Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Paris, France: My Memoirs

On the 29th of July I went to Paris, France to see Melissa. She has been living over there for a few months now, working in a 'PGL' place (somewhere children go and do activities). She is pretty fluent in French, and needed to work abroad as part of her course.

Although we have been apart for over 4 months, I thought it would be nice to see her, and generally I don't find meeting up with ex's awkward at all.

I boarded the second ever flight from UK I have taken alone and sat (slept) in silence. When I woke up there were three young boys pulling faces at me. They were about the same age as my nephews, so, well equipped with the art of pulling faces, I set to work pulling faces back. Eventually they started talking to me. They mocked that I could barely speak French while all three seemed fluent in the language.

Melissa met me at the airport. She looked very pretty, tanned, and with darker hair. We got a train to Lésigny, where she was staying. When we got there she told me that we would have to walk about 5 miles to the 'chateau'. I am quite the walker and didn't think anything of it. After 5 miles I wanted to cry. It had gotten dark, and was quite late by the time we got in, so we watched a film and went to sleep.

The next day we walked the horrible distance back to the train station, and went in to Paris. The whole holiday we didn't buy and train passes, as the gates could easily be jumped (and there was no security). I felt quite the rebel.

I had forgotten quite how expensive everything is! I am not a huge fan of the Parisians after last time I went (people generally seemed quite rude despite my best attempts to speak the language, and I found all the food to be over-priced and under-quality), but I tried my best to keep an open mind. We spent the day wandering around Paris, looking at the Eiffel Tower and pottering around. On the night time we got drunk and watched another film.

On Saturday we were both pretty tired, and it was rainy (as opposed to the 25 degree weather the rest of the long weekend). We decided to try and play a bit of tennis, where we quickly found neither of us could actually hold a bat and hit the ball convincingly. We decided to spend the day lazing around, which I was quite thankful for, since for some reason I was incredibly tired.

The following day Melissa had the idea of going to a tree place. It is a large forest, where the trees have ropes between them, and different climbing things, and equipped with a harness that you must attach to each place yourself you try and get from start to finish. This is the kind of thing I love. Naturally I was eager to progress quickly to the expert course, and was surprised to find Melissa matching my ability.

For the expert course we were asked to supervise another person because he was under 18. I decided to show off my amazing French by saying to him "Hello, I am from English".

After we had completed the course, which consisted of monkey bars high up in the trees, a net web you must swing into, and a zip-wire which couldn't have been less than 70 meters, we had sat down, eat, and then walked back to the chateau.

On the way back we took a detour, bought some alcohol and sat drinking by a lake. It was very pretty.

The final full day spent there I decided we should go back in to Paris. I still wasn't a huge fan, but wanted to give it another go. The problem with this is that it meant we, again, had to walk the huge distance to the train station. This time though, a nice woman pulled alongside us and asked (in French) if we wanted a lift. It was very nice of her!!

In Paris we rented the extremely reasonably priced bikes and cycled around. My usual bird-like sense of direction left me as we appeared to be cycling out of Paris and into a bit of a ghetto, but we soon got on track (not before being told off by police for running red lights, something which Melissa didn't feel it necessary to translate to me until they had left, angry at my my response of 'eh?').

Realising we were close to the Champs Élysées (which leads to the Arc de Triomphe), I had made it my mission to cycle around the crazy, crazy roundabout, and survive. For those who don't know, I'm not sure which of these things I have heard are true, but apparently there is a crash every 12 minutes, nobody is insured to be on there, and normal roundabout rules don't exist since it is too hard to navigate. Having heard this I felt it must be done.

Cycling up to it was fairly painless, there was quite a lot of cars, but the constant traffic lights meant nobody was going fast enough to hit us off. Going around the huge roundabout was another matter. The first 1/3 was okay... but then a car cut us up, forcing us to stop, we slowly peddled on, when another car cut across us... but this time we were unable to continue cycling, since we were stuck at an exit with cars randomly cutting across to leave. We had to wait till there was a bit of traffic and we could sneak between the cars. It was all worth it though!

Hungry after our work-out, we decided to go to a café for food. From looking at them all, I realised I wouldn't be able to eat for less than 17 euros (money which would ensure I would live for a king in Thailand). I have no complaints though! When we arrived we were told the chef was just leaving so we could only have salad, but then he went back to talk to him and on return told us he would stay and make anything on the menu. I decided to go with steak... a risky choice, knowing how they don't like to cook meat. It was possibly the best steak I have ever had! The crème brûlée desert was also amazing!

After the great day we headed home. To my surprise, in the same place as earlier in the day, another car pulled up and asked if we wanted a lift back. These French people are actually really nice.

The following morning I had to be up at 5:15. Luckily Melissa was there, and we were early enough to get the rare bus that goes to the station. It was a really nice weekend spent with her... but I feel I can not really put much else on my blog about my feelings (sorry!).


  1. You should have made that cycling around the roundabout one of your To Dos. Glad you had a great long weekend - beats my reunion, everyone there so old and wondering how I could live in London!

  2. How many stereotypes have you tried to shove into this?