The window sill, taken by Hamish. This window was our favourite bit about the apartment...
There's no denying this city's charisma, buoyant in the air and passed between Parisian 
lips, it's all around. I can't help but be charmed by the city's sex appeal, 
laid back atmosphere, and beauty. 

The hum of daily traffic and French accents echo up our street and to our apartment's open window. The morning has been spent drinking bitter espresso and purchasing our religious croissant and baguette. The croissants here melt in your mouth and leave flakes of light, buttery pastry on your lips. We've drunk bottles of €3 red wine every night, and kept record of our favourite bottles. For so long I've waited to visit this city and it feels so surreal now that I'm actually here. 

The sunshine comes and goes when it pleases, the weather is cool enough to wear my favourite boots and shawl to most destinations. On the Metro we see the people of Paris that have not escaped to holiday elsewhere during this time of year - the dark tunnels leading us to where we want to go and where they have to go. An accordion player jumps into our carriage and plays a song I wish could follow me around for the rest of my stay. We rise above ground for a moment, morning light streams into the windows and the accordions' notes match the flickering of early sunshine. We duck back under. The song finishes, he shakes a tin to collect coins from passengers, I empty my 1c pieces into his tin, he nods his head in thanks and jumps off at the next stop. Goodbye accordion playing man.

I went to Paris with Holly to meet up with our good friends from home; Hamish and Ben. We travelled via the Eurostar which was amazing and relaxing and calming and comfy and everything we love in transport - I mean, who doesn't?! - but it was bloody expensive and I considered selling Holly to cover costs (just kidding). When we first staggered up our metro stop stairs we were unknowingly about to start making our way in the opposite direction to our apartment until, out of know where, Ben walked across the street right in front of us and saved us from being stranded in Paris surrounded by leering Turkish men.

Sharing our first bottle of wine in our beautiful apartment found on AirBNB

We're positioned in Ménilmontant, a multicultural area in the 11th arredosmint which is about a 10-15 minute metro trip into the centre of Paris. When you step outside our front door, on the corner, a tobacco shop and bar was home to many men during the day who watched us leave and then return. We would walk past small cafes and rustic bars. Turkish food stores were dotted along the main street outside the front doors with miscellaneous drinks, stacks of nuts, and fruits ripening in the sun. Middle Eastern restaurants and kebab shops were side by side for the first length of the street which lead to French restaurants and slightly classier looking joints. A loud and bustling Middle Eastern market of fresh produce, olives, fabrics, fish, meat and knick knacks stretched down the street. Multiple times during our stay where we would grab our fruit and vegetables from here. Our favourite patisserie was further up, the guy behind the counter (who I assume was the owner) would chat to Ben in French and then make conversation with the rest of us (who were extremely limited in our French, oui). He smiled sweetly as we attempted to brake down the language barriers between us.
Holl sitting in our cute kitchen where we all cooked (Ham cooked his famous curry, and Ben his famous pasta)
Back of Ben's head in a sea of bargain hunters and barterers 
Ménilmontant was vibrant, and the suburbs after it only grew more and 
more colourful. It gave me a taste of what a lot of outer Parisian 
arrondissements are really like. 
Blue doors in Belleville//Tony Bianco Boots// hand-me-down poncho & scarf
Once we made our way into the centre of Paris it was love at first glimpse. Strolling by the River Seine (which is no doubt one of my favourite parts of the city) we got a feel for this city that I have personally waited years to finally visit. People were sprawled along the bridges that criss-crossed from the islands' to the city. Traffic built up behind crossings and horns tooted. I was immediately enamoured with the architecture around me; there were gorgeous windows of residential blocks and flower boxes beneath them. The sun was gleaming out from behind grey-white fluffy clouds that gave a hazy glow to our surrounds.

Our tummies were empty as we hadn't eaten for a few hours and I wanted my first taste of Paris to be wedged in a baguette. Hamish lead the pack in search of the cheapest deal he had found in the days he was here prior to us. As it turned out, the afternoon had grown long and the cheapest of the cheap had sold out with only limp ones left. As we still longed for our baguettes the rain started to pitter patter down, our first purchase in Paris were matching black umbrellas that became our friendly companions during our days spent wandering the city's streets (and then I fled into a famously tiny Parisian chemist to babble with the sales woman in French and buy spot cream).

 Beautiful buildings and artists at work in Montmartre 

 - Eiffel Tower
 - Arc de Triomphe
 - Louvre (actually didn't go inside! But the outside was incredible and I'll go inside another time)
 - Montmarte
 - Sacre-Coeur
 - Palace of Versailles
 - Jardin de Tuilleries
 - Musee d'Orsay
 - Palais de Tokyo
 - Photography Museum (that I forget the name of but it was a petite two three story building with a winding white staircase with old red carpet flowing down the stairs)
 - Couroone Park (a gem that Ham spotted on Google maps: "That looks like a good park" - and it   was! More so incredible than good. On the outer of Paris with views over the whole city, waterfalls and bridges over massive drops, we certainly didn't feel like we were in Paris)
 - Galaries Layafette (deluxe shopping centre hell!! Do NOT enter unless you're rich or are use to feeling horrible while shopping)
 - Printemps (shopping department luxury - much nicer than above but you still need to be ultra rich)
 - Champs-Elysées (very, very busy and very overrated -  but hey, we went!)

Whatever premeditated thoughts or assumptions you might have about Paris, you should probably drop and leave them at the airport on your way there. Lucky for me, I travelled expectation free and found I enjoyed everywhere I went by seeing it for what it really was. I found romance, danced around the city, but instead of a soothing waltz, it had a solid groove about it. Paris had soul, people did their own thing, and I found it to be quite grungy rather than the picturesque, quaint, ritzy, romance fuelled city that is commonly communicated by forms of entertainment.

Strolling the streets of Paris is so rewarding in the sense of suddenly walking into a place you never quite expected

Unfortunately, not all Parisians were the stylish madams and monsieur's 
I had expected to see walking every street and turn - although most of them 
were always carrying a baguette in hand

However, things of Parisian dreams do exist, like Laudreé Macarons and Vouge cigarette smoking women. Particular places exude class and beauty, like Saint Germaine, just off of the River Seine, where people wine and dine in quaint cafés that are surrounded by patisseries, bookstores, wallpaper shops and other interior stores that line the narrow streets. Couples zoomed past in flash cars and Vespas' while I strolled in awe. It was as if the river had bled it's beauty down the streets to these dreamy spots. I tip toed in and out of the precious book stores, attempting to ignore the fact that taking a massive series of Chanel books home would be a sensible idea. I went there on my last day, to Saint Germaine, as my mind rebelled against the thought of leaving.

(the main one being that Holly and I were able to get into 90% of galleries, etc, for free because we were 17)
1. Street strolling: simply walking around Paris was so enjoyable. It was how I got a feel for the place, just by taking in everything around me on foot. I strolled down small cobbled streets that were  accompanied only by restaurants; saw the River Seine for all it's beauty from the bridges and walkways above it; found a gorgeous small vintage store that stocked old designer pieces; and peered into people's flowery gardens in Belleville. All of these delights were discovered on foot, the jackpot being a delicious hidden food market where we ate flavoursome Moroccan tagine, with juicy apricots that popped in my mouth.

Delectable treats in Montmartre 
Outside Laudrée where macaroon "rush hour" appeared out of thin air

2. Sunset atop the Arc de Triomphe: at the top of the Arc de Triomphe was when it hit me that, yes,  I really was in Paris and that I really was watching the sun set over the magical city. The memory of the sun washing over French windows, the lights blooming alight on the Tower de Eiffel, and car horns tooting below will be something I cherish for a very long time.

Simply, beautiful 
Lights blooming
3. Palais de Tokyo & Musee d'Orsay: Ben pointed out Palais de Tokyo on the map and so we went to check it out, to our delight, it was an amazing art gallery. The building itself was huge, with expansive rooms where the modern art was displayed. There were lots of cool installations, one that was particularly moving was made up of five (or six?) huge screens playing moving projections of the ocean from above, each wave crashing at the shore and then receding back into the dark mass of water.

Exhibition at Palais de Tokyo
Inside Palais de Tokyo's expansive rooms
Musee d'Orsay is an adored art gallery and well known, my ex-art teacher suggested to me that I go because it was her favourite in Paris. The gallery itself use to be a train station way back when, which explains the huge glass ceilings and general architecture of the building. I stood in front of many beautiful Monet, Picasso, and Toulous paintings, and peered out of the massive clock shaped window that looked out onto the Lourve across the river, with Montmarte in the distance.

A huge clock that doubles as a window over the city inside Musee d'Orsay
4. Meeting up with our Berlin friends: while Hamish and I were in Berlin two weeks before we went to Paris, we met two friendly chaps in our hostel room who happened to be fellow Australians from Melbourne. They went by the names of Kingsley and Sam, who had an old friend coming from Copenhagen to meet them, Grace - who turned out to be my gal pal that I could "ooh" and "ahh" over ACNE boots and shawls with. We had many laffs and 90c beers all together in Berlin, and Ham and I suggested they all book an apartment close to ours in Paris so we could meet up again. Two weeks later, they were on our Parisian apartment doorstep on the fourth floor for a dinner party! Cheese, wine, cheese, wine, wine, baguette, adventures, memories, strolls, and the rest is history.
On our last night all together we went out to have dinner, which turned into a major journey as us gals ventured on from our first option to find something we sort would suit the occasion better. We ended galloping up very tall, extravagant stairs through a park where children met up at dusk and from the top you could look over the whole of Paris (but the restaurant there didn't hold any appeal and we went back to option one) The local Café Melimontant is where we had the menu translated to us by an eager waiter, happy hour bevs, and escargot for the first time (which is deeeelicious!) Meeting people who you just click with is the best, and even better while you're travelling - even if they are one of your own kind.

Polaroid's of Paree feat. Grace and I in the middle at our restaurant dinner

5. Palace of Versailles: now I won't lie, but visiting this palace was fucking exhausting. We waited in line for HOURS and then proceeded to be pushed through the palace by crowds of tourists who couldn't stand still long enough to take in all of it's beauty. But, in saying this, it was an experience I will not forget. The enormous ceiling paintings in every single room were something straight out of a history book and I do not regret going in the slightest - just get there really early mid-week...

In the palace these great big windows are along the walkway into the main digs
 Ma Paris boyz and the magnifique palace

Holl feat. palace (at this point in time we were all going a little stir crazy)

Our last afternoon spent in Paris was in Montmartre with Ben (as Ham was already on a train to his next destination). We had a glorious time exploring and eating gelato, although I had made the mistake of reading the wrong ticket, which made us miss our train. 
(Holl n' I freaked out...but they put us straight on the next one due to policy #thankgod)

The whole time I was in Paris over the course of ten days, I was seeing sights and doing things, going places, but by the end of my stay I left feeling like I still had so much to see and do. My last morning was spent back by the River Seine wondering where my time in this city had gone, and what had I really done -  didn't I just get here? It was the leaving blues and my mind was playing tricks trying to give me any reason to find the negative in such a beautiful last moment by the river.

Holl twirling in the back streets of Montmartre 
Being in Paris was literally a dream come true for me, and I can't wait to go back to France one day to go deeper into the countryside and see it's wonders. But something I must do before I return to Paris is really research the shopping destinations to find the understated, local fashion scene I was (and still am) so hungry for. Grace and I did seek out: AcneA.P.C and Merci - but I feel like we only touched the surface of something that runs deep in the history of Paris.

Street art lovin' in Montmartre 
 Lasting impressions of our cool apartment and it's surrounds...

I loved Paris, and will never forget it's magic grungy-ness. Au revouir for now...

Chloe x