Did you know that for 6 months of the year I work for the French government?
No, I hear you say.
Neither did I, it came as a great shock to me too so let me explain.
August is the month of summer holidays. It is also the month in which the French tax man sends you your tax bill, it appears that some people in France work during August. Welcome to socialism because we’re all in this together! I returned from two weeks in idyllic Greece and her islands to see this year’s tax bill for nearly €4,000 having hoped the projection I had seen in June was wrong. There is tax at source in France and then there is extra tax, everyone has to submit an annual tax declaration to see what extra tax they will have to pay, what does the latter mean and moreover how is it calculated nobody seems to know or more importantly understand but lots of people spend days if not weeks calculating how to pay less of it. Continue reading →
You could die in Paris in August and nobody would know until La Rentrée in September when normal city life recommences!
Ok, maybe that is a slight exaggeration but honestly Paris is like a deserted town in August – everything shuts down. I was involved in a bad road accident a few years ago on a work trip, endured 22 hour flight from Australia via Buenos Aires and arrived back in Paris wearing a neck brace. My Parisian doctor prescribed an MRI to survey the damage and check nothing was broken in my spinal cord that was the 24 July and when I went to book the MRI was told sorry Maidmoiselle but the first appointment we have is in September after all it is the holidays. Yes, that’s right: the doctors (replaced by locums), and dentists – my beloved Dr B went for his 3.5 week holiday so I better not crack a tooth – the post office changes its hours to only open for a ridiculously short period and are closed at lunchtime, libraries open a couple hours a day during the week and are closed on weekends and then all your favourite local shops, boulangeries, restaurants etc closed for a month- bah c’est les vacances quoi – it’s the holidays! Continue reading →
It’s often said and it’s true Paris is a city that is best discovered on foot. Yes, you do need to watch where you place your foot so sometimes you miss the wonderful architecture as you are worried about, rightly so, la merde everywhere. That aside one of my favourite places to get lost in is le Haut Marais where there are the most incredible showrooms, designers, my favourite shop L’habilleur and great restaurants. On one of my many adventures in this part of town I stumbled across Merci Merci although the frontage just says Merci – a concept store that also houses three different eating venues – this is someone who knows from experience that shopping is a hunger inducing activity! Continue reading →
We all have a friend who introduces you to new things or in my case creates a princess with taste for: shopping in Waitrose, Diptyque candles, art house cinema, travelling solo, eating and drinking in fine restaurants in London etc and my princess maker is called Steve. We meet at French classes at the Institute Francaise in my early 20s and 15 years on we are still friends. He is responsible for pushing me out into the world and giving me a return Eurostar ticket to Paris telling me to spend 4 days solo in Paris in my 20s – be an individual – were his words I believe.
He also took me to Le Relais d’Entrecôte of which I have such fond memories, not actually about the food, and how we laughed at unsuspecting tourists who asked to see the menu and the snort of derision and the uniform chorus from the waitresses – we only serve steak frites. I cannot forget that one poor soul who asked if they had a vegetarian option which received a stare to rival that of Medusa. Continue reading →
Hidden bars are popular in Paris: the Beef Club, Moonshiner etc and they are fun at first given the novelty factor of entering the restaurant like you own the place, walking to the unmarked door, pushing it open and entering the secret drinking den. I had wanted to go to Candelaria for a long time and finally went with a friend and decided that maybe I had judged it unfairly so promised to go back for a solo apéro – ha! Continue reading →