Unfortunately after nearly two months here I have still failed to meet many French people. This is partly my fault as it’s very easy to slip into the international student bubble and eat, sleep, breath erasmus without ever having to use a word of French. But I also believe that the Parisians do conform with their stereotype of being off standish with their mantra of ‘metro-boulot-dodo’ (metro-job-bedtime) and so they’re not the easiest bunch to crack. However let me tell you about the people I have met this week!
Wednesday night I went for dinner with my two Italian friends in a restaurant that they frequent very often. On arrival it appeared to be less of a restaurant and more like someone’s house with all the customers plates stacked up on the bar to make space for an intense game of cards. When we arrived the owner, Alan, greeted us with ‘le bisou’ and proceeded to cook us whatever he decided (it was delicious!).
After a little bit of small talk with the locals we decided to head home around midnight. However one of the guests, an impressive polyglot of over 8 languages and ex-vice mayor of the city, insisted on driving us home. In what would normally be a 15 minute drive we found ourselves being given a two hour tour of the city, not missing a single sight! Our “tour guide” Jean Claude was filled with local knowledge and made my struggle to get to my 8am class the next day completely worthwhile!
Then on Saturday, I was invited by my only French friends to their friends house for some drinks before heading to an underground party next to the Seine. The apartment was not like any other one I’ve seen in Paris with a huge courtyard and garden and lots of space (my whole apartment is smaller than my bedroom back in Edinburgh). After leaving the apartment, one of my friends explained to me discreetly that the boy who lived in the apartment was the son of two very very famous actors in France and that was why it was so big (unfortunately I can’t say exactly who as they told me in confidence).
Finally, today I went to eat my breakfast – a crepe and a coffee in the luxembourg gardens (very French I know!). Within two minutes of sitting down there were tv cameras and photographers started to surround me, their focus was on two men walking behind me who came over and sat next to me. The two men turned out to be Film maker Gerard Depardieu and presenter Michel Denisot and they were conducting an interview for national tv. I have to admit I didn’t recognise the presenter and may have texted my mum to tell her I was sat next to Sarkozy (they look pretty similar!) After the interview, the tv crew made me sign to give my permission to feature on tv!
Parisians may be hard to meet but of those I’ve met, they’ve been pretty cool!
Ruth Clarke – Sciencespo, Paris