The Last Three Weeks

I’m writing this ensconced in a booth at Le Pain Quotidien for breakfast. Two days home from Paris and I’m already craving baguettes, croissants and all things unhealthy.

I’ve just come from my US Visa interview (approved – I will be flying out to the States this weekend after all) which was scheduled for the ungodly hour of 8am on a Monday morning. No-one in their right mind would want to accompany me, so I am consoling myself with baked eggs with salmon and an iced “americano” because I have a sense of humour. I’m also surrounded by people I recognise from the interview waiting room – including the guy who chose to whip out War and Peace then spent more time waving it in people’s faces than actually reading it.

This post is so delayed because the last three weeks of my Parisian dream were a whirlwind – I can hardly remember the ongoings the working week because it was happily interspersed with dinners, drinks, sunsets on the Seine, yoga classes in Marais attic rooms, cinema trips and pilgrimages to the weekly flower market. I also had the girls to come and visit, over a month ago now! In the meantime they have graduated and become (semi-) serious adults.

We started with a Sunday brunch, hosted at mine. I discovered previously untested quiche-making skills, and that 15 people is too many in my little studio. From there, we went on to the Marais, where after a restorative cocktail at Le Mary Celeste we nipped in and out of boutiques and I proudly showed off Paris’s beautiful garden squares.Photo 04-06-2015 19 18 13Monday meant back to work for me, but I met them later to go to the Luxembourg Gardens for a stroll in the warm weather. All a little weary from a long day, Anna then proved her unquestioned claim to being “The Fun Mum Friend” when she whipped out the Lindt 70% dark chocolate with sea salt – my drug of choice.Photo 04-06-2015 19 25 18Photo 04-06-2015 19 22 28We returned via Ladurée, before a picnic dinner in the bohemian AirBnB the girls had found themselves in. Followed by drinks and people-watching at Le Comptoir Général, my all-too short time with the girls did not disappoint.Photo 04-06-2015 18 46 18Photo 08-07-2015 09 52 58Cressida and I also made time to visit the Musée de l’Art Ludique, where the current exhibition is none other than a showcase of Aardman productions: most famous as being responsible for such classics as Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run, and Creature Comforts. The exhibition featured original sketches of ‘Shaun le Mouton’, and clay models from The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. You could say it was A Grand Day Out.

The following weekend, Pip and I finally got the opportunity to try a restaurant that had been on my wish list since before I even moved to Paris. After a (rather heavy but no less brilliant) French film, and a stroll rough the Palais Royal at dusk, we settled into our spot by the window at Ellsworth and enjoyed six courses of true culinary art. Once again, we see the last ones in the restaurant when we finally finished our two desserts.Photo 14-06-2015 10 35 12Photo 14-06-2015 10 29 13Photo 14-06-2015 10 26 12Later that week, Pip and I had another stunning meal; this time of foie gras, chilled asparagus soup, squid risotto and veal. We dined a stone’s throw from Les Invalides at Bistrot Belhara, a tiny restaurant so intimate it feels vaguely like you are sitting in the proprietor’s front room.

All too soon, my final weekend in Paris was upon me.After a disastrous trip to the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, I promised myself that I would really take advantage my final couple of weeks in Paris and not spend it indoors unless I was eating, sleeping, or in a museum. Fortunately, the heatwave enabled me to do that with relative ease.

Saturday morning was spent sunning myself in Parc Monceau, before heading to Les Invalides to beat the heat in the Musée de l’Armée, an enormous exhibition space stocked with ancient weapons, suits of armour, military uniforms and one rather dodgy taxidermy of one of Napoleon’s Arabian horses. I imagine he was beautiful in real life, but two hundred years later, his glass eyes had a rather uneven look and his once-palomino coat now looked an undignified dusty grey. I also paid my respects to the Emperor himself, whose tomb occupies the spectacular space under the recognisable golden dome of the Invalides. Buried in six coffins of six different materials, each more elaborate than the last, it is no surprise people suggest he suffered from an inferiority complex.Photo 10-07-2015 12 26 00Photo 10-07-2015 12 06 17The museum was fascinating too – with ornate jousting armour, mother-of-pearl inlaid pistols, and even a recreation of Napoleon’s camp on his ill-fated Russian campaign with his original briefcases and – my favourite detail – his hat.Photo 10-07-2015 12 20 45I cooled off at Café Coutume with an iced chai latte before wandering to Le Bon Marché to brave the seasonal sales. Despite my best attempts, I walked away empty handed after I was informed by my mum via Snapchat that I was not allowed to spend triple figures on silk and lace pyjamas. The beautiful bright weather even at seven in the evening meant I couldn’t resist walking home, but not before resting my feet in the Tuileries as the sun set behind the Eiffel Tower. Cliché? Moi?Photo 10-07-2015 11 44 33Then, on a baking hot dry Sunday, my last in Paris, I decided on a whim that I would go and visit the Chateau de Chantilly, most famous for its spectacular grand stables. It was a beautiful day, and after reading and picnicking at the temple of Venus, I returned to the stables where two of the chateau’s famous riders gave a demonstration with two stunning and very obedient stallions.Photo 08-07-2015 10 01 52Photo 10-07-2015 10 25 03Photo 10-07-2015 10 43 46Photo 10-07-2015 11 07 18Finally, after a peach ice cream and one last wander around the moat, I returned to Paris in the early evening, sleepy and “sun-kissed”.

My last week raced past in a heat haze of 37° sunshine and leaving parties on the banks of the canal, before my final move on Saturday. While it’s lovely to be home, and I have plenty to look forward to, I have left a big part of my heart in the world’s most romantic city, and cannot wait to return in the very near future.

In the meantime, though, Selfridges has opened now and I am spending the afternoon at Wimbledon – Siena out.

Bisous, S. X

Chanson du jour: Great Summer – Vance Joy

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Liberté, Fraternité, Egalité

I’m struggling to get over how appropriate this title is. I know it’s in the wrong order. 

Liberté

After a panicked sweep of my apartment and throwing new sheets on my bed, I rushed to Gare du Nord to pick up Liberty, my sister, who was taking advantage of her free school half-term to come and visit me in Paris.

I took her straight to a favourite of mine, Faubourg 52, for dinner. Admittedly, taking her to a restaurant in the heart of ‘Peckham-on-Seine’ probably wasn’t the most sympathetic way to introduce her to my very cosmopolitan city. Nevertheless, I think she was probably convinced by the time our starters came. We were too busy chatting to take photos, but rest assured, the food is beautifully plated and well worth sampling.

Fraternité

We took Sunday as a sister-sister bonding day, as I showed Liberty – who had never been to Paris before – the sights. We walked up to the Passy covered market, where we found our favourite treats from Portugal, pastéis de nata. After I dropped them right onto the pavement (no surprises there, I am as uncoordinated as ever), we had to tuck into them a little earlier than expected, and Liberty snapped a winning shot as I enthusiastically took advantage of the five-second rule.   I could hardly resist the gorgeous peonies at the flower stalls though, ever-practical, Liberty reminded me I would have to walk around with them all day. Nevertheless, couldn’t bear to leave without some photos.  I took Liberty across the Pont de Bir-Hakeim – famously known for its cameo role alongside Leo DiCaprio and Ellen Page in Inception – from where she was able to get her first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. Even though the tower is on my regular running route, I still get a kick from seeing it, and proceeded to take the mickey out of the tourists swarming the bridge.  We strolled along the banks of the Seine, goofing around and singing “Simpatico” after spotting a houseboat of the same name.    Reaching the Champ de Mars, our enthusiasm for the Eiffel Tower quickly waned as we fought through the crowds, but we stayed for a while to watch a French Open exhibition match and soak up the sun. I was keen to drag Liberty through the Tuileries and show her the ducklings and I.M. Pei’s recognisable pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre (“It’s just like in The Da Vinci Code!”) before hunger struck again. I didn’t need to be asked twice: we made our way straight to Claus. I’m starting to get a bit predictable, really.   Once Liberty had understood my love for the place, we continued our walk in the bright sunshine to Notre Dame, where Liberty gave her best Quasimodo impression. Wandering into Le Marais by way of the Hôtel de Ville, I think she was finally starting to forgive me for taking her to Château d’Eau the previous night. We nipped in and out of the boutiques, before settling next to a fountain in the Place des Vosges to make a bid for French Open tickets.

Buoyant from our success but exhausted from hours of walking, coupled with the stress of applying for tickets, our route home took us via the Marché des Enfants rouges, the last stop on Siena’s Official Tour(TM) where we picked up some fresh cherries for the long metro journey back to the 16ème.

Egalité (Deuce)

We spent most of Monday morning in M&S, unable to resist our intrinsic, Wimbledon-refined habits that dictate a sandwich and some shortbread cookies necessary sustenance for the long afternoon spent queuing.  Fortunately, we got to Roland Garros in excellent time, and weren’t far from the front of the queue to upgrade our tickets from ground passes to Court Philippe Chatrier, the principal show court.

The queue passed remarkably quickly, though, thanks to an American family a few people behind us, who – along with their boozy picnic – had brought Heads Up, mine and Liberty’s favourite long-journey game. A few competitive rounds later, and we were through the entrance, tickets to see Murray in hand. So, there we have the perfect post with the perfect title, summing up a perfect weekend. I even resisted French Revolutionary and tennis-related puns.

You could say I aced it…

Bisous. X

(Another) Long Weekend

The greatest thing about spending May in Paris is not, surprisingly, the weather, as evidenced by the washout experienced by Imy, and the sunny-rainy-stormy-sunny days that have followed.

No, the best thing about May is that almost every working week is just four days long.

When you reach the last couple of weeks in the office, it’s hard not to start celebrating the weekend early. Thursday night I crossed town to enjoy a feast of Pringles and wine on the banks of the canal. Zannah and Bean had come to Paris to visit after finishing their exams, and it was a treat to catch up with the girls alongside what seemed like Paris’s entire under-25 population before heading to Le Petit Cambodge for our standard cheap and cheerful Parisian fast food.    

Friday couldn’t come soon enough, particularly as I was anticipating an evening spent with other girls from Durham: Katie, who has recently moved to Paris, and Eleanor, who was celebrating finishing her degree in style with a long-overdue trip to Versailles. In desperate need of a cocktail at the end of *gasp* a five-day week, I suggested Buvette.  

   (Note: Puppy not included.)

Naturally, neither the food nor the company disappointed: we had almost a whole year of international mischief to fill each other in on, and before we knew it we were onto another bottle of wine, chatting away until the very early hours of the morning.

I paid the price the next morning, though, as I had agreed with Pip to meet very early to make our way to the Marché aux puces de Saint-Ouen. Thankfully, I was revived by a chausson aux pommes from a bakery en route, and a leisurely coffee and fresh pear juice from Kookaburra Café – an unsurprising favourite of ‘My Token Aussie’, Pip.    

   After two perfect piccolos, we made our way north to pick up the metro to the market. The route did not inspire me with great hope: fighting through the counterfeit vendors and questionable characters, I was not expecting to find the vintage treasure trove that everyone recommended.

But, when we reached it, it was even better than I anticipated. The market is a hushed haven of alleys made up of wonky, three-sided shacks filled with everything from ancient furniture and stylish vintage posters to vast chandeliers and an awful lot of junk.              
Walking for miles around the market we worked up quite the shopper’s appetite, and settled for delicious (if unattractive) veal burgers and French fries, on the justification that we would continue to walk for quite some time. We did just that after lunch, when Pip found her bargain: a Japanese ceramic coffee set dating from the 70s.

Unfortunately I was smitten with a find that wasn’t quite so bargainous: an original Bruce Weber print, signed by the photographer. Sorely tempted, but I had to listen to my head that time. My only souvenir from our trip to the market was a keyring with a pair of boxing gloves on, as a little momento for my dad. A former Oxford Blue boxer, my dad’s sparring partner at university was none other than former Australian PM, Tony Abbott.

After exhausting ourselves walking for hours, we called it a day in the early afternoon, both in need of a nap before our evening plans. 

Bisous. X

Chanson du Jour: Thrift Shop – Macklemore (I joke.)

Post-Barca Blues

I’ve been back in Paris all of 25 minutes and I already wish I was back in Barca.

Coincidentally, I’m on the Beauvais-Paris bus having just landed. It’s 13° (are we in the Arctic Circle?!), I’ve got at least an hour before I can get into bed, and I have to wake up at dawn tomorrow to go back into the office.

Can I go back to Barcelona yet?

Thanks to my flight at the crack of dawn on Thursday, I was lucky enough to spend the whole day revisiting my favourite places and discovering some new ones before the others arrived later that night.

I headed straight from the airport to my old office, VeryChic, where I was thrilled to see that the company is still doing well and continuing to expand. I also met the lovely Melanie who replaced me and is doing a pretty good job at it! I am reliably informed that she complains less about the poor grammar of some of the freelancers than I used to. I bet William, my boss, is relieved.

I met the lovely Luce for lunch at Flax and Kale, which I believe is even better than Brunch and Cake. Luce and I shared tuna tataki, salmon sashimi, kale chips, life-changing gluten-free coconut cake, and enormous smoothies – a veritable guilt-free feast. In fact, it was so good, I went back twice more during my four days in Barcelona. 

   We then strolled down to the waterfront, chatting and swapping stories of our adventures since we were last together, before stopping for a glass of wine on the beach. I then left Luce for a drink with some of my former colleagues, a chance to catch up with all the office gossip. A small company with an average employee age of 25 produces an inordinate amount of gossip, and I had five months to be filled in on! Chatting over a Hendricks G&T at El Nacional, I felt like I had never left.

Returning to Luce’s flat, I discovered she had prepared a delicious dinner for us: she spoiled me with her new and improved domestic skills before we settled down with tea and a movie. I was still waiting to hear from Lucie and Lauren who were both due to arrive close to midnight.

When they finally reached me, we made our way to Port Vell marina where we were staying for the weekend. On a boat.

After getting quite delirious with lack of sleep on Thursday night as we attempted to stay up and talk, we slept late on Friday before starting the day with dancing on deck at one of the most picturesque spots for morning coffee.

 Tearing ourselves away from our sun trap, we ventured into town in search of food. We went back to Flax and Kale. This time we shared an incredible salmon ceviche (“It is so delicious I could sleep in it.”) and tucked into tuna burgers and the most beautiful raw lasagne which really stole the show. We returned to the boat full and weary having raided the local supermarket for breakfast food, sun cream, and drinks. Our most significant addition, though, was Hannah, who – fortunately for us, less so for her – met us as we were leaving the supermarket and helped carry bags weighed down with eggs, salmon, and local cava.


 Thus, the four Barca Boat Babes were assembled, and back on board we soaked up the last of the afternoon sun before preparing dinner. We didn’t quite smash a bottle over the boat’s bow, but we did pop a couple of corks into the harbour as our very own ceremonial ship launch. As the cava continued to flow, conversation over our delicious barbecued dinner descended into a hilarious delirium.

 Soon after dinner, we amped up the music again to welcome more Erasmates on board. Friends from all the major capitals of Europe were perched around the table. After chatting for hours – the depleted alcohol the only indicator of time passing – people began to yawn and while our guests went on to drink and dance elsewhere, we settled in the galley with warming tea and continued our party in our PJs.

Lulled by the gentle rocking of the boat in the harbour, we slept late the following morning, then hurried our breakfast in a rush to get on with the principal objective of the day: sunbathing.

We snoozed in the sun most of the afternoon, pausing only for an afternoon tea of strawberries dipped in hot chocolate, and the obligatory 5pm gin.

   Sunkissed and scrubbed clean, we smartened up for dinner at Surfhouse, where – almost ready to eat our own arms off – we devoured burgers and pulled pork sandwiches, with veggie crisps and moreish potato wedges. Then, reuniting with our friends from the night before, we made our way to the vertiginous Eclipse bar at the W for a drink. 

 One drink turned into several, as we managed to negotiate ourselves onto a table with some Americans, before some wild Swedes on a stag night invited us to join them – no question, really. It was a fab night to ring in Louise’s 21st.

Sunday morning we took advantage of the sun one last time before a recovery brunch at Flax and Kale. Sadly for me, that marked the end of my little séjour in Spain, and all too soon I was packed up and leaving the girls on deck.


There are few things more deflating than leaving behind 35°C weather, brilliant friends old and new, and the relaxation of a holiday. I now feel like the rest of you who suffered through my Snapchats when you were in the Library. Sorry. (Not sorry.)


 Besos. X

Chanson du Jour: The Greatest – Raleigh Ritchie // Shut up and Dance – Walk The Moon // Pay No Mind – Madeon

Reminder: Paris is beaut

Well, I fell asleep. Sorry.  

I’m now at Paris Beauvais and I understand why people choose not to fly from this sh*thole. I fully intending to take advantage of duty-free, at least hoping for a Sephora at the airport. There’s nothing apart from an off-licence and a café with its name on an A4 sheet of paper printed in Comic Sans. 

Not only is it an hour out of Paris, the airport has no WiFi and my pain au chocolat was frozen in the middle. The man next to me is sixty-five, and has chosen to constrain his grossly obese stomach in a hoody proudly emblazoned with “Valenciennes Poker”. Seems the Ryanair clientèle are as exotic here as they are at London Luton. It would be comical but I seem to have woken up with a sense of humour failure. Four hours of sleep will do that to a girl. 

Seeing as I’m intending to be out of contact for the next four days, the folks who actually follow these ramblings (I’m talking about you, my stranger-friend little buddy in Palestine who checks the blog daily) will appreciate two photo-heavy posts in a day. 

I returned to Paris late Friday evening feeling slightly less teary than how I left it – frazzled and exhausted on the platform at Gare du Nord with no passport. Thankfully, Soph offered me dinner at Derrière with her parents and Camilla, which made the perfect welcome home. 

After a lazy Saturday morning I headed out just as the sun came out. I had been intending to visit the Palais Garnier, the Paris Opera House, for some time, and free entry finally swayed me. 

     I am so glad I was swayed. Despite the hordes of tourists (I vehemently denied being one, instead choosing to take my audio guide in French, rather than English – but I reckon my DSLR slung around my neck significantly cramped my style) the tour of the building is excellent. It’s popular with good reason. The building is majestic. The pictures speak for themselves.

          On Sunday I had intended to meet Lauren for brunch at – yep, you guessed it – Claus, but after a heavy night on Saturday Lauren appeared to have dropped off the face of the Earth. Instead, I made my way to a second-hand clothes sale and bake sale at Le Mary Celeste to meet some of the Big Names of Paris’s burgeoning Instagram scene. I am ashamed to report that not only could I not afford any of the second-hand Céline, Roger Vivier, or Helmut Lang, but also I got star-struck and chickened out of greeting any of my favourite photographers.

I headed to Le Marché aux Enfants Rouges for a mid-afternoon snack, before finally hearing from Lauren, who was feeling a little worse for wear and in desperate need of coffee. On a sunny terrace on the corner of rue Montorgueil, we chatted and gossiped until both of us were weary.
  
         I picked up some sushi on my way home, and settled down with Hot Fuzz (in French) while the sun streamed in through my window onto my bed. Pretty blissful. The rest of the week passed equally as leisurely – an uneventful week to prepare for what is sure to be a very eventful weekend.

They’re calling my flight, so I guess I’m off to play in Barcelona for the long weekend. The promise of 32°C weather and Brunch & Cake await…


Besos. X

Chanson du Jour: Powerful – Major Lazer and Ellie Goulding

Guests, Galleries etc. 

Since I last wrote, it’s been difficult to find a solid twenty minutes to myself to sit down and write a post.

Well, it’s 5.30am, and I’m settled comfortably between my hand luggage and a slim girl with a disproportionately large sunhat on my way to Paris Beauvais Airport. What better time to write a blog post, than while I listen self-consciously to my musicals playlist and observe with Attenborough-like fascination the Ryanair passengers of Paris…

Thankfully, I’ve been run off my feet lately with things to do and people to see. But, not least of all, I also hosted my first guest – Imy! In spite of my teeny tiny bed, it was an absolute pleasure to have Imy to stay. Except for the weather.

I have NEVER seen Paris weather like that. The whole weekend effectively was a washout; I don’t think my feet were dry from leaving the house in the morning to returning late at night. Fortunately, Imy and I share a love of art galleries, so we took the weather as a hint that we should spend our time exploring the offerings of the Fondation Louis Vuitton, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Pompidou.


 First up was the Louis Vuitton Foundation, a vast, Gehry-designed exhibition space in the Bois de Boulogne.

It’s slightly surreal to wander through the affluent suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine – my home last summer – with its immense sandstone buildings dating from the 19th and early 20th centuries, then venture a couple of minutes into the lush Bois de Boulogne and see Gehry’s contemporary armadillo beetle museum. Five storeys tall, it towers above its neighbouring oaks, which would be a shame, were it not for the spectacular views from the multi-level roof terrace.  

    Londoners will catch my drift if I say that some of the art was a little “Saatchi” for my tastes, featuring mutilated dolls and bizarre expletive-filled performance pieces. It was a treat, though, to gain an insight into the work of Alberto Giacometti, whose recognisable walking men have been a favourite of mine since seeing one in the UNESCO building during PaMUN.  

   We were on our way out, stomachs growling after a long time spent queuing and wandering between the levels of the museum, when, After heading out to the reflection pool that surrounds the Fondation, Imy spotted that hidden away, below ground, was the principal exhibition, featuring artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky, Mondrian and – my absolute favourite – Mark Rothko. Inevitably, lunch was postponed a little longer.  

   We tucked into a late lunch of delicious open sandwiches and adventurous drinks at Le Pain Quotidien, before we invited Imy’s friend Dan to join us at the tourist haunt of Angelina for a hot chocolate and a catch up. Then, after getting soaked during a stroll around the Tuileries, we headed home for a restorative warm shower before dinner.  Well, I guess it was a good thing we had an enormous lunch – kicking our dripping wet shoes off, we collapsed in bed and that was that.  Brunch the next morning we returned to Claus, where I had been only the week previously and fallen in love: not just with the mouth-watering menu, but perhaps also with the handsome all-male front of house team… I promise I’ll take anyone who comes to visit. The breakfast is that good.

But, before sitting down to eat, Imy and I made a beeline for the Musée d’Orsay. Unfortunately, it being the first Sunday of the month, entry was free for everyone, resulting in a two-hour queue in the pissing rain. No, thank you.  

 Instead, with some talented queue-barging, Imy and I snuck into the ticketed queue and were inside in twenty minutes or so – the museum is undoubtedly worth paying for entry. Not only is the former train station a pretty cool space, but the collections within are spectacular too. As fans of the Impressionists, the Musée d’Orsay was perfect for me and Imy – they have an extensive collection including some masterpieces by Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir (who sucks at painting) and Pissarro. Looooooook…



Revived by poached eggs, Bircher muesli, bottomless bread baskets and matcha cake at Claus, we stepped back outside to discover the ominous grey clouds had been blown away and spring sunshine had returned. With renewed energy, Imy and I walked to the Pompidou, where I pointed out the significant landmarks of the Parisian skyline from the rooftop terrace.

The exhibition on Le Corbusier was more about his art and design than his architecture, but still worth a visit. We finished with a cocktail in the Place des Vosges, where from our advantageous perch at Carrette we enjoyed watching the Parisians picnic on the grass as the sun set.

Our perfect weekend didn’t end until I managed to leave my passport at home and miss my Eurostar back to London on Tuesday night. Classic Siena, well done me.

Bisous. X

P.S. I’m purposely not addressing what some people might see as ‘the elephant in the room’. I’ve thought about it long and hard but this isn’t the forum for it. If you know already, thank you. If you don’t, then we’re all good because you have no idea what I’m talking about.

Back to Summer

When I left Paris for Easter weekend, the weather was distinctly ordinary, work was distinctly ordinary, and I was desperate for my long weekend at home. I had 21st birthdays to celebrate, and was very much looking forward to our traditional Morrell/Dorning Easter egg hunt before Easter Sunday lunch.

Well, rather unexpectedly my weekend at home turned into ten days, during which I was lucky enough to see not only the extended MorDor clan, but also aunts, uncles, cousins, and some of my delightful Durham crowd.


After a break at home, returning to Paris and returning to work was a seriously daunting prospect. But within two minutes of standing on the platform at Gare du Nord, as the sun was setting and the thermometer reached 22°C, I was reminded quite how much I love the city. Yeah, my job is average, but not only is it paying for my summer, it’s an excellent excuse to live in a city as beautiful and vibrant as this one.

I’ve spent my first couple of days back revisiting my favourite spots. Soph and I grabbed dinner at Le Petit Cambodge, and had a good long catch up. “Little Cambodia” is a great place for authentic food just a couple of minutes from the Canal, and we chatted over bò bún as the street-side bars only got busier. Everyone who says New York is the city that never sleeps obviously hasn’t spent time in Paris during the summer.

  
   Saturday I walked from my place in the 16th across the river and along the Berges du Seine on the Left Bank, up to the Champ du Mars. Well, it turns out the world and his wife thought that was a good idea as well, particularly seeing as picnic season has officially begun.    
     So, to avoid fighting for blanket space on the lawns in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, I carried on walking along the banks. All along the river, from the Musée Quay Branly to the Pont Alexandre III, the city has set up fun installations: ping pong tables set in disused skips, archery for little kids (I steered clear of it – infants and arrows?), parkour lessons with guys teaching you to jump and throw yourself between bars, and lots of green spaces with hammocks stretched out over the Seine.

I then strolled across the bridge at Solferino, and into the stunning Tuileries Gardens. Last time I was there, the pruned trees were brown, the leaves withered, and the sandy alleyways almost deserted. Now that summer has arrived, the trees are a bright spring green and every single one of the chairs I walked past was occupied.

  
   I finally nipped into the Musée de l’Orangérie, too, to see Monet’s water lilies. They were spectacular. Presented in two oval-shaped rooms that make use of diffused natural light, the enormous canvases are simply stunning and incredibly peaceful, if you can ignore the shutter noises and hushed babbling of tourists around you. I spent a lot of time just perched in front of my favourite, Les Deux Saules.

Walking among the flocks of people from the Orangerie up to the Louvre, I then nipped right, back to the river, and followed it along the quais to Pont Neuf, where I crossed back to Ile de la Cité for a break in the Place Dauphine. Except on this beautiful Saturday there was nowhere to sit and rest – even the crowds reached the normally undisturbed square. Each of the pavement cafes had large crowds in front of them, and those waiting for a table passed the time playing pétanque, which is no longer the game of Gauloise-smoking elderly men, but the bon-chic-bon-genre young professional Parisians (who still smoke Gauloises).

    

I finished my “flanerie” with an ice cream from Berthillon – rhubarb sorbet and praline-amaretto. Consumed on the Pont de la Tournelle, with Notre Dame in front of me, it was an ideal end to my first “proper” day of life in Paris since my return.

I’ve picked up a cough and wasn’t up for going out – instead preferring to bake cinnamon cookies, do a face mask and watch Grey’s Anatomy re-runs (I need an intervention, stat!). But, after sleeping in late on Sunday morning, I crossed town to meet Lauren  for coffee and a catch up in the sun. We chatted and chatted at a sunny pavement café in Le Marais, before picking a spot on Ile Saint Louis to dangle our feet over the wall and people-watch as the Parisians take advantage of the stunning weather and beautiful city that they live in.

Walking home with a fresh baguette under my arm, it’s a wonder how I was ever desperate to leave in the first place.

Bisous, à la prochaine. X

Chanson du Jour: Walkin’ Man by Seasick Steve