I was planning on naming this post ‘My ideal day in Paris,’ but to be honest, so many days here are ideal, and so different from each other, and my idea of ideal is constantly changing, and I’m simply terrible at choosing favourites. The process of me trying to decide what constitutes my ideal day would last hours, pages, books (I might as well just publish my journal.) I have different people I love here who decorate my days in different ways, different meals and activities and thoughts that all contribute to making a day wonderful (or sad, or frustrating.)
Sometimes I’ll think my day was perfect because I loved being out wandering in the rain; sometimes I’ll relish an afternoon spent curled up inside away from it. I had ideal days in summer when my skin was sweaty and the air sweet, now ideal days in autumn with the glint of orange leaves on trees and pavements, a crisp bite that descends in the evening and a fluffy turtleneck tickling my chin. Sometimes I walk home from work and want to cry simply for the joy of living in my favourite city, sometimes I scurry back impatiently with eyes half-trained on my phone. And sometimes I want to spend 24 hours with nobody but me, myself and I; other days I can’t wait to party with my girls, make friends in the club bathroom (shoutout to the tipsy toilet sisterhood) and dance until 4am.
The simplest solution, then, is to let you spend a day with me. A regular day. Perhaps not completely ideal, neither disastrous. Just a day…
It is a Saturday. I wake up far too early for a weekend because I need to get to work (I work as a writer at an art company four days a week, and spend two half-days teaching English to little French choupis, including every Saturday morning.) I scoff down some sugary cereal I shouldn’t be eating, but I don’t have time for anything else and I’m pretty sure I remember reading in Dolly magazine when I was 15 that eating a donut for breakfast is better than eating nothing at all, so IT’S FINE. I put on some Disney earrings, zip up a puffy coat, steal my absent flatmate’s umbrella since I can’t find my own and head out, trying not to think about how it’s perfect-for-staying-in-bed-weather. I make a quick, impulsive stop at a boulangerie en route to the metro because I deserve a reward for getting out of bed, tbh. Deux croissants et un pain au chocolat, s’il vous plaît.
Work goes well. I teach babies on Saturday mornings – 2 year-olds – and they’re so adorable I decide I’m glad I had to wake up early. They’re even cuter than normal today because the cold, rainy weather means they all arrive in their puffy jackets and hoods and rainboots.
Dangerous levels of cluck.
Once I’m done withholding sticker handouts to infants until they perform an English ‘please’ (I’m tough but fair), I teach a five-year-old. We sing songs about prepositions and I force her to compliment me on my Aristocats jewelry. A pretty standard work day.
It’s just after midday now and I’m back on the metro. There is a dog in my carriage and I love it. I come to my station, click open the doors before the train has come to a complete stop and casually dismount like I don’t give a damn about Train Exit Etiquette (only a matter of time before I roll my ankle performing this manoeuvre.)
I head home, change the contents of my bag, slap on some concealer and lip gloss (babies don’t care about under-eye bags but 1pm Alyssa does) and walk two minutes to the markets.
At the markets, it’s raining and everything is beautiful and I can see the Eiffel tower. The rotisserie chickens smell amazing. I wish I had the budget for some flowers, but since I’m meeting a friend later for food I mark it in my Notes app as next week’s ‘Treat Yourself’ item #1. Once I’ve inhaled the market magic, I duck across the road to the boulangerie and line up for my tradition. There’s a three-minute wait on them, which means I’m going to get one fresh out of the oven. #helloui.
It smells delicious when it arrives and is so hot it burns my hand. I have to cradle it home like a baby; I try to teach it some English words on the way.
After a cozy lunch of noodle soup and bread and a failed attempt at facetiming my grandparents, I clomp down the stairs and head out again. This time for a shop and a stroll with a friend. The shopping comes first – at Gibert Joseph, a bookstore that’s been around since the late 1800s and covers about 6 floors (and multiple buildings.) I buy a second hand pocket copy of Amelie Northomb’s Stupeur et Tremblements for 3 euros, and a back issue of my favourite weekly newspaper, Le Un.
Next, I meet a friend at Odéon and we walk to the Jardin de Luxembourg. I’m shook at how stunning it looks now that it’s autumn – the colour palette is to mourir for. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in France previously, but this year marks my first Fall experience. Safe to say, I am obsessed. We wander and chat until the park rangers aggressively blow their whistles at everyone to get out. It’s 5pm; during summer, the park closed at 9. The time at which darkness now descends is only slightly depressing.
Friend and I have ‘spicy hot chocolates’ and share banana bread at an organic-ish café. Not sure if it’s wholesomeness makes me feel better or worse about my weakness for sugary cereal.
I leg it next to the other side of Paris to meet my work friends for a spot of thrift shopping, followed by pizza for dinner. One of my friends is Italian and charms the pants off the restaurant staff – always a guarantee for great service. Somehow we end up chatting and cackling until close to 11pm (the red wine probably helped,) so by the time I get home and run a bath (I’m a big bath fan) it’s midnight.
Not a bad way to end a slow but substantial Saturday – with some bubbles, a candle, and a new old book.
The truth is, no day is perfect (some of them are real stinkers,) but I tend to love about 95 percent of them regardless.
I hope you enjoyed reading about this one. xx