So I am officially all moved in to my new home! It was relatively pain-free, though I must say lugging about 60 kilos worth of suitcases up three flights of stairs was a killer.
I’m going to carry on where I left off in my last blog post about my first day here in Paris.
On the Thursday, we (my dad and I) decided to take the Metro out to La Défense, the business area of the city where I would be working. The journey was quicker and easier than I had imagined (though I am expecting it to be a little busier at 8am than it is at midday!) and the exit we took from the station took us straight up and in front of the Grande Arche which was very impressive. We took a wander down the esplanade to find the building I would be working in to find that it is a high rise office block. Very cool!
Afterwards, we explored the absolutely huuuuge shopping centre at La Défense, called Quatre Temps. One bad thing about the foyer is that the kitchen comes empty, so I would have to buy plates and cooking equipment. Luckily, there was a big Auchan at one end of the shopping centre so we picked up some super cheap essentials down there before leaving. Wandering the shops was very disorientating and made us very warm and hungry so we decided to pick up some sandwiches and head outside to eat them. It was absolutely freezing outside and I had forgotten my gloves, but the view was awesome so I didn’t mind too much. If you look straight down the esplanade you can see all the way over the Pont de Neuilly (Neuilly Bridge) and down to the Arc de Triomphe.
By now we were cold and tired, so we took the Metro back to Place de Clichy and went back to our hotel. We chilled out for a little while and then got wrapped up again to go out exploring for the evening.
We walked through from the hotel to an area called Montmartre, a very arty part of Paris which is now just ten minutes from where I live. There are lots of cafés and restaurants and cute little side streets and also bits of street art here and there. I found this on the side of a bar:
I had hoped that we would be able to walk up the main steps to the Sacré Cœur cathedral, but unknown to me the gardens are locked at night so we had to take the side steps. Just as difficult and tiring! Let me tell you, as cold as the night was, I was steaming by the time I reached the top of that hill!
We went inside the cathedral and happened upon a service taking place. It was very humbling despite the fact I am not religious. It truly is a stunning place inside and out. Very moving.
Afterwards we went to an Irish pub that we spotted on the way up the hill. What better to follow a cathedral than a cider, am I right? I really liked in there and exchanged contact details with a Canadian girl who seems really nice! (I have yet to contact her, so if she’s reading: I’m really sorry! I’ve been so busy, I’ll send you a message this weekend!)
With our drinks we demolished a mountain of nachos! We were expecting just a small portion to have before we found somewhere else for dinner but it ended up being our entire meal as we were so full!
We went back to the hotel soon after finishing our nachos and our drinks. I slept well that night after another tiring but successful day! Everything seemed to have fallen into place so quickly and I was so relieved.
After our tourist day, though tired, we had vowed to go for dinner in Montmartre at a place we had seen before that had heaters and blankets outside for you to use. Dad had some really good chicken and I had a sausage and mashed potato dish but OH MY WORD if it wasn’t the best mashed potato I have ever had. So much cheese…
After moving my luggage to a hotel closer to my flat on the Saturday morning we walked down into the 9th arr. (I think) to visit the Galeries Lafayette, some very old shopping centres in the centre of Paris. We only went into the main one (there are three, to my understanding) and holy smokes it was absolutely stunning. I felt like I’d walked onto a film set!
To escape the hoards of Saturday sale shoppers we popped round the corner to admire the National Academy of Music at Place de l’Opéra and sat on the steps in the sun for a while, watching and singing along to a street performer. It was a lovely way to spend the last of our time together before dad had to leave.
He left from Gare du Nord on the Saturday afternoon. I got a bit panicky inside just before he left and couldn’t leave without him waving goodbye from the window of the departures lounge. But once he was gone I was ok! Hopped on the metro and went back to my hotel to chill out after 3.5 days of non-stop activity.
It was a great way to kick off my time in Paris and definitely appreciated someone to help me get more comfortable with my surroundings. I’m looking forward to doing lots more typical tourist stuff and also discovering some good places off the beaten track.
If any of you have anywhere that you suggest I go then let me know! I have six months here so I have lots of time to do anything and everything.
Until next time,