Vive La France: Fete Nationale

Vive La France: Fete Nationale

So I was really bummed that I missed Bastille Day last year; I was in England, working in the London 2012 Olympic Games. However! I am SO excited that this year, I’m in Paris and the celebration plans are well underway!

For those of you who maybe don’t know what the significance of this day is for the French, I suggest you don’t visit Paris until you do. The 14th of July is by far the most celebrated of all dates in France, followed shortly after by the 21st of June, being Fete de la Musique ( what can I say? The French know how to party, and then some!)

The 14th July 1789: The city of Paris was a hot mess, to put it lightly. As is given in its English name, this was the day the working class Parisians decided they had had enough of the monarchy and their extravegant spending of the country’s economy. In a ditch attempt to grasp government attention, the working class banded together and took to the Streets of Paris in protest of this injustice, before deciding to close in on the Bastille Prison, which at the time, was only holding about 9 prisoners (it’s the quality over the quantity point here, right?)

This day is symbolic of the French Revolution and can be seen as having had a significant impact on how society operates even until today’s lifestyle ( the French also LOVE a good manif.) The idea of revolution and change, as you will notice when visiting Paris, is still alive and kicking in the best possible way. You’ve gotta hand to em, they voice their opinions will not go down without a fight.

So, you say you’re in Paris too during le quartorze juillet? With NOTHING to do? How is this possible, when there’s a whole weekend full of celebratory activities calling your name! I present to you:

**The “Storming” of Paris’ Bastille Day célébrations**

1. Bang, Bang, Bang!

Probably Paris’ most well attended bastille day event is that of the Bastille Day fireworks, having attracted one million people back in 1979, it bagged itself a Guinness World Record for that very reasion. The theme for this years’ is “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite” the three immortalising words of the French Revolution, which looks set to make it a very loud and proud occasion. For the super early birds, free concerts and fabulous food will be available around the area all day in the run up to the fireworks.

*Sunday 14th July. Starts from 23:00 but be advised to arrive early. Metro Trocadéro, RER Champ de Mars.*

2. Crepes “a la tricolor”

The idea of having the opportunity to make and paint a crepe in the patriotic colours of red, white and blue and then eating it, for FREE, and without pre inscrition, tickles me pink. If this puts a smile on your dial, head on down to Wanderlust on Saturday the 13th to be a part of this super duper cute Bastille hommage. Did I mention that it’s FREE?

*metro Quai D’Austerlitz.*

3. Drummer Boy

If parades and marching bands are more your thing, you may want to consider a visit to the Champs Elysees, which will see the French military out in full force (literally) down this magnificent avenue.

*Metro Charles de Gaulle – Etoile.*

If you are in Paris this weekend, or might be considering it, take it from someone who missed it last year: this is Paris at its absolute best ( And lets face it, Paris is pretty much perfect all year round) so if I were you, I’d hop on that Eurostar/ Megabus / jet plane, throw cares to the Wind and come and dansez avec nous!

VIVE LA FRANCE!

Bisous

xx

Zoe

Summer in Paris (photo: Vue par Pont d’Arcole)

Summer in Paris (photo: Vue par Pont d'Arcole)

So summer has finally shown its pretty face in Paris! Temperatures are expected to be at their highest over the next few days and while I know a weekend only consists of two days, I thought I’d share some of the great places for where one can see and be seen soaking up some vitamin D,

1. “Dejeuner sur l’herbe”

A play on words of one of Monet’s more well known impressionist works, this is one of the most celebrated summer past times of the Parisian locals. For the most part, Mairie de Paris tries to conserve as much of its greenery as it can and it may sometimes take a little longer than expected to find a place where you CAN sit on the grass. However, don’t let the interdictions put you off. There are a number of parks around Paris that cater for the picnic enthusiasts, such as the highly celebrated Champ de Mars with it’s million dollar view of the Eiffel Tower, to the lesser known parks beneath La Coulee Verte or the charming edge of Ile de la Cite.

2. La Seine, La Seine, La Seine!

NO, you aren’t allowed to dive in. As tempting as that MAY be, save that for the pool (coming up). Sometimes, parks and pools may appear to be, quite simply, a hot mess. The best way to escape sweaty encounters with the masses is to flaner! Take a stroll along the Seine. A wise man once said:

“To err is human. To stroll is Parisian.” – Victor Hugo

3. Dive in!

As mentioned above, taking a dip in the Seine isn’t recommended (unless you want to be swiftly removed by unimpressed gendarmes) but fear not for there exists many a pool in and around Paris for you to make a splash. Some are indoor, others outdoor ( Piscine Josephine Baker, with, believe it or not, a perfect view of the Seine for that authentic feel), with some catering for both tastes like the Centre Aquatique Neuilly (Sur Seine).

4. Le Marais

Whether it’s shopping up a storm or lazing about in a cutesy little cafe, the Marais is a buzz of activity most weekends, but even more so in the summer! pick up your new summer essentials for a fraction of the cost and end off with a summer treat of Falafels on Rue des Rosiers, supposedly recommended by the man Lenny Kravitz himself.

5. “Take me away, a secret place, a sweet escape…”

So this is about to be slightly controversial, but if you really cant find anything to do after the previous four suggestions, my last try would be to suggest a trip out of the city. Yes, so Versailles and Fontainebleau aren’t IN Paris geographically speaking, but they are a stones throw away by train, and sometimes, a little escape from the city is just what you need. If visiting Versailles, I highly recommend a visit to Marie Antoinette’s apartments and grounds (you may actually want to purposefully get lost in there) as well as taking in the main palace view from the Grand Canal.

So there you have it! five things to do when it sizzles in Paris. There are SO many things going on in Paris at any given moment that it would take forever to list them all, but I felt that these five were what sums up the different aspects of the city the best.

Enjoy the sun! Stay safe, apply suncream, don your floppy hat and your floral dress, and bask in the rays of happiness of those around you!

Bisous

xx

Zoe

“My friends, I …

“My friends, I address you all tonight as you truly are; wizards, mermaids, travellers, adventurers, magicians… Come and dream with me.” – Georges Melies.

I wanted to start my blog off with a quote from one of France’s most underrated artists of the 20th century, Georges Melies, director of the cinematic short “Le voyage dans la lune”, because I feel that it captures the heart of what Paris is all about. Paris welcomes everyone: the lost, the found, the broken, the hopeful. She embraces every part of you and introduces you to your dreams. Having moved here back in August of 2012, previously having never visited Paris, I was one of said wizards, mermaids, travellers, adventurers and magicians, eager to dive into the endless possibilities of Parisian life.

University student by day, au pair by night, I have immersed myself into “la vie quotidienne a la Parisian”, and decided after having a bit of a tough and lonely start, that I wanted to share my experiences of being a young 20 something wrapped up in the everyday life of the French, which as you can imagine, has its perks and faults. I DO want readers to fall in love with Paris, but with this in mind…

“This IS a story of boy meets girl. But you should know up front; this is NOT a love story.”             – (500) Days of Summer

I want to share Paris at her best and worst (is there such?!). I want you to fall in love with the imperfections that make Paris the most amazing city in the world. I want to be able to show that you CAN live a cooperative lifestyle amongst seemingly  uncooperative Parisians. Posts you are likely to find will be tips and tricks for navigating around some of Paris’ best spots, tips for students and travellers, focus pieces and quirks of what it is to be Parisian. 

I will also, from time to time, be posting about my travels in London, my second home where I commute to when I’m not working or at uni. London has a beat of its own and I am always so caught up in its whirlwind of city life. I always feel so blessed to be able to make the commute between two of the world’s most visited cities, and sharing the experience with you would only be an honour.

I hope you enjoy the read as much as I know I’ll enjoy the write!

Bisous

xx

Zoe