The Gates of Hell: Paris in the Summer

Paris in the spring is beautiful. Paris in the fall is breathtaking. Paris in the winter is hauntingly glamorous. Paris in the summer is hell.

People are quick to tell you how amazing Paris is – but heed my warnings about the Parisian summer. Although Paris has many great things to offer in the summer – plages, tourist traps, swimming pools, art events, etc. – I am not here to talk about that, since plenty of other Parisian/expat blogs have done a fabulous job of it. Instead, here are some of the worst things about living in Paris in the summer.

  • Air Conditioning is Rare – Air conditioning can only be found in Starbucks, movie theatres, and shopping centers. No apartments have it, most restaurants don’t, and even daycares go without AC. If you ask a Parisian why, they’ll say that it’s not worth it for the short amount of hot days, or that the windows in Paris don’t work well with AC units. If you ask me, I’d say nothing because I’m too busy drowning in my own sweat.
  • Most Au Pairs are Gone – I was (and still am) the only au pair in my language class. Most au pairs don’t start work until September, so summer can be a hard time to make friends as an au pair.
  • You Might Not Find Bread – One day I went outside with the sole purpose of buying bread, only to find that the bakery on the corner was closed – for a month! The other bakery was closed for the day, so I had to buy a strange generic baguette from the supermarket. This also happens with fruit stands, mini markets, restaurants, and even the corner Tabac.
  • The Metro is Murder – Did I mention that most metro cars don’t have air conditioning? Only the very new metro cars have AC, and if you’re on a metro without, the only breeze you’ll get is through the tiny windows that are barely cracked open.
  • 1 is a Lonely Number – Beyond all of this, the end of July and almost the entire month of August is when Paris becomes a ghost town. The old people you usually see walking their dogs are gone – no, not dead, just away in their country mansions to enjoy the breeze of whatever quaint town they’ve visited since birth.
  • Less Events – This is only true for events that happen year round – including pretty much everything I want to attend. This can include theatre shows, cultural events, and even classes or workshops.
  • Language Class is Lacking – Did I mention that many language schools don’t operate in the summer? I only had the choice of a few schools, and the one I ended up picking was obviously only open in the summer to make money, money, money.

To sum it up, Paris is generally hot, empty, and frustrating in the summer. If you want an outsider’s opinion, my friend Hannah visited and said she would never visit Paris in August again, mainly for the reasons above. Now this isn’t to say that I haven’t enjoyed my time in Paris – I love it here! I just wish to inform the public of the struggles involved with Parisian summers. I am counting the days until I can wear a scarf and cuddle a Frenchman next to a fireplace (I can dream, right?).

The Date and Dash

If there’s one thing you should know about Paris in July/August it’s that the city is hot hot hot. Because of that, many Parisians take holidays in these months. This has caused my already tiny friend group to dwindle, leaving me to spend a Saturday night alone…or convince a boy to go out with me. I had already used up my Tinder likes for the day (what can I say, lots of cuties that day), so I got back on Bumble and found a guy I didn’t really dig, but who was also bored and alone. He was a clueless just-finished-his-freshman-year-of-uni kid with no good ideas for a hang out place, so I decided to take him to my favorite bar.

This bar is my favorite because it’s hidden from the street, it has a pirate ship, and the security guy is now my friend (you can tell I visit a lot). It’s more of a club/speakeasy than a bar, and that’s what makes it cooler than pretty much any other place in Paris. When bumble boy, let’s call him BB, found out we lived on the same line 2 stops away he suggested we take the train together. I knew this was a bad idea, as it involved us having to make small talk on a train for half an hour, but agreed anyways. As I predicted, the train ride was a train wreck and I didn’t like him, romantically or platonically. He was pretentious without dressing the part and enjoyed bashing America (even though he studies there). We get to the bar and no surprise, he didn’t offer to buy me a drink. If I liked him, this wouldn’t have mattered as much, but this pushed me over the edge into the “I have zero obligation to this kid” mindset.


As we finished our first drink (with me nodding and saying “mmhm” while trying to look even mildly interested), I spotted two guys chatting. I wasn’t sure if they were gay or not, but I didn’t care; the one facing me had a kind face and I knew he’d be willing to help me escape. Throughout my horrid conversation with BB I made scared “help me” eyes at Kind Face Guy, but he didn’t see. As I walked with BB to get another drink I casually swerved and ran to Kind Face Guy asking, “Do you speak English?” too tired of BB’s BS to speak French. Luckily Kind Face Guy lived up to his name. KFG did speak English and thought the situation was hilarious, agreeing to pretend to be my French teacher if BB showed his face again. KFG and his friend, Magic Mike were eager to talk to me, a strange American young lady. Magic Mike proceeded to try and show me magic tricks that I was too tired/tipsy to understand.


KFG bought me a drink, I think because Magic Mike was trying to get us together. Magic Mike would say something in French to KFG and chuckle like a naughty child, so I’m just assuming some of it was about sexing me up. I followed KFG and Magic Mike around for an hour and then suggested I leave (I didn’t want to get in their way of a guy night or some hook ups), but KFG insisted I wasn’t interrupting. The last hour with KFG and Magic Mike was uneventful and involved Magic Mike pretending to like Trump to make me angry, which 100% worked. I added KFG and Magic Mike (who still hasn’t accepted) on Facebook and said goodbye to my one night friends. On the way out I kissed the doorman on both cheeks and walked with a purpose to catch the last metro, satisfied with another crazy night in my faux Parisian life.

A Penis in Paris – My Misadventures with Kate, Ep. 1

Dear members of my family: Read this at your own risk; I would suggest you didn’t. But just know I did not interact with said penis.

 

Kate and I reconnected in Paris when I moved here, about a month and a half ago when I started my life as an au pair in Paris. Kate is the best friend to have when you want to have a crazy adventure. I have never made a full night out with Kate because she parties hard and takes the night bus, while I am always super paranoid about missing the last metro (because there’s no night bus near me).

Saturday I decided to take Kate to a theatre show at a British theatre festival in Paris. I knew it would be very strange and avant garde – aka super strange and hopefully hilarious, and, if nothing else, at least in English. I booked the tickets the night before and Kate came over the next afternoon.

We chatted about stupid boys and I ate pan au chocolat while she sipped a strange beer I bought for her (I don’t know how to buy beer). She joked that the only thing she wanted for her birthday was a nice night with a naked man. We tried to leave on time, but I hated my outfit and changed 20 times while simultaneously doing my makeup. I had the metro directions – 2 transfers, 3 trains, a loooooong commute to a small theatre on the edge of Paris.

After getting on the train we realized I didn’t have directions from the metro station to the theatre…or the name of the theatre. We knew we would be late but gosh darn I was going to get my 10 euros’ worth of weird theatre. We walked out of the metro and realized our commute was a 15 minute walk, cementing our lateness. What we did not know was that we would have to climb hills and staircases that made us sweat our eyeliner off.

After finally finding the theatre we had to print our tickets (because they couldn’t just let us in, the only 2 girls in the lobby). Then we went outside to get a man to open the (unlocked) theatre door and walk us to the stage -because the seating was on the stage.

At this point we had missed the first 20 minutes of a supposedly hour long but really 45 minute play. We snuck to separated seats and watched unpaid actors dance on dirt that was strewn on the stage. We had read the brief summary of the play beforehand and knew vaguely about the plot, but I’m pretty sure those first 20 minutes were imperative.

We proceed to watch a girl in overalls sing a song about death, a guy we assumed was Jesus walk around the stage, and a guy in a hospital gown look very angry and confused. The entire time I was just praying there was no audience participation, as the actors were getting up close and personal with us. Towards the end hospital gown guy is killed and then brought back to life. And then he begins to peels his “skin” off – some sort of latex covering. First he was sitting and took off the top of his hospital gown.

“Oh no,” I think. “He’s not going to do it, is he?” Oh yes, he did. He took the whole gown off. Underneath he was wearing his birthday suit, and pretty confident about it. As he continued to stand naked in a pile of dirt peeling his skin, two actors swept the dirt around him. Then, after peeling all of the coating on his body, the play was over.

And that’s how I gave Kate exactly what she wanted for her birthday – a night with a naked man.

Stick around for more of my misadventures with Kate!

Paris Calling + Free GPSmyCity GIVEAWAY

Moving abroad is a lot of work; well, it’s a lot of paperwork. I have spent the past month or so emailing and sending snail mail back and forth from the US to Paris, France. I’ve made copies of my passport, transcripts, diploma – France has really gotten to know me. I wrote an elementary level letter in French to tell the French government why I want to live in Paris – but I mean why would I not want to live and work in Paris??? I also sent baby booties to my soon to be au pair family for their soon to be bebe!

To keep you up to date; later this month I’ll be doing a day and a half trip to Atlanta to get my au pair visa, which is exciting and terrifying! I have to bring a bunch of paperwork and pictures of me and documents saying I’m American (although I would love to be Canadian), etc. I’m hoping I’ll have enough time to visit the aquarium again!

All of this “work” (really just emails and paperwork) has got me BEYOND excited for my Paris journey! In honor of this, I’ve teamed up with GPSmyCity to give 20 of you their Paris app for FREE (It’s normally $4.99!)! The app has self guided tours for you to explore Paris, with tourist-y tours along with tours that make you feel like a local! It also has a city map and list of attractions, along with other features. It is available for both iOS and Android, so no worries there! So if you’re interested in winning the GPSmyCity Paris app, all you need to do is comment below and tell something about Paris – what your favorite aspect of Paris is, or what you look forward to exploring in Paris, etc. That’s it!

I can’t wait to see all of your comments and use the app in Paris!

 

All or Nothing


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With me, it’s all or nothing. Oklahoma anyone? But truly, I’m an all or nothing kind of gal. If I do something, I go all in. I’m pretty sure that if I accidentally stole an orange I’d turn into a full on kleptomaniac. Joking aside, my all or nothing attitude has been both a blessing and a curse (okay, curse is a little dramatic).

In my relationships, I either want to hang out with you all the time, or never. If I don’t see or hear from you for a long time, I’ll forget about you. I don’t say this because I’m callous, but because I’m honestly forgetful; at the same time, I want to give more to the relationships that I can give to. Basically I’d rather hang out with someone who can hang with me everyday over someone who can only hang once every two weeks.

This makes it difficult for me to date, because if I feel “meh” about you on the first date I’ll probably just forget you exist. On the other hand, if I really like you I might come across as clingy…or maybe even a tiny bit creepy. I don’t mean it, I just like to show the people I like that I like them…a lot.

With school, this means I’ll either spend one hour or one week on a project; there’s no in between. I either hate a class or love it. Every professor is my favorite or my least favorite. I’ll either read the whole textbook or none of it.

If I decide I want to do something, I’ll do it or go crazy trying to do so. I’ve wasted hours and hours on study abroad programs, scholarships, schools to transfer into, trips to take, jobs to apply for, projects to audition for, and many more things that never happened. I become obsessed with my next big thing, whether it be a birthday trip to NYC (didn’t happen) or studying abroad in London (also didn’t happen).

But my all or nothing attitude has also served me well. I got my first ever movie “role” (as an extra, not anything fancy guys) through really weird circumstances. I found an article in our paper about the movie filming nearby and decided that I, little freshman in high school Celina, was going to be in this movie. Long story short, I emailed the director and convinced my whole family to drive to the mountains and be extras in a random indie film.

My all or nothing attitude also got me my first paid writing gig, out of school for two weeks my senior year of high school to film, and living in Manhattan last summer. And now my all or nothing-ness has landed me a job right after graduation exactly where I wanted – Paris! So even though my all or nothing life is a bit crazy, crazy can be good. Crazy can be PARIS yall!

So follow your crazy! Feel free to comment below with what that is so we can cheer each other on…and make sure we aren’t too crazy 😉

Some [Crazy] Goals for Paris

Although I am a bit scared for my move to France, I am also extremely excited. I want to make the most of my time abroad (which will be at least one year, but could be extended for who knows how long). So I’ve compiled a list of things (some a bit crazy) to do in Paris!

  • Have someone mistake me as a Parisian and ask me for directions
  • Sneak into the secret parts of the catacombs without dying
  • Go to a wine bar and act snooty
  • Somehow get into crazy exclusive parties/events/clubs
  • Get mistaken for a celebrity
  • Meet some famous people who I don’t know are famous but we become best friends
  • Act in a French movie that gets crazy popular
  • Find a cafe to write in that becomes “my cafe”
  • Dream in French
  • Adopt a cat and name him or her “Bisou”
  • Throw a party
  • Travel around Europe
  • Fall in love – with Paris, a guy, baguettes, who knows?
  • Make amazing friends from all over the world
  • Teach my au pair child Taylor Swift songs
  • Buy and wear a beret
  • Become an actual celebrity in France for something weird, like my new cat Bisou can talk.
  • Sit in a fancy hotel lobby and pretend to wait for someone.
  • Have my family visit me
  • Climb the first half of the Eiffel but also take the elevator to the top
  • Convince my au pair family to name their next child “Talullah”
  • Have a cheese picnic. Just cheese.
  • Go viral for something France-related. Like me falling in the Seine on or something else normal.
  • Become an actual Parisian
  • Stay in Paris forever?

Do you have any other suggestions? Au revoir!

How To Find an Au Pair Position in Paris

I don’t usually do “how to” posts, but I have seen a definite lack of useful how to posts regarding au pairing (specifically in Paris). Obviously I don’t know everything, but hopefully this will help make your search easier. Here’s what I’ve learned since starting my search a few days after Christmas to saying yes to my family on January 10th.

  • Either pick an agency of your choice or join aupairworld.com. You don’t need any other sites. I wasted my time joining probably 6 other sites, none of which were necessary or led to any results other than spam emails. I didn’t use an agency, but Au Pair Paris seems to have good reviews if you’re looking to go with an agency, which I think is unnecessary unless you really want to use an agency. Aupairworld.com is free (to the au pair) and amazing.
  • Put ALL of your experience on your profile; babysitting. retail jobs, language skills, hobbies/talents, education, certifications, etc. Make it easily accessible to the family.
  • Add good quality photos. No selfies. Use a school photo or headshot. Add pictures of you with the children you have babysat. Add photos of you and your family.
  • Be specific with location. If you want to work in Paris, put that on your profile. The suburbs can be nice, but the Paris metro closes at night, and if you end up living an hour subway trip away, that could mean you leaving the city at 10pm on your night off.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to families first. Make a basic first message and personalize it a bit for each family.
  • Know your profile weaknesses. If you’re under 21, not from the EU, and can’t drive, your options may be slightly more limited (from my experience). Play up your strengths. Also utilize the search option under the “for au pairs” tab – it allows you to search by country without limiting families by driving requirement, age requirement, and date/length of stay. If you are about to turn 20, use this search to find people looking for a 20 year old, as they currently can’t see your profile.
  • Don’t get discouraged. I got a lot of rejections and few positive messages. It all depends on when you’re searching, when you’re available, etc.
  • DO NOT GIVE UP. I am a very impatient person and was quick to get  discouraged after a few days without responses. Just be patient, I promise someone will message you!
  • After messaging with families, SKYPE! This is how you make sure they are, in fact, real people. You can also see how you click with the parents and children. Treat this like a job interview; fix your hair, wear a nice shirt, make sure your room is clean, wear pearls. That last one is optional, but I actually wore pearls when Skyping with my family, and I think they appreciated that I took care with my appearance. Families in Paris want to make sure their au pair is not only classy, but that they will be able to fit in in Paris.
  • Continue messaging families no matter how your Skype conversation went. Keep your options open and get your mind off the perfect (or maybe not-so-perfect) family you Skyped with. Skype with some other families if you so desire.
  • Send the family(familes) with whom you Skype your references. It’ll show that you have chutzpah.
  • Skype again. Yep, Skype again before/when you say yes.
  • Skype while you work out contract details. Make sure you read the entire contract and both parties are aware of everything.
  • Get to work on your visa! I might write another post about the visa process, so let me know if you’d be interested in that!

Hopefully this helps you with your search! If you find an au pair position in Paris, let me know so we can meet up! Also feel free to ask questions in the comments, au revoir!