Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Going Underground

This guy.
I don't think this will come as a shock to anyone when I say, it's been a while since I've updated anything online. Blog, twitter, facebook... the lot. For now, I'm deactivating facebook, and I won't be updating this little space either (I've always been a bit of an on-off blogger, and I think it's come to the point where I prefer reading other, more dedicated blogs than creating my own). I'm having way too much fun in Paris, so I don't really have the time to post all about it on here. However, if you do want to get hold of me, I'll still keep my twitter open for the odd tweet or two, and instagram as I can't resist a good peruse. You may or may not see more of me on there. To my dearest friends and family, I'm pretty sure you have my personal email address/phone number, but if not, email me using the one provided on this site and I'll get back to you. x

Sunday, 30 June 2013

The Paris Diary: La guerre 'fait maison'

Everyone around the world knows that La France is the country of food - and not just for food producers, but of beautiful recipes and astonishing chefs. France is second only to Japan for Michelin star restaurants, so it comes with no surprise that any threat to its food industry is a matter of grave importance.

I am of course referring to possibly the best projet de loi that has come out in a while from the French Government - its attempt to curb fraudulent "fait maison" (homemade) meals in restaurants in France. I think we've all experienced it at some place or another where we've ordered a pretty pricey, intriguing sounding meal only to be rewarded with a stale microwaved meal. Thankfully, the French have had enough, and are now well on their way to passing a law against any such act on meals labelled "fait maison".

I for one am all for this. Food fraudsters everywhere better beware! A microwave is no way of cooking food in France, let alone selling it. I'll let you know when this comes into practice!

Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Paris Guide

The Eiffel Tower by YW Photography
It's been a little while since I posted about my adventures in Paris, but that's mainly because I've been working my socks off at work! There have been some midweek escapades however, but having not taken many photographs I have to say it'd make for some very dull blogs! Instead, I've created my Paris Guide of places I've been and things I've seen that I would recommend to anyone visiting or living in the city. I may have only been here for three weeks but it's already growing!

So if you're visiting the city of love as a holiday, or moving here on your placement, or even just living in Paris, take a look at my recommended places to go and events to experience!

I also would like to add here a little thank you to the wonderful Yasmin of YW Photography who let me use her stunning picture of the Eiffel Tower above. You can visit her website at to see many more beautiful photographs or even book a photo shoot!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

The Paris Diary: Fête de la musique

Summer Solstice at Stone Henge, England
Yesterday was Midsummer's Day; Summer Solstice; whatever you want to call it. In England, this usually comprises of someone going "Oh, here comes the winter then, we're back on the downhill path, etc." and a few gypsy/hippy/pagan people gathering at Stone Henge, as depicted, right (taken from The Telegraph).

But not in Paris. Oh no! This Midsummer's Day marked the annual Fête de la musique, happening on June 21 in Paris ever since its introduction in 1982 by Maurice Fleuret (Director of Music & Dance) under Jack Lang (Minister of Culture). Apparently he found that 1 in 2 children in France played a musical instrument, and so Fête de la musique was born as a way of encouraging both professional and amateur musicians to take to the streets! It was so successful that it's now celebrated across a number of other countries (pull your socks up, Great Britain!).

Timbao on the night of Fête de la Musique
As for my night out, it consisted of bopping around Montmartre and Pigalle to drum orchestra Timbao, a DJ set outside Café Chappe, a death metal band, a tiny acoustic group, a man playing violin to house music outside Zazabar, an excitable ska band in Omnibus Café and then sashaying my way home past some great salsa music and through the crowds of Parisians dancing on the streets.

The most striking thing about it all was the pure happiness everyone, everywhere. Friends across the city told tales of the exact same thing; everybody dancing and smiling, cheering on the cars and bikes trying to get through their dancing bodies, applauding the residents who came onto their balconies to watch the makeshift dance floors that were the streets and alleys.

Tip of the Day: If you're ever around Paris in June, make sure it's June 21st!

Friday, 14 June 2013

The Paris Diary: La première semaine

Paris Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie - Avenue de Friedland
Despite the earlier mornings and later evenings, my first week in Paris has flown by! I'm settling in at work - the team are really friendly, the office culture is easy to pick up and the building I work in is amazing (let's just say I work on Avenue de Friedland... if you know Paris, and/or it's proximity to the Arc de Triomphe you'll know how posh it is!). I'm shadowing another student currently and she's been really kind to me as I'm still ironing out the kinks in working in an international business - the constant switches in language being my toughest task. My job comprises of scouting for news our clients will be interested in, so this means reading a lot of newspapers and websites (in both English and French) and sending out newsflashes and newsletters. Basically, lots of news!

Aside from work, I've been discovering a little more about the area I'm living in (I'd like to say Montmartre, but I'm two streets away from that... welcome to Barbès!). So far there's been no direct hassle, even with the "light" collision directly outside our flat, the roof of the shop next door falling down and the constant offering of fake cigarettes by illegal street vendors. Other than that, I've enjoyed a visit to the greasy friend chicken shop nearby (the legendary Chicken 75), then making homemade fried chicken with my flatmates and their friends and meeting the little old lady across the hall (even if that was because I sounded like I was bashing our front door down when my key got stuck...).

So, to round up this week, here are the top five things I've discovered so far:

1. The Distinction in Arrondissements
Steak and Chips
This is something I was warned about before I came to Paris, but it was more in reference to the architecture than anything else. In fact, it's pretty easy to discern which arrondissement you're in just by looking at the style of people's clothes and the price of a main meal in the surrounding restaurants. For example:

1st (Pont Neuf): blazers, tight jeans, patent leather brogues; 79,95 € for a three course meal and drinks
7th (Eiffel Tower): a random mix of foreign tourists and their clothes; 19,60 € for steak and chips with a soft drink
8th (Champs-Élysées): black shift dresses, silk scarfs, stillettos; 4,25 € for an M&S prawn mayo sandwich
18th (Barbès): cultural dress, socks and sandals; 6,50 € for a fried chicken meal

2. Work's Canteen
What a life saver! With my best intentions of avoiding the abovementioned expensive prawn mayo sandwiches, I brought in a packed lunch for my first day of work. No need! The canteen, serving quite a workforce, clearly benefits from economies of scale - 2,25 € for an amazing chicken and egg salad, with of course the usual free bread (bread is apparently free in all of France when served with a main meal), free carafes of mineral water, free salad dressings, olives, pickles etc. and only an extra 32 cents for a good amount of brie or a natural yoghurt. It's my new favourite place to eat.

3. The Weather
Even with England a stone's throw away, it's pretty clear the weather in Paris is definitely different. I'd say much more decisive - if you wake up and it's cloudy, it'll be grey skies all day. If you wake up and it's sunny, it'll be brilliantly bright all day.

4. The Architecture
A pretty obvious one, but it's worth a mention. Everywhere in Paris is beautiful. Everywhere within the 20 arrondissements is sculpted, carved and built with more flair than any other city I've been to.

5. Apples & Pears
The best foody thing I found this week was a cross between a yoghurt and a compote, in the form of mashed apples and pears. I think the closest thing in England is the same flavour of baby food, but here, it's actually acceptable to eat. And they're really, really tasty!