Moving to Paris has undoubtedly been less daunting and less stressful than moving to Barcelona was last year. Here, at least, I understand the language almost fluently. What is a daunting prospect, though, is the First Official Girl Date between new friends. Moving in with Lucie in January blessed me with a handful of her friends, and I have spent the past week cementing those friendships with hilarious and often slightly inebriated suppers.
My first was with Pip, delightful Aussie friend of Iso, who put us in touch over our shared love of
food architecture. We had met briefly after my first brunch at Chez Alain, but we stayed in touch and last week, finally made dinner plans. Pip suggested Bouillon Chartier, an old former worker’s hall turned cavernous traditional French bistro. Coincidentally, as soon as I arrived I spotted Pete and Jordan (on a Bro Date) who, also, are new friends courtesy of Lucie. The restaurant was big, but boasted a vibrant atmosphere to match, and we spent much of our time people-watching and spying on what other people had ordered, rather than paying attention to the menu. In fact, we got so distracted and excited to see each other that the poor waiter had to come back three times before we were ready to order. The best part about Chartier, unquestionably, is the fact that you sit on shared tables of six people – as a couple of girls, we happily sat on the end next to a sweet Dutch couple who enjoyed their meal in relative silence.
Then, just as we were tucking into our mains, the Dutch couple were replaced by two French gentlemen who politely smiled as we shuffled to make room for them, before studying the menu intensely. As Pip and I simultaneously expressed our satisfaction with our meal (steak for her, perch fillets – Dorning family, I’m thinking of you! – for me) they politely enquired as to our choices before we both returned to our respective conversations. After some delightful and hilarious chatter washed down with our little carafe of wine, Pip and I looked longingly at their desserts – a little too longingly, it seemed. Without hesitation, they pushed over their pineapple platter and ice-cream profiterole before ordering the waiter to bring us more spoons for us to share. Safe to say, that was the beginning of the end. Another two whole bottles of wine, an internship organised for Pip by our new friend Sam, and an offer to fly over Paris for me (that I fully intend to capitalise on) from Serge the pilot, and mine and Pip’s First Official Girl Date was undoubtedly a resounding success. We even took photos.
My second, last Thursday, was with Michi, a Durham-ite I hardly knew before Nick introduced us. We opted for Cambodian food (rogue but delicious) and ventured to Le Petit Cambodge for a bite to eat. Other than the fact that I was forty minutes late, the rest of our date passed without a hitch. It transpires Cambodian food is amazing – fresh veg, warming noodles with rich broth and marinaded meat – but we decided to top it off with a bottle of wine between the two of us (my John’s College Formal credentials are failing me, it seems I am no longer fit for wine consumption), and so anything would have seemed pretty amazing that night. Including the idea to go for cocktails afterwards. Unwilling to walk particularly far because of the tundra-like conditions outside and bitter gale-force winds, we discovered a heated patio opposite the restaurant that promised us 5€ caipirinhas. Anyone who knows my family knows we are all incapable of refusing a caipirinha if it’s on the menu and so we ensconced ourselves in the warmest corner and started the rounds – alco-blankets are a thing, no?
So, two incredibly successful First Official Girl Dates down, I deemed it officially time for the real deal. Tuesday night, Lauren and I went on a blind “Smeeting” date, with Julien and Elliott, two fun, charming Frenchmen. We enjoyed a couple of cocktails before moving on to something much, much more serious: table football. Let’s just say that in the future, I will never reveal competitive edge on the bébé foot table on a first date again…
Chanson du jour: So Lost – Ady Suleiman