I actually live in France (Paris) full time now. My first taste of the French capital however was back in 2011, where I moved to the Parisian commune of Poissy as part of my year abroad, a requirement of my degree with the University of Warwick. Here’s a picture of central Poissy, where I lived for about 6 months:
I’ve decided to reflect back on this time as it was not only my first time living abroad, but also my first entry into the world of blogging. I recently stumbled across my old Tumblr page, in which I had thought I would document the exciting adventure of living in a foreign country. Naturally, I only committed to writing about 3 posts, sporadically spread over my time in the City of Light. I think I will definitely write a more in-depth post about my year abroad at some point, but for now I thought I would copy and paste my contemporaneous writings on the matter, for your amusement:
1. I have arrived!
I have settled into a little commune in the academy of Versailles, kindly situated on the RER line for easy access into Paris. I decided to explore the area and quickly realised that it will not be long before I am mowed down by an angry Frenchman (or woman) behind the wheel of his Citroen. In France, it seems, the zebra crossings are merely there for decoration rather than any pedestrian-friendly reason, and the French do not take kindly to those on foot trying to use their roads. Needless to say I had to wait at least 5 minutes at every crossing before I could continue my journey. (N.B. My French boyfriend later told me that you have to just ‘walk out’ into the road, or they will never stop. Such a good system). It is also hard to adjust to the hot weather in France at the moment (despite it being the end of September). This is made harder by the fact that I was highly pessimistic about the French climate and chose to pack my finest winter clothes and not much else. Therefore I decided to take refuge in the nearest supermarket in the cold aisle of dairy products.
…I ended up buying more than I had anticipated (which had been nothing at all) and seemed to have forgotten the rather long walk home- all uphill, of course. So after a few breaks, I managed to lug my shopping home and took a nice sieste to escape the heat for a while.
In fact, I am lucky to be writing this entry at all as it took me about a day to connect to the WiFi in my little rented room. It turns out the landlady had told me the wrong name of WiFi to connect to. Instead of “Free WiFi” it was “Freebox” ….A reason the French should not use the English language- as it is not free at all.
Paris- a city full of art, beauty and culture that I decided to descend upon today. After a promenade along the Rue de Rivoli, I realised that everything was far too expensive for someone with a moderate-sized wage such as myself. One can always judge the wealth of an area in Paris by the price of their croque monsieur, which on this ‘chic’ little strip was extortionate.
Deciding that I had then soaked up enough culture in the Jardins des Tuileries, (well partly that reason, and partly because several amorous French men with a bit too much vin on the brain had taken an unhealthy interest in me) I went off in search of more Parisian delights to tingle my intellect.
I ended up in the local British pub.
Yes, that’s right. After having traveled 213 miles from London to Paris I managed to find the most British thing I could lay my hands on- bulging beer bellies and rowdy men all inclusive. Somehow it was a breath of fresh-air from the serious and arty Parisian exterior. This was a sort of boozy paradise where I could feel right at home- without too many French men ogling me. Although, without the creepy french men- well, it just wouldn’t be France.
Today I had two particularly shady characters in my company as I read a book by a fountain in the Tuileries. One of which declared that he was 28 (he clearly had at least 10 years on this) and wondered if I was into older men (for the record- I am not, especially when they look like they have stepped out of a failed 90s boyband.) The other told me how he was working at Paris Fashion Week and then smiled with worse teeth than your American stereotype of a Brit. In fact, he barely had any teeth at all and clearly had not stepped foot near any sort of fashion whatsoever. However, it was a good excuse to practice some of my french (which is my reason for being in France- minus the perverts, though). It is a shame that phrases such as Casse-toi or ta gueule didn’t pop into my mind…
Note to self: lose the apologetic Brit mindset and take-on some sassy frenchness…
When I arrived in France I had every intention to keep and maintain a wonderfully written blog documenting my stay in gay Paris. I managed to compile a grand total of 2 blog entries since stepping off the Eurostar. I would like to say that this was because my time was filled with snail eating, wine drinking and french kissing- But this wouldn’t be true. Well, not entirely…