Thursday, 6 June 2013

The Paris Diary: Le voyage

The ferry before we set off from Folkestone, Dover
Today was possibly the longest day of my entire life - forget Midsummer's Day, travelling to Paris from a sleepy East Anglian town via ferry is now on my list of things never, ever, ever to do ever again!

Getting up at half-six to rush to pack everything in the car (and coming short of jumping up and down on the boot to close it), along with the hazy, unpleasant drifting in and out of sleep until we reached the white cliffs of Dover was just the start. With a slightly sicky feeling in my stomach it was goodbye England, but not without the slow sly torture of the Channel - walking like a drunk up and down the deck was only cured by the strong ice coffee I bought onboard.

To give France its due, once the humid clouds dispersed it was a sunny, 25°C run through the rolling golden fields until we got to Paris. The welcome we received was from the sprawling suburbs - la banlieue parisienne - was a different story; tower blocks dotted between standstill traffic and little shacks belonging to immigrants was an unhappy sight and the blank stares at us - les etrangers - didn't go unnoticed.

This dissipated into a colourful, heaving welcome from Barbés (18th arrondissement), where my flat is. People in the street became as arrogant as the French drivers, swarming around the backstreets as we crawled along and (I hate to say it) feeling a little too close for comfort. This was reinforced by the scary story from a girl I bumped into in my building, telling me about having her phone pick-pocketed on her first day in the city. Not a great start.

The Parisian rooftops from Montmartre
The flat itself is teeny tiny but not too bad. My room is as wide as the double bed in it - no idea how they got that in there! - but after my family treated me to a meal, I'm staying at their rented flat tonight. Let's just say that the price tag really reflects how lavish the place is in comparison to mine (just look at the view from the window!).

And so to retire to bed, achey and confused. A bonne soirée to you, dear reader.

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