Dear Santa’s: a few of you have been asking for my postal address. Something I didn’t expect. If you would like it please just send me an email or if you follow me on twitter send a dm. I would like to put it up here…but thanks to my stalker I think it is best kept hidden for now.
I arrived in Paris on Wednesday the 14th of October. The next morning, after sleeping like a log, I only briefly went out. That was to check out my local farmers market “Marché Maubert” which is on every Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday and this is where I got most of my fresh produce while I was there. It is also in front of a strip of specialty shops including a cafe, Boulangerie/Patisserie – Biologique (Organic Bakery/Patisserie), “vins” (wine shop), fromagerie (cheese shop…*drools*), Poissonnerie (fish shop), Charcuterie (pork shop – it is a bit like a deli…but only pork products), boucherie (butcher…who also did a great rotisserie chicken!) & marchand de légumes (greengrocer). With these shops, (which were also just above the metro) and the markets & the supermarket in my street I was set.
My very first Paris croissant…nothing here can compare
I managed to use a bit more French that day. Though had an epic fail with trying to understand one of the people at the market when I was trying to buy potatoes. I ended up giving her my purse and hoping she didn’t rip me off (she didn’t…I was trying to give her 5euros for something that was 50cents).
I spent the rest of the day recovering in my apartment and trying to figure out what I was going to do in the coming days. I ended up making an awesome prawn fettuccine from the local produce and then hit the hay early.
The original Sennelier store – where Sennelier & Picasso invented the oil pastel
Day 3 was mostly errands. I had to get a French sim card and cash and some stamps and some postcards and some more groceries for the things I had overlooked (like toilet paper) the day before. I got totally lost (AGAIN) and had so much fun wandering down random streets and finding random shops to look at. Eventually I realised I had gone waaaaaayyyy past my intended route so I headed down to the Seine and headed to Sennelier. I had me some oil pastels to buy. Of course I was yet to adjust to the French shopping hours and found myself at a closed store in the middle of the day. The only things nearby open were cafe’s. It was raining (and I hadn’t packed an umbrella) so I thought I should find somewhere to sit out of the rain and I was feeling peckish…
I stopped by this adorable little french cafe and got the soupe du jour. While inside ordering I discovered on of my favourite things about France….
Meet Leo…my very first French friend. We ran into each other 3 more times that day…
DOGS! Dogs are allowed everywhere in Paris. It was awesome. There was always a puppy friend to play with. And the dogs didn’t care what language I spoke. My building was also filled with dogs…but I didn’t realise how many til I was almost leaving. They are so quiet. The only time I ever heard them was when they were going up and down the stairs.
By this time I was picking up a little bit of tourist French. I had my greetings down and “Je parle un peu français” (I speak a little French). This was one of the phrases that made the French smile at my terrible accent, appreciate I had given it a go and offer to speak in English.
I enjoyed my bowl of soup sitting outside. It was raining, but covered. I just love the rain and there was no one else outside so I didn’t need to try to make conversation….or get suffocated by someone smoking.
Upside to Paris: Dogs.
Downside to Paris: Lots of smokers
After my delicious lunch sitting in the rain and watching Paris go by, I managed to duck into Sennelier. Of course the oil pastels was why I was there. So hard to not buy them all as there were so many amazing colours. But sadly I couldn’t find a decent set of water colours. Just down the road I came across “Charvin” another Paris born art supplier. Here I found the most beautiful watercolour tins (coated in enamel) perfect for travel. With the help of the guy behind the counter I put together a palette of my own. Sadly his eftpos was down and I had to go find some more cash. When I got back he had snuck some extra watercolour pans in as an apology.
My first souvenir from Paris: My custom watercolour palette from “Charvin“
After dropping a significant amount of money (for me) on my watercolour palette I headed off to get my french sim card sorted. The owner of my apartment sent me to Bouygues (the store I went to was 13 Boulevard Saint-Michel in the 5th) I asked for “Francine?” (or maybe it was something like Franzia?) and within 10 minutes I had a working french mobile. WITH DATA! I got the “Carte XL” for 2 months (I only needed 1 month, but for 20 more euros I got 2 gig of data instead of 500mb on the 1 month). The service was excellent and I could check my balance online without having to try to understand the voice prompts (in french) if I called. You can find their plans HERE
I didn’t do much again until the Sunday night. Way back when I was first looking at going to Paris (back before I had my nervous breakdown and lost everything…back when I worked and had money) I had found a link to “Jim’s Dinners” and bookmarked it. I don’t remember bookmarking it, but I do remember finding it again back in January when I booked my trip. Jim is a writer, born in the US, who hosts a Sunday night dinner party every week in his Paris atelier. Every Sunday, for the last 30 odd years, he has had a group of random people in his home for a dinner party. All you have to do is email and put your name on the list.
Being an introvert and socially awkward and terribly anxious about meeting new people…well this night was HUGE for me. And it was one of the best things I have ever done in my life. If you are ever in Paris on a Sunday night this is an absolute MUST DO!
After standing awkwardly for a bit, I introduced myself to the lady next to me, Jenni (then attached myself to her for the rest of the night). We were talking about who knows what when this guy comes up and looks me dead in the eyes and says “I know. It’s the eyebrows”. I look at Jenni confused and she shrugs. He is still staring at me really intensely…”You can touch them if you like”. WTF? Jenni was sniggering away. The guy then at least attempts to explain “Argentinians are known for their amazing eyebrows”. Then again he asked me to touch them.
Now here is where I have to put in a side note…those who know me, know I love a good eyebrow. In fact more than a few times I have told the lovely Andi that I want to make out with her eyebrows. But I think we can all agree making a (mostly) joke to your friend is a bit different to a strange guy coming up to you and wanting you to touch his eyebrows…
Then dinner was put out so I moved away and got some food. A few ladies ended up sitting in the stairwell with me. A beautiful, silver fox named Sarah. She is English, living in Paris as a translator. Speaking 3 languages professionally and many others casually. I asked her out. Sadly she was straight. Jenni, a former film producer in Paris for 6 weeks to study at “L’Ecole Lessage“. A lady from scotland who was in Paris couchsurfing and trying to pick up as much French as she could who taught me how to say “Désolé. Je suis une lesbienne” (came in handy!) and the lovely Tamra from the south (USA) with her amazing accent. HI TAMRA! (she follows me on twitter now…so she has seen the blog).
Miss Fairchild: Photo taken on my phone by a lovely lady named Jenni who introduced me to the world of “Lesage”
As it got later the eyebrow guy came over and got handsy with a few too many of the ladies who had gathered there. He seemed tres disappointed when I refused to let him kiss me good night. And mentioned that everyone else let him…sorry buddy, if they all jumped off a cliff I wouldn’t follow them (unless we were all trying to get away from him!). For awhile there I *think* a guy was hitting on me. He was dressed in a snazzy vintage sharkskin suit and perfectly draped scarf and I was dressed up (as I usually am) and he comes up and compliments me on what I am wearing. Not terrible…but he literally stood in between me and the person I was talking to in order to “compliment me”. I was also sitting in a group having a group conversation, but he only was asking me questions. I felt so awkward. I would answer his questions then turn back to the group. Then he kept correcting me when I would introduce him to others. I would say “this is *whatever his name was* and he is from California” and he would interrupt and say “Long Beach, California”. I don’t know how many times that night I heard the words “Long beach” but they were almost as frequent as his bragging about his rolex, his cuban cigars and his “very VERY” expensive skarkskin suit. Also he wore sunglasses the whole time. It was night and we were in a dark stairwell…and the light in that stairwell kept turning off automatically every minute or so. He hung around for ages, interrupting me frequently, til I was telling someone my coming out story. I never saw him again.
Then it was time to hit the road. I overheard Jim talking to someone giving them directions to the nearest metro station. I said she could walk with me. She was a director at a marketing firm from New York. Here to direct a short film for some magazine. We talked about random stuff. Then her ticket wouldn’t go through at the metro and the rest of the group had just kept going to the platform but I waited for her. I am always left behind and it freaks me out and I didn’t want to do that to her. She gave me the most beautiful smile when she realised I had waited for her.
We kept chatting on the platform and then she sat with me on the train. She was wearing one of those puffer jackets and of course I put my foot all the way in my mouth and asked if she was pregnant. She laughed it off. She gave me her card before she got off the train and told me to email her. And I did.
This story TBC….
Miss Fairchild xoxo