Paris on a whim

Stumped as I was for something to do to celebrate my 23rd, when my mum ventured the idea of escaping to Paris for a bit of a mother-daughter holiday, I jumped on it.  It was literally booked about ten minutes later.

The weather was sunny and warm, and we walked around, ate lovely food, shopped, and visited a few places I hadn’t been before (and some places I simply love).

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Goat’s cheese salad – a must-have. Always good, and different in every café so you have a reason to just never not order it.

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Two patisseries that my housemate and I used to frequent on our study abroad year – we lived just down the road. The one on the left is sino-francais and doubles as a chinese takeaway 😛

Canal Saint-Martin

Canal Saint-Martin

Canal Saint-Martin

Canal Saint-Martin

Somewhere we visted that I hadn’t been to before was the Canal Saint-Martin, in the east of Paris.  It was packed along its edges with people enjoying the sunshine and browsing the boutiquey shops along the banks.

We stopped in a trendy crêperie for some caramalised apple goodness.

Sunbathers

Sunbathers

Someone get these Parisians a beach!

Sailing boats in the Jardin du Luxembourg

Sailing boats in the Jardin du Luxembourg

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I really recommend visiting the Marche aux Puces (flea markets) to anyone who’s planning on visiting Paris.  It’s easy to get to, just take the line 4 to Porte de Clignancourt on a Saturday, Sunday or Monday and follow the crowds.  There’s a massive market that’s sprung up around the edges of the actual market, make sure you don’t get fooled into thinking that’s what you’re looking for!  Head for Rue Rosiers, and Marche Dauphine, and explore from there (you can get a map from the website).  Track down some moules-frites for lunch 🙂

Early morning Seine

Early morning Seine

My favourite part of Paris, I think, is Montmartre.  We spent a good part of our last day ambling around, exploring the area behind Sacre Coeur that is remarkably void of tourists and very pretty, with little craft shops, a park and great views over the city.  I like the feeling of space you get up there – the rest of Paris can at times feel very hemmed in.

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I’ll be back.

A year abroad in a nutshell

So.  I’m in the last couple of weeks of my year abroad in Paris, and I can’t believe it’s nearly finished already.   Some of it has gone achingly slowly – the odd lecture, a paper that I couldn’t write – but most of it has flown by.

My time at Sciences Po began with the so-called ‘Welcome Week’ back in August, which would have been more aptly named had it been known as the ‘Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid Week’, where the concept of the problematique was introduced to us and we were given daily practice assignments.  The stress was remedied, though, with the bar-a-night events, which were a great way to meet people.

I settled in pretty quickly and the first semester went by.  We went to see the Christmas lights being turned on on the Champs-Elysées , and laughed at the patriotic but not really seasonal colour scheme, and completely failed to catch a glimpse of Audrey Tautou, who was switching the decorations on.  Christmas shopping in Paris was not as easy as you’d think, due to my not happening to be a millionaire.

It was nice not having exams to revise for in January.  I came back for semester two in the second half of the month, and for the first few weeks had not a lot to do.  My courses were easier.  Some of my friends had also left, after staying for just one semester.  But the work soon picked up, and now the teaching’s finished, although it’s only April.  I have one exam on May 9th and then I leave for good a couple of days later.

I’m trying to make the most of the last couple of weeks here.  In the past few days I’ve visited Chartres (and loved it), the Musée D’Orsay, and La Defense.  I have a host of other museums to visit, and day trips to take, whilst trying to squeeze in a bit of (much needed) revision.  It’s so nice having free time, even if my last class at Sciences Po was sad.  Now I just have a checklist of things I can’t possibly leave Paris without doing!

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