Today, Rory and I visited the Animaleries on le Quai de la Mégisserie, along the Seine. The Animaleries are Pet shops, but not just any pet shops as they also sell dogs! Most are puppies and quite small, but there are some who are fully grown and kept in tiny cages. It’s heartbreaking. And they’re not cheap either, ranging from about 600 to 1700 euros!! They obviously had other animals from ferrets to baby hamsters – which were very cute, but these animals don’t need the space to exercise like a dog does. It was difficult to see them cooped up and pawing at each other through the glass and I wish I could have taken one home!
On saturday, I went to visit Shakespeare and Co. After having read of Hemmingway’s visits in ‘A Moveable Feast’ during La Belle Époque, I was very excited about seeing this bookshop. It was exactly how I imagined it – full of books!! The original shop closed during the German occupation of Paris and never reopened, so this one was opened much later in 1951 by George Whitman in the 5th arrondissement on the left bank. It was a small shop full of different little spaces and passages, white washed walls and exposed wooden beams. Books were piled up on every table and every shelf, you’re totally surrounded and feel as though they are cascading over you in waves…
It is mainly classical english literature, but also specialized subject books and an upstairs which features a reading room of old books and also a discussion group which come together every week to discuss a book. The shop was very busy, and hearing english spoken all around you was an odd feeling after being surrounded by french for the past month. I was suddenly very conscious that most of the people there could understand everything I was saying! It would have been nice to buy a book, but they all seemed quite pricey about 11 euros plus mainly. The internet with the likes of Amazon now allow us to access any book from all over the world so there is less of a need for foreign book shops like these. But I was happy to see that it still seemed popular, and people still flooded there because of its history and of course iconic sign and shop front.
On tuesday night we went to L’Oya. A café/bar where you can go, pay €5 and choose from a range of about 500 board games collected over the years from all around the world. You stay as long as you want, or until they chuck you out at midnight. The guy who owns it is obviously a board game fanatic and he loved recommending a game and explaining it and checked to see how we were getting on. We played this weird game with cards and symbols where the aim is to get your team of pirates onto the boat first. I won!!! Then we played this other game called Bazar Bizarre, involving grabbing the correct item depending on which card was shown – hard to explain but fun. Georgia won that one! It was a nice place, fairly simple but could be hours of entertainment i’m sure, and just a 10 minute walk down the road from me, at the métro ‘les gobelins’.
Yesterday I had my first taste of rabbit. We found a little french restaurant tucked away near Bastille. It was nice actually, tasted quite like chicken! I also finally got my bank card today which is exciting! – But stil can’t order my french phone contract as I don’t have my internet code. Nevermind!
Today I went to the bank, and finally received my RIB (a piece of paper with all my details on it basically) which I have been waiting for for weeks! The school secretary will definitely be happy when I give it to her tomorrow, she’s been posting ‘Urgent’ post-its on my pigeon-hole practically every day since I got to my school asking for it. The whole french banking experience has been a bit of a nightmare, I tried to skip it all by opening a french bank account in england before I left, but that seemed to make things harder as they managed to lose my application along the way. Mum and I have spend hours in HSBC figuring it all out, but this week I should be finally set up (as soon as my internet banking code arrives at Valley road that is!) It wasn’t so bad at the bank though, because this week there’s a mini-heatwave. Today was a glorious day, and my bank is on the Rue de Rivoli and next door to this, Hôtel de Ville…
Last night was my first night at my new home for the next 9 months. I’m living in the 13th arrondissement of Paris with a young girl and her mother who are both french. So here begins my very rapid descent into the french language and french way of life!
My first few weeks in Paris have been fairly hectic trying to sort a bank account and finding a place to live, but also quite parisian. I’ve spent a lot of time eating pain au chocolats, baguette, cheese and drinking coffee! I have been living in Boulogne with Georgia for the past three weeks out of a suitcase, so it feels good to finally have all my clothes unpacked! We have been to a few touristy spots, including La Tour Eiffel of course, some markets and La Musée D’Orsay, but i’m keen to do everything here!
First impressions of Lycée Jules Ferry are good, I only work three days a week which means wednesday and thursday form a little midweek weekend which is nice. I havent yet taken an entire class, I am sent off with maximum 5 students from each class just to have english conversation with them. I’m mostly listening to them doing presentations and grading them. Most of the students are friendly and interested in english, but a few aren’t so much and find speaking in english challenging. The school itself is beautiful, very old. Each classroom has a different original mural on the walls and the floors are mainly made up of detailed mosaics. As well as being an old school they also have smart boards in most classrooms, so its a nice mix of old and new.
Yesterday I packed up all my many bags and took a taxi to my new apartment! Georgia helped me to move and unpack, and my room is now feeling very home-y, with my beautiful duvet covers from Pandora! (my bed is a sofa bed but a very comfy one and its huge, my double bedsheet wouldn’t fit on!) After living in Boulogne with my friends which felt more like a holiday than the start of my year abroad this feels more like the start of my new chapter..
This morning, Claire’s mother showed me the weekly market just across the road from our apartment. I was told that some stalls aren’t good, but there are about 3 or 4 good commercants. It was a lovely market and I intend to go again though probably won’t make it there every week.. Today, I went with Rory and Adam to Marché Richard Lenoir which was good, loads of food stalls displaying all sorts of meat, vegetables and fish, and even live snails!! Since it was lovely and sunny today we also went to the Marché aux puces de Montreuil, which was very busy! It was on the outskirts of Paris and consisted of loads of second hand clothes, hardware, some new clothes and then the occasional ‘brocante’ stall. Most of it was tat, but I bought a curtain for my window. We then walked over to the ‘Quartier de Jussieu’ and had this delicious lebanese street food at ‘Chez Hanna’ who makes supposedly the best falafel in the world!
Now just preparing for the next week at school ahead: week 3. Friday marks the start of a 2 week holiday which will be fun and I am really looking forward to exploring more of Paris and settling in.