Monday, 28 August 2017

End of an Era, Beginning of an Adventure

Some of my readers might already know that I'm leaving Paris this week to return to Blighty. It was a hard decision to move back but definitely one that I am excited about. 
I'm going to miss Paris, of course! I have spent the last four years of my life living and working here but it is time for the next chapter in my adventure. Moving back to the UK is something I always knew I would do but I had no idea when. Now seems like the right time. 
I'm ready to get my health under control. It's been hard to deal with my anxiety when I'm so far away from my family so this is a good step for me towards a happier, healthier life. I have plans to start some new exciting projects while I'm back and I have a few freelancing gigs on the go so this isn't the end of the blogging. 
This will probably be the last post of the original More Natives style as I'm going to be updating the site and making it less Paris centric and more global. If you have a burning passion for your hometown/city then get in touch as I want to hear from you!
I'm immensely proud of everything I've accomplished in Paris. For one I've run this blog for 4 years! I never even imagined that I'd even make it past the one month mark so to be at this stage is astounding. Not only that, I have managed to fairly successfully rent apartments and sort out my own bills as well as get through some tough times. A pretty adult achievement which should not be sniffed at. I've met some incredible people and made some lifelong friends. My French has improved dramatically which was the only goal I really had when I made the decision to up sticks and take on Paris. 

Moving to another country at the tender age of 18 was a crazy but magical experience. Moving back at the slightly less tender age of 22 seems equally mad but no less exciting. I'm looking forward to some new experiences and taking some time to get out of the rat race and enjoy my life for the wonderful gift that it is! 

Friday, 14 July 2017

Booze, Bands and Bastille Day.

Joyeuse Fête Nationale! Today marks the day when the revolutionary forces stormed the Bastille prison and symbolises the demise of the French monarchy. Celebration have already got in full swing. I started the party last night because who doesn't like to make the most of a three day weekend? 
Last night a few friends and I took part in a fantastic Bastille Day tradition: the bal des pompiers. What is this I hear you ask? Every year the fire stations open their doors for a big party full of dancing, drinking and general frivolity. We ended up at the party in the 3rd arrondissement but they have them all over Paris and France. Dancing the night away with reasonably priced wine, we were showered with red, white and blue confetti that I'm still finding around my flat!  
According to an article I read earlier today said that today is the happiest day of the year. I have a funny feeling that all the partying in la belle France might have something to do with that. Last night was a fabulous demonstration of the strong sense of community you feel when living in France. Citizens, young and old, were out dancing in the streets just letting their hair down and having fun. It is real testament to a city that has dealt with so much in the last few years that they can still have such amazing events without being scared of what might happen in reaction to previous events. It was a big deal for me to go to such a well attended event as quite often big crowds especially at night can trigger my panic attacks. Do you know what? I didn't even feel nervous once and I can truly say that Paris has helped me get to this point in my recovery. So, when I'm singing the Marseillaise on the Champ de Mars tonight it is with strong emotion in my heart that I celebrate a country that means so much to me. 

Merci beaucoup.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Green and Glorious Giverny

The rain has made a comeback. You wouldn't have thought that it was July if you looked out of your Parisian window today. I had to do a double take myself as I just couldn't believe how miserable the weather has become. I have a theory that it's because I'd finally got used to wearing lovely summery dresses and secretly the universe has got it in for me and my wardrobe. 
I've taken to reminiscing sunnier times to boost my mood on this grey, dark day. What better moment to lovingly remember than a weekend escape in the sunshine? A few weekends ago I did just that. My Mum was over to visit and suggested we get out of the city for a change. Exploring the rest of France is something that I've been meaning to do so I proposed a trip to Monet's house in Giverny as our day trip. I had been once before a few years ago and remembered it being a nice relaxed excursion full of clean Normandy air and picturesque views. Our number one priority was where we were going to eat and rural touristy France being what it is we didn't have much faith in the village's offering. Instead we packed a proper Parisian picnic of Champagne, truffle cheese, charcuterie and fresh fruit. A feast for for queens. 
The day started on the train from Gare Saint-Lazare. For 25€ each for a return ticket it seemed like pretty good value and the train was spotlessly clean, although we did almost sit in first class by accident! 45 minutes of nattering later and we were out of the city ready to take on our Norman adventure.  I'd researched the next leg of our journey online as I recalled that you had to get a shuttle bus from the train station to the actual village. However, we decided to take another path. Instead of the 10€ per person for the official bus to Giverny we ended up on the mini train that was 2€ cheaper and 100% more entertaining. From the naff commentary to the route along the motorway without so much a seatbelt to hold you in, we arrived at our historic destination giggling and reveling in our spontaneity. 
Arriving at our destination we did what all self respecting Brits abroad would do and joined the queue. Of course being with my dearly beloved maternal companion we also started to make friends with the couple in front of us in said queue. 
A relaxing stroll around the immaculately planted but charmingly rustic gardens was followed by a meander through the great man's house that is filled with his own artwork as well as many other interesting pieces. All in all we were there for about and hour or so. 
After such a nice wander in the fresh air it was about time we cracked opened the picnic which I have to admit was sublime. The sun started to shine as we sat in the gardens surround the Impressionism Museum and had a lovely time munching on our French gourmandises! There are a few quirky little galleries and antique shops in the village which were fun to explore and required me to act as translator so Mum could inquire about bits and bobs! 
All in all, I would recommend it as a day out if you are lusting after some fresh air and inspiring scenery. While on the expensive side when you have taken all of the travel into consideration, it is a great destination for art and horticulture lovers alike! 

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Expat Myths Debunked

People keep asking me how long I've been in Paris. My usual reaction is a weary sigh mixed with a Gallic shrug as I tell them that I have been in this glorious city for nearly four years now. When I sent off that UCAS form all those many moons ago I would never have thought that I would still be living in this gorgeous place and making myself a life here. Sure I anticipated staying here for my entire degree but I didn't predict the magnetism that would keep me from straying away from the romantic cobbled streets and freshly baked bread. In recent times people have taken my love for la belle France as beings dismissal if not a hatred for my native land. In the era of Brexit Britain I decided it was about time that someone dispelled some Expat myths and set the record straight for once. 
1. We all hate our native countries. This is so not true! By being a foreigner in a different country you grow to cherish the little quirks about your blessed place of birth. Most people can tell that you aren't a Parisian just from looking at you so your average expat embraces their Britishness because that's what makes you special. In a French office Yorkshire Tea is thought of as exotic and not a human right and you learn to live with that. It's one of the things I love most about living abroad because the expat communities are some of the most tolerant places in the world purely because they are made up of people who have had to adapt to different surroundings whilst retaining their own personality. Sure I love living in France but I also love my heritage and I never want to give that up. 
2. We all speak multiple languages. If like me your an expat living in Paris then you probably know enough French to deal with everyday life. You can buy baguettes, order a coffee and do basic chit chat but that doesn't mean your completely fluent. I've met so many people who live here only having notions of French but they get by because they have the confidence to try even if they're not 100% sure. I came here to study the French language but many people don't and I would never judge someone for not being fluent because even after 4 years I still find myself saying "Ta" to the cashier in Monoprix every now and again! 
3. We are all rolling in cash. Yes we live in these exotic places and get to see incredible landmarks everyday but that doesn't mean that we aren't working overtime every week to pay rent! We chose to live this life sure but we value our quality of life over our bank balances. Personally, I love Paris for the apéro culture and their work to live rather than live to work mentality as it helps me to find the balance that is best for my personal benefit. 
I hope this short little piece dispels a few preconceptions that the general public has about us Brits Abroad and if you have any questions surrounding it then send me a message or comment on Facebook!  

Tuesday, 20 June 2017


We are in the middle of a crisis. No, this isn't going to be a post about the state of politics in the world. Instead, I write this for you to tell you about the freak weather France is currently experiencing! I'm sat in front of my fan with a big glass of iced water next to me to try and cool down ever so slightly. 
Here in Paris we have had highs of nearly 35C, which is to much for this pasty faced Brit. Although that being said the French don't seem to be coping either! Sales of overpriced sun cream and frozen desserts are at an all time high and everyone seems to be off work and basking in the sunshine with a glass of rosé in their hands. It has been difficult to get anything done in the sweltering heat but we persevere. Still guests to be greeted and children to be babysat. 
The French however seem to be having a wardrobe crisis. I've actually seen people still wearing the Parisian uniform of head to toe black, sometimes even including tights! Shocking! I'm currently trying to find the perfect summer shorts that aren't too short but also look chic and floaty. If anyone has any recommendations then let me know! 
This Friday I'll be off to Giverny to visit Monet's house and gardens with my Mum in a vain attempt to escape the boiling city and to find some tranquility in this abnormal weather. It's the perfect spot for a picnic so be prepared for all the Instagram posts and potentially a blog post on how we get on! 

Over and out from this melted Blogger. 

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Bloggers Bonding

Hello! I've had a bit of trouble recently getting something coherent written but luckily I've had a few little moments that have got me reinvigorated and ready to make this the summer I really focus on getting my blog to be the best that it can be. 
This all started last night when I went to the Salon Sessions at Club Rayé on Rue Dessoubs. An informal space to listen to some inspiring people and to talk about all things Parisian, it was a great event that really helped me to think more positively about my blog and how I can grow it. I found out about the even through a Facebook group I'm in for Parisian bloggers that so far has helped me to connected with other like-minded individuals who are doing similar things to me. The blogging community is diverse and lots of people go into it for different reasons. For me, I never saw myself as ever keeping it up for this long. I'm almost ready to celebrate my 4 year anniversary! Talking to the ladies last night, it was reassuring to know that it isn't just me who finds it lots of hard work to keep up a decent attempt at a blog. We discussed everything from how often we write, how we market our blogs to what happens when life just gets in the way. 
On my way home, I vowed to spend the next day preparing a few more blog posts and to get back into the swing of writing because after all I find it a relaxing activity and people seem to like what I have to say! Following on swiftly from that I was blown away when today I found out I was nominated for Expatriates Magazine Best Expat Blogger of 2017. Never did I think when I started out that I would ever be in the running for such an accolade and that was never the point. I started the blog because I wanted to see if I could make it as a writer. It's a coping mechanism for my anxiety and allows me to express thoughts and feelings that otherwise become toxic bottled up in my head. It is however an honor to be in the same category as other bloggers who have incredible amounts of talent and skill and I urge you to check out some of my competition as they are truly deserving of the title! 
Dear readers, I would like to finish this by saying thank you for sticking with me through the good posts and the bad ones, for the times when there has been radio silence and others when I have inundated you with posts and photos. You help to keep me going and this summer I will try to dazzle you with more and more quality content. 
Merci beaucoup!

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Mid-Afternoon Meditation

First of all I'd like to apologize for my absence. I've been stuck in a big slump of writer's block recently and it wasn't until today that I managed to get myself out of it. Life has been hectic and uncertain here in Paris for me but still this city manages to surprise me in odd little ways. I was early for and appointment earlier today so I decided to go on a little wander in the area I was in. I love the Left Bank and know it like the back of my hand but still it manages to surprise me and still there are parts which are unknown to me. I ventured into the Church of Saint-Sulpice to escape the heat and to muse on my predicament. With job interviews stacking up and the summer facts approaching in an dealing with new stresses and having to work out ways to deal with them. It was like my sub-conscious knew that a quite 10 minutes sat taking in the awesome beauty of the church was what I needed to get my head straight. Then imposing architecture didn't scare me off from sitting quietly in the pews, far from it in fact. It felt like a place I could go and explore my brain and to quietly organize my thoughts. Paris is famous for its churches as it has dozens. All with gorgeous design and incredible atmosphere, they have a quiet sense of calm and wisdom that sometimes is needed in the hectic struggles of modern life. Everyone has heard of Notre Dame which I like but is far to busy for my liking and has lost a certain aspect of its spirituality thanks to the crowds traipsing in one and yet the other. L'Eglise de la Madeleine is the first church I properly explored in Paris. My first full summer here many moons ago I was seeking solace from the heat and spent a restful afternoon in the cool shadows of the building. Maybe this summer I shall discover more religious buildings on my wanders through this fair city. Who knows. All I can say is that I'm glad I'm back writing again. À bientôt mes amis. 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Books, Books and Merde.

This year I decided to set myself a challenge. Too many New Year's Resolutions seemed to involve giving things up which seemed all too negative for me. My challenge wasn't to eat healthier or to give up alcohol. I like gin and crisps too much for that. Instead, I decided to read one book a week for a year. Considering I had only read 20 books the year before, I entered into this with trepidation. I had to come up with a plan of action that I could actually stick to and that was realistic. First, I needed to pick a few books I knew I would enjoy so that I could start off on a high note. I plumped for some David Sedaris and Agatha Christie. Then, I signed up to a bookclub. I didn't end up going to the meet-up for a multitude of reasons but it forced me to read something outside of my comfort zone and read it to a deadline. Finally, I needed to buy some more books! Luckily, I won a competition run by The Earful Tower to win a copy of Stephen Clarke's novel A Year In The Merde. A very tongue-in-cheek take on what it means to be a Brit living in Paris, I couldn't help but become engrossed in this laugh out loud tale following newcomer to the City of Light Paul West who has been tasked with opening up a chain of English themed tea shops for his colourful French boss! I found myself chortling away on the metro at the scrapes this hero gets into whilst also thinking how similar some of the tales where to those I have from my first few months in Paris. 
I'm now on my 16th book of the year and surprisingly A Year In the Merde has been my most French book so far. Usually my list is littered with an assortment of literature inspired by la belle France, but this time around I seem to be ready weirder and more eclectic fiction than ever before. Challenging myself to push my boundaries by reading outside of my comfort zone has been a good test for me and has opened my eyes up to genres I would never have considered reading previously. It feels good to be reading so much and to be on track to hit my goal by the end of the year. Still, who knows I might even beat it! In order to stay on the right track, I always have a book on me so that I can spend any free moment racking up a few more pages. The morning commute tends to be where I get the bulk of my reading done, but the occasionally I'll have an afternoon spent sitting at a pavement café with a beer by my side and a book in my hand! 
While I'm doing very well to find diverse and different books to read I am always on the look out for out of the ordinary novels. If you happen to have any recommendations for me then comment on the post! 

Monday, 10 April 2017

April In Paris

Yesterday was delightful. Usually, a weekend with absolutely nothing whatsoever planned tends to strike the fear of God into me. What am I going to do? Will there be enough things to occupy my time with? Will I just end up sat on the sofa watching re-runs of Judge Judy instead of something productive? I was having a crisis just like this on Friday as the whole weekend opened itself up to me. Do you know what my savior was? The sunshine! It seems clichéd to talk about Paris in springtime being the most magical time of year but I'm pretty clichéd already so I'll bite that bullet. 
Blossom blowing in the breeze, friends frolicking and children playing with carefree abandon, the atmosphere was so ethereal that it was only when I remember to check my phone's pedometer than I realized that I had walked nearly 10km without really having a purpose. My mind was on enjoying the moment and soaking up the happiness around me. If there is one thing the Parisians do well, it's Sunday afternoons in spring. All of their plans seem to be so perfectly planned yet spontaneous. They profite-bien from the short spell of fantastic weather so that going into the office on Monday morning you have a spring in your step safe in the knowledge that you truly made the most of the weekend.
I was in a bit of a creative rut last week so I was in dire need of some fresh air and a good stretch of my legs while pontificating on life and meandering the streets of Paris. The Marais had been mostly pedestrianized so I could saunter along at my own pace while basking in the glorious weather. For a split second I felt like I was in a Nouvelle Vague film, high-waisted trousers on and sunglasses artfully placed in my freshly coiffured blonde hair. I must have looked the epitome of an English girl in Paris believing she is the first to have discovered all of the sights. I browsed shops I wouldn't usually go into and I sat with a plate of saucisson sec and une pinte de blonde like the French do except I did have a cigarette in hand, I had my book instead. Is there any better cure for Writer's Block than returning to your initial idea? To your raison d'etre? This is exactly how I thought my life in Paris would span out so it felt good to actually get out there and to enjoy this life I have created for myself. Even in the lows times, I relish the opportunity to take a good book down to the river or to a park and to half-read half-people watch. 
Now that this flaneuse has recharged her batteries ever so slightly, she can get back to the important tasks at hand. Enjoying life. Eating well. Self care. And finally embracing becoming More Native Than The Natives. 

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Is Paris Home?

I'm darting around all over the place at the moment. After a splendid weekend in Berlin and an interesting experience with delayed flights and poor customer service at Tegel Airport, I'm now getting excited for my next trip. That's right. On Friday I am heading back to Blighty after over 3 months away. This got me thinking. I spend so much time trying to go more native than the natives and to have a comfortable life here, does that mean I consider it as home? Or at least do I feel at home in Paris? 
Stepping off the plane onto familiar land felt comforting after a weekend jam packed full of weird and wonderful new experiences. I forget how alienating it can be to be surround by a language you haven't quite grasped. At that moment, Paris felt an awful lot like home. It didn't feel like I was in a foreign country. I knew how things operated and what the people around me were saying. Suddenly, I felt a lot more relaxed. Sure I get this feeling when I step off the plane in the UK but I expect that. It was the shock of how comfortable I felt that really struck a chord within me. 
I suppose that this is what nearly 4 years living abroad gives you. A sense of comfort even if you aren't a native of the country. My little flat is my sanctuary and my Parisian neighbourhood is like a cosy blanket there to look after me when I'm feeling miserable. 
Home for me is a feeling more than a place. It feels like the cup of tea you manage to drink at just the right moment where is it perfectly brewed yet cool enough to drink and soulful enough to heal pain. Home is a long soak in the bath with the door closed to the outside world, scented candles, a glass of wine and a good book. Home is the smell of freshly baked bread as you walk on past the bakery after a long day at work. Home is the happiness of being surround by your loved ones. 
Do I feel at home in Paris? In short, yes. But do I feel at home in other places? Definitely. I feel at home in quirky cafés found on holiday that you can't resist going back to. I feel at home when I'm curled up with my best friends while we put the world to rights. I get home-sick when I'm here in Paris but it isn't necessarily for being in a certain place. It is a desire to feel that warm, fuzzy feeling that is so difficult to describe but so magical when you feel it that only comes around when you have no cares in the world because at that very moment you are content in yourself and have the people you love surrounding you. 

Friday, 24 March 2017

In Search Of Being Parisian.

I shared an article on my Facebook page the other day that listed all of the signs that you were ever so slightly French. My favourites were about being snooty towards supermarket bread and talking only in shrugs and hand gestures. Two things that definitely apply to me. It got me thinking. This is basically the idea behind my blog isn't it? Trying to define what it is that makes us go More Native Than The Natives! My life is currently littered with daily occurrences that make be believe that I am slowly but surely turning to the cheese-eating side. 
Take today for example. I spent a good 15 minutes on the phone ranting in French as I tried to reorganise the delivery of a parcel to my home address. After being handed from pillar to post and around the houses several times, I finally got to speak to the person who could help me. I thought, no wonder the French get so stroppy with such horrific systems in place to help customers. After insisting that this parcel was incredibly urgent I managed to negotiate its delivery for first thing Monday morning. Thus proving that being snooty and not caving into being a polite British woman actually gets things done! 
I should clarify that usually I am delightful to whomever is trying to help me but sometimes when you're at the end of you tether you just have to get things done the French way. The same goes for trying to get people to stop being anti-social on public transport. Usually I just don my cap of English politeness and stiff upper lip but recently I've taken to giving people who dare to eat smelly sandwiches or listen to loud music the most almighty glare that the obviously feel my stare burning into what soul they have left that they stop.  
All in all, I think that in certain situations we should all be much more French. They say that one of the benefits of living abroad and studying another language is that you have the ability to see the world through another pair of eyes. Being a touch more Gallic certainly has its benefits, so I say let's be more snooty!! 

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Tongue in Cheek Travel Tips!

Currently, I'm getting very excited about a cheeky trip to Berlin this weekend to visit one of my best friends so I've been trawling the internet for handy tips on how to make traveling that little bit easier. I've never been a great flyer. I tend to panic and get quite anxious during the whole airport process. Since moving to Paris I've had to learn how to get through the stressful arena that is an airport terminal. Reading articles about how best to get through this circle of hell, I suddenly realised something. These so-called experts had no idea what they were talking about. In fact, I was much better at this travelling lark than they were! Ok, I should probably clarify a little bit so that I don't sound too big-headed. I am the Queen of Short-Haul. I have yet to sufficiently earn enough money to be able to book myself an overnight flight to New York so these tips are best for those who like me, tend to frequent budget, orange-tinted European airlines! 
First, make sure you've tactically stowed your liquids somewhere that is easy to get to without having to open up your entire suitcase in front of a massive queue of people who start to judge you for the abundance of Double Deckers you have in you bag. The chocolate bar that is not the public transport. Also, be careful about the bag you put them in. Usually I just use the same old one but recently it split thrusting my makeup to the four corners of Liverpool John Lennon. The security guy was less than sympathetic telling me he would have to bin all of it, even though I had actually brought a bag to put it in. Tears streaming down my face, he eventually handed me a brand spanking new bag that he just happened to have in his pocket. So in summary, turn on the waterworks if it looks like you aren't going to get your way. 
Next, you have to do a recce of all of the available food outlets. This is of course only applicable if you haven't already brought some snacks with you. I must admit the only thing that made traveling on Boxing Day bearable was the feast my Mum packed for me, complete with sandwiches, Christmas Cake and whatever else I could carry! Eating helps to stop you from being bored. An even better solution to boredom is a good book (hopefully something quite weird) and a tube of Pringles next to you so that you can do both at once.
Talking of books, you need something engaging enough so that if you happen to have forgotten your headphones or your iPod has lost charge that you can block out the screaming children around you. (On a side note, there really should be quiet sections on planes like there are on trains.) I tend to try not to take anything too 'worthy' with me when I'm travelling. The in-flight magazine will always look more relaxing an option than sitting down to read In Search Of Lost Time. Agatha Christie works well; although not Death in the Clouds as you don't need that kind of imagery. Equally something funny and inappropriate so you can chuckle away to yourself works wonders. 
If all of this fails then a cheeky mini-bottle of wine or a G&T on the plane along with a suitably glam eye-mask to block out the nutter sitting next to you works wonders. 

Monday, 13 March 2017

Sunny Days Are Back Again!

Finally, the weather in Paris is starting to brighten up. I'm not a massive fan of the oppressive heat during the summer but I do love the city when it starts to warm up slightly and people venture out of their apartments out into the city. The incessant rain beating down on my skylights never fails to make me want to crawl back into my nest after a long day at work. I love winter for its cosiness. I love bit, hearty meals and chunky knit jumpers. I love drinking cups of tea and going to bed early. Having said all of that there is something magical about Paris when the sun comes out. 
The better weather pushes me to go outside and explore. I apologise now for the number of photos I will be posting to Instagram of blue skies and Haussmann buildings. The city wakes up from its wintry hibernation and dusts itself off for the fun to start again. There were people sat outside basking in the sunshine along the banks of the Seine in true Parisian style and I even sat outside to eat my lunch today to make up for my hibernal Vitamin-D deficiency. 
Can you feel nostalgia for a place you are still living in? If so, then I've definitely been bitten by that bug. Walking past the Eiffel Tower yesterday, I had butterflies in my stomach just like I had the first time I saw the giant construction. The sun was high in the sky and the Sunday afternoon atmosphere was in full swing. I was in no hurry so I could revel in the architectural quirks of the arrondissement and peer into shop windows to see what delights they had to offer, I can say I truly felt relaxed. 
It isn't often that I feel completely at ease. In fact, it hardly ever happens anymore. From work stresses to my general anxiety, it can be hard to switch my brain off. However, when I'm trundling through the avenues of the Left Bank I am suddenly much more at ease. My mind is more often than not trying to work on new ideas for the blog and how on Earth I can achieve my dream of writing a novel. In fact this post is a product of those afternoon wanders in the sunshine as I collect my thoughts and process what is going on in my life. I take time to reminisce and to mull over ideas. I watch life go on around me and savour the amble of everyday life going on around me. 
Is there any clear message or narrative to this post? Not especially, yet again I try to entertain my loyal readers with the inner workings of my mind. Today is a more positive day to start a hopefully more positive week. I'm itching now to leave the office and trundle around the neighbourhood exploring but alas I have to get back to work and the slog of modern life. 

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

International Women's Day

I've been having a rough week. I'm not sure why, but my mood just hasn't been very good. Today when I came into work I thought the highlight of my day was going to be the Mars bar I had snuck in my bag as I walked out the front door this morning. Turns out that wasn't to be. I haven't even eaten it yet. You may ask me why this habitually hungry blogger hasn't jumped at the chance to eat her daily intake of sugar in one go yet. Well, I've been on a natural high. That high is inspiration. 

I'm welling up slightly as I write this but I'm just so proud of all of the women and men who are speaking out today and celebrating all of the incredible things that feminism has done for us. A day filled with positivity and solidarity is just what the doctor ordered. I'd like to thank all of the inspirational women in my life for showing me that I can do anything and that my dreams are worth fighting for. 

Thank you to my Mum. You have shown me that if I put my mind to something that I can do it. You've taught me to be supportive, kind and above all else strong. A constant source of inspiration, I simply don't know what I'd do without you. 

Thank you to my Gran. How can I begin to thank you for all of the lessons you have taught me? I took a leaf out of your book this morning as I looked in the mirror at my tired, pale face and reached for the lipstick to show the world just what I'm made of. 

Thank you to my Sister. You are the matter-of-fact voice that brings me back down to Earth when I'm wandering with my head in the clouds for too long. Who know where I'd be without you. 

Thank you to my Friends. My girl gang, my fellow gin drinkers and lovers of gossip. You were there through the rough times. You knew when I needed to speak, when I needed to drink coffee and eat cake and most of all when I needed to heal. 

There are hundreds of other women I would like to thank for everything they have done. Whether through being a friend, a member of my family or even just the women who write positive comments on my Instagram, I'd like to say this to you. You are enough. You are strong. You are incredible. You can do anything. 

Friday, 3 March 2017

An Ode To Liverpool

When the plane touches down on the tarmac I breathe a sudden sigh of relief. It's the sign that I'm home after weeks, sometimes months of being away. What am I looking forward to? The familiar sound of Scouse voices around me, normal chocolate bars and the chance to catch up with friends and family. I adore everything French but even the most native of expats misses home every so often. This is my love letter to the city that I will always call home. Where shall I start? With the flight home of course!

Paris Charles De Gaulle to Liverpool John Lennon is a nice short route. Quite often I ponder whether the two men ever realised they would both have their names used to identify airports. I'm guessing probably not, but it always amuses me. Anyway, let's get back to the point. As soon as get through security at CDG I instantly feel like I'm home. The throng on people around me all jabbering away in the accents of my hometown have this weird way of making me relax. Sat with a mini-bottle of wine, I can start to plan all of the things I'm looking forward to doing during my dashing visit to the UK. 
I board the plane and for once in my life there is the welcome sign of fake tan. It isn't just the cabin crew's uniforms that are orange! I haven't quite made a traveling home playlist on Spotify yet but it will happen. Maybe even this afternoon. An hour to concentrate on my book and hope that no one sits next to me/there isn't a screaming child nearby. Then we've touched down. Liverpool here I come!

After I've embraced my family who have been waiting patiently for me to appear out of the automatic doors, we zip off into town to feed our grumbling bellies. The question is where do we go? Part of me says the Paris-inspired Maray should be the feeding hole where we quench our thirst and munch until our hearts are content. I get told off for being quite simply too bloody French. Mowgli is a firm favourite as is Miyagis. Bold Street is our oyster. A cocktail in Berry and Rye will finish my first night back in Blighty off perfectly before we head back over the river to home sweet home and to all the home comforts I have been dreaming about. Chippy chips, proper cup of tea, my Mum's cooking and most of all the family dog who snubs by offer of a cuddle in favour of her disemboweled toy squirrel. 

Why do I love Liverpool so much? That's a hard question to answer. So many reasons flood my mind when I start to ponder on that special something. I miss the friendly chatter of the supermarket workers. I miss the familiar faces that always pop up even when I pop into town just for a quick errand. I miss the hustle and bustle of the crowds walking around and about usually partaking in our Number One Regional Sport - shopping! In fact, all of these things that I miss could be boiled down into one simple word: community. So thank you Liverpool for all the things you have given me. This is my ode to you. O' great city that has served me so well for so many years. You will always have a special place in my heart and on my desk in the form of a purple bin desk tidy so that I never forget my roots.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Are You Following Me?

It is fairly obvious to most people that I am slightly obsessed with social media. Not a day goes by where I don't post on Instagram at least once. However, you read so often in the press how it is inherently damaging to our self-esteem. I don't think it's as cut and dry as that. In this post I'm going to detail how social media helps me with my mental health as well as maybe how it doesn't help so much. 
Let's start off with the negatives. You see these people showing off their perfect lives full of exotic holidays, fancy meals and tans I can only dream off. You start to feel inadequate because you feel like all of your peers or off traveling around Europe and you are sat on your arse with a second tub of Ben and Jerrys binge-watching Judge Judy. I've been there, trust me. Some of my lowest moments have been triggered by seeing what everyone else is doing and feeling like I'm missing out. That's why I decided to change all of that.
I deleted apps that made me feel the worst about myself. The biggest offender her was Snapchat. Constantly full of people out having a good time, it took up too much space on my phone and it made the social anxious part of me hate myself for passing up opportunities to go out partying even though staying in was the best thing for my health. Next came Instagram. I had a massive cull of all of the accounts that tried to make their lives look rose tinted, followed a whole load of self-care accounts and started to converse with people by posting only positive comments on pictures I liked. Do you know what this did to my mood? It made me feel so warm inside. I think I understand now why everyone bangs on about hygge so much. I don't like to post pictures that make my life seem like it is just one massive holiday. I take photos of what I think looks beautiful and things I'd like to share with other people. Twitter on the other hand is my excuse to moan and write funny things that Mike says or that I see on the metro. I try my best to network with other bloggers and so far it's worked! Facebook helps me keep up to date with friends and family. I blocked everyone that just posts negative statuses or that I don't really know. 
So far my social media cleanse has worked in improving my general mood level from one that fluctuated lots to a level that is a bit more constant and manageable. You hear people telling you all the time to just delete all of your accounts but realistically that just isn't going to happen. I've tried to just use social media in a better way. Harnessing the benefits and minimizing the negativity. 

Friday, 24 February 2017

A Night At The Ballet

When I was 18 my friends and I had a group chat that we called the Culture Vultures. It was created to organise a trip to see the Chagall exhibition at the Tate Liverpool but slowly descended into the usually nonsense where we would send each other pictures of goats due to their prevalence in the artist's work. Not much has changed since then. I mean fewer goat pictures. Nevertheless, I'm still trying to be as cultured as I possibly can. Considering where I live I have the ability to see as much as I possibly can. This brings me onto the main topic of this Friday blogpost. In an effort to step out of my comfort zone a  little bit more I went to see a modern ballet at Palais Garnier. The trip was organised by the wonderful ULIP Art Soc (again thanks for letting this old bird back into the fold). 
I don't know much about ballet. So I wasn't sure what to expect. More than anything I wanted to go inside the building that I had walked past so many times wondering if I would ever get the chance to go in and explore. Fortunately, it didn't disappoint. I thought that going to such a prestigious venue would mean that I would look out of place in my jeans and my trainers that are so suited to hipster office life but less so for an upscale evening. I couldn't have been more wrong. There was no one in fancy gowns or dinner jackets. No sneering looks or tutting as I walking through the throng of people trying to find their seats. It felt very libertarian. Everyone sat down for an evening of good-value entertainment that gave you something to think about on your metro ride home. As I watched no only the dancers but my fellow spectators as the light bounced around the historical venue I watched the faces of the people sitting enthralled in the dancing. Their faces completely relaxed showing every emotion going through their minds. I think it's in the cult film that is often quoted by French students, Amélie, that she pontificates on how she likes to see peoples faces agawp as they watch a film in the cinema. I couldn't help but feel the same delight. 
How was my experience at the ballet? Good. Would I go again? Most definitely. I liked how I felt on the same level as my fellow human beings. At school, I remember being taught about high and low culture. That ballet and opera were somehow viewed as better forms of entertainment than sensationalist paperbacks or blockbuster films. I feel like last night it was the exact opposite. I was sat there in the clothes I had worked in amongst people who had done exactly the same as me who just wanted a bit of escapism on their Thursday night. 
I'm not entirely sure whether this post has a clear narrative or not. It probably doesn't. But then again neither did the ballet! Bon weekend à tous! 

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

We Are Family

What do you think of when someone mentions Great Britain? Probably after the Queen, cups of tea and The Great British Bake Off, your mind will drift to the pub. Maybe your feet will drift there too. I hear you asking, Kate why are you driveling on about this? Well there is a very good reason, dear reader. Homesickness is a disease that is rife among expats such as myself and sometimes the only way to combat it is to give yourself a taste of home. That's where the pub comes in. I maybe have mentioned it before but my darling significant other, Mike, plays for a football team who are sponsored by the finest Scottish pub in Paris. Why is this relevant? When I'm feeling down or just want a taste of home then I know that I can rely on the Auld Alliance to pep me up with good old banter with the lads, a portion of chips and a pint or three. 
Don't get me wrong, I love the café culture here in France. Only last night was I sat in a wicker chair watching the world go by sat underneath a patio heater sipping on a beer that had a slice of lemon in it, but those establishments don't quite have the same atmosphere a pub does. I love the sense of community I feel when I walk through the door. The fake shields on the wall, the pool table in the back and most of all a good group of people who have gone there for exactly the same reason as you. Usually, it's to watch some kind of sport. At the moment, it is the Six Nations which I have to admit I enjoy thoroughly. The FA Cup, less so. Sorry, Mike. 
I like these evenings with my parisian family. I know exactly what the score is so my anxiety is much lower. Usually, I don't cope very well in crowded bars because I get too nervous about what could happen to me and panic attacks can ensue. However, it isn't like that in the pub. I know the prices and the drinks on offer. I know all of the people around me. I know my exits so I tend to be a lot more relaxed. This has probably been the biggest help in getting me back out and socializing after my initial struggle with my mental health problems and for that I'm incredibly thankful to all of the friends who have been there to make it that little bit easier. 
I'll leave this post here, but before I sign off I have to add in a hilarious photo that has made the rounds in my circle of friends. After an afternoon watching the match we all traipse down the road to fill our stomaches with greasy pizzas and house red wine! We do this so often, not only are we recognised instantly we have had a special mention on their signage! 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Coping Mechanisms

I've tried to be as open as possible about my struggles with my mental health. Not just for my benefit, but for the benefit of other people who might be in a similar situation. Just over a year ago I started taking my medication that helps with my panic attacks which has helped me an incredible amount. This isn't the solution for everyone and there are times when circumstances dictate that I can't take it. Once for instance when I was greeting a rather unruly guest it would have been inappropriate for me to reach into my handbag for my pills, he definitely would have been even more angry! This calls for a strategy of controlling your thoughts that the therapist I saw right after the attacks called coping mechanisms. Essentially these are techniques you can use in order to help relax yourself in times of increased stress and anxiety. 
There are different methods you can use depending on the situation. Personally, I find taking public transport alone quite a stressful scenario. In order to combat my paranoid thoughts when I'm sat in a stuffy, claustrophobic carriage I always have a book with me. I tend to read novels that are completely immersive. This stops me from thinking about what is going on around me while giving me something to occupy my mind. It also helps that reading lots has many benefits, from making me sound cleverer to helping me with my writing! 
When I first discussed coping mechanisms with my therapist, she asked me what I like to do to relax. One thing that made me really happy. Can you guess what that is? No, it isn't eating but close. It's baking. I remember the night before my German A-Level exam I stress-baked over 40 madeleines (if you've ever made them you will know this is a time-consuming process) to give my pent up nervous energy something to do. There is a reason why the Great British Bake Off has done so well. Baking is good for the soul. Unfortunately, in Paris decent ovens are hard to come by but I try and make do with what I have. If I can't manage baking then chopping up lots of veg and making a big soup with all sorts of yummy things in it does the trick. The smell permeating through the flat and relaxing me just like one of those plug-ins you get for the dog before Bonfire Night. 
In those moments when I don't have time to do anything like this I have to think on my feet. Maybe it's a stressful hour at work or a panic attack as I'm on my way to a party. I simply close my eyes and focus on my breathing. I can't tell you how helpful this is. It is a bit of a cliché but trust me it helps. Trying to get back into yoga has taught me how useful it is to control your inhales and exhales. You don't have the be a master yogi to be able to practice this either. Your technique doesn't even have to be very good. Just close you eyes and picture the air flowing in and out of your lungs. Little visual aids help me so much because it takes all of my concentration to conjure up the images. 
I completely recognise that these might not help everyone. However, my aim with this post was to highlight little ways in which you can improve your overall well-being. you don't have to be suffering from depression to indulge in a spot of self-care. Keeping yourself on an even keel by applying coping mechanisms to stressful times can only be a positive thing.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Sugar & Spice and Women Who Write!

What do I love more than anything in the world? Apart from my family and friends, of course! Well, it's a good book and something sugary to accompany it. That's part of the reason I came to Paris. I wanted to be inspired by some of the great writers that lived and worked here. In addition to that I also wanted to improve my literary skills whilst eating my way through the delicious treats at the bakery. So when the opportunity to sample a brand new tour from Women of Paris, I jumped at the chance to find out more about one of my favourite areas of the city while learning about some incredible women, having a cheeky taste of some classic French fare along the way! 
Heidi, who runs these fantastic tours, came to Paris around the same time that I did and has really honed her craft as an exemplary guide! Meeting on Sunday afternoon at Saint-Germain-des-Près she took me around an area I thought I knew well! It turns out there are lots of nooks and crannys and exquisite buildings that aren't on the usual tourist trail. Why is that I hear you say!? Well, these locations all had something to do with famous women whose stories are often overlooked by the regular spiel trotted out in guidebooks. Did you know where Colette lived? Or where the first all female publishing house was? Women of Paris are there to set the record straight. 
Recently on MNTTN, I've set out my opinions on feminism and how I think we can improve the current situation. Learning about these inspirational women who lived decades, even centuries, before me makes appreciate how far we have come in our struggle for equality. This tour was exactly the kind of experience I love being a part of. Inspiring, fascinating and delicious! I don't want to divulge many more details, because that would spoil it for you but I recommend the next time you visit this romantic city that you certainly book a wander through the past with one of the best guides around! 

Follow Women of Paris on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more exciting information on the new Sugar & Spice and Women Who Write Tour ! 

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

An Ultimate Guide: The Only Markets You Need To Know

I need to confess something to you all. I really enjoy supermarkets. It's been a weird obsession of mine for a while now. There is something so fascinating to me about exploring a new supermarket, whether it's in a new country or just has some exciting produce. When I moved to Paris this turned into a love of outdoor markets. Recently, I was featured on the wonder Our Paris Stories blog where I talked about all things parisienne, expat and market-related! A photoshoot on the street I moved to when I first arrived here brought back lots of memories which made me think I should do more exploring of the epicurean delights Paris has to offer. This is the culmination of that research! 

Let's start at the beginning. The Marché Saxe-Breteuil is the best that France has to offer. I used to wander through it smelling the wonderful odours permeating through the street from the rotisserie chicken stand as I dragged myself to university. Open Thursday and Saturday mornings, it is a very traditional market. With the Eiffel Tower at one end and Tour Montparnasse at the other it's hard to think of somewhere more French! I recommend getting a whole roasted chicken, some potatoes dauphinoise and lots of lovely cheese and charcuterie for the best Saturday lunch you will ever have! 

Moving onto a market that is a little bit more rough and ready. Marché de Belleville isn't on many tourists' lists but if you want to see what real Parisians do then this is the place to come. I don't think I've ever walked through without being offered tasters of seasonal fruit while the seller calls me la petite blonde trying to convince me that I need 6 butternut squash. Every so often Boulevard de Belleville is transformed into a streetfood market on a Thursday night. If this tickles your fancy then make sure you get there early! I went once but arriving late meant that all of the delicious food they had on offer was sold out! 

My latest find came thanks to my dear friend, Katharine. Now usually if someone asks me to meet them early on a Sunday morning I will tell them where to go. However, my gal knows me too well. The potential of weird and wonderful vegetables on offer followed by a quirky coffee is a combination that I can't resist! The Marché d'Aligre is a mélange of the two other markets in this post. With the hustle and bustle of the fruit and veg sellers in the street, there is the charm of Belleville. While the covered section reveals all sorts of delights from kilos of tapenade to butchers carving up meaty delights. Last weekend, I bought 4kg of produce for less than 5€! From a massive bunch of carrots to delicious blood oranges, everything is seasonal and tasty. I went not really knowing what I wanted to buy but the market gave me all the inspiration that I needed.

Paris is a city that truly marches on its stomach and for me the best way to become a local is by seeking out how the inhabitants feed their grumbling stomachs on cold winter mornings. Writing this post has really made me want to leave my desk, grab by shopping trolley (I really am More Native Than The Natives!) and venture into the culinary delights that my favourite city has to offer.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Into The Abyss

Oh dear, I'm trying to be funny and avant-garde again. Please don't hate me. I implore you. I saw this idea on Vogue where they videoed various models going through their handbags and discussing what they had to say about them. I liked this kind of materialistic psychoanalysis so I thought I might try it for myself. 

First I have to decide which bag I'm going to analyze. I sporadically change between three or four different bags depending on the season, my mood and whatever is closest to hand. One rucksack purchased from Decathlon for the grand total of 4€, a Mowgli book bag, my prized possession my beautiful Longchamp bag and finally the one I'm using day-to-day currently a handbag I bought from Monoprix in a vain attempt to look more Parisian. The usually all contain the same kind of thing so let's start with the nitty gritty. 

A book - It has usually either been started or it has been put in there as a prompt to remember to read on the metro instead of just staring into space or playing on my phone. I'm always reassured by the number of people who read on their commutes in Paris and it makes me feel part of the club if I'm sat with my nose in a good P.G.Wodehouse among fellow bookworms while on the way to work. 

Chocolate - For those low moments when the crowds have got too much or the day too long and you just need a little pick me up. To stop me from constantly snacking though it is usually dark chocolate or something not too sweet. Sometimes if I have recently been to the UK then this can be substituted for Werthers Originals because they are the ultimate pick me up. 

Tissues - The pollution in Paris means that I am nearly constantly sniffly with a cold or cough so it is essential to have some on hand. This is also a hangover from my babysitting days which comes in handy when flying. You never know where the motion sick toddler is going to be and if they will puke on you. Like I say, best to be prepared just in case. 

Dior Perfume and a lipstick or three - If you're having a really crappy day is anything much better than a quick spritz of perfume and some lippy to brighten up your day? Well I certainly don't think so! It's a trick that has been passed down through generations of my family because it represents our armour and with that we can take on the world. 

Betablockers - I was very wary about going on medication to help deal with my anxiety mostly because I didn't want to acknowledge what was really happening with my mental health. The betablockers are designed to reduce my blood pressure so that when I feel a panic attack coming on I can take one to counter-attack the physical effects. I try to be as open as possible about what I take and why so that the people around me understand what is going on! 

Moleskine diary - Those who know me well, know that I am not the most organised person in the world. In an attempt to not forget anything I have to do I made the decision to sort my life out and put everything into my diary. From plans for the weekend to an idea for dinner tonight, it all goes in the diary. I'm also keeping a track of every book I read this year in the notes section because my aim is to read at least 40 books this year. 3 books down we shall see how I get on!

All of these items are usually accompanied by receipts that have been flung in the depths of my bag when I've been trying to pack all of my shopping into a space too small for the items I've purchased before the person behind me starts having their items scanned. Currently there is a tupperware full of Yorkshire Tea because the French simply don't understand a good brew even if it were to come up and hit them in the face. Hence the need to carry a personal supply with me wherever I go. It's hard to say what exactly all of this says about me but I would hazard a guess that is is quite obvious when you look in my bag that I am a dysfunctional, disorganised wannabe writer who feels faint for often than she would like to! 

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Girls Just Want To Have Fundamental Rights

I don't usually get political on here. It's not that I'm not a political person but I just never set out to make this a forum for my sometimes crazed and confused opinions on current events. There is however an issue that I feel so strongly about that I feel a compulsion to express myself here. 
Last weekend thousands of women marched in order to protest against the injustices we face every day. I am intensely proud of all of the women who went out to speak up for what is right. Part of me wishes that I could have been there, however recently I have been particularly struggling in big crowds so it was best for me to stay away. I hear lots of garbage about feminism from people who don't really understand it. "But surely if it's about equality why do you stand up for just women's rights?" and "I'm not a feminist because I shave my armpits." are two phrases I've heard many times when asked about my views on this subject. For me feminism is all about equality of opportunity. I want every single person to be able to choose how they live their lives. Whether that's a man who wants to stay home with the kids or a woman who wants to go out to work. The same goes for the other way around. It really irks me when people assume that because I'd like to be there with my children for the first years of their lives that it isn't my choice or that I'm closed minded. It just happens to be something that is important to me. 
It still shocks me that people are unaware of the issues women face every single day. I am by no means an expert but I do experience inequality in my life. I would be surprised if any man had every experience the crippling fear you feel when someone leers at you on the street or when someone makes an obscene comment because you happen to be wearing a short skirt. It scares me that women still have to demonstrate like they did this weekend that we do have a voice but it also encourages me that there are hundreds of thousands of women who are able to stand up for their beliefs. Could this have happened 60 years ago? I doubt it. 
My aim with this post is not to alienate anyone, if I have done that then I am sorry. However, this subject is so important to me I just had to set it down in words. I'm a feminist. A strident feminist. One who wants to be paid the same as her male counterparts. One who wants someone to open the door for me because I'm a human being not because of my gender. One who enjoys wearing makeup because I enjoy it. One who has always read books aimed at young boys because they were always more exciting. All in all, I just want to live in a world where it isn't your gender that matters it's the quality of your contribution to society that counts.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Itching Wanderlust

A strange title for a post I am sure many people will identify with! Wanderlust as I am sure you are aware is the desire to travel. A sentiment expressed neatly in a single German word that runs through my veins every single day. When I first moved to Paris, all I wanted to do was to experience something new. I will try everything once if it means I might feel more like a local. Jazz bar in Saint Michel? I'm in. Fireman's Ball? Of course! I never got around to organising the long interrailing trip whilst at university and now I am starting to feel like I should have. I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to live in a foreign country as well as chance to explore a few corners of the world. However, now that I have started working I am being to wish I had spent those long holidays we were so used to roaming the continent that I call home. 
I would like to point out at this moment that I would never do this by train. The overnight train to Venice has put me off that particular fantasy! This year, I am aiming to have a fe mini breaks. That is if time and money permit. The list of preferred destinations is currently: Bordeaux, Berlin and Amsterdam. Although not necessarily in that order I feel like these are all close enough but intriguing enough to make the most out of a weekend in a new city. If anyone can suggest another city beginning with A then this could be my ABBA year! 
I'm not the world's best planner of things to do on holiday. My ideas tend to revolve around finding the hotel with the best deals or how to get to and from the airport. When Mike and I arrived in Copenhagen, we soon realised that we hadn't actually planned what we were going to do. This doesn't mean we wasted our holiday though. I feel like the first time you visit somewhere you have to try and get to know its personality. You can only do that by exploring it. Days spent wandering down countless roads, peering into quirky shops and lunches spent sampling the local cuisine are in my opinion the only way to travel. I love a museum as much as the next woman but how much does it tell you about the city you're in? I suppose that's why I am More Native Than The Natives though! 
I will finish here with an apt quote from one of my favourite eccentric Frenchmen, Marcel Proust "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes."

Thursday, 12 January 2017

100 Posts and Counting!

I'm going to try and make this short as many of you know I have a tendency to ramble on a bit too long. I've hit a big milestone today. I've have officially published 100 posts on this blog. When I started this experiment I wasn't even going to tell anyone about it. I was going to keep it secret. Just for me and whoever stumbled across it. Soon I found that it was a good way to communicate with friends and family back home. I could tell stories about my life using a medium that was easier for me to express myself in. It saved me from repeating the same anecdotes every time I meet with someone for a catch up. I find it hard to open up to people when I first meet them so this blog is a good way for me to express my personality without all the awkward social contact that stresses me out. I would like to say a big thank you to everyone reading these words. Whether you are a first time reader or a frequent More Native Than The Natives visitor, your continued support really motivates me to carry on. Recently, I have got to a place where all of the admin that had been left by the wayside last year during all of the turbulence. I'm happier. I have fewer things weighing over my head. I can now focus more on making this blog better. I didn't believe that I could ever take it this far. I usually back down or forget about side projects so to get to this stage is really a big deal for me! I'm going to celebrate this weekend before getting back to it and writing more and more posts, hopefully about more and more interesting topics. If there is anything about Parisian life, anxiety or the world of a wannabe hipster millenial then please let me know. If the first 100 posts were about me talking about my life then I would like the next 100 to be increasingly about what my readers want to know about. For now I'm going to continue what I enjoy doing best and that's writing. Thank you for your continued support - you have given an awkward twenty-something a lot of happiness. 

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

An Ultimate Guide: The Only Bakeries You Need To Know

It is super easy to get really fat in Paris. When there are sweet smells coming from every bakery you come across then it is rather hard to resist. With a sweet tooth like mine, I end up finding myself frequenting bakeries quite often in order to try all of the delicious items they have on offer. French patisserie is the best in the world. In my unbiased opinion. The do everything, from gorgeously savoury bread that is perfect for cheese to sticky pastries that feel like your calorie consumption for a whole week, they really know how to do it all! Therefore I have complied a short list of some of the bakeries you should try out when peckish in Paris.

Pain Pain
If you make it up all of the steps of Montmartre to see the Sacré Coeur then you will need a little pick me up on your way back down to reality. Funky wallpaper, great coffee and even better desserts make Pain Pain on Rue des Martyrs a great little spot to take the weight off you in. I had only ever walked past at night until just a few months ago and I must admit it definitely did not disappoint!

Pierre Hermé 
I think I've told this story before but it's a good one so I will tell it again. In my first few months here I received a strange message from Mum telling me to go to a certain address after a particular time. It turned out she had ordered some breakfast treats for me to ease the awkward first few months of living alone in a foreign country. I seem to recall the croissant being my favourite item in the care package. Weirdly, I'm not the biggest fan of croissants as they can be too flaky and messy for me but this one was top notch.

Yuzu flavoured écalir? Why not?! A Japanese/French bakery in the heart of the 2nd arrondissement, Aki is a great local treasure. If you want katsu curry followed by a green tea mille-feuille then you need look no further. The hustle and bustle of this shop adds to its atmosphere and they get through customers at an astonishing rate by serving you at lightening speeds. 

Maison Privat
Now we come to the pièce de la résistance of French baked goods. This one won't be in the travel guides but by all accounts it should be. Try everything. No seriously, you have to. I've been living around the corner for nearly 6 months and I have made a jolly good stab at trying to eat my way around the counter. The Kouig' Aman (a Breton pastry that is basically sugar and puff) is to die for but impossible to pronounce and their pissaladière with anchovies, onions and olives is incredible. The efficiency of such an immaculate establishment is only bettered by the warm, delectable baguettes they have on offer. Don't expect to just walk in though, there is always a queue. 

There are many more spectacular boulangeries and bakeries in Paris, I have no doubt about that. However, these just happen to be a few of my favourites. There is something quite personal about patisseries and bread in France. Everyone likes something different. Some people ask for a well cooked baguette, others like their pain de campagne sliced. I pretty much just like it all, but I will never pass up an opportunity to eat chouquettes! I'm feeling rather hungry now that I've written that. Anyone for cake?

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Is That A Fish In Your Ear?

I've always loved language. This fact is probably self-evident thanks to my degree and nature of my blog. I pontificate about minor points of detail throughout my linguistic life nearly every single day. Hence why I thought I could probably get a lengthy blog post out of it! I've stolen the title for this piece from one of my favourite linguistics books. It deals with the complexities of translation and all the problems that come with it. Let me first begin with a little anecdote...

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin. Something rather funny happened to me the other day. It wasn't funny at the time, however now I look back on it I can see the humour in what took place. A Tuesday evening after work, I went to the supermarket over the road from my flat to finally do some food shopping. I've been lax recently in terms of cooking so it was about time I got something new and interesting in. The interesting part came when I got to the till and there was a discrepancy with my change. This guy knows I'm English. We see each other at least twice a week. It was incredible to me that he could assume I wouldn't pick him up on giving me 3€ instead of 10€! It was at this moment I went into full Parisian mode. For the first time ever, I got properly angry in French! I was so proud of myself I may have skipped up the stairs to my flat my correct change firmly in my wallet.

Little things like this happen to me everyday. I get lost in conversations because I don't understand what is going on so people assume I'm quiet which is definitely not the case. I've been reading a book that was a Christmas present from my favourite sister. "Me Talk Pretty One Day" by David Sedaris. It's a bit out there so if you like your reading material conservative then this isn't the book for you. I've been laughing out loud (not something that is often done on the metro) at the passages where he describes learning French. It is reassuring to know that at least one other person struggles as much as I do. 

I've been learning French for nearly 10 years now but sometimes I'm still all of a quiver when asked a simple question. This encounter in the supermarket did one thing for me though. It proved to me that I can do it. My language skills are good enough for me to express my dissatisfaction and surely that's half of being French?! I may bang on about it but this does make me feel like I am on the cusp of becoming truly more native than the natives, who knows maybe another 10 years and I'll actually sound like one!

I realised mid-way through planning this post that when I am reading in French I no longer translate in my head word for word what is written or at least my processing ability has improved dramatically at any rate! I find the code-switching difficult. That's the term for when your brain has to switch between two languages in a short period of time. Some people can does this in seconds with no discernible difficulties but you will find me still using French syntax after a day at the office even if I'm talking to an anglophone!

Monday, 2 January 2017

An Ultimate Guide: The Only Restaurants You Need To Know

New Year = New Me. A me that eats out at a lot more incredible restaurants I hope! I don't know how I can still think about eating when for the past two weeks all I have done is consume copious amounts of food. However, following on from my post about French cooking I thought I would recommend a handful of my favourite eateries in the City of Light. I will give a bit of a disclaimer - they aren't all French restaurants. My mum and I when we came to view my first flat created a motto: When in Paris, eat tapas. French food is unbelievably good but sometimes you need to mix it up a bit. So let's start where it all began...

La Bodega: This is the very tapas bar that the infamous phrase was created for. I have been half a dozen times now since Mum and I stumbled across this place completely by accident and I have never been disappointed. They have great Spanish wine, patatas aioli that are SUPER GARLICKY but delicious and classical guitar music played live. If you don't mind sitting on the street among clouds of cigarette smoke and cute fluffy dogs then this is the place for you. The staff are super friendly and let you go at your own pace ordering as and when you want to. If you go then you have to order the albondigas (succulent meatballs in a tomato sauce), the calamari and the croquettas with cheese and ham. You may have to roll yourself home rather than walk! 

Hero: Another place that Maman Goodbody and I like to frequent. This time it is Korean Fried Chicken. Sounds weird, but hear me out. The décor is super chic thanks to the muted tones and soft lighting which helps the chilled out vibe of the establishment. I love the sticky and garlicky fried chicken with a side of rice and kimchi. Whereas anyone else I have been with orders the super spicy one which is equally scrumptious! Have a cheeky cocktail even if it is just for the name and relax after a long day exploring P-town. 

Chartier: If you ever come to visit me then this is where I take you. I won't even apologize for it. Classic French food. Great prices. Hilarious service. What more could you ask for? Well, Mike once asked for a steak haché which is basically a burger without a bun and he was told he couldn't have it because "That was for children not men." Honestly you couldn't make it up. If you want to try snails and classic desserts then you can but if you fancy steak with chips then you can get that too. For a tired evening where you want something quick but tasty with heaps of Gallic panache thrown in for good measure then you can't go wrong with Chartier! 

Le Refuge des Fondues: Let's end this piece on a weird note. I shall try and set the scene. Four sophisticated ladies have spent a day swanning around Versailles in a golf cart but to nourish their souls they decide to try out a fondue restaurant recommended to them. It's in Montmartre. How cool, how hip. We walk in to be greeted by a man wearing a Metallica T-Shirt and walls plastered with signatures and graffiti from previous patrons. Two of us have to jump over the table to sit on the other side, helped my Mister Metallica who then poses two questions to us. Red or White? Meat or Cheese? Hoping for the best we go for 4 White 1 Meat and 1 Cheese. He comes back with a plate of meats and cheeses, some bread and four baby bottles of white wine. Yes, you did just read that right. Baby Bottles. Quirky doesn't even describe this place. We munch the nibbles until the main act arrives. Two bubbling cauldrons, one filled with oil to cook the meat in and one of cheese to dunk bread and potato into. It's a hearty meal and I have been back several times after this because it is just so much fun. Plus the limited choice means that everyone relaxes knowing that no one will get a better dish than them, because it is all the same! 

Writing about all of that has made me quite peckish now, maybe I'll go out for dinner!