I had a wonderful birthday weekend, thanks to brilliant friends - old and new - and an amazing boyfriend who made it my best yet. It definitely helped that I was in a new city and that the sun shone! It was everything I wanted and more, with a few added surprises. Here are a few of my favourite photos from a weekend spent wandering around le Marais in the sun, posing with friends in the Place des Vosges, drinking hot chocolate at L'Etoile Manquante and munching an amazing dinner at Pas vu Pas pris on Saturday night.
I thought this image was rather fitting for this Monday morning as we bought some plants for the flat over the weekend. I've been meaning to add a bit more life to the place and we popped down to perhaps my favourite DIY shop in Paris, Leroy Merlin. It's like the Paris equivalent to B&Q, but a bit cooler - it's just across the street from the Pompidou. We bought a little coffee plant for the bathroom, as apparently it will withstand the humidity, which I planted in a little beige pot my mum made (she's a keen potter) and a Zeezee for the living room as it's very hard to kill them!
We had a good weekend, we went to an interesting exhibition by French photographer Antoine d'Agata at le Galerie Filles du Calvaire - his images are quite disturbing, Francis Bacon-esque as every subject seems to be writhing around in either pleasure or pain. We booked our flights to Beirut and Istanbul - we're going for two weeks in May, and I cooked a big English brunch yesterday and made Shepherds Pie last night for dinner.
+ Ate tasty Korean at Gin Goa Gae - apparently one of the best in Paris. And it was - I ordered marinated pork and cuttlefish and it was cooked at our table on a portable grill and served up with an array of 5 weird and wonderful candied vegetables and herbs. Seriously tasty.
+ Watched The Silver Linings Playbook - yes the film that Jennifer Lawrence won an Oscar for. She's good, I'm not sure that she was Oscar-winning good, but it was a great film - really uplifting, and good for anyone who has ever had doubts or suffered from some kind of depression.
+ Went for a bike ride on the Velib, followed by a freezing cold walk in Paris' biggest park, Bois de Boulogne, which is more like a mini forest. Probably not one to do on a cold day, but rather a good place to go with a picnic when it's warmer.
+ Went for dinner on Saturday night with friends at L'Atmosphere - a great bistro right by Canal Saint Martin. I ate half a lobster, which at €18 was really reasonable, and unlike most restaurants in Paris (the city is becoming more like London and it's increasingly difficult to book a table unless you call a week in advance) we managed to book a table for 8 on the same day.
+ Then had brunch with a friend in the Marais on Sunday.
I also hit a bit of a wall on Saturday - hence the 'The struggle is part of the story' quote. I'm living in Paris, but I keep going back to London once a month, so I don't feel like I've fully immersed myself in the culture yet, and I can't speak French, which is obviously becoming increasingly frustrating. So this week I'm signing up to French lessons at the Alliance Francaise to start in April and I'm looking into dance lessons - partly inspired by Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in the film, but mainly because I miss dancing. I used to dance ballet on and off. There's a studio just up my road - Le Studio de Lea, which offers Salsa, Zumba, Jazz etc.. and even yoga. I'll let you know how I get on.
This weekend was as usual food and wine-filled, but with the added bonus that the sun finally showed its head. To celebrate I bought three pots of daffodils, a small cactus and a bunch of tulips. I also...
+ Finally watched Ruby Sparks
+ Went to Cafe des Musee for dinner Saturday night with some American friends
+ Missed a Paris Fashion Week party as we glugged a little too much champagne at a house party on Saturday night
+ Cured my hangover on Sunday with a cheeseburger from Lou Lou (that I wrote about here) and then strolled around in the sun in the beautiful Jardin du Luxembourg
+ And then sleepily ate some tasty duck at Le Petit Marche on Sunday night
So here's a Monday mid-morning pick me up - a quote that I can relate to having moved to Paris to pursue my dreams and discover a new city.