Hi everyone. It’s definitely been a minute since I’ve posted and I wanted to update everyone on what’s going on and what this blog will be going forward. This past summer was incredibly busy for me, I had a full time internship while driving all over Southern California to see friends and family. However, sooner than I had thought possible, the day for my departure to France arrived. Today was actually the first day of my graduate program and I have been running around Paris trying to get settled for the past four days. I’m pursuing at Masters at Sciences Po in Paris and can’t even believe that I’m in Paris or could now call myself a full time graduate student. This big move has a couple implications for my life and my blog. For the foreseeable future, I won’t be updating with new baking recipes or doing so very rarely. I know that bakery is in the blog name but I am not in a living situation with easy access to my usual ingredients, pans, or oven and I want to not have the pressure on myself to create new recipes while I’m trying to settle in a whole new continent and a new way of life. But as I live in the patisserie capital of the world, I may be featuring cafes and boulangeries if I find good ones (and I sure hope I will!) If I do feature a bakery or restaurant, I’ll try to give some info on the bakery and maybe history on the dish or part of the dish. I’ll also try to mention where the cafe is and if not in Paris, give additional information such as town history or how to get there from Paris. However, I am still reading quite a bit so I’m hoping to continue to update the book section of the blog. I was reading Les Miserables over the summer which took up a LOT of my time but I’m now hoping for additional reading time to get through my massive pile of books of which, only a third of those made it to Paris with me. In addition to featuring good food and good reads, I’ll also be giving updates on my life in Paris and what I’ve been up to in the past week. If you’re a reader who doesn’t know me personally, this may not be as interesting to you and I won’t feel hurt if you do unsubscribe. The point of these updates is to keep track of all the wonderful things that I’ve been able to see and experience while here in France. I’m looking forward to two years of study and adventure while still getting to see my family and friends in the United States. I’m hoping to post once or twice a week depending on my schedule and what’s on my plate at the moment. I have midterms during the month of October on Saturdays which just seems cruel to my American self, but it is what it is, so my posting schedule may depend on exams or school work as I am here to actually get a degree believe it or not! I’ll start these updates today so get excited to here about my whirlwind first four days in Paris! Buckle up, this will be a long post!
When I saw whirlwind, I really mean it! I got in on Thursday, the 26th and landed about midday so I still had plenty of time to check out the city! I will add a note that I am fully vaccinated and able to do this but this is still not the case if you’re not. You can test every 72 hours but being unvaccinated makes entry into the EU right now pretty complicated. Case loads are also going up and I wouldn’t normally visit but this was a scheduled school year trip so I still went. I hope things normalize ASAP so everyone can enjoy travel but at this point, when that will happen is anyone’s guess. I’m staying with a host mom, M, for my first semester and her apartment is in the sixth district of Paris (6e). So I welcome any recommendations in the comments below, but try to keep my location in mind! I’m not as used to the Paris Metro as I’d like but I’m a quick study! On Thursday, I got settled in and M took me on a lovely tour of the neighborhood and out for a lunch at a local Italian bistro. We walked the city a bit and I got situated and ready for orientation the next day.
Friday was orientation day at Sciences Po and students were everywhere! I’m able to walk or take the metro and I’ve been walking while I wait for my student card to be processed which makes using all forms of public transport in the Île de France more affordable for students. Paris was still empty at this point, everyone is coming back from vacation this week because school officially starts next week, I think. It was nice to have the streets mostly to myself and not feel self conscious for goofing up the directions while trying to get there. Once I got there, I got my ID and listened to the general welcome session before heading to the Seine to eat my leftovers for lunch. I just sat down on a random spot because I was hungry, but I later saw that there were all sorts of benches and even small green spaces where I could have eaten. I also noticed that the Musee d’Orsay was right there and decided to try my luck trying to get in on my student card. In my experience in France and Spain, you’re able to enter national monuments and museums for free if you show student ID. I’m not sure if this just applies to residents or international students in France but in Spain, I was able to use my American student ID to get into the Prado for free. In any case, I was able to get in and spent a very pleasant hour looking at the right half of the first floor of the museum. I didn’t realize that it used to be a train station and it was GORGEOUS inside. It’s big and bright and was wonderful. I can’t wait to go back on another day to look at the sections I missed. On my way back to school (I had another welcome session, this time for my specific program, I walked to a tea shop, Marriage Frères, which was divine. They seem to have a million different teas and the man working the counter was exceptionally kind and helped me to find tea for me and my host mom so that we stay caffeinated! I then walked to a paper shop for some notebooks then back to school. After the orientation, I came home and collapsed because I was exhausted!
On Saturday, I went paddling around Paris. Not really paddling but just exploring. I had an appointment near Le Bastille around 9:30 so I walked to the column afterwards! I didn’t do much research and didn’t realize until my host mom told me that there was just a tower left, not the actual prison. The tower was neat and there were a lot of lovely cafes around the traffic circle. I also walked around the Saint Michael Canal which was lovely with quite a few green spaces lining the canal. On the way back to the cafes at the Bastille, I passed a few homeless tents which for me just shows that even the City of Light is an imperfect and unequal place, regardless of how lovely my neighborhood is. After walking the canal, I stopped at Cafe Milou which was good and had lovely service and a fantastic Cafe Vienna which is probably my favorite coffee drink in Europe. My understanding is that it’s European coffee (more like espresso) which LOTS of thick whipped cream. So I lived my best life and drank mine within five minutes of getting it! I then decided to take the 91 bus back to my neighborhood which was a good and bad decision. Unfortunately, on the weekends or maybe just at the moment, the 91 doesn’t go past Les Gobelins stop so while I got to see a lovely section of the city, I still had a long walk back. While walking, I ran into one of the three protests that I didn’t know was happening. I definitely need to check the news before going out and it was a scary experience for me. I will have to be more careful in the future! After getting home, I rested for a bit then went out to walk the city with M. We ended up doing a mini tour, walking from Les Halles mall all the way back home. On the way we saw so much of the city!! It was absolutely incredible and I couldn’t believe my eyes at all the beautiful sights. Even Notre Dame in her much diminished state was gorgeous in the light of the setting sun. It even sprinkled a little bit on the way home so we got to see a rainbow stretched over the city. I got home safe and sound and prepared for my big trip the next day!
Yesterday, I went to Versailles which was amazing! I got to see the Chateau of Versailles, the gardens, Le Grand Trianon, and Le Petite Trianon along with Marie Antoinette’s fake farm village which has been almost completely restored. It being a Sunday, there were slight complications in getting there so I ended up taking the ROPO Romboillet, a commuter train out to the Versailles-Chautiers train station and walking from there to the palace. I ended up walking around 11 miles that day, or close to 26 km! I was glad to be wearing my sneakers and got around on foot however for the less walking inclined there are golf carts and bicycles to rent to ride around the property. There is also a little train that goes around the palaces, but I missed it by a few minutes and had to shlep myself back to Versailles proper to see the gardens. I started in the palace itself and walked to Le Grand Trianon then walked over to Le Petit Trianon. It was amazing! I think Versailles was a lot to take in one day but I am glad that I did it! I loved the English gardens of Le Petit Trianon, they just felt so bucolic! The creation of such a place was definitely not the best use of funds for indebted nation during the seventeenth and eighteenth century but I really enjoyed being able to walk around yesterday. I also took the time before going over to Le Grand Trianon to enjoy a cappuccino next to the Grand Canal which was lovely. I did get to see everything I wanted to but did so at my own gentle pace. Seeing the length of this particular post, I’ll stop here. My weeks will likely be less jam packed in the future as school gears up but for now, I’m enjoying playing the tourist. Until next week mes amies!