PARIS: I want to write on the chevaux de Marly

The grave of de Beauvoir and Sartre, covered in flowers and metro tickets. By shimgray on flickr.
The grave of de Beauvoir and Sartre, covered in flowers and metro tickets. By shimgray on flickr.

The long horrifying slide towards my essay deadlines has got appreciably smaller. Last week the only thing getting me through was custard creams; this week, I’ve gone from being totally demoralised (two nights ago) to actually quite chipper. I’m not sure whether this is genuine progress, hormones or some sort of kick-save-brain protection that’s blanking the truth in order to keep me out the Isis. I have essays. I could hand them in if I had to. I am eating quite a lot of pitta&-based meals.

Although I feel roughly the size of a whale and my skin has exploded (coruscations last scene during Finals, also the era of my last largest-ever-mammal impression), this kind of hard work is actually good for me. Having to be so diligent during the day makes my brain more active at night, and the intensity of work means I can genuinely take the evenings off (without, as happened so often in undergrad – my god I am tempting fate here, tomorrow my hard drive’ll explode – having to work through the evening because I cocked about morning and afternoon). That said, I’m still not a morning person, and although I’ve got good stamina when something fascinates me (currently: typing up the MOST HEARTRENDING Sarah Kane quotations into an irrelevant Word document and/or playing with manuscript reproductions), starting earlier doesn’t actually increase my productivity – I’ve only got so many productive hours in the day (as far as work goes, anyway).

Meanwhile, Oxford’s experiencing the sweetest, softest Spring weather, and I am mouldering in libraries. But I do, at least, have things to blog about, namely PARIS.

Chloe – the worst person in the world, my beloved friend & the Richard II fail king to my excellent Carlisle – and I are spending September in Paris. We are looking for accommodation. We are sharing copious links. We are writing to each other in terrible, pidgin French. My grasp of French language is totally unhelped by my grasp of French literature, since the only phrases I learnt out of books were about furrowed brows, trampled mint and underage teenagers losing their virginities in, I seem to remember, haybales (or, in other words, Collette’s Le Blé en Herbe, available at all good vendors of underage teenagers and mint, hurrah A Level coursework). Mostly I can remember the grammar and unhelpful phrases like <<en ce qui concerne>> and << revers de la medaille>>, but NOT, sadly, the French for ‘sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof’, which I distinctly remember learning out of an old purple book just before GCSEs. There are a few issues to be addressed in our search for an apartment; we need certain things like a lift if above a negociable number of floors, etc and I am enjoying resurrecting LE SUBJONCTIF in order to explain to bemused proprietors (all of whom reply in peerless English) that BIEN QU’ELLE NE SOIT PAS UNE MALADE, etc. It should be noted that I feel compelled to print French in capitals to convey a subtle sense of ENGLISH GIRL BELLOWING and a sad lack of accent. This is because this is how I speak. I also worry I won’t understand a word of what is said to me, possibly leading to our deaths at the hands of white slavers (n.b., my view of Paris, where I have not been since reasonably young, is STRONGLY INFORMED by the later Radlett novels of one N. Mitford – ooh, Chloe, that’s another place we should go, we can go to the Rue Monsieur and I’ll read you all the dreadful bits where she’s dying). I am also attempting to look up exciting arty/gay/theatrical places for us to go and things to do. I’d really like to see some theatre while we’re there.

I like how this post makes me sound cultured and not as if I’m also GREATLY looking forward to the food…

Anyway, to people who know Paris: suggestions! Recommendations! We are two students who steadfastly avoid sport but like pretty much everything else. Unless, in my case, it happens somewhere high.

For inspiration, I’ve been checking out – and, um, gacking (shut up Jay it’s better than Googling) photos from my friend Shim on Flickr. I don’t have anything intelligent to say about them, except the somewhat macabre ‘oh, I’ve always liked graveyards‘ and hurrah for the Pompidou! I do love graveyards, though, they’re so interesting – especially foreign ones – and I adore the image I’ve chosen for the top of this post. You can see Shim’s full Paris 2009 set here.

16 thoughts on “PARIS: I want to write on the chevaux de Marly

  1. “but like pretty much everything else”

    Speak for yr. eclectic self, mademoiselle.

    But yes Rue Monsieur, death bits, etc. CHOUETTE.


    1. BETWEEN US, Richard, BETWEEN US.

      No no it’s fine. You just do your knitting and look pretty. I’ll get out there and earn food FOR THE CHILDREN. YOUR NEW HAT LOOKS LOVELY.


    1. Sorry, darling, sorry I was just fixing a hole in the roof while chopping wood and BALANCING OUR ACCOUNTS except oh wait. oh wait oh wait oh wait. Never mind, perhaps we can just ROAST YOUR NEW HAT. What with the feathers, Catullus, Koln and Echinacea Jr. might think it’s CHICKEN.


      1. My children do not eat CHICKEN, they are all vegetarian. VEGAN, if you don’t get on with the accounts, DARLING.


  2. Sophie, where do I start?!
    1. Eat the best french onion soup EVER at Au Pied De Cochon restaurant, its open all night, and has statues of pigs ears on the wall, and stuffed pigs hooves, and the waiters have 19th century moustaches. The strangest place ever.

    2. Graveyards. I love them too. Pere Lachaise for Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison and Edith Piaf (you have to leave a lit gauloise cigarrette by her grave or I’ll get cross), Montmartre graveyard for La Goulue’s grave (she invented the cancan), and Colette, De Balzac, and many other friends are scattered around.

    3. Shakespeare and Company bookshop. Sleep on the love bed. Read books for free. Leave a message on the love mirror, or leave letters under the pillow (I found a love letter by rummaging under the duvet). Try and get invited to the literary tea on a Sunday. Stroke the shop cat. Play the piano at midnight after having been scared witless by perverts at Pigalle (this may be a particular one). Talk to the lovely writers in residence.

    4. The prettiest museums: Musee de la Vie Romantique + Musee Gustave Moreau are the two prettiest, and they’re very quaint and empty whenever we’ve been around. Lots of flowers and old ladies.

    5. Killiwatch on the rue Tiquetonne for vintage threads, and to look at pretty girls and boys walking in and out. The coolest shop ever, and then go outside it and there’s a bistro where everyone looks like a supermodel. Also go to Colette so you can feel uncool + poor.

    6. Ride drunk on cheap wine on the free bicycles around the city.

    Check out the ‘nice’ burlesque shows in Montmartre. Go to le Marais for amazing at exhibitions. SOPHIE I hate you, you’ve made me want to go there now. x


  3. I don’t remember a damn thing about Paris, except Lesbian Street, which I may have seen in a dream. It’s somewhere near the Hotel De Ville in an area that was devoid of streetlights but lit with signs / shop windows etc. The women there were literally sitting on mopeds wishing me good night in smoky voices. I was followed. I did some following. I ate in shitty places and slept on the floor of a friend of a friend who know seven languages and came from both Israel and Palestine. His friend was Jordanian, though technically stateless, which was weirdly attractive. Also, my bag was searched and a man bought me a milkshake in a cafe by the Bastille. I saw Kazuo Ishiguro @ the Cafe De Fleur (?) where Sartre used to hang out, apparently, though it’s mostly over-priced and full of screw-faced old ladies. Obviously you should go to the Pompidou. It doesn’t matter that it’s rammed with tourists. THERE ARE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE IN THERE WHO WILL MAKE GOOGLY EYES WITH YOU FROM THE BALCONY.

    You realise these are the recommendations of a perv.


    1. So you don’t remember a damned thing about Paris. I think the technical term for that is a LIE, Jay. Try hard and remember the coordinates for Lesbian Street, there’s a dear.


  4. I can’t believe someone else did Le Blé En Herbe at A-level. Apart from the hay-bales, all I remember is the bit where the Fatally Seductive Older Woman removes the ice-cubes from her glass of orange juice using her fingers, disgustingly.


    1. Oh my god, HER, she was so disgusting. I think that, worse, it was HIS glass of orange juice. Congratulations, that brings the grand total of BeH-victim’d schools to TWO. Other things I remember

      – The Boy fainting for NO APPARENT REASON (god he was such a little shit), and his father saying p’tit gars
      – Also objecting to the fact that Vinca (what was her actual name? I remember sometimes she was called Pervenche) wasn’t, like, destroyed the day after the underaging in the haybales.
      – Older Woman (didn’t she also only wear white?) having a nasty parrot that was muet.
      – Vinca being petite bourgeoise.
      – A chapter more or less entirely devoted to sodding crevettes.
      – How their friendship had rendu sacree his enfance and gardee his heart pur, or something, and how this was to be Vinca’s function for the REST OF HER LIFE.
      – The Boy constantly fronci-ing his sourcills. And the menthe being trampled by cows.

      WHY WOULD YOU CHOOSE SUCH A BOOK FOR STUDENTS TO READ. EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD DID L’ETRANGER AND UNDERSTOOD IT, as opposed to going ‘…i mean, i’m sure this bit means ‘trampled mint’ but it just doesn’t make any sense…’.


  5. HAHAHA….i think this is the most amusing thread I’ve ever read…Removing icecubes with fingers, Lesbian street, trampled mint, GLORIOUS STUFF xxx



    Also, I’m not sure I’ll be in Paris next September, but if you need advice theatre-wise, do ask me!


    1. Awesome, definitely will! You don’t have any tips on finding accommodation, by any chance? xxx

      A CHAQUE JOUR SUFFIT SA PEINE, of course. It’s a really satisfying phrase, I intend to use it.


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