Six Months in Paris

This is a video I have put together of the 6 months I spent in Paris, its a bit hard to sum it all up in just a few minutes, but hopefully you get a feel for my experience and the amazing opportunity and privilege it was to participate in the CSU Global Program.

xox Emily

Walking the Walk and Dressing the Dress in Paris

 Given Paris is considered the epicentre of style and fashion, it would be sacrilege not to write a blog entry on the subject. In any case, I have found the way Parisians dress understated and simplistic and able to be emulated. Although it is less about wearing that Chanel bag, and more about a rhythm and consistency that allow them to be so very chic all the time.

So. Voila!

Coming from my own university where students are usually awake 10 minutes before class and often turn up in Pyjamas, to Paris, where even the university students are so very chic and well put together for an 8am class in an adjustment. Its like they all have some secret that they wont reveal. But its more than that, its an attitude, a way they carry themselves.

One of the very first things that was said to me and my fellow exchange students when we arrives at ISC for our orientation was;

‘Watch the people who live in Paris, notice what they wear, what they don’t wear,  and start to dress like them yourselves’.

What I didn’t realise, is just how practical this advice is.  The exchange liaison officer who said this was trying to get us to adopt a form of urban camouflage.  However, rather than mud smeared faces and branches in our hats, this camouflage was made up ballet flats, Longchamp tote bags, and a lot of Abercrombie & Fitch.

Paris, the home of Chanel.

Paris, the home of Chanel.

It’s an unfortunate fact that Paris has a problem with thieves, being a tourist, or foreigner you are unusually susceptible to pickpocketing and other forms of crime. Those that carry this out are well trained at spotting the difference between locals and those visiting who aren’t aware of the ever-present chance of  loosing a wallet or camera.

Funnily enough, the longer I have been here, the more obvious tourists seem to be. Its not by their accent or language, but the way they dress and the way they carry themselves. The way a Parisian carries them self is with a confidence just shy of arrogance, head high, graceful gestures, with a carefully arranged look of contempt on their face. They never lock eyes or smile on the metro and they have a purpose with which they walk that stands out amongst a tour group.  This attitude helps make them invisible to anyone with foul intentions. What you don’t notice is their hand in their pocket minding their wallet, or their arm over the opening of their bag. They are very aware of their surroundings while managing to look completely blaze. THAT is the trick. To look completely casual like no effort is being exerted, when in reality, you are paying attention to the details and very aware of every aspect. This too goes for dress.

Scarves for every occasion.

Scarves for every occasion.

Dressing the dress of a Parisian is the way to blending in. It isn’t until you see a group of Parisians together, such as when I was in class, that you notice the repeating pattern of clothing combinations, colours and items that identify them as Parisians.  Of course every  social and age group has their own appropriation of this, but for the most part they all work of the same principles when it comes to dressing. Understated cool made up of carefully selected, unique items.

In the name of engrossing myself in the culture, and of course my inner fashionista, I have tried to observe, identify and adopt these principles, and, surprisingly, feel both chicer, safer and much more like a local.

First rule for dressing like a Parisian, bright colours are so démodé.  Particularly in Winter, bright colours are a complete no-no. Rather, Parisians prefer a wardrobe that is based on neutrals, where almost everything is tonal and can be interchanges.  black, grey, navy blue, light blue, brown, tan and white. This is what they build their wardrobe around. The beauty of which being it become very hard to make a fashion-mistake because everything goes! Even when they throw something together last moment they still manage to look chic.  Keep things tonal and you cant loose, particularly when it comes to blues, Parisians love blue, I have seen many a man sport blue loafers with a navy suit, baby blue shirt and matching scarf. When you do inject colour in your outfit, keep it muted, and slightly dulled. I call them ‘dirty’ colours, they almost have a hazed look about them which is far more subtle. A final note ,stay away from neons and use pastels  in Summer and discreetly.

Be confidence and selective. Even if what you’re wearing does clash, it doesn’t matter because you want them to clash and make a statement. or, thats what they would have you think. Theres a cool confidence that the Parisian has about what they are wearing. They completely  own their image, everything they wear is a deliberate choice, because everything they include in their wardrobe is a deliberate choice, every item being scrutinised in the shop or change room before being deemed acceptable. Parisians love every item in their wardrobe, from a basic white shirt to a pair of fabulous heels, each item is loved and therefore warn as much as possible. They chose quality over quantity, so although they have small wardrobes, each item is superb.

When in doubt, add a scarf!  such a nifty trick! when a wardrobe is lacking a little something, simply add a scarf, wool or cosy cashmere in winter and a cotton or silk one in the summer. A scarf can add punch to a simple shirt and jeans, and they always look cool, you can tie them in a hundred ways, looped, layered,  clipped with a brooch, or fashioned into a turban. Wear a scarf any which way brings instant cred.

Colour used in the right way

Colour used in the right way

Your wardrobe should tell a story. when someone asks ‘where did you get that  …..’ the answer is usually either a foreign country , a bespoke boutique, antique dealers or even better, ‘It was my grandmothers’. Parisians value sentimentality when it comes to dressing and treasure items they feel are beautiful or meaningful, or reminds them of a time, trip or lover.

Irony is a good thing. If things seem a little tedious, mix it up a bit, wear sneakers with a silk dress, a string of pearls with a T-shirt or a leather jacket with a lace dress. having a sense of humour and Irony about what you wear keeps things fun.

Keep it simple. This is how the French achieve their reputation as being chic. Keeping your accessories minimal and let the items speak for themselves. Look for clean lines and fabulous fabrics, think of it as ‘zen’ing your outfit.  this extends to hair, makeup and nails, keeping it subtle it what makes it chic. They love leather and Langchamp tote bags for precisely this reason, because they are simple, they don’t date, and because the materials are great, they look better and better with wear. So easy!

Be comfortable. surprisingly enough, its rare to see Parisians in stilleto heels. Theres a reason Paris is the home of the ballet flat (apart from a love for ballet), they are chic AND comfortable. I was surprised on my first night out with the other exchange students to see that most of the girls out where in some form of jeans and sneakers combo. Being the middle of winter this seemed practical, but it also meant they could dance till their hearts content and walk home if need be without that dreaded moment in a night where you eat your dignity and slip your heels off to walk home. It seems like a much better way about things if you ask me!

Pay attention to the Details. This is possibly the most important principle for dressing Parisian. the devil is in the detail as they say. Whether its adding a slick of mascara, throwing on some earrings or spiriting some perfume. Parisians pay attention to these details, closely! The girls always have at least their hair blow dried and their nails neat and short, while the men sport impeccably detailed ties and shoes that look like an outfit even by themselves.

Don't forget a pair of fabulous shoes!

Don’t forget a pair of fabulous shoes!

Every day is an occasion. Finally, every day is an occasion, even if, like I mentioned above, its only going to class. What sets Parisians apart from everyone else is they would never be caught out of their homes it trackies, unless they were actually running, or they were a cool Abercrombie & Fitch pair.  So its rare to see them looking less than their best. Although i must say this is at times  a bit of an annoyance, especially when I just need to step out for some bread and milk and have to change from sweats into jeans. But hey, ‘when in rome’.

Being able to gain a bit of insight into the fashion capital has been one of the delights of my stay in Paris. being able to add a bit of a polish to my own sense of style and indulge in the catwalk that is most streets in Paris.  However I dont think I will be giving up my hoodies or colourful summer dresses any time soon.. expect to see me in the odd lecture in my pyjamas.. although I may just be wearing a string of pearls with them…

Its Vintage Daaaaaahrling: Second Hand shopping in Paris

“I’m gonna pop some tags
Only got twenty dollars in my pocket”

Paris is known as the epicentre for all things fashion, style and ultra-chic with Parisians held up as the embodiment of these. So much so that even their cast offs are cool!  Over the last few months I’ve been happily scoping out some of the local Thriftshops- Macklemore-style…  Certainly very hard when you only have limited luggage space coming home and every shop you go into is a tressure trove. Not to mention, its all VERY cheap.

There is a thriving market for all things second hand in Paris, especially among the youth who, like youth anywhere, seek to express their own unique individual style and sensibility through their dress, without breaking the bank. You need only take a walk to see individuals stalking in and out  shops and cafes with an eclectic mix of items; girls in fur coats wittily mixed with crisp white shirts, jeans and Converse sneakers, and ultra-suave men in loafers and army-surplus shirts and coats.

If vintage is your thing, like me,  then this is for you, I have included a list below of some of the best stores, as well as the best area’s for stores where you will find all things fabulous, unique and downright chic.

Be prepared, if ever you do venture into some of these shops, you are almost guaranteed come out with something. I have managed to pick up a host of items including vintage coats, pillbox hats and  leather gloves in an array of colours and styles, all for a fraction of what you would pay in Australia or even the UK.

FREE’P’STAR

61 rue de la Verrerie. Paris, 4e

GOOD FOR:  FUR!, Burberry coats and silk scarves

Free'P'Star

Free’P’Star

Down a side street, just next to Hotel de Ville, you will find this little store. Don’t let size fool you though, it this little store is racks upon racks of clothes; being able to move about doesn’t seem to be a concern of the owners, It is a bit of a squeeze to get in. However once in you will find chests full of salvages fur, wracks of fur capes and stoles, mounds of coats, shirts, designer jeans and dresses and bins  of silk scarves. Granted, you will have to sift through some dud’s to find what you are after, however if you go in not looking for anything in particular, then you will be pleasantly surprised. It really is like gold-panning Sovereign-hill-style, where you will sift through a pile of nothing special and be left with a vintage Burberry coat or Ralph Lauren shirt… its all about being patient and having a proper look!

A word of warning, getting in early is the best way to play it. being both a small and popular shop, once the crowds arrive it’s almost impossible to move, so try and beat the crowds!!

The KILO shop

The KILO shop

KILO SHOP

GOOD FOR: 1980’s american cheerleader uniforms, wigs, buttons, scarves, bags, Army surplus, 501 levi jeans.

Two doors down from Free’p’star is the kilo shop, which is quite literally what the name implies, clothing you buy by the kilo!! I never thought I would see the day. The store consists of a ground floor and basement, racked with clothing of every kind, however unlike other stores, the kilo store has a resemblance of order, making shopping for specifics a walk in the park. Need a coat, head to the coat section! Need army gear? half the bottom floor is devoted to all thinks khaki! Even better, everything is orderly hung up so there is no digging through bins and barrels. Dotted in-between these sections are scales so you can calculate how much you ‘haul’ will cost you… although a bit more pricey than the above store, you can find all your basics in a wide array of sizes rather than a one of pieces, however this means you are generally able to find what you are after in your size.

HIPPY MARKET

GOOD FOR: Psychedelic acid wash jeans, reclaimed leather bags, loafers, classically french striped mariner shirts.

Just around the corner, enter the Hippy Market. Through a suspicious haze you will find a chicly minimalist shop featuring cowboy fringed shirts, acid-wash jeans, dapper mens wear and cooler than cool shoes. The staff are all very friendly and seem to ooze vintage cool with their own ‘getup’. Prepare to find the unexpected. Vintage Valentino and crocodile loafers lie in wait to be snapped up and taken home. They also house a range of in-house brands that feature reclaimed leather totes and bags, very cool and very french! albeit a little bit pricey. everything is in great condition and generally free of that vintage ‘pong’.

Hippy Market

Hippy Market

Acid wash at the Hippy Market

Acid wash at the Hippy Market

EPISODE

12-16 Rue Tiquetonne, 75002 Paris

GOOD FOR: Coats, Silk shirts, sunglasses,  ‘pretty in pink’ ballerina skirts, Vintage felt hats, coats, Doc Martins, bow ties, purses, leather goods.

Probably the shop I have bought the most from, it has a mix of original items and new made from reclaimed materials, such as silk shirts made into trendy tank tops. The selection of vintage hats and purses is a must see, not to mention their selection of leather gloves, you can generally pick up a pair for about 10 euro that have hardly been warn bargain! I really recommend making this store one of your first stops when you come to Paris, particularly if you arrive in winter and don’t have all that many winter clothes with you, as you can pick up snuggly shirts and jumpers along with weather repelling coats to keep you snug as a bug!

Docs at Episode

Docs at Episode

Episode

Episode

CHATELET : METRO

The whole area around Chatelet is a shopping dream, full of little boutiques and stalls. The reason I have mentioned this whole area is that there are dozens of little vintage stores i have visited, but for the life of me i could not tell you the names. Besides, half the fun is getting a little lost and stumbling upon stores that only you will know about! You become part of the exclusive Parisian vintage club. Whats not to love about that!

Kickin’ it in Copenhagen

just over a month ago (yes I’m still catching up on blogs), a few of my fellow exchange students and I ventured of to the scandenavian treasure that is Denmark, to me more specific, Copenhagen. A little gem of Europe, located only a stone throw across the water from Molmo, Sweden (literally it is a 20 minute ferry ride from Sweden, very close) .

I have, unexpectedly, incontrovertibly, fallen in love with Copenhagen.

It was a very last minute trip , with most of my fellow exchange students watching sites like ‘skyscanner’ like obsessive hawks, all hoping to snap up cheap  deals for the weekend. So it happened that one of us was browsing flights one afternoon and found cheap flights to Copenhagen, it sounded cool.. so we booked ourselves the flights.

( Quite the novelty to weekend in foreign cities to the extent they do in europe. with most major cities under 3 hours away, it is all too convenient)

Copenhagen city square

Copenhagen city square

Traditionally its not the most popular, nor raved about city in europe its true, being comparitively small and limited in terms of sites and attractions, it was not at the top of my list.  However,its perfect for a weekend trip for this exact reason, you can fit in a lot and leave feeling like you have seen a large portion of the city/culture.

After a two and a half hour flight we touched down, despite it being late at night, the city was alive with people out eating and drinking and being generally merry, quite a nice welcoming. After some midnight Maccas we checked into our accomodation for the weekend, the Downtown Hostel (incidentally, a really great place to stay if ever you are there), a cool little place just left of the city centre.

On the plane to Copenhagen

On the plane to Copenhagen

Enjoying Copenhagen's Night Life

Enjoying Copenhagen’s Night Life

With its own bar and movie area downstairs is very chilled and a great place to come back to after a day sightseeing in the chill for a beer and pizza. Hostel traveling can be hit and miss, finding a gem in one city with cosy beds and fun staff one day, and cold showers and mice the next… so buyer be ware- check out sites like famoushostels.com and read the reviews from fellow travellers. However on the flip side, we met some really cool people staying at the hostel and were able to  compare notes on what cities and sites to see.

The Quirky Down-town Hostel

The Quirky Down-town Hostel

The docks of Copenhagen

The docks of Copenhagen

What a view!

What a view!

The city of Copenhagen itself is small enough that you can walk everywhere. We were lucky that, for the most part, it was sunny for our stay. that being said… it gets VERY cold.. so pack your coat and umbrella!

With a central network of canals, its worth taking a boat tour, they will give you some background info on the city, as well as take you to possibly the most famous monument, the statue of local Hanz Christian Andersons most iconic creation, The Little Mermaid… did someone say photo op? The city itself was an inspiration for many of his fables, with its cobbled stone streets, palaces and generally romantic vibe its not hard to see why.

One of the Many Canals

One of the Many Canals

Hanz Christian-Andersons little Mermaid

Hanz Christian-Andersons little Mermaid

View of Copenhagen from the cities Observatory

View of Copenhagen from the cities Observatory

If the water is not your thing, the staff at our hostel pointed us in the direction of free walking tours that are on offer, although we didnt have time to go on one, everyone we spoke to raved about it and said it was a great introduction to the city and culture.

Monster Burgers in Copenhagen

Monster Burgers in Copenhagen

Copenhagen, is an odd mix of southern Europe and Scandinavia. Sitting between the two, its not quite either, the buildings echo both the sand-stone look and feel of france- and the clean lines and design orientation Scandinavia is famous for, with a slightly quirky edge. little cafe’s and bespoke stores line the canals, with multicoloured buildings and street art a common fixture.

Copenhagen street art

Copenhagen street art

The people themselves are fantastic, very friendly and open. English being a common tongue, it made it a really easy and relaxed trip, we were able to soak in the city and talk to locals with ease. Of course part of travelling is experiencing the challenge of language and really immersing yourself in a culture, so rolling with those challenges and taking the opportunity to soak in an alternative vocabulary. never the less, hearing your mother tongue in a foreign city makes it a lot less foreign.

The Streets of Copenhagen

The Streets of Copenhagen

Lost In Copenhagen

Lost In Copenhagen

One of the many palaces in Copenhagen

One of the many palaces in Copenhagen

More Palaces!!!

More Palaces!!!

Copenhagen royal Apartments, now THAT is a bed!

Copenhagen royal Apartments, now THAT is a bed!

I would call Copenhagen a must see for Europe, travel and accommodation are relatively cheap, but eating can be a little more pricey. Even so, the city has an incredible history, and night life. There are several castles and palaces dotted around the city, including the royal residences. Most of these are open to the public and well worth the look, especially the royal stables for those horse lovers.

The Royal Horses

The Royal Horses

Copenhagen is the perfect city for wondering around and getting lost ,everything being so close, and with plenty of museums, cultural centres, shops, cafes, bars and parks, for an easy weekend, with a chilled out atmosphere and certain charm. It’s easy to fall in love with.

Australia Day in Paris

I apologise as this is a really belated post…. I am currently trying to catch up on all the lovely adventures I am having, unfortunately sitting down to write about them can be hard as you are often off having another one! So they seem to have backed up a little….

In any case… with Australia Day coming up I was feeling a little forlorn with all my friends from home posting on facebook about their plans to go swimming at the beach, have a BBQ and generally make the most of the sunny weather.

Determined not to let it get me down, after a few google searches I came upon the mass-marketed phenomenon of the ‘Oz Cafe’. Oz cafe’s are a chain of pubs and restaurants intent on bringing the not-so-authentic australian experience to the wider europian market….Essentially when you walk in you are confronted with all things cliche’ Australia. think Crocodile Dundee on steroids…. rugby jerseys, digereedoos, native Australian art on the walls,Foster’s on tap and all other manor of parephenalia…

With a few of my friends from uni in toe, I hoped to give them- and myself -a taste of Australia.  Behind all the marketable, stereotypical Australian hype, there were genuine aspects of home. Wolfmother playing over the speakers, surfing doco’s on the tellies, Boags, Tooheys and back-packing Aussies behind the bar.. and perhaps most importantly, saussage sangas and lamingtons… although the sausage sandwiches had a distinctly french twist- being served on baguettes as apposed to run of the mill white slice- It was a good to be able to kick back and chill with the sound of nasal Aussie slurrrs in the background.

Some 'Erasmus' students and I at the Australia Day celebrations at the Oz Cafe, Grands Boulevard.

Some ‘Erasmus’ students and I at the Australia Day celebrations at the Oz Cafe, Grands Boulevard.

Of course living in Paris, you want to have the most authentic cultural experience possible, the Oz Cafe not really being part of that. But it gave me a satirical perspective of how australians are generally perceived by the wider world, as the ruffians with a beer in hand and a kangaroo in the front yard- rather than fighting that image the Oz Cafe plays off it with a bit of tongue in cheek… For example, a French band playing Australian and American classics to a Parisian, Canadian and Australian audience in the middle of Paris- seems more than a little ironic.

I know I go on about how being away from Australia can be hard, and how homesick it can leave you. I’m sure some of you will read my Blog and think ‘YOUR’E LIVING THE DREAM! STOP COMPLAINING!’ I don’t mean to come off as ungrateful or ignorant, to the contrary I am absolutely loving my time here, but one of the things me and my fellow Aussie exchange student, Naomi talk about frequently is how difficult it can be to try and communicate the trials and tribulations living in Paris presents, without seeming like an ingrate. Although its a dream, and incredible opportunity to be living here, the day to day issues to do with cultural miss-communications, language barriers and in-your-face nature of Paris can wear you quite thin, both emotionally and mentally, simply because it’s every single day that you are dealing with it and this entirely different culture.  This is why I think,  more than ever, when you are away from home,  where you are out of your comfort zone almost constantly, the small things and reminders of home mean the most. Whether its Vegemite on toast, listening to Tripple J online, or heading to an Oz Cafe, they are a little morale boosts that bring a smile to your face and keep you going, and therefore essential…even if it is a little lame.

Care Packages from home - filled with the essentials!!

Care Packages from home – filled with the essentials!!

Sunny Sundays and a Good Book…

Over the weekend I found myself almost exclusively in vintage shops and Book stores, I will write about the vintage stores next time as they are quite a culture unto themselves… today though, I thought I would right about some of the book stores I have found and the areas surrounding them.

It seems a bit of an odd topic to be writing about given the limitless museums and other cultural phenomenon available as a topic, However, the concept of a lazy afternoon of flipping through books is synonymous with the ‘take your time and drink some wine’ attitude of Paris.   I consider myself quite the book hoard and enjoy nothing more than a cosy spot with a coffee and something to get my literary teeth round, so this felt like something worth writing about.

The street where you will find Shakespeare and Co.

Rue de la Bûcherie, where you will find Shakespeare and Co.

Shakespeare & Co.

Shakespeare & Co.

 

The Shakespeare Book Company is a little book shop nestled away beside the Notre Dame, the bookshop itself is quite famous, but you could easily walk past it and not even know.It is made up of two stores, one second hand, where you can find fantastic leather bound and first edition treasures-although impressive, it is a little expensive for a uni student. The other is full to bursting point with books both old and new, the shelves pile right to the ceiling and books are stacked precariously on tables. Its the kind of place  you really have to go when its quiet, as there isn’t much room to move, and you have the time to flip through the multitude of  titles ranging from fashion to poetry and fiction. Ladders lean against walls for those short of stature and the whole place echos the kind of charm of yester-year.

Shakespeare and co.

Inside Shakespeare and Co.

One of the few Bookshops in Paris catering to an English audience you can find pretty much anything you need from best sellers to the more obscure bespoke titles. Up a curling flight of stairs there is a children’s section even I envy, a large selection of second hand books and a room where they have poetry readings every Sunday, open to the public. The staff are refreshingly humorous and warm, and every treasure you take home is stamped on the inside cover so you remember the special place you bought it. It is a MUST see if you are ever in Paris, just left of centre of the tourist trap, there really is no excuse not to go.

IMG_1012

One of the many Alternative titles you will find here.

IMG_1017

Chanel is a Parisian Must

As you walk away from the Notre Dame, towards Metro Stations ‘Saint Michele’ and ‘ Cluny – La Sorbonne ‘ you find a charming area where the cobbled streets are flanked by streetside vendors selling crepes, (a Nutella Crepe being a cultural must), falafel, bars and cheap Brasseries offering three course french menus for any budget.  Further down you will come across the church of
Paroisse de Saint-Séverin, even if you are not especially religious, like the Notre Dame its appeal lies in its beauty, where faith is not required to appreciate it. What sets it apart from the other hundreds of churches in Paris is the stained glass windows, although many classical pieces are a part of the building, there are also several windows that are more more modern and alive with colour an pattern, the opposite side of the church has a dozen modern art pieces also on display.

Librairie Galignani is the First English bookstore to be established on the European continent, it was founded in 1520. I was referred here by one of my lecturers, a New Yorker who specialises in luxury branding and has been living in Paris for the last 15  years. He is the sort of guy who has sussed out some of the best local spots to visit and what to avoid.  I was originally looking for a text book for class.(as a side note, in terms of academic material for business, Marketing and Management, this place is THE place to go) Galignani is much more your traditional book shop, although less of a personal experiance than Shakespeare and Co. the size of the shop itself, its central location and the quality of books it has on offer makes it the go to place for anything academic  or travel related.

IMG_1029

The entrance and plaque-stone of Galignani

Just a block up the road is W.H.Smith, this is the most obviously ‘enlish’ of the book shops. Taking up two stories of the building, at first it is like walking into an Angus and Robinson or any other run of the mill chain store, however walk in a little further and you will find  a HUGE amount of English paraphernalia, magazines from all corners of the globe (including the Australian Women’s weekly cooking series) and an entire food section with food stuffs from england and Australia. To my delight they also had Vegemite!! W.H.Smith also has a huge academic section worth looking at, especially their arts and fashion section which is fantastic.

IMG_1032

W.H.Smith

The essentials for surviving Paris...

The essentials for surviving Paris…

Both these stores are on the Rue de Rivoli, one side of which is made up of the Tuileries Gardens, despite it being winter, these gardens are exquisite and overlook the Eiffel Tower. If somewhat cliche, there are plenty of chairs and benches to break the spine of a new book with a coffee, take in the world and feel ever-so french….

The Gardens

The Gardens

Taking in the view....

Taking in the view….

But First You Must Fall in Love….

So, as its Valentines Day in Paris, I thought stick with the theme of the day and write about the love affairs in the city of romance…or rather, love affairs with the city of romance.

A few nights ago I was sitting in a cafe next to Notre Dame (as cliche as it was), talking to a fellow CSU student, Naomi, who has been on exchange since last June, admittedly seeking some comfort in the familiar twang of her/our accent.

Having been here just on 6 weeks i am still adjusting, and I have at times struggled with the culture shock of living in Paris, although rare it would hit in the oddest ways, missing the fresh, clean smell of home or simply the convenience of walking into a shop and asking about a dress or wine without the inevitable language barriors. Some days I love Paris and other days in the selfishness of homesickness, I loath it.

In the kind of chat only girls have, I vented to her about it, Naomi had been through this phase, but was now at the point where she never wanted to leave. The way she explained it was through paraphrasing a saying here, that ‘you must fall in love with Paris’.

Exclusive Valentines day Macaroon from Luduree- rasperry and lychee.. mmmm

Exclusive Valentines day Macaroon from Luduree- rasperry and lychee.. mmmm

Valentines Day Girl date at the Luduree cafe on the Champs Elysee

Valentines Day Girl date at the Luduree cafe on the Champs Elysee

This I found quite provoking, the first weeks I was here I was so over the moon to be here, and now I look back I can liken that euphoria to that of when you first have a crush, or start dating someone; that giddy, laughing, smile-all-the-time, rose-tinted-glasses effect. After this phase come the dreaded morning-after effect where you realise what you got yourself into, where all the little flaws and discrepancies become apparent and the shine fades away.

Paris, and the effect it has on people is much like that.

So many couples visit Paris, seeing it as the Mecca for romance and folly, which it is in so many ways, you only have to visit a famous monument and you will see all levels of soppiness and hand holding. Because for the time those couples are here, everything is perfect, even a rainy day cant spoil it.  However it does not last, and like a one night stand or fling its glimmer dies quickly, and you are faced with reality. That is unless, it is True Love.

The way I see it, a visit to Paris, is a lustful fling of a relationship. it fulfils a dream or fantasy, and you can ignore all the faults because it isn’t going to last, so you are free to live in that moment. However to live in Paris, you must fall in love with it unconditionally, regardless of its flaws.  When you move away from the polished, sandstone tourist districts, museums and designer stores, Paris is like any other city, it has its problems. Some areas have a feel much more similar to areas of Sydney than what you would expect of Paris. Away from the balconied buildings and ornate alcoves, Its dirty and gritty, there is a huge amount of homelessness, crime, and at times it can feel like you are constantly looking over your shoulder or holding your purse.

I must admit I have seen some of the more sinister side to Paris, I was pickpocketed only a few weeks ago, thankfully it was only camera that was taken. But dispute this, there is a slow growing warmth for the city growing in me, which is what love often is, it isn’t always like the movies where it occurs on site, for the rest of us mortals its a slow, organic process where you realise one day ‘ you know what? I actually, propperly love (insert name)’.

Paris has a spirit, a culture and a personality that it does not apologise for, you simply must take it as it is, love or hate it.

I think it is something you simply have to stick to, where you get over the forlorn speed-bump of things not being perfect and glittery,where like any great love, and you accept it for what it is, flaws and all….