Paris, it is beautiful, and some days are feeling like Summer and the evenings like Spring. All the things I loved about Paris when I first arrived are coming back like a flood- the hustle and bustle, patios filled with people, and music. I had a couple of months where I felt down on Paris and I think it was definitely the winter blues. Now that it is nice out again, and that I can open the window in my room things are feeling lovely. I am trying not to wish the time away, spending as much time out with my friends as I can, because I know I will miss them once I am gone. Of course, like I assured them, I will be back to visit.

I’ve been out and about with my new camera taking shots of whatever I can, random things I like, this orange bicycle for example. I am trying to learn the camera works and what it can do, but for the moment I am a bit useless with it. It needs time.

I’m sure there are plenty of you that I have not told about what I am doing after I leave Paris, so here is the plan.

At the end of April, no for sure date as of yet, I will be leaving to walk the El Camino (St Jacques de Compostella) pilgrimage which is about 800 km depending on the route and brings me from France into Spain. This should take me about a month, perhaps a little over. I am anxious to get started and can’t wait to see what it brings and whether I am capable of finishing it in one piece. I felt it was really time for a new challenge, and I wanted to travel by foot so  that I can gain an idea of what a long distance feels like. We are so fortunate to have planes, cars, trains and all that, that I think we forget that we also have legs.

I haven’t decided on my route yet, but when I do I will post it here. I will continue to post as I walk, and will do my best to keep you updated on what I am up to along the way.

After Spain, I will be popping back through Paris for a night and then heading via the Chunnel to London! I am on the hunt for a room now and will be visiting in a couple of weeks for job interviews and all that good stuff. I can’t wait to get there and become a Londonian (I’m really not sure if that is the term, but I like it!)

My life is about to take an enormous leap forward and I am trying to prepare myself, but all the while, I don’t want to wish my time in Paris away.

I had a lovely little musical experience on the metro the other night and thanks to my handy iphone I caught a recording for you. There was a guy and a girl standing on seats opposite each other, one with an accordion and then other a clarinet. They sang and danced and said many times they wanted no money and that it was purely for us to enjoy. It was lovely, and another reason why I will always love Paris.

 

http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F13171821 Paris Metro – Accordions and clarinet! by Specinthecity

Miss you all!

OX Spec.

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A tourist in Paris – Part 1

Hello everyone!

I know I have been MIA for a while, but since nothing particularly interesting was happening I thought I would wait to update you all when I had something fun to tell you about. This past week I was off work and my good friend Paul, who I met back in Halifax, decided to come and visit me in Paris.  We had made a plan to do 2 and a half days of Paris and then jet to Berlin for 3 days to see his friend Matt and to see the city. It turned out to be a jam packed week that was so much fun I am sad to say it’s over.

On Paul’s first day in Paris, we walked around, ate at a little cafe and went out for dinner with friends at an English pub (an odd choice of restaurant, yes). We waited until the following day to start our whirlwind tour of Paris. When I first arrived, 10 months ago, I spent a lot of time wandering the city alone, which means I now know a lot of places and how to get there on foot, but I avoided the touristy spots like the Eiffel Tower and The Louvre, because it just didn’t seem interesting to go alone. When Paul was here, it was my first chance to go with someone to see all the tourist hot spots and so it felt like a whole new city for me, only I knew how to get around.

We spent part of the day at the Louvre, walked to Notre Dame where we saw point zero – the centre of Paris, and attempted to go to the Catacombs (which sadly were closed). Upon finding out that they were closed, we abandoned our tourist sightseeing efforts for a glass of wine on a heated patio – one of the best things Paris has to offer, in my opinion.

We did so many tourist spots that I can`t even quite remember in what order we did things. We spent a half day at Versaille pretending we owned it, or at least letting Paul `pick out the furniture` for his palace back home.  Check out the throne he chose below.

 

We spent an evening at the Eiffel Tower followed by a visit to Scare Coeur to see the view of Paris by night.

Look how far we are from home!!!

  

 The three days went so fast and we crammed in as much of Paris as was humanely possible, that is if you are drinking wine while tourist-ing.  Paul was pretty excited about how cheap wine and cheese was, somehting I got over a couple of months after moving here, but I was happy to have someone to share all the good parts of Paris with. We were so lucky to have nice weather, with lots of sun and we survived living for 4 nights in my tiny apartment. What a week! I hope Paul visits me every year depending on where I live 🙂

Check out this link to Facebook for the entire album of photos. (You don`t have to have Facebook to see them)

Spec. 

A foggy day at the Eiffel Tower…

Hi everyone!

So this past week I had the opportunity to go up to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower! It’s been over 8 months since I arrived in this delightfully old world European city and this was the first time that I could really take it all in from above. I have been to several other areas, like Sacre Coeur, a church on a hilltop in Montmartre in the 18th arrond. where I have seen magnificient views of Paris, but there is something very different about being atop the Eiffel Tower. For one, it’s the only view of Paris that doesn’t include the famous tower itself. Since my camera is currently not working, I was forced to rely on my trusty iphone to take pictures, and it didn’t do too bad a job! I’m positive I will go back once the weather gets a little better and when I have my regular camera as well.

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I really loved going up the tower and it gave me a new outlook on Paris. It was nice to see it from above, a new angle to take it all in from.

Tomorrow I am heading to London for the weekend for a fashion blogger day so I’ll be sure to report to you on that just as soon as I get home.

Until then my trusty friends, take care and see you soon!

xo Spec.

Miss Tic @ Gallery W, Paris

Hi everyone!

I know you are all surprised to see me back so soon, but I wanted to share with you a little something that I did yesterday with a couple of friends.

 Up in Montmartre, on the Rue Lepic, which is a lovely place, full of interesting bars and shops, there is a gallery, called Gallery W that often has art exhibits open free to the public. We went to see an exhibit on Miss Tic, a female graffiti/tag artist in Paris.  Her art is hidden everywhere in Paris, on corners, in alleyways and on closed shutters of shops. Most of her work features pcitures of men and women with sassy French phrases about love written along side them. I took a few photos to share with you and you can see the rest here on facebook if you`re connected there.

It was a really great exhibit and here is a last photo of me in front of the gallery.

To add to the marvelous afternoon I was having, it was warm in Paris and the sun was shining atop the hill that Montmartre sits on. After visiting the gallery we sat on a patio outside an Irish bar and had warm drinks. I think this will be added to my list of favourite ways to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Cheers, les amis!

Spec.

Ps. I know I have changed the layout on this blog several times, but I am finding these layouts are often disorganized and hard to read. I think this is the best I have found yet and hope it`s easier for you all to read and enjoy 🙂

Back in Paris and feeling good!

Hello all!

I know you probably thought that I had given up on my blog, having not written in so long, but I assure you that is not the case. I am currently without internet in my charming little apartment, which means my newest past time is reading and drinking all the wine I originally purchased to bring home, but then didn’t bring home for fear of it breaking in my suitcase.  I am by no means complaining, because let’s face it, reading and drinking wine is not a hard past time – many dream of this being their only past time.

So I am back in Paris, gay Paris, the city of lights and love. I am feeling rejuvenated and have found a new love for my temporary home. After being back in Toronto for Christmas and having a break from all the hustle and bustle, and Christmas insanity of Paris, I am planning fun things for the rest of my stay in Paris. I think I have settled on the simple fact that Paris is the perfect city to visit and perhaps a less perfect city to live in.  Regardless, the clock is ticking on my amazing year in Paris, so I now have to make the best of it.

The past two weeks have been filled with fun activities. I have been out having drinks with friends, and spent a day celebrating la fete des rois at Thibaut’s house (which involved a large gathering with gifts and family and eating a galette des Rois – a pie filled with marzipan with a small figurine hidden in it. The person who gets the figurine is crowned King and picks a queen or vice versa if it’s a girl). click on the link above to see more about it – I’m thinking Canada should adopt a holiday like this, it felt like an extension of Christmas!

I have been out to see movies in the evenings, and have been attending events with my Cosmoplus girls, a group of plus sized girls who are working to change the face of the plus size industry in France, who also plan outings like comedy club nights, Salsa dance nights and craft days. We went and saw an open mic comedy night in French, which I must admit I wasn’t sure how much I would understand of it, but came out pleasantly surprised, having understood all of it! On top  of all that, it was very funny! It’s nice to hear people poke fun at the hypocrisy and silliness of daily life in Paris, the unnecessary impatience and rage of many Parisians on their way to work, be it in a car or in the metro no longer annoys me, because I can now laugh at it thanks to all the comedians I saw the other night.  What a relief!

Work is back to normal, although very busy, but I am still enjoying it. I will be sorry to say goodbye to it in less than four months time. I love the people I work with and I think will find it hard to find another group of people like that in future jobs, but such is life. This past Friday, we celebrated two birthdays in the office, with champagne, my homemade brownies, and of course a galette des rois. I always feel like I among family with everyone at work, because we have such a great time together.

For the new year, I am going to be going to London in February and am trying to organize a few other trips to keep my weekends busy. I will of course keep you updated on all those things as they happen. For now I am trying to keep my excitement contained for my trip to London, because I love London so much.

I am really going to try and take more photos as well this year, as I feel my blog is lacking in that department a bit – so please forgive me for that.

Before I leave you, I have to tell you about a book that I received for Christmas from my mum, called “A Year in the Merde” by Stephen Clarke. It tells the story of an Englishman who is sent to Paris for work for a year. I have not laughed out loud at a book this much in a long time, and for anyone who is interested in knowing the big truths about living in Paris, I would highly recommend it. I zipped through many a chapter laughing and agreeing with all the experiences that I too had had in Paris that at the time frustrated me but now can laugh about. He has put into words what every foreigner living in Paris has been unable to in the past.  You can see more about it here

I will be back soon with more photos and updates, I promise! Wishing you all a happy new year and all the best! Hopefully you are still keeping up your resolutions!

Take care!

 

Spec.

 

 

Winter in Paris…

As I sit in my office, the one at work and not at home (evidently), I am watching snowflakes fall and catch on the wirey branches of the trees down on Avenue Montaigne. Dior, Louis Vuitton and Harry Winston look  a touch more magical with a little snow on the ground outside. I know what Paris looks like in the winter from postcards, actually, I know what the Eiffel Tower looks like with snow on it – now I know what it looks like for real.  Of course it is blustry and wet like any city, just because it`s the city of love doesn’t mean it gets any less slush and cold than the shoulder of the I195 passing through Buffalo – winter is winter plain and simple. Regardless, from a window atop the 5th floor, the city does have a certain je ne sais quoi…

So far, it has mostly been chilly out, with the odd miniature snow squal, if we can call it that.  The things that make Paris magical in the winter are the markets and the traditions you can see unfolding all over the city. I visited the winter market on the Champs-Elysées, where I drank “vin chaud” (hot red wine – mulled like a cider) and saw the official lighting of les champs for the season. I was honestly hoping it would be more moving than it was, but nevertheless it was beautiful.

At Concorde, there is a giant ferris wheel, almost like a mini London Eye, that you can ride and see the entire city from the top – it is on my list of things to do before I come back to Toronto mid-December. It looks amazing from where I walk most days – so I took a picture for all of you to see.

I think most of us would agree that with Christmas comes famimly and this year I am far from mine for the moment. Just when I needed a little break from the city and the commotion,  I went to visit my friend Thibaut’s family, who always take me in like their own and make me feel at home.

On the weekend, when I visited, I spent a good part of the day doing little things with Thibaut’s mum. She made us all a delicious lunch, and then took me to see this famous Russian cemetary in Sainte-Geneviève-des Bois. It was beautiful, with all of the Orthodox crosses, flowers and religious momentos , like coloured eggs and miniature crosses in little windows built into the graves. There are princes and princesses buried in this cemetary as well as many Russian writers. More notably, Noreeve, the famous dancer is buried there, and the grave is magnificient. A tapestry created from mosaic tiles covers the grave, fresh flowers and even a pair of worn out ballet shoes from a  fan lay all around the grave. This cemetary, unlike others that I have visited,  had a very peaceful ambiance, almost welcoming.

To continue with the religion themed visits, we made a quick stop the La Grotte de Sainte-Genevieve. I had no idea what a grotte was, but was very happy to have found out.  For those of you like me prior to my visit, a grotte is like an underground space where people go to pray, light candles and thank  god or a sainte for example.  We walked in through a dark tunnel, and at the end, was a corner filled with candles lit in rows and circles, religious icons, thank you letters and flowers. A park bench sat in front of an enormous tree, a tree that has grown so tall and old that it has busted through the roof, forcing them to remove it.  I can understand why someone would come here to think or pray, it is, despite being just off a busy street, a very peaceful and beautiful space.

Once back at the house, I sat by the fireplace to warm up, and to my surprise, Thibaut’s mum and dad brought out a bowl of chestnuts they had picked a couple of weeks prior. We prepared the iron pan and for the first time ever, I roasted chestnuts. It was a day of firsts. I then tasted roasted chestnuts for the first time, and am in love with them. They are so delicious and smooth to eat. It is a bit of a process to get to the step of eating but definately worth it. We never see this in Toronto, or Halifax for that matter, but in Paris, roasted chestnuts can be found all over the city, sold by guys on the street with shopping carts padded with embers and pans atop the embers with chestnuts roasting slowly. It certainly makes Paris smell delicious, which I can assure you is a welcome change.

An Interactive Feature! Hooray!

So as promised, I am back with a little treat. You can set aside your reading spectacles and put on your listening caps! I wanted to give you a little taste of what the Paris metro is like on a really good day. Don’t worry, you wont be mugged, so you can keep your phones out in the open and relax, I promise it will be a good experience. 🙂

Imagine yourself in an old metro car, where you yourself have to unhook the latch for the doors to open, people all around you speaking French. It smells of cigarette, a mix of perfumes, and let’s be honest a slight whiff of urine. You are seated facing someone you don’t know and a gentleman with a speaker and a clarinet steps onto the train. Here is what happens next (please make sure your speakers are on before pressing play) :

 

For those of you who are interested, I took a little recording using my trusty iphone as I usually do and all the surroundings described are 100% accurate. Would I lie to you!?

xo

Spec.