Sunday, 29 April 2018

Au Revior Paris

Paris, its time to say goodbye. I love you, je t'aime, ma cite, mon amour.

After so many ups and downs, and looking back on some of my old posts, how wrong I was about coming here and living here.  Of course, it has gone by so much quicker than I thought it would and was so much better than I could have hoped for - it seems miles away from last June/July when I was shitting myself about making the decision to move to France - away from the comforts of sleepy Egham. And I'm so glad I was wrong.

While I'm not fluent in French as I planned, I have made enough good memories to last me a lifetime and met a whole host of amazing people. What is scary in all of this is how fast this year went. It's a cliche but it has flown by and I can't believe it is over.

Leaving Paris has been harder than I ever thought it would be, especially looking back to November when I felt displaced and had my phone stolen and did not under any circumstances want to stay in Paris any longer than I had to. Well, in typical Kate fashion, now that I am now back at my parents'  house and no longer living in the city of lights I am heartbroken to have left. It was one of the hardest but brilliant and totally-worth-it years of my life and I would certainly do it again in a heartbeat and I'm not ashamed to say I shed a few tears when I had to say goodbye to some amazing people when I left this morning.

I was not a Francophone before I left but I am now, the wine, the cheese, the food, the people, the city... Paris, I love you and my heart will miss you.

Have a good week my loves!

Lots of Love, Kate xxx 

Monday, 23 April 2018

An Afternoon in Belleville

Now the sun is out here in Paris and I have a few free days of not-doing-much I decided to explore a part of Paris that I don't claim to know very well - the northeast corner of the city hides the area of Belleville. This area is known to be less touristy than most and is easily the most culturally diverse part of inner Paris - and you can see this the minute you exit the metro - the wonderful coloured shop fronts and the amazing smell of spices fills the air!

I first heard of Belleville many years ago as part of a cartoon called 'The Triplets of Belleville' so it had to be somewhere I was going to see whilst here, and it did not disappoint.

Take line 11 to Belleville or
 Pyrénées and you'll arrive right in the heart of Belleville. 

I would recommend taking your trip to Belleville on a Tuesday or Saturday when the Marche Belleville occupies the Boulevard de Belleville stuffed full to the brim of people and produce - this is the real Parisian market! 

This place sells everything from shoes to meat, fish and hundreds of stalls of produce at super cheap prices - pick up a bargain or something new here within seconds of entering the market! I managed to wrangle myself some plantain for less than a euro and a kilo of oranges for €1 and it's all super fresh. My one regret is that I hadn't found this place sooner as the fish looked incredible and the spices smelt to die for.

Next, I'd walk back up the boulevard to rue de Belleville with a quick turn into rue denoyez which is one of Paris's official graffiti streets and has a multitude of colourful cafes to duck into if it takes your fancy, but right at the end of the street is aux folies which is open 7am into the early hours and is the traditional old school bistro for a coffee in the morning, afternoon drinks or a full night of partying, it's got you covered. 

Feeling hungry? Le Cantine Belleville has tradition written all over it. Be prepared to wait a while but this is a great place to grab a bite if you don't fancy any of the street food stalls in the market but still being on a budget.

Now, be prepared, the walk up rue de Belleville is a slow steep hill but well worth the climb as at number 72 you will find the doorway in which Edith Piaf was born and the plaque with her name on.

When you get to the top of the hill head left, here you'll find the edge of Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, which is the 5th largest parc after the Tuileries and has hills like nowhere else in Paris! If you are feeling athletic you can climb to the top of the island in the middle of the parc in which there is the Temple de la Sibylle from which you can see all the way to Sacre Coeur on a clear day.

There is lots to explore in the parc, but my favourite time was finding a spot in the sunshine on the hill with a good book munching on an orange, fresh from the market.

While there is always more to see in Paris, this is not a bad way to spend an afternoon in Belleville.

Have a good week my loves!

Lots of Love, Kate xxx

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Metro Madness

The Paris metro is well known for being totally insane. It's loud and industrial, smelly and it doesn't make sense at all. Back in October, you might remember that I had my phone stolen at Palais Royal metro station.

However, it has come to grow on me slowly, and now, less than two weeks until I leave, it is one strange part of Paris that I'm gonna miss. 


From the inconveniently laid out stations (here's looking at you Chatalet) and the stops every 5 seconds, in a weird way, I have grown to learn that each individual line has its own personality and purpose in Paris. 

So here is my Ode to the Metro:

Line 1 - Yellow - an old faithful friend, reliable and responsible, the group mother
Line 2 - Blue - the forgotten saviour of the North, knows that winter is always coming
Line 3 - Kharki - inconvenient and not going anywhere you want it to, that friend who always gets lost
Line 4 - Dark Purple - knows where it's going before you do, stops for no one, takes no prisoners 
Line 5 - Orange - hangs out by the canal and has a love for 'art', speaks 'latin' 
Line 6 - Mint Green - head in the clouds, looks pretty but nothing there
Line 7 - Pink - needs a shower and stops. every. five. seconds, always turns up late to the party
Line 8 - Light Purple - been up since 2am and won't stop telling you about that one time in Peru...
Line 9 - Lime Green - does yoga overlooking the Eiffel Tower and can't stop telling everyone about it 
Line 10 - Burnt Yellow - a bit slow on the uptake, likes to blend in, gets there in the end
Line 11 - Brown - down to earth, getting from a to b, no questions asked, a bit rough around the edges
Line 12 - Dark Green - quiet and unassuming but comes out of its shell when drunk, knows how to get to Sacre Coeur 
Line 13 - Sky Blue - always rammed and too hot, can't quite make up its mind where it's going 
Line 14 - Bright Purple - definitely on something, so fucking fast, shiny and new, can't stop talking about how blue the sky is

Have a good week my loves!

Lots of Love, Kate xxx

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

The Many Bridges of Paris

Walking through Paris might be one of my favourite thing to do in the city, especially in the springtime.

As I am lucky to live right by the Louvre and minutes from the Seine, it is the ideal place to go walking. If you are looking for a morning walk followed by a fun afternoon I have just the itinerary for you!

From the Louvre, head right through the Jardin des Tuileries - the flowers are all in bloom and the fountains are flowing now!

Through place de la Concorde continue along the right bank to the next bridge, Pont Alexandre III. You can't miss it, it's the big golden bridge that is opposite the golden dome of Invalides. It's mad, I've been attending uni right next to Invalides all year but never seen it from this perspective.

Crossing this bridge to the left bank brings you one step closer to the Eiffel tower! Wandering along here there are many amazing bridges, the Pont d'Alma looks unassuming but if you cross it to the right bank you'll see the golden flame by the metro stop, donated by the USA as an exact replica of the one from the Statue of Liberty. This flame has now become a memorial to the late Princess Diana as this is above the exit of the tunnel in which the infamous crash that killed Diana and her fiance Dodie El-Fayed.

Continuing down Avenue de New York you'll walk to the next bridge, Passerelle Debilly. This footbridge is the best place for a Seine/Eiffel Tower photo and seemingly is becoming the new Pont des Arts - the old love lock bridge.

The final bridge on this walk (although there are many more) is the Pont de Bir-Hakeim, otherwise known as the inception bridge, featured in the film. This bridge is special as it is the only bridge which carries both people, cars and a metro train. If you take line 6 from Bir-Hakeim stop you'll get to experience one of the rare moments of beauty seen from a metro train as it rattles over the bridge above this picture.

From here you can run up the steps to Trocadero and head to another side of Paris!

Have a good week my loves!

Lots of Love, Kate xxx

Friday, 6 April 2018

MIA in Mallorca

After having some very Paris-heavy posts, this week I bring you lovely people the lowdown on the beautiful Spanish island of Mallorca/Majorca. This wonderful week away was all down to the wonderful Clark/Whelan family to whom I owe a massive thank you for taking me away on their family holiday as an added bonus!

Port d'Alcudia

As I was blissfully unaware when we arrived, Mallorca is the home to classic party town Magaluf, although as this was a family holiday it wasn't quite the intended destination for us. Instead, we headed to the north of the island to Plaja del Muro and the Alcudia region and stayed in a wonderfully tucked away villa a stone's throw away from the beach and an ice-cold pool (it was Easter).

Mallorca entirely exceeded my expectations, although there were the obviously touristy parts catered for the typical Brit-abroad (we all know the stereotype, socks, sandals, white suncreamed noses and a bit too much sunburnt flesh on show), the little Spanish towns of Alcudia and Pollenca that we visited were both a pleasant surprise. The little back streets filled with cafes spilling out onto town squares with little boutique shops selling vivid colourful pottery makes you feel like you have stepped into a sleepy Spanish village. Yet there was also so much history, from the revamped bullring to the Roman ruins, crumbling castles and beautiful churches, Mallorca feels like and embodies the Mediterranean lifestyle.

Being only 2 hours flight from the UK, I imagine it is rammed with British holidaymakers in the summer, so April was definitely the right time to go. We had ranging weather up to 21 degrees and as my shiny red face now proves, certainly enough to get sunburnt!

In typical Spanish fashion, tapas and seafood were on the menu at every beautiful restaurant and the paella was, of course, a classic staple dish as we were right by the coast. The other classic Mallorcan dish which I am happy to report is as divine as it sounds is the Pan Amb Oli which is classic bruschetta style bread with garlic and olive oil and tomatoes spread on it followed by cheese and/or Serrano ham. Honestly, it is to die for! 10/10 recommendation right here.

Calvari Steps, Pollenca

Eating out in Mallorca is neither cheap nor expensive, but as I have learnt, anything is cheaper than Paris, and drinking buckets of Sangria also helps!

All the Sangria!!

All in all, Mallorca has out-done itself in my book, and being such a short plane ride away, how can anyone not love it here?!

Have a good week my loves!

Lots of Love, Kate xxx

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