Monday, 20 December 2010

Last weekend in Paris before England?

I'm meant to be getting the Eurostar home on Wednesday. I really hope I can. Most of the trains are cancelled and there's massive queues and delays on the ones that are running. So fingers crossed. As great as the family are here, I'd quite like to spend Christmas with mine.

This weekend was the first time that K+R have gone on holiday without the children. So Kaki and Papou and I have been left to look after the children. Luckily it's been surprisingly ok and not too difficult. The children haven't been too sad and they return tomorrow (all being well with the snow!) In fact it's been quite fun. We've done baking and playing and walking. They've even made a little diary to show to K+R of all the things they've done while they've been away. Plus there's obviously Christmas in a fe days which helps distract them. Yesterday we built a snowman in the garden - the mummy - and then her 3 children. The girls had great fun rolling the big balls of snow and finding things in the garden to make their faces with. The snow is great for the children and it does look so beautiful here with all the lovely houses and the forest. Today we went sledging by the stade which Mila in particular thoroughly enjoyed. She was in her element rolling about in the snow, pushing me over, trying to get Saskia more enthusiastic. Saskia is in fact pretty lazy and doesn't like getting dirty or in anyway the slightest bit uncomfortable. She complained of having a sore foot as we were walking home so went in the sledge to be pulled home whereas Mila said 'I've got a sore foot too but it's ok, we'll be home soon!' When she's nice, she's great. Like the rhyme -
There once was a girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good she was very very good, but when she was bad she was horrid.
C'est très intéressant pour regarder les différence entre les deux soeurs. It's also so interesting to see how the grandparents interact and discipline the girls. I've learnt a lot from the few months I've been here and if, IF, I decide to have children I will be so glad that I was an au pair first to help me know the way I want to bring my children up.

I've been speaking only French with the grandparents which has been great for my confidence and for improvement obviously. I've found I can generally get my point across and can hold a conversation. I'm sure it's littered with mistakes but I've got to keep trying 'ey.

Wish me luck for the return voyage!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010


So my last weekend free to enjoy in Paris before I go home for Christmas (next weekend the parents are going on holiday the grandparents and I are looking after the girls) and what a success. Romain's graduation ceremony on Friday evening meant that I had to babysit the girls. But they came back, with various members of the family to celebrate so I got to join in a little bit. And wow they know how to do things properly here. We celebrated with Champagne, Caviar and Vodka. But the best of the best. K was given the caviar and vodka as a present by some clients and we looked it up and the little 250g of cavair costs €600. Crikes. I didn't think I'd like it, I know I love fish, but fish eggs seem like a totally different kettle of fish (!) Anyway, I was wrong. It was delicious. Really good.

Oh and the caviar is resting in some snow from th garden to keep it cool. Oh so practical.

Even the vodka didn't make me gag. The difference between Petrossian (the brand) and the 50p shots they used to serve at the Jailhouse was incredible. I'm developing expensive tastes. I also attempted to make some orange and cinnamon biscuits from my sister's blog 
but mine unfortunately didn't turn out as beautiful as hers.

On Saturday I had lunch with the family friends my mum and I stayed with when we arrived. And we spoke mostly in French! Well I tried to, a lot of it wasn't correct but I managed to get my point across most of the time. By the end I resorted to English though, it's tiring speaking another language especially when you're not very good at it. After lunch they took me to the Musée Marmotten for the rival Monet exhibition which houses the painting which gave its name to the Impressionist Movement Impression soleil levant.

This little thumbnail doesn't do it justice. It's so beautiful and the lighting effect of it is brilliant. The lighting is what Monet became known for - he focuses on the light of an image, creating an impression, and atmosphere. The way the paintings were displayed obviously emphasised this aspect of his work and they did it so well. There were 136 pieces of Monet's artwork at the Musée and the rival exhibition at the Grand Palais has over 200. Can you believe that one person could have produced so much art in one lifetime!

In the evening I joined Lydia and her 2 friends who had come to visit for dinner at a restaurant in Montmatre called Le Progress. It's a really nice bar/restaurant with a good atmosphere. Very cosy and a good menu. We spent about 3 hours there, getting more and more vocal and debating the finer points of feminism. One of Lydia's friends is a staunch feminist and was so interesting to talk to, myself having never been particularly interested in feminism. I finished the night feeling more intelligent and wisened (is that a word?) by all the articulate comments flying around. By the time we'd finished debating the metro had closed so we couldn't move onto a club and instead found a bar round the corner. Which was dire. The sleaziest men and terrible music where the DJ thought it would be a good idea to just stop a song every now and then, but not for dramatic effect, like to make everybody sing along, as he did it in songs with no words. Just because he was crap. I can't remember the name of it otherwise I'd tell you to warn you never to go.

The next day we went for lunch/breakfast at Le Comptoir General on the Canal Saint Martin. It was a really nice cafe where you could a breakfast for 7 euros and go back and back to top up your plate full of yummy bread, and drinks. I think it is an eco-friendly place, it certainly had that atmosphere. Very rare for Paris. It felt more like being back in Bristol. So I loved it. In the back room, there was a small brocante where Emily managed to find 2 amazing pairs of really good quality shoes for 5 euros.

Romain's parents are now here to stay for the next few weeks and it is always a delight having them here, they're so kind and really patient with me and my French. They really help me too so in the next week or so I should have plenty more opportunities to speak French before I come for the holidays and lose it all.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Pierce Brosnan

So here's a picture for those who wanted to see the French crumble (Alice). Très joli, non?

But really this is just to let you know what happened with Pierce. Kirsten got a phone call on Tuesday night from Romain's parents saying that they had accidentally spoiled the surprise. Romain had been talking to his dad on the phone when in the background his mum said 'Oo has Graham arrived yet?' They tried to cover it up but he still realised. But strangely he didn't put the two and two together and think 'Oh this is Kirsten's surprise'. Yesterday morning he still thought he was going to be meeting Pierce Brosnan for lunch. He even chose his best tie and told his work colleagues. Some friends were even thinking of coming along for the meal! So he was a little surprised, although not disappointed, I should say, to see Kirsten's dad instead. He came home that evening and said 'My wife is a liar!' Haha, Kirsten's not going to let him live that for a long long long time. Although actually she was pretty convincing especially the night before, I can kind of understand why he believed it. We had a lovely evening last night having a long diner with Kirsten's dad, lots of lovely food and wine. Oh and champagne. We always have champagne. I'm definitely learning to actually enjoy wine these days.

The snow is beautiful here. It snowed all day yesterday, I'd say it was a good 20cm thick. Saskia and I built a good snowman yesterday. Mila refused. Strange child. Another example of her weird ways of rebelling against me I think. Also had a horrendous big French test this morning. Although I've realised that as I'm just not disciplined enough to really work hard, I'll just accept that I'm just going to learn slowly, but have a good time while I'm at it.

Monday, 6 December 2010

New Discoveries

I finally had a proper weekend in Paris for the first time in about a month. Due to one thing or another I haven't seen any of my friends or done much exciting Paris based things for a while so I finally 'got back on it' this weekend. Although nothing too wild, I'm still just me after all.
Friday night Lydia and I checked out a new bar in Belleville called 'Le Buzz Bar' which was a real success. It had a really nice atmosphere, full of normal young people who weren't pretentious or too chic, and they have free live music downstairs and we saw a hip-hop jazz band who were pretty good. The crowd loved them and were singing along to every song. Frances and her friend came and joined us for the last bit and we all agreed to meet up for brunch on Sunday.

On Saturday I attempted to do christmas shopping but not with much success. I have no idea where to look for presents in Paris, there's too much choice! And everything is trop cher. So if any Parisians know where to get some good presents please let me know.

Sunday was the day of brunch, although it turned out to just be lunch by the time I got there. We were meant to go to a socialist brunch bar near Gare de L'Est but it turned out the socialist deal wasn't on this one time so we found another lovely cafe on the Canal St Martin. I've never been to that area before and it was so nice. It was really tranquil (probably partly to do with the fact it was Sunday im sure) and lots of people and families going for runs and walks and general lovely lazy day things. We had a long lunch debating hot topics like the student protests happening in England, and the worth of our own degrees (there were 2 language students, 2 historians and an art historian amongst us) and our thoughts on living in a foreign country. C'était très sympa. Also worthy of note - in France crumble (as in the pudding) is very fashionable and Lydia ordered one which was the most beautifully presented crumble I have ever seen. Not just dolloped on a plate like you get in England. Plus they used pineapple. Have you ever known pineapple in a crumble before? These Frenchies!
The girls then left to go to Capoeira leaving me and Lydia free to browse the Champs Elysses Christmas Market, which I was actually a bit disappointed by. It had the same stalls over and over, tons of food, lots of hats and gloves stalls and weirdly, lots of stalls selling russian dolls. Not a batch on Bath Christmas Markets with all its variety and nice craft stalls. But the Champs Elysses lit up at night with all its christmas lights is very pretty.

And finally just a little funny story. Kirsten's dad is coming over from New Zealand tomorrow but it's a surprise for Romain. Kirsten had planned to meet up with Romain for lunch tomorrow and surprise him with her dad being there. But she's had to go to extraordinary lengths to get him there because he didn't want to travel all the way into Paris just for lunch. So first she said that her friend from England was coming over, but that didn't convince him so she said that she was bringing someone famous with her. Still sceptical Romain insisted on being told who it was. So, under the on the spot pressure, she said 'Pierce Brosnan'. Huh? Why Pierce Brosnan? Who knows. But somehow she's managed to convince him and the web of deceit is getting bigger and bigger. Her friend is now going out with him - they went to the same drama school apparently. I've had to send texts from my English phone posed as this lady. And Romain's even been 'googling' Pierce and found out he's married and lives in Malibu, so is therefore having a sordid affair with Kirsten's friend. Plus I'm allowed to go and meet him. So I'll let you know how it all pans out. I can't wait!

Thursday, 2 December 2010


I can't stop listening to this, it is so beautiful.