Bonjour mes amis! So I've just spent the weekend in Paris and oh lordy was it pretty. Paris in the sunshine and summertime is truly an experience to be savoured; the fountains in all the gardens and palaces spring to life, people picnic with baguettes and champagne under the Eiffel Tower and the cobbled stone streets of Montmartre and the Marais district echo with the sounds of accordions and jazz music. The beautiful lines of all the palaces and world famous landmarks are also at their best under the steaming sun; the omnipresent grey of the winter landscape disappears and the beautiful sand, peach and royal blue colours of the buildings truly shine.
My introduction to Paris started strangely at best. Carting my heavy suitcase, I took one look at the lines for the trains into the city centre and decided to just take a taxi to my hotel. Error. My taxi driver, who spoke no English, decided that because he couldn't converse with me to explain where we were going/what he was doing, he would simply make all the appropriate car noises, revving his "mouth engine" going around corners, squealing to identify his braking, and in between times, attempting to sing Madonna, One Direction and Justin Bieber and asking me to dance with him. When I got out of the taxi, he started waltzing with my suitcase to Sexy and I know It… As you do.
So me being me, I managed to get absolutely and hopelessly lost trying to find the Place des Vosges to meet my lovely friend Phoebe on the Saturday afternoon. Trying very hard to appear cool and collected, while absolutely frantically thumbing through my map and attempting to decipher the confusion that was my map, I somehow managed to accidentally wander into a very posh, and very private, garden of one of the more exclusive apartment blocks in the Marais district. Just as I was standing there, looking like a lost puppy and wondering what to do, a very well dressed older gentlemen carrying a baguette and a briefcase of books came up and enquired very politely if I was lost and needed help. He spoke no English and I speak absolutely abysmal pigeon French, but I somehow managed to convey where I wanted to go and that I had no idea how to get there. Looking at his watch, he sighed, counted something on his hands, and then clicked at me to follow him. I followed him (somewhat warily) for about 20 minutes through a maze of backstreets, before suddenly, I emerged blinking into the sunshine next to the fountains of the Place des Vosges! My knight in well pressed slacks and Dior sunglasses bowed his head, kissed my hand and then disappeared just as suddenly as he appeared. Who says Parisians aren't friendly?!?
I spent the majority of Sunday morning wandering around, and then met up with Phoebe and Michael for a picnic on the Champ de Mars underneath the Eiffel Tower. It was very surreal, sitting basking in the sunshine with our croissants and strawberries, idly looking up at arguably the most famous landmark in the world. Jealous anyone? After Phoebe and Michael left to go to Rock-en-Seine, I spent the rest of my day strolling around the city, drinking in all the sites and revelling in the experience of standing where so much history has taken place. I went in and paid my respects to Napoleon (for such a small man, he has a simply ENORMOUS tomb, little man syndrome indeed) and then happily slurped a Berthillon ice-cream (they make them in the shape of flowers) around the Ile de Cité. I also got to achieve a life-long dream of buying a box of Laduree macaroons for my very own- apparently the distinctive shade of Laduree green was based on Marie-Antoinette's favourite colour that she decorated her Petit Trianon palace with! Other interesting facts I learnt about Paris on my stroll included: a) There are more than 6 million people buried below the streets of Paris in the Catacombs, b) There is a replica of the Statue of Liberty in the middle of the Seine and c) There are more dogs in Paris than children. The majority of them dressed up in ridiculous ribbons and dyed a terribly chic shade
I'm currently writing this from somewhere under the English Channel, zipping from Paris to London on the Eurostar. Hailing from the wide brown land, it absolutely boggles my mind that you can hop on a train for an hour and be in another country, with a different language, currency and culture. I still haven't quite come to terms with how close everything is in Europe- the flight from Edinburgh to Munich is about the same length as going from Melbourne to Sydney! I know which journey I'd rather take… Talking of Munich, my friend Laura and I have decided we're going to Oktoberfest! I'm very excited to see some authentic lederhosen and hear some German oom-pah-pah music… I think I'll definitely have to get into the spirit of things and get a beer wench costume.
LOTS OF LOVE, ALEX XOXO