Paris practical tips


Of course I didn’t even do a fifth of what I planned yesterday. I did make it as far the Marche de Puce at Port Vanves for about 11.30 only to find it shuts up shop at 12am! However this was a good thing. I wanted EVERYTHING and as my Taurean nesting kicked in like labour, I mentally furnished and decorated my dream cottage five times over. Only penury and the compelling fact that I’m homeless and anything I would buy would look slightly less ‘shabby chic; stored in an archive box in my parents house, stopped me carting home an exquisite decoupaged dress dummy. Similar to one of which I already possess ! Stored in my parents house!

After that I proceeded to spend the next eight hours hopping buses, just for the hell of it and meandering from café to café from the 18th, down through the 10th, through the 4th to the 1st. I think this is a sign that I might finally be getting over my ‘guide book guilt’, ie that frantic compulsion to ‘do everything, see everything, experience everything’ Paris has to offer within the space of a weekend. It might also be a sign that I feel it in my blood that I am going to be here for quite a while.

And funnily, it’s the less rarefied parts of Paris which seem to be sealing my love of this city. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the Louvre, the Latin quarter and all the glamourous tourist haunts. However Bangolet, the 18th, the 20th and the outskirts of the 12th , have a fascination and a ‘life on the streets’ buzz which reminds me of what I loved about India and Thailand, a sort of gutsy sense of community. Even already I recognise and nod hello to more people in Bagnolet then I ever did in Monkstown.

But then again they’re not French! At least not born, what ever about bred. And from the sounds of it, infiltrating French French society is an entirely different story. I was out with the ‘Meet up Irish Expats’ group last night for a picnic on the Paris Plages (the quirky Seine-side seaside for which 18 tons of sand has been brought in for the summer).

A few wines in, the topic came around to the Parisians. Perfectly pleasant Irish girls, here anything from 6 and 17 years, said that trying to make friends with Parisian women in particular in nigh on impossible. The men start off friendly right enough but sooner or later scurry back to the more chicly clad bosoms of French women.

They also had a lot to say about French women’s jealousy. Maybe I’ve been oblivious but reputedly they can size up your hair, outfit and cuticles at 50 paces. Not to mention their possessiveness over their men. Apparently it’s almost a matter of form for a woman to have an affair with her best friend’s husband. In fact it would almost be rude not to! Being that I haven’t been back two weeks and I was lunching with Married Man, I’ll keep the head down on that one.

Unfortunately, it’s not the first time I’ve heard this appraisal and in fact I’d read something to that effect only the evening before. Still, I’ll wait to reserve judgement, for myself and anyway it’s not like I need to be friends with ALL French women. But one or two would be nice.

Okay, I am off to get me some free culture. On the first Sunday of every month loads of the museums and momuments are free! Okay you might have to qeue, but hell it’s free and it’s good shit they have in these museums.

Look up http://www.parismuseumpass.fr. That’ll give you a good overview and all the info you need to get started. Right, I’m off to the Concierege to see where poor Marie Antoinette was jailed before being beheaded, then across the Orangerie to see a few water lillies.