Here I am 3 weeks out from the Semi-Marathon de Paris after having been out in a comparably warm -3 deg Celsius run, not taking into consideration the wind chill from the frozen Canal St Martin that licks up off the ice blowing me kisses that flush my cheeks. It is one of the joys of this winter chill holding Europe ransom at the moment. It is a necessary evil to stick with it though as this training is currently the only constant in ma Vie en Rose. It really is quite a romantic picture, both the surface of the canal and the lake, have shards of ice strewn across them illuminated by the pauses between the elongated and intermittent shadows, in appearance not unlike the wine glass I broke on Saturday night.
Although the past week was the coldest I have ever been to date (no exaggeration) I got to experience my first ever snow fall! It was so enchanting to wake up to. It does make it bitterly unappealing to go outside but one day I did and went to visit the newly opened Helmut Newcake in the 10th. It is Paris’ first gluten free bakery and since I have been an on and off (currently on) gluten intolerant human being for the past 7 years I was pretty happy to hear that not only does this patisserie exist but it is just down the road from my new home. It has created a whole lot of attention and has been blogged about to death in the one month that it has been open. Their point of difference doesn’t end at gluten-free either, the service is warm and the coffee is good. It is also just next to a confluence of really exciting looking eateries that I am dying to try out.
My apartment hunt ended when I met my new flatmates in the 10 arrondissement. They are wonderfully friendly and Mabel is an architect so we have something in common. Mabel is originally from Argentina and speaks fluent Spanish and French and really good English. Amparo is from Spain and speaks very little English so it is great because for us to all talk together we have to speak in French.
Thanks to a very kind new friend who was leaving to spend three weeks in Argentina to escape the Parisienne winter (smart man) I was able to perform this said hunt from an apartment at the top of Parc de Belleville. Belleville is one of the highest points in Paris so from all around I had beautiful views of the city, especially at night when the city of lights earns its name.
My French immersion lessons started this week which I am really enjoying. It makes it easier to speak French when I get home. I have already noticed a massive improvement in the month that I have been in Paris. I have been testing my language ‘skills’ out on the vendors at the Marche Villette. There is a market outside my place every Wednesday and Saturday and a bigger one down a little further at Belleville on Tuesdays and Fridays. This is one of life’s simple pleasures that I decided to move to the other side of the earth for - fresh vegetables, meat, cheese, olives, preserves, juice, cooked meals, passionate vendors who are only too obliging.
My new apartment is on the same metro line as Montmartre so naturally I headed up to see Sacre Coeur and eat a crepe whilst wandering around the backstreets which are just amazingly quaint. I wandered the backstreets because if you dare to wander through the artists quarter it is a manic mix of artists thrusting their self portraits at you and the ever present scammers trying to shove bracelets on your wrists or rings on your finger which you then must cough up for. I markedly saw a couple and a family in the quarter of an hour of my wandering a mere two streets or so back.
The other touristy thing I had to visit was the Louvre. I caught up with Mona, ate an expensive and horrendous tasting salad, got lost in ancient Egypt and Greece, rested my wary feet in Napoleon’s bedroom and watched a class of children happily sketching their versions of old masterpieces.
One other thing I love about Paris is its ability to surprise you when you walk around a corner, if its not seeing a cropped view of the Eiffel Tower in the distance its accidently stumbling across the Pompidu Centre or finding that your new home is right next door to Oscar Neimeyer’s Communist Party Headquaters (I’m more into the architecture than the occupants).