Guess what, guess what…I’m finally on Easter holidays! Hooray! I feel like this semester has gone on forever (what with nine consecutive weeks of exams) and I’m excited to have a break before finishing up my academic year here! The exam dates have finally been released so I’m properly finished at the very end of May, then I have a month left to enjoy my beautiful adopted city!
Naturally we started our holiday with our weekly ‘hooray we made it to the end of the week’ celebration: Cake Friday!
In the past couple of weeks I’ve actually been quite poorly. And of course, since I wasn’t feeling well, all sorts of dreadful things started happening. Twenty minutes before the end of a class I started coughing, and the teacher told me that I should go because I was being disruptive. It struck me as a bit rude, but hey, c’est la France! So I thought she meant go outside, and I told her I’d get a drink of water and come back, but she told me ‘No, no, take your things, you’ve disrupted the class enough’ and sent me away! Then the following day I was walking home through the archways surrounding Place des Vosges. A homeless man (whose blankets are there most days even if he isn’t, he’s a familiar sight) was staring at me but I just kept on walking, not making eye contact, until he tore off the top of his baguette, looked straight at me and lobbed it at me. My French skills didn’t extend far beyond an affronted ‘Quoi?!’ but I’m not sure how I’d even react to that in English!
I finally went to the doctors on the Saturday, which wasn’t as traumatic as I’d anticipated. Katherine came along with me (thank you again!) which made the forty five minute wait better (and that was with two people having not shown up for their appointments). Despite the fact he was running very late, the doctor was very calm, very clear in explaining everything and didn’t act rushed in the slightest. I was actually really impressed- I feel like at home they’re always conscious of running late and they send you on your way as quick as they and often I feel like I’m wasting their time. So after diagnosing me with acute tonsillitis he wrote me a prescription and gave me all the forms I’d need for my insurance as well as a detailed medical report. It was actually some of the best customer service I’ve received in Paris!
I then got to go to a pharmacy to collect my prescription, which is always interesting for me having worked in pharmacies since leaving school. Anyone who has been abroad with me knows I love a chemist comparison, and I’ve never been to a country with more of them than France!
Deciding to go to the doctors fortunately meant I was feeling a bit better as the sun started to appear in Paris and I got another use of my Disneyland passport annuel on Easter Monday with my language assistant friends Chloe and Erin and their friend Lais.
Paris has suddenly become so much sunnier and warmer and it’s just wonderful and I’ve forgotten all about the cold, gloomy winter which preceded it. I love living somewhere which has seasons (and not all of them in one day!). As was the case in September though, the Parisians seem to struggle to dress for the weather. Last week it was 25 degrees and people were still in jeans, boots, coats and scarves. I was struggling with wanting to fit in with the Parisians, but also wanting to enjoy the sunshine! In the UK everyone would be wearing their summer wardrobes and barbecuing. I definitely don’t miss the displays of pasty flabby tummies which always goes along with sunshine at home; I’ve only seen a few topless men sunbathing here but they all looked as if they’d been waiting for the temperature to top 25 degrees so they could show off! For the most part though, the Parisians just seem to wear their April clothes even if they’re not getting April weather, which makes the metros and buses very smelly! Actually, speaking of buses, last week I was on a bus when the driver announced halfway along the route that everyone had to get off. I assumed there had been some sort of fault, but the girl in front of me asked the driver and it turned out that it was just time for his lunch break! So French…
And that wasn’t my only public transport trouble- last week when I was coming home from Babylangues I came up the escalators to exit the ligne 14 platform in Gare de Lyon, where I do a line change, only to find that there were policemen everywhere and the whole area was taped off and I couldn’t get to ligne 1. I tried to find out what was happening but there were a lot of angry, rushing French people who were probably more stuck than I was, as two of the trains linking Paris to the suburbs go through Gare de Lyon too. So I was evacuated along with everyone else (and I never found out why) and thought I’d just cycle back from there on a Vélib’. This seemed like a great idea until I got to the roundabout at Bastille which I had completely forgotten about!
Momentarily panicked, I went round some side streets until I could get to a wider flat bit of pavement.
Then I stopped to watch an adult rollerblading class which was just fascinating. What motivated them to start rollerblading? Did they aim to use it as a mode of transport or just in restricted areas? Did they always wish they had learned as children? Unfortunately they were all too busy to ask and I had to get back, but I did also spot plenty of other cyclists who were on the pavement instead of on the road, which made me feel bit better!
I’ve only had two Babylangues session this month since I was ill and I’m now on holiday. Benjamin was fine, as it was so sunny we went to the park and stayed there for most of the two and a half hours. Parc Bercy is quite big and is more of a park than a garden so it was great, we saw tortoises, had races up and down little hills and Benjamin collected flowers for his mum! Going back to the weather, the children in the park were all dressed for the sunshine and the heat, even if their parents weren’t, so people do obviously realise it’s warmer than usual! I was wearing a knee length flowy skirt and a tshirt, and when Benjamin’s dad saw me he went ‘Woohoo, summer is here!’ and I was just thinking ‘But yes, it is, it’s 27 degrees right now!’ We also had an interesting conversation when he asked what I was doing for the holidays. I told him I was going home for a bit, to see my friends and family and because it’s my boyfriend’s birthday. He asked ‘So you have a French boyfriend?’ and I thought he’d misunderstood me, and I was like ‘No, no, Craig is Scottish too, he lives near where I do’, to which Mathieu said ‘Oui oui, but do you not have a French boyfriend too?’ I laughed and tried to explain to him that in the UK you usually just pick one boyfriend, but he thought it sounded rather limiting! They’re all off to Florida for the fortnight, which is the first time Benjamin has been to an English speaking country, so I’m hoping that will make English seem a bit more useful to him. He likes knowing English and he boasts about it in the park when he meets new children, but he doesn’t like learning it!
Two of my best friends from uni visited me last weekend and we all had a fab time. Martha visited me in October and it was Cairstiona’s first visit to Paris.
We managed to pack in a lot for a short amount of time. It was also the weekend of the Paris Marathon. And of course, all 40,000 participants were running along the road we needed to cross!
I almost feel that by successfully crossing that road we were participants ourselves for a few seconds- we had to be very quick!
It was fab to have a visit, especially with the good weather on the Sunday. Luckily it won’t be long until I see these two again!
This weekend Katherine and I have been to the Bois de Vincennes and Parc de Sceaux. They’re both lovely and it’s easy to forget how close you are to the city!
The Bois de Vincennes is pretty big for being inside Paris and whilst it was full of people it was just so chilled. I will definitely be back soon as it’s only fifteen minutes by metro from me!
It’s also where we found this wonderful sign!
Parc de Sceaux is only about half an hour outside Paris on the RER but when you’re there you feel like you could be anywhere in France. My lovely pal Darren showed me it back in September and if he hadn’t I don’t think I ever would have found out about it!
While we were there Katherine spotted some beautiful blossom trees. We wandered over and were really confused as it was absolutely jam packed with literally hundreds of Japanese people! There were banners, there was music, there were people in traditional costumes, small children singing, people in manga/anime costumes, and handfuls of bemused looking French people who seemed just as confused as we were! I’ve just googled and it turns out that there aren’t many Japanese blossom trees in Paris, and so Parc de Sceaux was chosen as the location for ‘hanami’, which I gather is a party underneath blossom trees when they first bloom.
Later on we met up with another Edinburgh student who was in Paris for the weekend before she caught her train, which was lovely. I love hearing about everyone’s year abroad experiences, and she hadn’t been in uni or in a city like we had to it was really interesting to hear what she’d been up to! I finished up the weekend with a picnic by the Seine. Life doesn’t get much better than sitting watching the sunset over Paris with good company and cheap French wine!
For now, I have four exams and two essays and then I’m done with Paris VII at the end of May! I’m hoping all goes to plan, but the chances of that are slim…
My flatmate from last year is due to arrive tomorrow, and the plan is that she’ll fly back to Edinburgh with me on Thursday. I’m looking forward to going home and seeing my family and friends but I’m a bit reluctant to leave the sunshine!