Technically this was supposed to be posted on October 5th, but it’s my 19th birthday today anyway, and we’re always late to everything here in France.
Anyway, it has now officially been one month [and a handful of days] since I moved to France to au pair for a year.
Now that I’m on the tail end of my teenage years, it’s hard to remember what I was like back in high school. In the past month, I’ve become what feels like a completely different person, even though I know that isn’t exactly true–I’ve always been this person, I’ve just never really had the room to do so.
Living in France has been unique and wonderful and different in so many ways. I’m kind of at a weird point where I’m not quite foreign and definitely not French, and the tiny daily struggles that come with living here–the language barrier, childrens’ tantrums, french bureaucracy, food???–have, at times, been overwhelming. Still, every time I overcome a miniature hurdle, I feel a sense of pride that is kind of unique to my situation, and I find that I’m more positive and cheerful than ever before. I’m constantly discovering something new and finding ways to have fun and just enjoy my life, and that’s what I love about this choice.
Anyway, since I don’t want this post to be too short and introspective, here’s a quick recap of my birthday weekend.
Saturday: My friend Caroline came over from Paris, and we shared brunch and dessert before dipping back to my place with an armful of candy to chat about life and plan out our October vacation. We’re going to London together for a week and I’m beyond excited, but I’ll update on that later!
That evening, we finally got off our butts to go meet up with another friend and hit up a bar/go dancing. First, though, we filled up on a small pizza at a random restaurant. [I’m pretty sure our waiter was a vampire.]
Along the way, somehow, we picked up five or six other people from school that I’m pretty sure we just ran into on the street. After just one overpriced bar, though, my little group of three split off to hit up a ‘nightclub.’ I use the term loosely. Imagine a small area cleared out in what was clearly a restaurant and a bunch of middle aged drunk people dancing awkwardly to bad French club music from the early 2000s [with the occasional salsa beat thrown in.] Then throw in three kids who aren’t nearly drunk enough to not feel uncomfortable, one of which is me. And boy, am I a bad dancer.
We stayed and danced for about an hour, then decided to go back to my place. Initially, the quest was just for some more money and a bit of food and wine, but then we wound up staying, blasting Spotify and learning how to waltz. One of the group we’d abandoned, who was stranded in Versailles for the night because of the trains, wound up coming over as well. I cooked pasta and fed everyone, and we stayed up until 3 in the morning doing dumb shit and eating. I’m pretty sure my neighbours hate me.
Sunday: We woke up at an ungodly hour to see off the friend who’d found sanctuary in my room and then got ready to go to the farmer’s market! Versailles’ weekly food market was something that I’d been excited about even before I came, and yet, somehow, it took me a month to get around to going.
To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever really been in love with Versailles until Sunday. Since I used to go to Paris every chance I got and the commute was a pain, there were times when I kind of did resent the fact that I lived so far away. The friends I’ve made here have helped, and the Chateau is a definite plus, but until this weekend, I was really just like ‘meh.’
Then the market happened. I honestly wish I’d brought my camera so I could have pictures, but the sheer weight of the food I bought was bad enough, so maybe it was for the best. I know my host family goes to get their produce here every Sunday, and I think I might just hop onto that tradition–next time I’ll bring a camera for sure!
The variety and quality of produce is incredible, and it’s all super affordable too. Farmer’s markets in the US tend to be really expensive because of the nature of the farms and the corporations that are constantly trying to kill them, but since small farm culture in France is pretty big, I saw some of the best prices for food yet. Other than produce, there are stalls for cooked food [street food style, as close to food trucks as France can get] from varying cultures, and we tried some Caribbean food that literally blew my mind. [When we came back for seconds, the vendors thought we were hilarious.]
The vendors were all hospitable and friendly, and beyond just the courteous service thing–they laughed with us [and, you know, probably at us], and patiently listened to our bumbling French. Incredibly, there was even one vendor who spoke English but asked if we wanted to practice our French instead, something that has literally never happened to me since I’ve moved here. It was like a scene out of a Disney movie.
After that it was more eating downtime, which I really valued just because I seem to be on my feet constantly lately, even on weekends. It was kind of a weird one, but definitely one of the best birthdays I’ve had yet.
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