Friday, 7 June 2013

The Paris Diary: Les touristes

View from my room in Barbès
Today was the complete opposite of yesterday, I'm happy to say! I've now moved in with all my things (I thought I had too much but somehow, I've done a Mary Poppins and magically fitted everything onto my shelves and tiny wardrobe) and met my 3 flatmates. They're really really lovely, and quite honestly haven't had any trouble living in Barbès - despite the one pick-pocketing horror story from yesterday.

Before all that however, it was my first grand display of French in order to open a bank account. I went with the BNP Paribas close to my flat (that's a bank, not the "slightly" racist political party), but not before actually applying the age-old "ou est la banque?" that every french teacher in the land drums into their school children. A thank you is in order!

After spending a good 40 minutes in the bank discussing my account (which is in fact two accounts, that still need verifying via letters sent in the post across the road to my flat, to be signed and sent back across the road via post, along with more proof of identification and a standard 10 day delay before I get my card... Ah la France! The birth place of bureaucracy!) I left and had a quick leftover kebab for lunch (kinda gross, kinda nice) and then to finishing off unpacking.

After moving in it was onto some more exploration - stumbling into Montmartre, Abbesses (my new all-time favourite place to be, even if it's un peu plus cher...) and then accidentally some of the red-light district, spiced up with an odd wooden sword fight in the middle of a backstreet by a man and woman dressed in black (does anyone have any idea what this is about??). Then it was revisiting le Moulin de la Gallette, where we'd stayed close by on holiday 11 years ago (how I still have the memories I don't know!) and then climbing the grand old steps of the Basilisque du Sacré Coeur, whose, er, turrets I can see from my bedroom window.

Somewhere in that time I also:
La Basilisque du Sacré Coeur
  1. Bought the most delicious ice cream - two scoops, one melon, one mango - and I can't compare it to anything better than Remi's reaction to grapes and cheese in Ratatouille.
  2. Was asked by a little girl if I liked One Direction and I said they're not bad (I had to lie, I didn't want to break her heart) and she told me she loved me. All in French!
  3. I saw a woman's bag get stolen as she watched a street performer. It's clear to see that these people target tourists, or those easily distracted and unaware of their belongings/surroundings. Don't get caught out.
After all this I got home, washed and rested my poor worn out feet. I don't think I've ever climbed so many steps in one day ever. Bienvenue à Paris!

Tip of the Day: no matter how enthralling street performances are, always keep an eye on your stuff!

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