There are those moments in life where you are truly living ‘in the moment’, and then there are the times when you are just completely overwhelmed by/in awe of/truly gobsmacked by that moment you are in. I cannot believe I am living in Paris, buying groceries at outdoor markets every day, commuting to and from school like it’s completely normal and I’ve been doing it forever, giving tourists directions, and speaking in French as much as I can. A-freaking-mazing.
Class goes on, and our class has grown, with now 15 students in total, filling every available desk in the semicircle around the room. It turns out we have to pay for a fifth week in order to complete this *half* of the course of A2, so off I went to the registrar office to add another 5 days of class to my schedule. I have now been told by several ex-pats living in Paris that a) the French have never been good at communication, and b) if the French can figure out a way to make things more complicated (education and paperwork particularly), they will. I am finding this to be very true.
On the bright side, I have a change of venue as to my living arrangements. I have moved from the 10th Arrondissement across the river to the 5th. I have moved from a room in a family home (une maison d’hôte), to my very own apartment! It is a one bedroom (very luxurious for one person to have in Paris), an open concept kitchen (un cuisine américaine), a combined eating area/living room and a bathroom with shower and washing machine (which is so fantastic because going to a laundromat here is pricey)!! There is a darling little garden outside my bedroom, so fresh air and some greenery makes this an even lovelier spot. The apartment is in a very busy area. Very busy. For example, I had to say “excusez moi” to get in between people sitting at tables on the cobblestone street in order to get to the door of my apartment building with my suitcase and backpack when I first arrived. It’s a little funny to try to not knock over someone’s wine glass trying to get into your house. My street has numerous restaurants with outdoor tables and right now they have televisions set up so people can watch all the world cup games. So far the evening quiets down at around 2am. (Thank heaven for earplugs.)
But to backtrack, and share a bit about the days leading up to this move, I had fantastic adventures last week, with a visit to a market, The Centre Pompidou, and “Dinner at Jim’s” on Sunday night!
The Bastille Market is the best one I have been to so far, and as soon as I say that I have several other spots recommended to me, as always seems to be the case here in Paris. “Oh, you think that place is amazing? Try this place!” It was much more of a food market than clothing or housewares, and had a lot of fresh seafood. Everything you could imagine from crab to squid to oysters…. To frogs legs.
Lots of produce at better prices than in any grocery store I have been to. And some prices went down as the end of the day arrived. Lots of fresh food (meats, cheese, bread, pasta) from different cultures and countries as well. I had a lunch of warm sate chicken skewers, roasted tomatoes, and fresh melon for dessert.
The Centre Pompidou:
I had heard about an art installation in film at the Centre Pompidou by the video artist Christian Marclay called “The Clock” That I wanted to check out. It is a 24 hour film montage with thousands of time-related scenes from movies, where each scene contains an indication of time (for instance a watch or clock, or dialogue) that is synchronized to be in real time of the audience watching it. It’s unbelievable- not only is it edited brilliantly, there is a wonderful rhythm to how the various films relate and move forward cohesively.I watched just over an hour and then went to see what else the centre offered. There are many galleries there, and a great view of Paris from the top floor.
The largest exhibition seemed to be for Martial Raysse and was amazing modern art. It was a collection with pieces from his entire career (over many decades- from the 60s until now).
The portraits were my favourite part.
An afternoon walk, via some beautiful streets, fountains, and of course some tourist-heavy areas. Oh, and Les Halles metro station, which I do not recommend using (crazy/huge/busy/dirty).
Sunday night was Dinner at Jim’s! When I was researching ways to meet people in Paris I found a link to “Dinner at Jim’s”, and it sounded intriguing so I sent him an email asking for an invite. Jim is an American who has lived all over, worked in theatre, music, literature, among other things, and is now living in Paris. For the past 30 years, every single sunday he hosts a dinner at his atelier (an old art studio). Each guest brings some money to help pay for the food, and enjoy a night meeting new people. Some are living in Paris, some are just passing through. Some, like me, are meeting Jim for the first time, and some are old friends. There were over 50 people there and I talked with about 12 of them. The food was great and the conversation was better. It’s a fabulous time! I wish I had taken more pictures but I was too caught up meeting the most fascinating people. Jim has a lovely ‘apartment’ on the main level of a long unit of buildings with a good size kitchen that opens into a sitting room, and directly outside is a porch and then a grassy garden area where we sat for a good part of the evening. There was wine and beer and non alcoholic bevvies, and we were served a sort of American-Mexican theme dinner with broiled pork, beans, rice, guacamole, pineapple, and of course, bread. For dessert: cherry crumble and ice cream. I had a really lovely time and took the metro almost all the way home with several people I met at the dinner. I met 2 students (one from Scotland and one from England), two ukulele players on their way to a ukulele festival (!!) (one is a full time musician and the other is a nurse), a documentary film director from LA, a film writer and producer from the UK who wants to get into theatre, several Canadians (from Victoria, Winnipeg and Toronto), a journalist, a translator, a conductor, and a couple of wine shop owners. I am definitely going back. If you are ever in Paris and want to check out Jim’s dinner here is his website. http://www.jim-haynes.com/
So, back to the present. I am currently writing this at my kitchen table, with the sound of a live accordion playing La Vie En Rose outside my window to the restaurant patrons on the street, before I head out to enjoy La Fête De La Musique today with some free concerts.
Last night I went out with my friend Hugo to a bar to watch France play Switzerland in the World Cup. What an incredible game! I’ve been asked several times about how ‘my team’ was doing, and if I was devastated they were eliminated yesterday, since they thought I was British. I would laugh and say “What team? Canada didn’t qualify so ‘my team’ doesn’t exist here. I will be cheering for France because I am in France.”
I was so happy to cheer for France last night at the pub, surrounded by Parisians. It was so fun to be in such an intensely passionate group of people cheering and singing and chanting . I’m sure it’s like the playoffs of the NHL in hockey in Canada or the States in the hometown of the playoff teams. I loved it!!
walking around Paris after the game….
And late night metro (the platforms were only empty for about 30 seconds):
And on and on it goes! 🙂 I hope you have a great weekend!