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  • Writer's pictureLillian E.

A Social Update

March 3, 2024

My last post was dedicated to catching up on all the food adventures. This one will be an attempt to catch up on all the social things I've been doing. (The family visit will have to occupy its own blog real estate though, because that won't fit in one post).

On my way out the door a couple weeks ago, I ran into my host mother working in the dining room and when I told her "oh, I'm on my way to see so-and-so before going to do XYZ," she looked at me in surprise and said, "Again? How do you know more people in Paris than I do?"

Well, with a finite amount of time to make the most of my sejour, my goal is to do as many things as possible with whoever is willing to join me! A few days after getting back from Bordeaux, and very sinus-sick, I got up early and joined my classmate on an all-day excursion to the Saint-Ouen flea market.

We thoroughly combed the entire area, stopping at every shop that looked interesting and even a few that were boring (because nothing is really "boring" in Paris). My favorite thing to do is look at all the art, stacked 20 canvases deep in some storefronts, and imagine having a place of my own with enough wall space to hang it all.

If you read my last post about food, this was the day that we also got lunch at the little bar/ restaurant with live music.

Thoroughly exhausted (being sick + walking around all day will do that to you), we called it a day and went home to recover and dry off from the rain. I've discovered that of the 3 pairs of shoes I brought with me to France, none of them are waterproof.

Now this is when it starts to get interesting- as if this trip wasn't interesting enough to begin with. If I tell you that never in my life have I downloaded a dating app, you automatically know my next sentence is going to totally contradict the previous statement. It was my younger sister who said, "hey, you should download Bumble BFF while you're in Paris!" and if you don't know what that is, it's a dating app but with a feature just for meeting friends (not romantic dates). So far I've had amazing success. I met a couple other girls for coffee/ tea and then the next time we saw each other, I invited them all together to join me at a game bar where you can get a drink and play any one of the hundred board or card games they have on their shelves. Long story short, we're all going skiing together next week.

Anyway, back to the point. Out of curiosity, I did enable the dating portion of that app and after getting home from the flea market with my friend, I went on one date (we'd been chatting back and forth for about a week). Don't hold your breath- we must have had the same first impression because I forgot to reach back out and haven't heard from him since. A mutual ghosting.

On a non-app related outing, a girl from my twin sister's sorority saw on Instagram that I was here studying cuisine and reached out (to my sister) to see if I would be interested in meeting up! She's here in Paris at the moment working in the patisserie field, so we connected, had lunch, and had a lot to talk about! Here's a photo of us exploring the Galleries Lafayette to escape from the incessant rain.

I had to leave that outing to go to to church choir practice. Not my best idea because I was still sick and probably shouldn't have been singing, but I'm glad I went anyway because A) I got to sing, which is something I miss doing, B) I'm slowly getting to know some of the people there, and C) I haven't been able to go sing since due to scheduling conflicts (and today is Sunday, and they're not having a rehearsal tonight which means no choir, which I have no control over).

View of les Invalides from the neighborhood near my church, after the rain stopped.

After mass, a group of them went out to get drinks and burgers because there was no young adult dinner like there normally is, so I went with them and chatted to one friend about books we've read. I got a burger, but they were shocked that I, the American, didn't order fries. Why do the French think we eat so many burgers and fries?

I mentioned in my food update that I went to play pool after class with some classmates. That was a fun social activity. A lot of times we'll get out of class, roll down the street with our tupperwares of food, and sit outside at a local cafe for a singular glass of something (or breakfast if it's a morning class) to hang out for an hour or so before splitting off into the city again.

We also bought a deck of cards to pass time between some of the more awkwardly-timed courses, where you don't have enough time to change out of your uniform and leave, but you don't want to stare at the wall for a couple hours.

My friend hosted a Galentine's soirée and I brought my homemade macarons. I do not exaggerate when I say I blinked and they disappeared, which made me so happy!

This is us, the late-night stragglers from Galentine's night, all venturing out to catch the last metro of the night together.

Remember the guy from church that I was discussing books with a few paragraphs above? He asked me if I wanted to go see a horse show, so I strategically picked Saturday (I was busy watching soccer with my neighborhood-wine-shop friends on Valentine's Day) and we met for dinner before going to the most interesting circus-like show in a small tented arena (Les Folies Gruss). I had a great time! The performers were very talented.

We went for a drink afterwards to the bar in the Hotel Lutetia, and it's one of the most beautiful bars I've ever visited. His drink was better than mine though.

Sunday rolled around and I went to morning mass (because I had dinner plans) then met my classmate for a museum visit at the Musée de l'Orangerie. We had a good time pointing things out in each painting.

We got really excited about this painting (below) because it's of a street in Montmartre that we know (right next to another painting of the same street in Montmartre), so we took a photo...

And then we decided to go find that street in Montmartre. In theory we found it, but it was so changed by time that it doesn't look the same anymore and I forgot to take a photo of the result.

But it was raining, so we decided to sit in a cafe and people watch just to make the hike up 300 stairs worth our time.

And then I went to a different friend's place for dinner. We sat on the couch, ate pizza, and played Uno.

Monday I had another first date- we met up at a movie theater and inhaled a couple of burgers before the show because I hadn't eaten all day (ironic, starving in cooking school), then saw Marvel's Madame Web which was absolutely terrible. I'm usually more than happy to be generous with my review and give a movie the benefit of the doubt, but I really had no idea what was going on. At the very least we went out for a drink afterwards and had plenty to talk about.

My family arrived Tuesday morning (again, that's going to be a separate post because we did so much). During their trip though, the annual Salon d'Agriculture rolled through Paris and my Banda went to play in the crowds so I joined them on Sunday. It's like going to a state fair, but big enough to represent a whole country plus a few overseas places, and it's all indoors spread out over several buildings bigger than airplane hangars.

So I went and played with my Banda. In the morning I met some of them at a local favorite bar, just around the corner from my place (convenient for me) and the owners made us eggs and super salty bacon, and plopped a bottle of red wine down in front of us before 10am. Ladies and gentlemen: France. Then we hopped on the metro and joined the crowds headed to the Parc des Expositions, where we met up with other banda members and stashed our coats and instrument cases in the back room of our sponsor's stand.

The restaurant/ stand we were camping out next to fed us around lunchtime, a giant round of cassoulette (which could really mean anything. In this case, we got heaps of beans and sausage with baguette.)

In other news, my classmate-friend and I stopped by our wine friend's shop the other day to say hi and he ended up showing us this GIANT bottle of wine a customer had ordered for their wedding.

We then proceeded to plan a weekend coming up where the four of us (my classmate and me, with shop owner and his wife) are going champagne tasting in the Champagne region! Who better to go with than friends who are experts in wine? Stay tuned for that adventure!

I also visited a girlfriend of mine for lunch the other day. She works from home and her boyfriend has an in-office job, so I came over before my afternoon class fortified with provisions. Look at the view they have from their teeny, top floor apartment! My jaw hit the floor and she started laughing at me.

Prepping for this lunch was an adventure in itself. I made a point to stop at the boulangerie for a 1/2 baguette, the supermarché for a couple pieces of fruit and veg, and the fromagerie for some cheese. Look at all of this cheese!

This was only one portion of the counter! It wrapped around three sides of the store, there were shelves behind both me and the counter, more cheeses in the window, and on display tables everywhere else. I had absolutely no idea what I was looking for, and said so, so the very nice gentleman behind the counter took pity and helped suggest a soft chevre and a harder cow's cheese. He also sliced out 10 portions of saucisson for me (always important), and I grabbed two pots of chocolate mousse from a display.

Something else I've discovered recently: as a kid, we ate cheese with slices of apple. When I tell people that here, they look at me with expressions of horror. Even worse for them is the idea of carrots and peanut butter (or cheese). My siblings and I can't be the only ones who grew up eating these snacks. I get the same expressions of horror if I tell them that all the fondue I've ever been served also came with broccoli, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, maybe celery, and definitely apples. Here, cheese fondue is explicitly for bread and potatoes.


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