Non-tourist tips for living in Paris

Au Pairing in Paris, Europe

I spent 8 months in France’s capital city –  the most visited city in Europe. Seeing the City of Light as a ‘local’ instead of a tourist is an important part of settling in and enjoying a new city. Here are some of my tips for when you arrive in Paris; my favourite spots to visit (& drink and dance lol), best steps to take in your first few days and where to avoid like the French plague… I’ve added cickable links to most points to make life a million times easier for you. wooo

Go to at least 3 picnics. They’re awkward at first and organisers can seem totally creepy but I would’ve had ZERO friends if I hadn’t of forced myself to a fair few in my first weeks. Check out Youth Events in Paris for organised picnics, take a thick scarf or blanket, go to Carrefour for screw top wine and snacks. Add people on Facebook afterwards; if you really want to be the glue that holds the group together take photos and tag everyone.

Don’t be surprised if you’re joined by a few rats if you go to Champ de Mars.

Avoid Cafe Oz (internationals galore) and head to Le Perchoir. It’s pricey but pre drink and then share one glass of wine between four of you; super savin’.

visit The Local for english news, jobs and advice from Europe

Go to a metro party if you’re not claustrophobic and don’t mind a few runs from the police

Get a local sim and not just an English sim with the ability to make calls from France. Makes life easier for everyone else

Try out the bars in Bastille but don’t end up here every weekend. Theres more to Paris than Bastille!

Get to know some dance songs as that’s what you’ll be dancing along to in the cheesy europop bars. The French love their electro; I made a short soundcloud playlist to get you started. 

Go to 1979 on a Saturday if you like hip hop and RnB, the DJs are fab

Check out Shakespeare and Company for English books

Grab a few metro maps and download the RATP app. Learn your line and the lines your friends live on, work out how far it is to walk to certain places. Find out what time the first and last trains to where you live are to avoid unpleasant surprises at the end of the night. Learn the night bus route and don’t be afraid to just get it! I avoided countless pricey taxis because I just faced up to the ‘night bus fear’ straight away.

Buy at least one jar of Speculoos and thank me later.

Like the Seventy Fifth Facebook page and follow the blog to keep up to date with the cool shizz happening about town (it’s for english speakers, yay)

Accept the price and inconvience of location and visit the Foundation Louis Vuitton

Head to Couchsurfing parties for pool, beer pong and sumo fights

Wander round a flea market on a Sunday but don’t expect to find anything too exciting. They’re a bit overrated in my opinion but theres a nice atmosphere if you’re into that

Go for a walk down canal St Martin in the day and return in the evening

Square du Vert-Galante by Pont Neuf for picnics

Download Tinder to meet some weirdos. Dating in the ‘city of love’ is as actually about as unromantic as it gets so you might as well admit defeat and get some free meals & bizarre conversations out of it.

Go to Place de Republique on a Sunday and join a demonstration if you want to express your opinion

Go to the Kilo Store in Le Marais, don’t expect any bargains but have a browse

Marks and Spencer’s is pretty much cheap here so cheer yourself up with Percy pigs

Visit Galeries La Fayette to appreciate the ceiling and then head to the roof for a pretty cool view

Buy your homeware from Tati and feel like you’re floating in a Poundland-crossed-with-Wilkinson-cheapo heaven

Don’t upset any homeless people. You might not live to tell the tale (I have huge amounts of compassion for homeless people and their living situations but remember wine is cheaper than water in Paris. Be careful gals)

Get to know when your local post office is and expect to spend a long time in there as everyone is so slow!

Bear in mind that McDonalds have different stuff on the menu. The chips are never salty enough.

If you need anything for a Sunday either be prepared and get it on Saturday, go early Sunday morning or head to the Jewish area.

Go for a run, walk or picnic in Parc Buttes Chaumont, it’s real pretty.

Vending machines aren’t all that reliable.

Stand up on the metro if it’s busy and you’re on a foldable seat.

Go to Le Comptoir General; it’s an amazing place the bar tenders know how to make the strongest drinks.

If you’re stuck in an uncompromising situation there are 31 street condom vending machines in Paris. You’re welcome.

AAAAAAnd that’s all. There’s no reason to ever be bored in Paris; the gender based harassment and general cringe-ness of the lovey dovey couples walking too slowly down the street might get you down but there’s definitely worse places to live in.

Oh and drink all the peach wine.

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I’m lovin’ this.

Au Pairing in Paris

If you’re a bit of a peace and love hippie like me then you’ve probably stumbled across ‘The Secret’ at some point. Before I bore you with the details just go and read the book.

If you can see past the cheesy American ‘live your dreams’ tone of it and have an open mind, it can honestly change your life. Anyway, it asks you to start each day by stating what you’re thankful for. If you smush up 7 days worth of gratitude into 1 post then this would be it. (Obviously I’m thankful for family, health, food, water, a job etc but here I’m just stating the material stuff. Sorry not sorry.)

What I’m lovin’ this week.

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Watching

THIS Mcdonalds advert. I hate to admit I still can’t shake the very small Maccy D’s habit as I hate everything it stands for (but it’s so convenient god damn it!) but I’m lovin’ (get it?) their new Just Another Day ad campaign. Watch the video here.


Apping

Duolingo gets so many rave reviews and it’s totally worth the hype. I think most language learners have tried it before and I’ve recently rediscovered my love for it. It’s a free language learning app that teaches you the basics of French, German, Spanish plus loads more useful languages You can do it online on a desktop, on the mobile app or on a tablet. I personally prefer it on the tablet because you can interact with other users and track your progress easier. It’s a bit addictive if you’re into repetitiveness and earning points for achievements. Download Duolingo here


Listening 

Love this song; SBTRKT ft Sampha –  temporary view

This is added to ‘the DJ better play this tonight list’ along with 7/11 and All Day. Rihanna – Better have my money

My cousin Sheri cam to visit and we ended up singing the whole weekend. We’re both awful and get dirty looks on the metro but we don’t care. Now this is stuck in my head.

And lastly, Laura Mvula – She (MJ remix).


Dancing

Saturday nights in Paris can be a huge hit or miss, especially when you’re new here so I’m always pretty happy when we find a new decent place to go out. 1979 is surprisingly now one of my favourites. Free entrance before 1am, happy hour til 1 and RnB, hip hop and soul til 6am. No ones there to pick up girls, no ones throwing up in the corner, no ones crying in the toilets; everyones just going nuts dancing. I may have told the DJ I love and respect him (hahaha so deep) a few times before.

Find it on 49 Rue Berger, really close to Chatelet Les Halles metro. Make sure you sign up to the email invitation to get free entrance and grab a Mojito for €6 before happy hour ends, they’re pretty strong. Defo catch Paris A Le Groove if you’re into dancing all night and those genres of music.

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Exercise

Running is so much better when the weathers not miserable. I hope I can fit a few more long distance runs in before I leave because I love love love the parks here. Judit and I did nearly 4 miles last night but I think I spent more time on the sofa chatting to Bethany when we got back than actual running.

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Reading 

I’ve nearly finished ‘Not that Kind of girl’, Lena Dunham’s autobiography. It’s real funny but lemme chat about that next time

Not a book but this Buzzfeed article made me cry. Buzzfeed get a lot of stick for their publishing style but I think it’s credible that they can post the most pointless but relevant magazine style posts next to interviews with Barack Obama and this heartbreaking story of a MP living with HIV.

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Random – PINK

I re-dyed my faded pink back section and added more magenta to almost my whole head after seeing the Printemps 150ans decorations… See the pics here. It looks brighter in real life but I know how quickly it will fade. Oh and I made my blog pink. Obsessed right now.

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I like that I can hide it if I need to. Business when up, Party when down. Oh yeeeah


Phew, that’s everything I’m lovin’ this week.

What else should I be listening to, watching, reading, going to etc? Let me know in the comments.

Mary, x

Back home & Travel Playlist

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Can I ever go anywhere without having some kind of slip up or fail? Apparently not. I didn’t sleep on Friday night as I needed to pack and generally sort out my trip. I’d intended to spend Saturday morning in central Paris, buying a few gifts before going to Bercy to catch my coach. Nope, I’d booked my coach from the airport, an awkward hour and a bit from my house. So no time for shopping, I rushed to the airport because last time I went there I almost missed my flight. Obviously I arrived way too early and was left hanging around. I read some of Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl (thanks Carys & Evie!) on the journey and am finding it pretty funny. How someone in the public eye can be that frank and honest is beyond me though. Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 14.31.48

The feeling of coming home for the first time in months and slumping on the sofa was short lived when mum quickly told me I wasn’t allowed to eat on the new sofa and to go upstairs, hang up my coat and put my bags away. Cool. She was actually directing me to a small pile of unopended Christmas presents and letters. I opened my TEFL certificate, I obviously knew I’d passed my course but it’s nice to see the document telling me I’m qualified to teach overseas, how grown up of me. Georgie had got me the nicest bag ever and I’d actually pinned it on Pinterest ages ago without her knowing so we obviously both have great taste. Rhiana and Nev came over for pizza, chats and Take Me Out. Still feeling emotional about Nick and Looci… Feeling happy to have seen the gals.

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I braved getting in the car and driving Nev back to St Albans in the morning then me and dad went to Shadwell to see Charlie, James and baby Alfie. It still amazes me that he’s a real person and he has the softest baby skin in the world. I want a baby to just stroke and cuddle.

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My cousin Sheri and Auntie Doreen are coming tomorrow and I’m so keen to go to TK Maxx and River Island becuase I haven’t been in forever. I just went into town with mum and G to buy some new running trainers as I’ve had my last ones since mid 2012. I ran on the treadmill and had my feet filmed to see if I needed support trainers, I ended up with Nike Air Zooms in pink and black, so pretty but so expensive aah

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On Wednesday morning I’m flying to Alicante to see Kloe (pal from Paris). I know I’ll be hanging around the airport forever as dad won’t let me rush. So I’ve made a travel playlist for that journey and then my coach to Madrid on Sunday. Personally, every trip or holiday has to have it’s own playlist, maybe I’m just OCD about that, check mine out on Soundcloud –
https://soundcloud.com/mary-mandefield/sets/spain-february-2015

Mary x