Friday, April 3, 2009

La vie quotidienne

So I've had a request for a summary of day in the life of Paris Andrew Helms. I've resisted writing such a post up until this point since I didn't want the blog to devolve into a Twitter like stream of facts about the mundane and insignificant details of my life, but I give the people what they want so here it goes.

Imagine it is a Tuesday at 7:30 AM because on Tuesday's I wake up around 7:30. Shower, shave, get dressed, eat breakfast. Getting dressed takes longer than normal since I have to answer one difficult question every morning: Do I look American? If I look in the mirror and the answer is yes I find my black turtleneck sweater and put on my dagger-like pointy shoes. I'm only slightly kidding. I have no black sweaters or pointy shoes, but I do try and look put together every day.

For breakfast, it's normally Cruseli au chocolat and tea. I love that cereal. Though I could go for some eggs and bacon every now and then, the French aren't big on breakfast so I take what I can get.

I'm out the door by 9 and onto the Métro, taking the 12 from Convention to Montparnasse. First class at 9:30 on France and the European Union. Class covers the history of European integration following WWII. We often digress and discuss European politics which can be interesting and can be boring. Usually boring. European politics are dull.

Class gets out around 11 and my next class isn't until 1:30 so I now must decide what to do about lunch. If I'm busy and have work to get done, I'll grab a sandwich from the boulangerie on Rue Littré and head to the Tufts in Paris center in the Tour Montparnasse. If I'm not busy, and for the sake of this hypothetical day I am unstressed and free to enjoy a nice lunch, I will do one of two things. If it is nice out, I will walk down Rue Vavin, grab a sandwich and pastry, and head into the Luxembourg Gardens for reading, writing, people watching, and conversation (if I'm with a friend) .

Une petite parenthese on sandwiches. I've recently learned that the Parisian sandwich craze is recent. Today, lines stretch around the corner of the most popular boulangeries in Paris, but, if 10 years ago, you walked into a boulangerie and asked for a jambon buerre with perfect Parisian accent you would have been given a frustrated look from the boulanger who would either try to dig up some ham in the back room or tell you and your impatient sandwich eating self to get out of the store. That was before the Euro when the cafés were cheap and good. Then, you could enjoy a chevre salad and a glass of red wine, washed down with an espresso and still have money to burn on a fondant au chocolat walking back to the office. But with the change from the Franc to the Euro, the cafés prices rose drastically, moving them out of the Parisians daily price range. Not to mention there's been a movement for efficiency in the workplace so those marathon lunches had to go and they stuff down sandwiches like us. Thanks a lot economic integration. Way to destroy the café culture. I close this parenthese (when speaking, the French actually will introduce and close tangents in this fashion).

But back to my lunch options. So if it happens to be one of the frequent gray and rainy days, I'll duck into La Duchesse Anne. Obscured by a bustling crepe stand out front (that sells sandwiches too!), inside, La Duchesse is rich in eclectic decor in homage of its namesake, the famous Duchess Anne of Brittany. The food is good and cheap and the service is reliable. Try to the Rosbeef frites when it's the plat du jour.

With lunch over it is onto class. French language. After I have a short walk to the Institut Catholique for my class on the foreign policy of the Third Republic. Lots of Bismarck all the time. A good thing. The best.

Then it's home around 6:00. Dinner's at 8:30, so the mean time is passed responding to email, reading, and being hungry. I could talk for hours about dinner so I'll save that for another post. If after dinner I'm adventurous maybe I'll grab a drink with friends in the 11th. Then I sleep. A typical day. Is it all you dreamed it would be?

PS -- Sorry there are no photos, but I haven't had a chance to take many of late. I'll get back into it this weekend.

1 comment:

andrea said...

look! i'm leaving a comment!

i greatly enjoyed your culinary descriptions. i am quite jealous of all of the fine parisian delicacies that you are enjoying.