Monday, 24 August 2015

A Tale Of Two Cities

I’ve lived in Paris for just shy of two years now, which is an achievement I can tell you though not one I will ever be given a medal for. But it could have all been so different. Paris wasn’t my only choice for university, oh no. I could have gone to London to complete my formal education. Imagine that. Me as a moody Londoner, getting on the Tube and huffing at people while reading Metro. Recently I was in the old Smoke and I couldn’t help but compare the two cities.
Let us start by comparing the public transport networks. While the Tube predates the Metro by around 40 years that doesn’t mean it is any more sensible. Living in Paris for such a long time means that I am no stranger to using a topological map in order to navigate myself around a city and I thought I knew the London Underground relatively well turns out I don’t. Or at least that it’s a lot more mental than the French version (who would have thought it?) Where is the sense in having three different train lines running from the same platform? Even the catastrophe that is Merseyrail doesn’t do that. Luckily I managed to bump in some charming locals who managed to help me with my route. In Paris you can barely move sometimes for employees of the ever powerful RATP who can help guide you to your destination. Recently in a fit of effectiveness they even stationed people all along the RER C which had been temporarily closed for repairs.
London seems busier than Paris too. If we compare the Champs-Elysees and Oxford Street I can try to quantify this. Both are major shopping streets in two major capital cities. Oxford Street is much nicer and has a Topshop (a major plus in my mind). Whereas the Champs has fake beggars trying to scam you out of your hard earned cash as you wait in the queue to be allowed in Louis Vuitton just so you can go and stare at pretty things. However you can actually amble up the Champs-Elysees with some ease while gazing at the wondrous Arc De Triomphe, such pleasures cannot be enjoyed on Oxford Street as you get battered by permatanned girls clutching at their River Island bags.

Don’t get me wrong I enjoy both cities immensely. I just happen to feel that Paris has a better quality of life. Alright, we might live in much smaller apartments and be surrounded by the French all of the time but everyone takes their time with things. Drinking wine isn’t just something you do on a Friday night after a long week at work; it is basically a human right on the continent. London is definitely more eclectic and diverse than Paris but I wouldn’t switch them for the world. 

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Paris Uncovered: Part Two

Whilst sat in my hot and stuffy apartment (because I’ve got the windows closed to keep out the mosquitoes) I started to think of other places I’d quite like to be, preferably places with very good air-con. Due to my new job I’ve been dashing around all over Paris which has given me inspiration to do my second instalment of my top places to go and visit when in Paris. This time I’m tackling the ever popular triumvirate of the 4th, 5th and 6th arrondissements.
4th Arrondissement
With it being so unbearable hot in this fine city I have resorted to drastic measures. Yes, I went there. I’ve decided to recommend you the best ice cream parlour in Paris. Since 1954on Rue Saint-Louis en l’Ile, the family have been making the most delicious cold substances known to man. I went on my birthday to see what they were made of and I was not disappointed. I opted for the pear sorbet while Mike went for the raspberry. Both were good but the judge (me) decided that the pear was the best. If I could afford to live on Ile Saint Louis I would move there in a heartbeat. Not only does it have magnificent ice cream, it is quaint beyond belief whilst being much quieter than its bigger counterpart the Ile de la Cite.
Not to be missed in the 4th is Place des Vosges. I spent a week working there as a showroom intern for Paris Fashion Week in February and I can tell you it is one of the nicest parks in Paris, which handily also has free WiFi.
5th Arrondissement
This is the best arrondissement going. What’s that? Did you just say “Kate, you only think that because you currently reside in that area!”? I might inhabit this particular quartier but that by no means influences my judgement. My new favourite bar happens to be in this arrondissement. Teddys is a name that suggests maybe an American influence but you’d be wrong in that assumption. In fact it is a lot simpler than that. It is just full of teddy bears. And pub carpet. And leopard print walls. What could be better than that? If you make it to Rue Thouin then try the cherry beer called Kasteel Rouge or anything that comes in a funky glass. This establishment is very relaxed and does tabs unlike a lot of typical French joints.
When you stumble back from the clutches of fruit flavoured, hops based liquids then stop at Chez Suzette. I spent a very enjoyable pancake day in here with my dearest sister, Pip. The crepes are incredible and you can get them to go. Also Rue de la Harpe happens to be around the corner from my flat so I am tempted by their classic French treats more often than I should admit.
6th Arrondissement
My recommendation for this area has had rave reviews, notably my father who termed it sleazy. Bar Dix is a ULIP institution. Well we haven’t quite got “les mates rates” yet but not through lack of trying. What more could you want from a sangria bar than Chic on the jukebox and quirky art students in the corner?! What’s more there is a downstairs which has precarious steps and an enormous mirror that lets you contemplate your drunkenness without having to brave the cramped toiler.

Hopefully these little gems can help you pass the summer well or to plan your next trip. Speaking of spending the summer well, I’m going to go and check out where I can explore in the next arrondissements.