Adventures: Saint-Quentin and Paris.

So, where shall I start? I braved the French hairdressers and walked out with probably the best haircut I’ve ever had – complete with a new block fringe and healthy hair following a treatment and head massage (aka heaven).

Last Thursday morning I headed up to Paris on the train – the fast train only takes 3 hours to get from Grenoble to Paris Gare de Lyon (about 600km) and it just reminded me how faultless French transport really is. The trains are always on time, the seats are uber comfy and the carriages are always so clean. From Gare de Lyon I then got an RER to Gare du Nord, where I jumped on another train which took 1hr15 to get to Saint Quentin where Naomi lives. We kicked off the night with crêpes and wine in a beautiful crêperie as it was La Chandeleur – French pancake day! We met a lovely elderly couple at dinner; Naomi and I  speaking in English was what had sparked their interest.. we then proceeded to have a 30 minute conversation in French which ended by them inviting us over for a cup of tea. If there’s one thing I realized whilst staying with Naomi, it’s that Saint Quentin is a very very French town, with no English speakers – hence why we sparked so much interest, and also that everyone there is lovely, always willing to talk and very complimentary.. very different to Grenoble. In one of my classes this week, one of my teachers said that Grenoble is almost a mini version of Paris – a bustling city full of commuters and limited communication between habitants, I definitely agree. I love Grenoble but I do wish people were a little friendlier, like they were in the North where Naomi lives.

Anyway, sorry for the anecdote! Following our gorgeous crêpe dinner, we then headed out to a bar for cocktails which consisted of two 70cl jars full of cocktail (18€ each) that Naomi and I shared, yummmm. The next morning Naomi picked up breakfast from a local boulangerie – cups of fresh orange juice and ginormous pain au chocolats covered in icing and almonds: now THAT is what a year abroad in France should be about. We then had a fresh baguette with gooey brie and slices of apple for lunch, so so delicious.. enjoy your food and worry about the calories later is the motto for my year abroad in the Land of Cheese.

We spent some time planning our interrail travels for June, and we’ve finally decided on all of our destinations, how long we will spend in each country/city and we also have a rough idea of prices – time to get booking! The only thing we have booked so far for travelling is tickets to see The 1975 in Munich – it is going to be insane. Yes we are planning our interrailing journey around a concert.. and what? In the evening we had a night out in Saint Quentin – G&Ts at a bar followed by Baileys + mint liqueur shots, and skittle bombs (jaeger + Cointreau) at another bar/club where a stranger (a weird one at that) offered to pay for our drinks even though we’d never even spoken to him; oh well, saved me money!

The next day, following a hungover McDonalds (classic me) we got the train back to Paris where we stayed in an absolutely amazing hostel: Generator Hostel. Although Generator hostels tend to be a little more expensive than normal hostels, I would 100% recommend them if you’re a clean freak, want a good night’s sleep, want a restaurant/bar/club at the hostel, and don’t mind spending a little more (definitely worth the money).. it was like a hotel!! We dropped our stuff at the hostel and went to the Sacré Cœur, then after that we got the metro across Paris to see the Eiffel Tower all lit up, and we were there for 7pm when it glitters for 2 minutes (it glitters on the hour, every hour in the evening). Although I’ve been to and up the Eiffel Tower multiple times, I had never seen it that close up at night time, or seen it shimmer, it was beaaaaautiful. Following that, we had a fabulous dinner in the restaurant at the hostel, then spent the night at the bar and the club at the hostel, let’s just say it was a heavy night, but a good one at that.. We met some cool people and impressed the receptionist with the fact that we were two English girls who could communicate in French – you have no idea how much it surprises people sometimes: English people, speaking French.. surely not???

The next day we had lunch at the Hardware Société Café by Montmartre and oh my goodness what an absolute treat. The food was expensive but absolutely delicious and the presentation was flawless – the poshest food I’ve ever eaten!! If you’re visiting Paris, you HAVE to go there. We then walked up the Arc de Triomphe, and down the Champs Elysées, before saying our goodbyes in the evening at the train station. I won’t see Naomi again now until our interrail travels in June, but I’m so glad we’ve had the opportunity to have year abroad adventures together! What a fab few days being reunited.

My week back in Grenoble so far has been rather anti-climatic, I’ve had a hungover taco, I’ve sorted out my French learning agreement for second semester, I think I’m on the final leg with CAF, I’m ill again, I have SO much washing to do and I have SO much work to do. I did go skiing yesterday though in a new resort for the afternoon (Les 7 Laux) which was good, minus the awful visibility – I’ve never had to ski in anything like it before.. and Ellie has booked flights to come and see me at the end of February so that’s rather exciting – I cannot wait to show her around Grenoble and have a fab few days together! I’m also counting down the days until my dad arrives and we can head to Les Arcs for a weekend of skiing!!

Sorry for the lengthy post, we all know I can talk for England (and France)..

Bisous!

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