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.

30 Rad Things To Do This Summer

I’m graduating in just 15 days (ahhh!), and I know you guys are counting down to summer too, so I thought I’d share a rad list of fun things to do in Summer 2K16!

 

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  1. Throw an Outdoor Party

 

Spruce up your garden and throw an outdoor party this summer. Hang lanterns and streamersg from the trees. Light candles. Break out the BBQ or set up a buffet table. Invite your BFFs, family and neighbours and have fun. Dance until dawn in the moonlight!

 

  1. Surprise Your BFF

 

Surprise your best friend with unique and unusual gifts for no reason at all. Wrap them in something fun (newspaper, paper bags, etc)  and send them through the post. She’ll dig it, I promise.. And if you feel so inclined, totally feel free to send me anything from this site – because you know I’m cuckoo!

 

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  1. Blow Some Bubbles

 

It’s good to do childish things now and again (or all the time). And did you know that there are several health benefits associated with blowing bubbles? Pursing your lips and blowing focuses your breathing and is great for relaxation. It’s also good, squeaky clean fun.

 

  1. Go Camping

 

Throw your tent in the trunk, grab some friends and go camping. What’s better than sleeping under the stars? Light a campfire and make s’mores. And then tell me about your adventures!

 

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  1. Go to a Festival

 

Everyone should go to a festival at least once in their life. If not several times. Find the perfect event for you and immerse yourself in the whole experience, including Instagramming and Snapchatting the whole thing so that I can live vicariously through you. 

 

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  1. Go to a Fair

    Go to a fair with a group of friends. Not a great big theme park – a small county fair. Enjoy the rides, eat some cotton candy and win a prize. Help me relive my glory days of clogging at the state fair!

 

  1. Go the Beach

 

Even if you’re not going on a long summer vacation, visit the beach. Arrive early to choose the best umbrella spot. Pack a picnic lunch (or get pizza, pizza is always good) and a stack of books and stay all day. Play games, swim and build sandcastles – or just lay out and tan, or burn in my case. As the sun goes down set up a BBQ and roast some veggie burgers.

 

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  1. Pick Berries

 

Ride out to a farm and spend the day picking berries. Bring them home and make smoothies, pies and cakes. There’s nothing better than freshly picked fruit!

 

  1. Take a Nap in a Hammock

 

It’s not all about rushing around (although that can be fun too). Summer is a great time to relax and dream a little. Set up that Eno and force your cat into it with you.

 

  1. Stargaze

 

Drive out to the country away from the city lights – or just come visit my family’s house, there’s a cornfield on our street! Lie down on a blanket and stare at the stars. If you have a portable telescope, use it! Be amazed at the wonder of the universe. Try not to think about the possible children in the cornfield.

 

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  1. Take That Trip

 

Take that trip you’ve always been meaning to take. What’s holding you back? Just book it and go! Hopefully that trip involves you visiting me in Paris, because as of now I have 3 possible friends, one of which will be the child I’m nannying.  

 

  1. Go Paddle Boating or Canoeing

 

Take off your shoes and socks and roll up your pants. Paddle in a river or stream. Or dangle your feet off the edge of a boardwalk. Don’t forget to pack a towel and also sunscreen – don’t get stuck with the thigh sunburn I got last year.

 

  1. Go Sailing

 

Grab a bunch of friends and spend some time sailing. Drive out to a lake and spend the day there. Take a picnic lunch (or pizza) and a blanket and enjoy a lazy day. I’ve always wanted to sail in the Chesapeake Bay, please someone do this for me – take one for the team!

 

 

  1. Swim in a Lake

 

The pool is great but swimming in a lake is something else. Find a safe location and skip a near death experience like I had in a river a few years ago. Okay, I’m being a bit dramatic…but better safe than sorry!

 

  1. Cycle

 

Dust off your bicycle and go for a long ride. Get out of the city and into the countryside. Enjoy the country roads and fresh air. Apparently bikes are more popular in Europe, so I should probably learn how to turn while biking.

 

  1. Go for a Hike

 

Plan your route and go for a hike. Choose somewhere you’ve never been before. Walk through fields and woods and enjoy being outside in nature, knowing that Trump can’t get to you there.

 

  1. Take a Road Trip

 

Road trips are always fun, especially when you choose the right travelling companions. Plan where you want to go but don’t be too rigid. Part of the fun is following those road signs and seeing where they take you. Take lots of tunes to listen to along the way, I suggest Taylor Swift.  

 

  1. Walk Barefoot in the Park

 

Remember the film with Jane Fonda and Robert Redford that my Grandma keeps asking me to watch? Take off your shoes and socks and walk barefoot in the park. It’s freeing and exhilarating.

 

  1. Light Some Fireworks

 

Fireworks are not just for 4th July. Gather some friends and have a firework party. Light some sparklers and have fun.

 

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  1. Have a Film Night

 

Curl up on the couch and watch your favorite films. Make some popcorn and cry at the sad bits. A blanket and a tub of ice cream are useful and obligatory.

 

  1. Visit a New City

 

Visit a city you’ve never been to before. Drive or take the train and spend the day there. Enjoy the shops and restaurants. Eat lunch in a pavement cafe. I suggest NYC. Or Paris, definitely Paris.

 

  1. Go to a Museum

 

Check your local listings and visit a museum or art gallery. Keep a list of forthcoming exhibitions and events. Your local history museum could be more fun than you think – I got a great Instgram pic last time I visited mine.

 

  1. Play Some Sports

 

When was the last time you played some sports (my answer is seventh grade, fyi)? Choose something you like or something you would like to learn and go for it. Book a court etc. and have fun. Pick a friend who is less athletic than you and you’ll always look great playing any sport with them.

 

  1. Volunteer

 

Giving your time is always rewarding. Look for local community groups and projects that may need your help. Spend some time helping other people (or animals). If you want to go big, I suggest going to Asia and volunteering at a bear sanctuary.

 

  1. Learn a Language

 

Is there a language you’ve always wanted to learn? Enroll in a [French] course and make a start. Reward yourself with a visit to that country [France] once you have made good progress. It’s the best way to test your [French] skills. I am in no way biased towards France.

 

  1. Learn a New Skill

 

Learn something new. Enroll in an online course or book a place at your local community college. Learning new things broadens your horizons and allows you to meet new people.

 

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  1. Read Some Books

 

Make a list of those books you’ve always wanted to read and set time aside to read them. Bridget Jone’s Diary, Bossy Pants, and anything by Chelsea Handler are good places to start.

 

  1. Visit Your Library

 

Spend a couple of hours browsing your local library. Pick out some books and look at the information. There’s always something interesting to be found there. Who knows, you could purposefully run into a cute boy and fall in love in said library.

 

  1. Make Some Art

 

Forget any inhibitions and make some art. Take out your paints, glue and glitter and make something fun and creative! Don’t overthink it or try to make it perfect. Just go with your instincts. If your instincts say to draw a cat, your instincts are on the right track.

 

  1. Plan a Family Day

 

Plan a fun day for the whole family. Make some meals, plan some activities, or fire up the BBQ. Spend the day with the people closest to you. The next day you should plan on hiding in your room.

 

So those are some fun summer ideas for you all! Comment below and tell me what you’re doing this summer! Don’t forget to add me on Twitter and Instagram @CelinaTTolbert so we can keep in touch this summer!

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!

Do They Have Iced Coffee in Paris?

Questions I have about Paris (my home starting this June):

  • Is there iced coffee? Will I be mocked if I drink iced coffee? I NEED ICED COFFEE
  • Can I run out of my cab like the girls in “Tout qui ce Brille”?
  • Am I fully grasping how much bigger Paris is than Manhattan?
  • Can I wear a beret without looking cliche?
  • Will I actually meet my fake boyfriend Jean-Luc?
  • Do I have the guts to try and explore the catacombs after watching that crazy horror movie about them?
  • Should I let my inner mean girl out in Paris? Is resting mean face what is acceptable there?
  • How many scarves should I bring? 5? 10???
  • How much cheese am I expected to eat?
  • What if I don’t make any friends and instead befriend the ghost who lives in the Louvre???
  • Can someone please give me like 10 red lipsticks?
  • Do French people like Canadians or British people better? Because I’m definitely going to pretend to be Canadian or British.
  • Do the people in Paris sing in the streets like in Anastasia? IS DIMITRI REAL? IS ANASTASIA ALIVE?
  • Will the Parisiennes accept me as one of their own eventually? And, if they do, will there be a beret and baguette ceremony?

That’s all my questions for this week. See you next week again for Curious Sundays. Actually that sounds weird. I’ll work on a better name. Maybe “Celina’s Psychotic Ramblings Sundays.” That has a nice ring, right?