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La Vie En Jess

27 July 201403:22AMeurope-2014travel

(Tuesday)

Jess has been living here in Paris for the last six months, doing a semester abroad at Sciences Politique. And today she took us on a bit of a crawl of her haunts from the last six months.

Sciences Po
We started our crawl at the university itself, which was pretty neat. If you're familiar with Notre Dame in Fremantle, Sciences Po is similar. It's spread out across a couple of buildings which, except for the signs out the front that indicate otherwise, is indistinguishable from a bunch of typical French style street-lining buildings.

We stood between the entry hall and the library on just another stretch of street, and poled our heads inside before Jess decided that, since semester was over, exploring the university on the inside would probably be frowned upon by the guy at the security desk. It was still really cool to see where Jess has been - theoretically, at least - spending the last couple of months.

Lili's Brownies
This hot chocolate was sometimes the only thing that got me through Friday morning classes. And I actually really liked my Friday morning class.
- Jess, 2014.

choc shop interior

This is a shop that is just around the corner from Sciences Po, and while it ostensibly sells baked goods, Jess pretty accurately told us that the real draw card was the hot chocolate. Served the proper European way, from a vat of gluggy liquid chocolate, burning hot, milk optional.

They only had three cups left, so we did end up having to have it with milk. That's probably a good thing though, since it turned out Jess had a few more liquid experiences left to show us.

O'Neil
A pub slash microbrewery with giant copper kegs inside the door and a the best cool-but-pubby interior decoration I've seen since... well, the pub slash microbrewery in Ireland, actually. Something about them must just attract good decor.

Jess was something of a regular here too, responding to the new waiter with, "Huh, I don't recognise him, he must be new," and bearing greetings-by-proxy for the bartender from a fellow exchange student. She was also able to recommend the house beers, which came in dark, amber, blond, and "red berries". The red berries was the one we all tried, and Jess' favourite too I think. It tasted like a very reasonable beer, to which someone had added, obviously, red berries. The result was sweet, but not too sweet, and both alarmingly drinkable and alarmingly pink.

I would have liked to have another one, but happy hour was over, and we were off.

"The Asian Fusion Place"
While not exactly French cuisine, this place did very good pan Asian cuisine. The concept of 'fusion' did seem to confuse Ben a bit, who was rather distressed at the haphazard combination of Japanese and Chinese dish names on the menu. The English wasn't so brilliant either, which I guess is what you get going through two layers of non-native languages.

chiken and wegtables

While linguistically sub-par, the food was excellent, and pretty much exactly what you would expect when a twenty-something student offers to show you their hangouts in a city. Sometimes it's nice to stop experiencing the culture as a whole, and try experiencing someone else's experience of it. This wasn't a restaurant where a visitor would go, but it was one where a student would go, which made it it's own brand of authentic. If that makes sense.

Anyway, I feel the speed with which Jess made her choice, barely glancing at the menu, and the enthusiasm with which she dug into the veggies in her green curry, were probably the best example of that we had all night.

Drinking by the Seine
One of the less classy parts of the evening, but also one of the most fun, and again, I reckon one of the studentiest. This consisted of buying a bottle of French champagne - I think it may have been Veuve, even - and drinking it straight from the bottle while sitting by the river bank within spitting distance of Notre Dame.

Highlights include Grace's game of 'sweet or sour' waving at passing cruise boats, and Ben's first champagne cork pop.

judgement

Much judgement.

Shakespeare and co
I think this is one of the most famous bookstores in the world, and it's also kind of a haven for English-speaking exchange students, judging from the please-take-one ads for English lessons and flat shares on the pin-up board.

It's pretty great. Not sure if I'd rank it above Waterstones, but it's definitely on par. I already have a bunch of books weighing my bag down though, so I resisted the temptation to buy anything.

I did play the piano though! I was a bit nervous, and a bit shaky, so it wasn't my best performance. Plus, the appropriate piece (from Amelie) was just not coming to me. I didn't feel like mucking around trying to figure it out like a plonker though, so I played Still Alive instead. Slightly less appropriate, but I think still geeky enough for a book shop. That's something I think I can brag about to raise my booknerd cred - "I've played the piano in Shakespeare and Co." Too cool.

La Cavern
On our official tour, this little joint was swapped out and replaced with buying champagne to drink by the river, but Jess took us here the next night instead. It's - surprise surprise - a dingy nightclub come cocktail bar, with a four hour long happy hour which gets you three euro cocktails of your choice.

I don't think I've had cocktails before - never more than one, at any rate, and I'm not sure I ever will again. Too sugary, too boozy-tasting, and they go straight to your head. I made this my chance to try a couple of the more exotic ones that I'd never even touch otherwise, because what the hell, right? Anyway - and I promise this is the only time I will ever write this sentence, in any context - here is a photo of me having sex on the beach.

sex on the beach

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