Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Yay la rentrée

Its finally La Rentrée (or back to school) for me. The great thing about teaching is the long summer holidays but for me it nearly killed me! I didn't leave Paris due to budgetary restraints, so it was a LONG HOT STUFFY summer of doing not much! I'm the type of person who is better being busy, so I nearly lost my sanity!

Needless to say I'm going around with a big smile on my face now that the academic year has started. I've taken on alot of work this year, but am attacking it with gusto.

So during the break I tried and tried to work on le francais. In fact I signed up for a group French class but lasted one day. I just couldn't do it. So I switched to auto apprentissage, which meant working by myself in the library and someone checking up on me once a week. It wasn't that successful so now I'm trying a different approach. I'm trying a language exchange. I've found a mature student who studies in the area I teach who wants to learn English. So she's going to work with me on my written French and I'll work with her. This could be brilliant or a disaster but the price is right so I'm giving it a go.

Autumn has been gorgeous in Paris. Lovely warm sunny days, chilly nights. The market out my window has changed to lovely earthy fruit and veg, lots of peaches, pumpkin, artichokes etc. Due to ongoing financial embarrassment (long boring story of people not paying me and being VERY late) I've been shopping religiously in Chinatown in the 13th. I cannot stress how bloody cheap it is there. Last week I got a weeks shopping for €8, supplemented by €3 in a normal supermarket (for porridge and a small splurge on chocolate and a can of coke! Milka Daim chocolate... YUM) and it did me exactly a week. Granted I ate a lot of rice noodles and rice paper rolls, but luckily I like them and bonus they are low in calories, so I'm feeling good! I've decided not to spend any random money, so most days I spend nothing. It's weird but good. And there's certainly a lot less spontaneous junk food buying, in fact its completely stopped!

In other good news from my classroom this year I have a view of the Eiffel Tower! I'm delighted, especially as I teach til 22h one night, so I'll see the twinklies to keep me going :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Masculine or Feminine?

So I have a pretty good level of french, but its spoken french, my grammar is a disaster. One of the things that annoys me is never having a clue whether something is masculine or feminine!

Well I have been studying up and am currently flying through an intermediate grammar book. I found a chapter on masc/fem and who knew but there are RULES! Why did no one tell me this before!!

So I'm going to do a very limited sum up here for those who are interested. Anyone who's reading who has no interest in french, stop reading now!

So all words ending in:
  • age - except nage, plage, cage, page, image which are feminine
  • ment
  • eau
  • phone
  • scope
  • isme
are masculine so are le or un e.g. le fromage

All words ending in:

  • tion
  • sion
  • té - except côté, été, comité, deputé, paté which are masculine
  • ette
  • ance
  • ence - except silence which is masculine
  • ure - except mercure/cyanure which are masculine
  • ode/ade/ude
are feminine so la or une e.g. une voiture

Then theres are some lists:

un- problème, système, programme, volume, modèle, groupe, domaine

une - couleur, odeur, saveur, peur, douleur

I'm not an expert I just found this today, but I thought it was quite helpful. No doubt its in no way exhaustive but its a start!


Well summer is well and truly upon us and by that I mean that I have finished work until mid September. Now this sounds great and all and this is usually the time that parisians flee Paris for their country residences, but due my lack of country pile and a bureaucratic nightmare which has resulted in me not being paid a huge chunk of money, I will be staying in gay paree.

Luckily the weather has calmed down, as we had a run of mid 30 weather there for a while and my fair skinned Irish constitution was DYING!

Anyway my plan for my break is the 3 fs: french, fat and fun in no particular order. French is studying to get the level up as I have an exam at the end of August, fat is well obvious and a good start has been made with me and the legend Helene of manshopper fame, undertaking a 45 day bikini challenge.

Fun has been seriously lacking in my life the last few months for many reasons. But I remedied that this weekend by starting the holidays off with a bang! I took myself off to Parc Asterix, which is a theme park just north of Paris. It was a really fun day! The rollercoasters made me scream from the bottom of my stomach and the candy floss was cheap and plentiful! I was exhausted by the end of the day but it was brilliant! I think screaming like that is good for you!

Today was the finish of the Tour de France and I went to the Champs Elysees to watch it. I am big Tour fan so I bought a big yellow tshirt and cheered everyone (apart from maybe Contador!) on like a mad thing!

Tonight was Inception at the movies... I think I need some time to digest that one!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Naked girls in Paris

So in the last few weeks I've been looking at a lot of naked girls in Paris.

First up a friend asked me to a works 'pot'.. a leaving drinks for one of his buddies. It started off well in one of those space age towers in la defense. I was a bit late so all that was left was whiskey... and so the evening began! We bounced round a few places and then it was suggested that we head to a club on the Champs Elysee. I thought yes Queen and hopped on the back of one of the guy's motorbikes (obviously one who was on the red bull not the whiskey!) and we headed into town. However we didn't arrive at Queen but at Pink Paradise, David Guetta's upmarket girlie dancing club. I just went with the flow as someone else was paying my entry and I'm going through a big David Guetta phase!

So yes there were naked girls everywhere and they mostly all had fake boobs and brilliant bodies. Granted they are probably all the right side of 25 but I certainly envied their thighs. There were other women there and it wasnt sleazy at all and the best part was having lovely clean (a mean feat in Paris) toilet practically all to myself! And the music was BRILLIANT! I had a great time bopping around drinking champagne and admiring the girls (in a purely ooo how did they just do that in 5 inch heels and a tutu sort of way!)

My next foray into nakedness was at the Crazy Horse Saloon, which is a 'cabaret' but here too the girls wear next to nothing. It was my second time going there. The venue is fab, like a 50s club, you have your own little table and very retro looking bottles of champagne. The crowd is a mix of locals and tourists and its all very sedate. The first time I went I was a bit underwhelmed, I didn't really get it, there was very little 'wow' to proceedings. Of course again I appreciated the dancers, their amazing bodies and what they could do with them but that was it! After that though I googled it and read all about the show being a combination of the dancers, light, music and mirrors and then I started to get it. So the second time I really enjoyed it much more. Its amazing the tricks the do with lights, so in fact the dancers don't seem naked at all, and there is a great mirrored routine that I still can't work out how they do it! There is also a great strip tease based around the stock market and I want to know how the stockings work! They come off with her shoes still on... I must investigate this more!

The french are well very french about naked women, so both of these places were not sleazy at all, and I would recommend either for women. I even went to the crazy horse with my dad, so thats showing you the level we are at there! And I came away from both with great admiration for these beautiful women and their talent.

Hmmm maybe its time for a detox day.. and then a run!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I'm alive...

Finally after 6 weeks in the internet wilderness, I'm back!

Well as previously reported finding a new place to live in France and sealing the deal is an absolute nightmare. I've been now in for 6 weeks and I love my new apartment, but I still don't have some of my paperwork! I managed to finally get in to the place on an undertaking that I would furnish the documents within 2 months... needless to say time is ticking!

My location is superb, right beside lots of great cafes, restos and shops. My gym is 3 minutes away and the metro 4! One upside/downside is that I have a brilliant street market just outside my front door. Upside, fresh cheap fruit and veg down my stairs, very important when I have a watermelon craving at 7am (which can happen!). Downside they start setting up just before 5am. Normally this doesnt bother me as I'm a morning type of person but twice I've had a hangover and it has been a nightmare!

My other big news is that I got a kitten, Charlie! So now I am officially a crazy old spinster with a cat! I have had her one week and its been a steep learning curve for me. She was 7 weeks when I got her, the cutest cutest thing ever. But I've never had a pet before (a goldfish age 7 doesnt really count) so I've been learning on the go, with lots of help from my twitter buddies :)

Anyway hopefully I'll be back to blogging regularly now... ahhhh it feels so good to be online.. now where is that maniac cat?!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Normal service suspended!

Since that last post 18 days ago my life has been on hold! I found a great apartment and have since been involved in the very expensive bureaucratic nightmare that is trying to get an apartment in Paris. There will be a full report shortly if I ever get the keys.

However the place is great, location amazing and its bright and airy and tres expensive but feck it.

...I'll be back...

(thats my kitchen 'area'!)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Home sweet home

Finding an apartment in Paris is bloody hard work. I'm currently in my second apartment here. The landlord is selling so I'm on the hunt for my third.

The first one I found before I moved here. It was on craigslist and I sent the deposit and first months rent before i even saw it! On reflection I was mad, but at the time I felt confident as I had spoken to the woman several times on the phone. It was a 20 sqm studio in the marais. Very fancy area, very tiny apartment. When you were in the shower, the toilet was there with you. It was really expensive and living in an attic room nearly drove me mad! I lasted 5 months.

I found the next apartment by asking EVERYONE I knew. When I say everyone I mean everyone on the street, in the bank, my clients, everyone. And finally I fell upon this HUGE double apartment in the not so trendy side of the 18th. 'Oh the 18th' people say, getting misty eyed about montmartre, the sacre coeur and abbesses. Well no one really seems to know about the other side of the hill in the 18th. All kebab shops, halal butchers and dodgy men on every corner! But the price was right, the space was great, its on a good metro line and I had a great flatmate all chosen out in the form of the lovely Lizzie from Cape Cod. I didn't have to worry about references or anything as the landlord is a sweet middle aged gay man who just decided he liked us and trusted us and that was that.

Well now I've been searching for about a month. I found the perfect place. On a rue privee (its my blog picture at the top) with gorgeous furniture and a VIEW OF THE EIFFEL TOWER! Terribly small and awfully expensive, it was mine. But unfortunately after making me wait 2 weeks and after several negotiations I didn't get it as my 'dossier' wasn't good enough.

The word dossier strikes fear into every reasonable persons heart. Well reasonable people without a permanent work contract with a decent salary. Basically to rent in Paris you need to make 3 times the rent after tax. Which means that most people here could afford to live on the streets, as Paris is feckin expensive! Us anglophones think differently. We are happy to pay the most of our wages on rent to get a great place and then eat pasta or get a weekend job to make ends meet. They don't get that here. I work for myself. First bad point. I've only been invoicing proper amounts for the last 3 months. Second bad point. Even though I can get a guarantor from my dad (at aged 32 its ridiculous) he is in Ireland. Third bad point.

So my dossier is shit, which means I need to find an apartment outside of the system. Unfortunately there are obviously many like me, so the pool is very limited. I have been having a bit of a nightmare. I call agencies and they are rude and the apartment is gone. I call agencies and they are nice but thats because they want 250e up front just to see their apartments with no guarantee of anything! I contacted a guy on craigslist who was the biggest most obvious scammer I have ever seen. Etc etc etc.

I know I'll find something.. .that is if I don't go insane before hand! (Oh and if you know anyone with an apartment going..!)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

3 little words..

Tonight I heard the best three words a woman can hear from a lovely man:

...."T'as maigri?"...

Have you lost weight? Why yes, yes I have, just a bit, thanks for noticing!

Now I could be a psycho bitch and think, whats he saying, was I fat before? But I'm not going to be, I am just going to accept the compliment as it is. Manshopper and I have been making a real effort lately, not on a diet or anything, but working out hardcore in the gym, and its really starting to pay off. And it feels so great to be able to eat whatever you want and not feel guilty!

So yes I'd prefer to hear, 'have you lost weight' to 'I love you'! This must mean that my assimilation as a Parisian is going well as I'm sure that would be the preference of most Parisians too. The locals here are OBSESSED with their weight and not in a good way. The women ok are one thing. They don't eat much, smoke alot and drink alot of coffee and therefore there is a lot of baby giraffe legs perched on platform heels in this town. To the extent that their little bodies cannot really hold the weight of their big hair, massive handbag and iphone, so they tend to stagger around the footpaths.

The men however are another story. They are also neurotic about their weight. Most of them talk about it constantly, which is decidedly unmanly in my view and they are always going on crazy diets. Like the eat 2 apples and a tin of tuna per day and then run for 2 hours kind of crazy diets. Its super unattractive. In this regard give me an irish man any day, who will cut back on the takeaways for a few weeks and run around the football pitch a bit more.

Now I must go and reflect on the why the hell I would actually want a french boyfriend. Oh and revel in the fact that I look like I have lost weight...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Finding a man in Paris

Melvil Poupaud the guy from Broken English and just my type of Paris man. There are lots but generally all dodgy bastards!

Finding a man in Paris is very easy. Well depending on what kind of man you are looking for.

Dodgy guys...
If you are looking for a one night stand (or one shot as the frenchies call it, of course with a heavy accent) or a fling (aventure), there is a man for you every where you look. In Paris if you are woman without a hump on your back and hair growing on your face you will get told you are beautiful and asked for your number several times a day. This especially happens to anglophone tourists and a lot less to local girls. Why you ask, as french girls are gorgeous, and us anglophones can be a bit of a mess?! Well let me tell you.

When I first got here I was quite flattered by being told several times a day, 'vous etes tres belle' (by the posher guys) or 'wesh m'selle, c'est quoi ton zero six' (by the more ghetto guys), but it got old very quickly. And why (well apart from being stunningly beautiful of course!) was I attracting all this attention. Because of my anglophone smiley face. By our nature we smile at everyone in the street. Parisians think we are psychotic due to this, they smile at no one, only crazy people smile at complete strangers. Parisian men however take this smile as a show of interest. This is why parisian women look like scowling miseries at all times. I have worked hard on my facial muscles and I fight my desire to smile and maintain what I refer to as 'the look of death' now on my face at all times in public. Annoying compliments have reduced significantly... good!

Married ones....
Ok so you could score of these lovely street boys. Or you could have a fling with a married man. The concept of being faithful to your wife does generally not exist in this town. All of my girlfriends would attest to this. Just the other day a business acquaintance inquired after my recently departed boyfriend whom he had met. When I informed him of the 'rupture' he said oh so now you are single, and implied that something could happen between us. Eh yeah right buddy, I may be single but what about the small fact that you are married to the lovely wife you are always talking about?!? He just smiled knowingly.... *shakes head*

Serial monogamists...
Another problem with finding a man in this town is that from the age of 15 french people get into a relationship and thats the end of that. One relationship ends by falling into another one. To be single does not exist. So yes there are plenty of handsome men in this town, but they always have a miserable, stick thin, marlboro light smoking girl with smokey eyes and a billowing black dress somewhere lurking around.

I met some nice guys the other night. Single (well according to them) and a good laugh... but 25. Now I know Demi Moore is the hotness but don't tell me that when Ashton Kutchner was snuggling up to the sexy minx that is Jessica Alba (20 years her junior) in Valentines Day, that Demi's heart wasn't beating sideways... mine would be a lot.

Anyway I shall continue (the somewhat lazy and not currently very motivated) search. See my buddys blog for a more scientific approach.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The flicks

Going to the cinema in Paris is a citywide pastime. Here most people go at least once a week and you are never far from a cinema. The Parisians are effusive about their cinema and always have strong opinions on films especially french ones.

One thing that surprised me when I first moved here was how many french made films there are. Obviously I used to pretend to be all high brow in Dublin and go to french films in the IFI, so I was aware of their existence but there are tons of new french films released here every year. I hear tell this is due to government sponsorship etc etc, and people who work on films here are paid even when they are not working, to keep the trade going etc.

Anyway this national obsession with cinema has resulted in the subscription card. All the cinema chains have them, I'm a UGC girl myself. This means you pay 20 euro a month and you can go to the cinema unlimited amount of times. I just recently upgraded to the 35 euro a month option which means you can bring someone with you. Today I went with fashionbomb Claire to Les Halles and we saw Nine and Valentines Day back to back. (not much to report on either film, Val Day wasn't as bad as anticipated!). At 10euros normal price a ticket, that card just paid for itself in one afternoon!

If you want to go to the movies in Paris, you need to book in advance if possible, because they run all the films in the same time frame, so its always a mad house when you arrive to get your ticket. Also they do not let you into the theater until the exact time of the film, which results in long tense queues as people jostle to be the first into the cinema... seriously annoying! Then every film there is the couple that arrive late and start demanding that others move so that they can have a seat together.

Anyway as I am now making more of an effort to assimilate (probably not the right word, I'll never be thin or miserable enough looking to be mistaken for a real Parisienne!) I have promised myself that I will go to more french films, as I have been very lazy about going just to VO (version originale ie English) films for a long time now. At least two in the near future are spiking my interest...