So happy that I got to see Paris in the springtime – even if it was only for a few weeks!
I’ve been very quiet recently. I think I’ve been in denial about leaving Paris and have therefore become slightly introverted. Only having a few weeks left made me appreciate so much the city I’ve had the pleasure to call home for the past 6-7 months. I realised that I spent most of the dreary winter months with my head down and hands in my pockets to avoid the bitter wind and rain and so lost a few months of looking up at all the glorious buildings of Paris. That doesn’t mean that I hibernated for months on end until the sun decided to show up, but I definitely didn’t get the most out of the city! And who wants to do anything during January-February? They’re such depressing months!
During my few introverted weeks I have been reflecting a lot upon my time here. What I’ve loved, liked, disliked and downright hated (not much to be honest!). What I will miss the most, what I can’t wait to escape from, and what awaits for me in England.
First and foremost, I definitely won’t miss the smell. You will be wandering around Paris, admiring its beauty, smiling to yourself as you feel so chic and Parisian and would rather be nowhere else… then it hits you. The smell of wee/drains/eggs. I’m also sad to say that it is not uncommon to see a fully functioning adult male urinate in the metro…which is also on my ‘won’t miss’ list. And speaking of transport, I thought it was a joke when people talked about how the French love to strike. It turns out it’s true. Most of the time I don’t think even they know why they’re striking, but they do, and it’s a bloody nightmare. If it’s not a strike, somebody has ‘just decided to take a walk on the tracks’. Delays are the bane of my life. And for some reason, public transport turns usually fairly normal people into crazy savages who cannot bear to wait, God forbid, TWO WHOLE MINUTES for the next metro.
Another thing you see quite often in metro stations, and elsewhere in Paris, is homelessness. I see a lot more homelessness here than back home. And the saddest part is that I often see a lot of young children/babies living on the streets with their parents. Of course, there are the ‘career’ beggars, but homelessness is a very real problem here, and it breaks my heart that I can’t give to all of them.
And the final thing I won’t miss? The noise. I got rather used to it, but the noise of the city used to drive me nuts when I first arrived. It is constantly buzzing, and I live right in the centre so it never lets up (apart from between about 1am-5am). The noise is one thing, but sometimes I feel like I’m choking on pollution. I am definitely due a thorough facial when I get home! Spa day – yay!!
As much as Paris drove me a little insane at times, I grew rather fond of it during my last few months. I knew I would be leaving soon and that I wouldn’t be able to soak it up like this ever again, so became rather nostalgic. I love that I can walk out of my building and reach everything worth seeing within minutes. Fancy a trip to the Louvre? 20 mins max. Versailles? 45 mins. Eiffel Tower? 30 mins. I still have to pinch myself when I see buildings like the Palais de Justice or the Musée d’Orsay.
And even though it’s overrun with tourists, I still managed to practice my French quite a lot – which was a worry of mine when I first got placed here. For the first few months I wasn’t sure whether my French had even improved. I thought I barely got a chance to spoke it, and got quite depressed at the thought of going back to England with just a few words and phrases added to my dictionary. But in comparison to when I arrived I feel like I have improved so much. I don’t have that awkward ten second pause before I reply to somebody as much, and I can understand a hell of a lot more than I used to. I think the nicest thing now is that I enjoy speaking French, and don’t let it worry me so much anymore.
Other things I will miss include the architecture and parks. For such an urban city, there is a hell of a lot of green space. When it’s sunny it’s so nice to sit in the Tuileries or Jardin du Luxembourg, close your eyes and breathe in the (almost) fresh air. And when the flowers are out, it is so pretty! And even better is being able to enjoy a Nutella crepe at the same time.
Last but not lease, I think the thing I will miss the most is my apartment. I was so so so lucky to find the apartment I’ve been living in. It is everything I could have ever dreamed of. It’s small, but not too small, with cute Parisian features and is so cosy and warm in the winter but airy and cool in the spring. I will miss my little sanctuary in the middle of all this madness!
Paris has treated me so well – I have met some wonderful people and had a taste of freedom and independence that I will never forget. And my time here has been made extra special by the friends and family who have visited. Paris has left its mark on me and it will also always hold a special place in my heart!