The beginning of May has been a funny one, including moments of rare relaxation and points of strain and stress. It would seem that, whilst struggling every summer since leaving sixth form to find some form of job or work experience in England (other than my usual annual temp work at a college), my Anglophone mother tongue soars me up right to the top of the employability scale in France. Why are you complaining I hear you say? Having been offered two stage offers, I was torn between the two for various different reasons which I will not bore you with. (Anyone who knows me will know that I get overly stressed about making decisions…) Having tossed and turned all of my options in my head, I finally came to a decision this week which seems to have worked amazingly in my favour. With my first offer wanting me to stay on until mid-September, I decided that, as much as I would love to stay here in Paris, I do need to accept at some point that I need to go back and finish my degree. On that note, I have accepted an eight-week placement with a company who organises Erasmus trips and events. What’s more, today my other offer has offered to pay me for the translation and writing of articles in my spare time – seems like the best of both worlds as it stands! Plus, I’ve got an interview tomorrow for a possible 2/3 week job with an estate agent tomorrow. After this mini ‘flood’ of opportunities, I am more than seriously considering my return to France after my degree.
The beginning of the spring holidays got off to a bit of a slow start in comparison to my normal go-get quick paced life here. Whilst not quite knowing what to do with myself during my spare time, I eventually remembered that holidays are essentially about taking a breather. I was actually able to do things that I never usually have the time to do – like reading and pursuing through my Engrenages box set (a drama about the French police and justice system). Due to a lot of my friends returning to their homes dotted around Europe or working hard for impending exams, things to do (i.e. avoiding essays and revision…) seemed at first to be a bit thin on the ground.
Though the few of us left in Paris decided to explore the ‘Paris insolite’ and visit some of the city’s more unusual and less popular attractions. Our first planned excursion was around Île de la Cité, a natural island found in the heart of the French capital which is where the medieval city was first founded. Whilst dominated by the magnificently imposing Notre Dame, it is its medieval history that makes this little island quite remarkable. Along with La Saint-Chapelle de Louis IX dating back to the thirteenth-century, La Conciergerie, once both a prestigious palace and a prison epitomizing royal power and absolute monarchy, form the remains of the medieval Palais de la Cité. Before embarking on the original medieval core of the Paris, we took an unintentional detour through the Palais de justice, which turned out to be a good little nose around.
We then found ourselves quite literally dazzled by the somewhat glamorously gothic Saint-Chapelle, shining gloriously from the inside with the sun beaming through its spectacular stained-glass windows. These are currently being gradually renovated, a project which started in 2008 which won’t be finished until next year (what a task…) I did find it a shame that there was a shop flogging tourist trinkets in the lower chapel – it really spoilt the atmosphere of what in my opinion should be a commercial-free place.
I also decided to have a proper adventure flâneur- style around Le Marais, which is definitely one of my favourite areas in Paris. This quaint quartier holds the best of both Parisian worlds: a perfect balance between historical moments and tourist attractions and small boutiques and hangout spots for the locals. The gourmandise element here is also another attraction that lures in passers-by with sumptuous smells of Jewish cuisine wafting from the renowned rue des Rosiers. I then visited the Musée Carnavalet, which presents the rich and eventful history of the City of Light. For any Francophile, it’s definitely worth a visit.
I finally got a tour around my Polish friend Paulina’s plush new Parisian pad a stone throw away from L’Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysées. Though I have been inside a rather swanky apartment of a family I occasionally babysit for, I was quite literally gobsmacked upon entering – I’m not joking when saying that it was furnished in the kind of stuff that you find in Versailles, which, funnily enough, (pretty proud of my linkage here) myself and Adriana visited later in the week. I had been to the castle once before aged seventeen, yet its sheer luxury and enormity still blew me away the second time round. We thought that we had chosen the perfect day with travel outside of central Parisian zones always being free for Navigo holders during the holidays, though it turned out that entry into the gardens (usually free for students during the week) was not on as there was some sort of special exhibition. As annoying as this was – it was a glorious day perfect for a stroll around the vast gardens, we decided to stick to the castle’s interior and return another day to make the most of the student benefits we’re entitled to.
Funny to think the last time I walked through lavish halls of Versailles I had just finished secondary school and decided to take French course in Paris – those two weeks kindled my love for French and confirmed my goal of returning for long-term one day (cheese I know). How time does fly… With several Warwick second years asking me for advice their upcoming year out and my time at the Sorbonne drawing to an end next week, I cannot believe that my Erasmus days are numbered and that the world of work is soon to commence.