One Day We're Gonna Live In Paris
A year ago I went to Paris on my own and took lots of photos and wrote a sort-of diary about how crap I am at travelling on my own...
MY FIRST DAY: TRYING NOT TO LOOK LIKE A TOURIST
My first day. I really want to not look like a tourist, but that’s impossible when you’re hulking a pretty big camera around and look a bit lost and only speak stumbling, half remembered GSCE French.
I have a little trouble gearing myself up to leave the apartment. When I planned this trip I imagined myself breezing through the streets of Paris gaily chatting with the locals and looking completely at home. That is obviously not the case and I have a bizarre dread of taking photos (as if that shows me up as a fraud and they’ll ask me to leave because I’m clearly not French, whoever THEY are). I decide to warm up by taking a few pictures of the apartment building I’m staying in.
It looks pretty and light and so French in the daylight. When I arrived the evening before the lights weren’t working and I thought maybe I was going to be murdered.
I MAKE IT OUTSIDE
Ok, I made it (after checking, re-checking and re-re-checking I had my keys and the code for the front door). I must add this is my first trip abroad alone so I think I’m justified in feeling slightly neurotic.
I’m staying in Montmartre so I decide to walk up to Sacre Coeur. I have no money so I just walk around the outside and admire the view. I’m still trying to take stealth photos so no one notices I’m a tourist. With a huge camera. At one of the major tourist spots in Paris. I’m not saying it’s logical.
PARIS IS SMALL (AND COLD)
Citymapper does Paris! This is the best news I’ve heard all year. It’s only 40 minutes walk to The Seine and so I decide to walk in the general direction and do some exploring. I warm up (mentally, not physically, my hands are numb for the entire weekend) and find it easier to take photos when there are less people around.
Before I left, a few people made a disgusted face and asked “why Paris?” These people either haven’t been to Paris or are attempting to prove their individuality through contrariness. Whatever. Paris is awesome. Every street you turn down is just so… Parisian. Look at those scooters! Look at those lamps! Look at those books! Look at that horse!
I FIND AN ARCADE!
This is both interesting and warmer than outside.
I FIND THE LOUVRE
Which is pretty easy. Because It’s massive. And kind of RIGHT THERE.
I'M ALL LOUVRE THIS
Be grateful this is the first pun you’re coming across. I can’t promise it’ll be the last.
I spend a bit of time doing some more wandering around the courtyard. I think I go across the river and get a pastry and some coffee to recharge my batteries (the 40 minute walk actually ended up taking two hours because I kept wandering off down side streets.)
The dude taking the photo has a great photo stance that I hope one day to emulate. Pure confidence.
I finally cough up the Euros and venture inside, because it’s warm and because, well, it’s the Louvre.
Evidently I am more interested in architecture than artefacts as I have lots of photos of the ceiling and remember *maybe* seeing the Mona Lisa from a distance. And I think some brooches? Lot’s of brooches.
CEILINGS AND SHADOWS
I mean, why else would you got to the Louvre?
The answer, obviously, is to go hang out in the sculpture gallery and take photos of people taking photos. And being super cliche. Kissing? In Paris? Come on.
After I’ve exhausted my capacity for taking ceiling photos and papping unsuspecting strangers I almost forget to visit the bit with all the paintings. By this time I’m pretty knackered though so I zoom through, see the backs of the heads of all the people looking at what I assume must be the Mona Lisa, buy the most expensive bottle of Diet Coke ever and head back home.
I ALSO WENT TO THE CHAMPS ELYSEES
But I don’t have much to say about that because it’s like Oxford Street but on a slope.
BIG NIGHT OUT
On the flight from London I sat by this gal called Brogan. We bonded over being torn between ordering Prosecco from the flight attendant and being sensible human beings. The sensible won out. There was also a guy who we chatted to but I can’t remember his name. Brogan, help me out here? Anyway we hope you had a lovely weekend too.
We made up for our lack of drinking on the flight by PLENTY of drinking on this night, jumping in front of monuments and general causing of havoc on rented bicycles with her friend Jamey.
If you haven’t played bicycle wine relay along the banks of The Seine then, my friend, you haven’t lived.
OUT OF FOCUS PHOTO, OUT OF FOCUS BRAIN
The Louvre security guard doesn’t mind you doing wine relay laps but he does mind if you stand in the dried up fountain bits. FYI.
I WASN'T JOKING ABOUT THE JUMPING
Jamey is also a photographer and I think we made Brogan jump about 10 times. She took a tumble on a couple too. Sorry about that Brogs. But look! You’re art!
IN WINE RELAY THERE ARE NO WINNERS, ONLY VERY DRUNK PEOPLE.
We finish our bottle of wine. Off to somewhere else that sells wine. And has outdoor heaters. Jamey and I compete to see who can creep on the most strangers. We also take turns annoying the heck out of Brogan by pointing our cameras at her.
At about 4am we think we’ve probably had enough wine and I discover I’m only 20 minutes away from my apartment. About an hour later I get home.
IF HUMANS WERE MEANT TO BE THIS HIGH UP WE'D HAVE WINGS
Hungover. Guess I should go to the Eiffel Tower. That’s what you DO when you’re in Paris right? I went last time I was here. There wasn’t that much of a queue. And I’ve never been to the top. Yeah I’ve got debilitating vertigo but I’m sure it’ll be fine.
I know guys, I know.
An hour and a half of (FREEZING COLD) queuing and 17€ later and I’m 377ft in the air questioning my life choices that have lead me to this point. But for some reason…
I decide that since I’ve paid to go to the top I may as well do it (I blame the red wine and my hangover bravado). Anyone that’s been around me when I’m high up will know exactly why this is a terrible idea. I tend to need to hang on to the nearest thing - whatever that may be. Sorry nice tourist people.
Subsequently I only have photos of people looking at the view because AS IF I am going near the edge.
I love the ground so very much and I’m never leaving it again.
CELEBRATORY GROUND PHOTO
AND BESIDES, THE EIFFEL TOWER IS NICER FROM THE GROUND
I wander over to the Place De La Concorde but by this time I’m so cold and worn out that I can only muster the most half-hearted of stranger stalking.
On the way home my Metro Ticket stops working and I have to show my true colours as a tourist and negotiate with the ticket woman to issue me with a new one.
The rest of the day is best spent inside with some bread and cheese where no one can tell that I’m not French.
LAST MORNING: I MEAN, I PRACTICALLY AM AMÉLIE
If Amélie spends her morning walking round in circles trying to pluck up the courage to go in to a cafe, any cafe, to get some breakfast.
Eventually I find THE AMELIE CAFE, otherwise known as Cafe des Deux Moulins which turns out is right across the street from my apartment and would have saved me a lot of walking. Still, Montmartre is pretty.
I attempt to mumble some French “Bonjour, je voudrais une table à l‘extérieur”, but it’s either too lacking in conviction or the waiter just wants to make me squirm. At least I’m trying though right?
I'M SURE THE CANAL SAINT-MARTIN IS LOVELY WHEN THERE'S WATER IN IT
As my flight is in the afternoon I decide to walk down to the Canal Saint-Martin, near the Gare du Nord. Unfortunately it had been drained for some maintenance so it was more of a puddle. There was something exciting going on with a fire engine though.
I DO HAVE A PHOTO OF THE VIEW!
This was from my previous trip 6 years ago. I was only able to take this because there was someone to hold on to. Thanks Mum.
Here is a list of things I remember seeing that I didn’t photograph: a woman sifting through a huge tray of buttons outside a haberdashery which made such a lovely noise, a woman on her own who asked me to take a photo of her on her iPad (which I hope she liked), two women carrying papers across a square that got blown out of their hands in the wind and I helped them pick up, a young Northern couple having a really vicious argument in the Louvre whilst standing in front of the Mona Lisa (I can’t remember what it was about but I think I was on his side), a woman who had so much plastic surgery that her face no longer really resembled a face, but she was happily drinking champagne on the top level of the Eiffel Tower so I guess she won that round.
Thanks Paris! You were kind of cold and a bit mean, but I still love you. À bientôt!
I wanted to go to Barcelona next, and almost booked flights while I was in Paris. But then I got a message from my bank and that put paid to that.