I'll apologize again for being so neglectful in my updates, as things here have been so busy. I haven't been doing much sight seeing because I am in the process of trying to get an apartment and a job. In Canada these things are usually pretty easy, but in France it is an entirely different situation. The renting laws here are ridiculous, and so for me to get an apartment I either need to have a guarantor in France or have to put up the rent for the entire year I am here. It's pretty outrageous and means that apartment hunting has become quite a nuisance. I found one yesterday that I really love but am pretty certain that I won't get it. My goal is to have on by the end of next week.
Anyways, I know you didn't come on here to read about my woes of apartment and job hunting. Let me tell you a little more about Paris! I have been walking a lot, some days I go into Paris with no plan other than to discover some new streets. I have put my museum and sight seeing days on hold for the moment as I have meetings and things to go to and so I never have a full day to set aside. I will get back to them though. For now I am trying to get a hold on the city and really understand how it all works.
Some things that I have noticed that are different that they don't tell you guidebooks are that most of the subway doors have latches that you need to flick to open- otherwise you won't be getting off until other people do it for you. People also seem to not realize that rule about walking on the right - always - escalators, stairs, the street - you name it and someone will bump into you or force you to move. It's also difficult to find a bathroom in city without buying something. At Starbucks for example they put a code to the bathroom on your receipt - so I now carry a receipt on me and if I'm close go there. I would imagine I'm not the only one to do this - but I thought it was a clever idea anyways.
So other than walking and enjoying myself a lot I have been trying new cheeses, cooking with Thibaut's mum and reading lots of French magazines and seeing French movies. I also went to see a couple of movies like Sex and the City 2 (which was terrible) where there were just subtitles in French. Despite knowing what they were saying because it was in English I still couldn't help but read the subtitles sometimes - odd how that works. The other thing about subtitles that doesn't work, is that sometimes the line written in French is read by the audience faster than the characters say it in English , so it's not uncommon to have the entire theatre laugh and for me to be lost and then laugh last when the line is finally said.
A couple of weeks ago was a big wheat festival at the Champs Elysees. They installed what felt like miles of plants and wheat all the way down the Champs Elysees and people, lots and lots of people walked and spent the day taking in all the nature in the street. It was a bit odd because they closed the streets but the traffic lights were still there, so every so often peeking out from behind a tree was a green or red light as if to somehow help direct the masses of people that were walking through.
Last weekend, we went on a relaxing resort/spa weekend. There were four of us, Thibaut, Pamela, Murielle and me. We drove two hours to this place called Center Park - yes it has an English name. We stayed in a "cottage" (say it in a French accent) as they call it. They are basically like nice hotel cottages that are all in staggered lines and attached like semis. We had a two bedroom cottage with a salon and little kitchen. We had breakfast on the patio each morning that looked into the woods and spent the weekend walking, cooking, drinking fresh mojitos before dinner and swimming. There was no real lake and the river next to our cottage looked a little worse for wear, so we went over to their swimming dome. There were water-slides, lazy rivers, hot tubs, cold tubs, and a jacuzzi. We spent all of Saturday getting bumped and bruised as we raced down the slides, only to wake up Sunday in rough shape. We had a jacuzzi in our cottage and a sauna too so we enjoyed those as well.
On Sunday we took it easy, walked around the lake, had a pine cone throwing war and then visited this odd little petting zoo where there were very friendly goats, pigs and cows.
Pamela made us a really delightful dinner, as she did every night, and then we packed up and headed home really late. It was a really nice way to spend the weekend and on top of it all it smelled like Muskoka with all the pine trees and water.
So far things here have been great, apart from the apartment hunt, but I can't complain really!
Once I get all of that sorted out I should be back on here with more regular posts and pictures.
I hope everyone at home is doing well!