Got munchies for Mexican?

If you’re a foodie and Mexican food is generally your most desired food to eat on this planet, then Madrid is the place for you (after Mexico). It may seem surprising, but the Spanish really work on perfecting the traditional dishes brought to you by their Latino amigos across the pond. Nachos, quesadillas, tacos… you may even sit back after taking a mouthful and believe you really are sitting in a Mexican tapas bar. So here are the best Mexican eateries I have come across since living here in Madrid.

Takos al Pastor, Calle de la Abada, 2, 28013

Fun and colourful, this place always has queues out the door. With tacos being served at just €1 each, you can understand the pure joy on people’s faces when they have a plate of 10 tacos arriving at their table. My favourites are the tinga de pollo and el suadero, although they also serve a variety of delicious cheesy quesadillas too. Pair your tacos nicely with a cold bottle of Sol.

La Mordida, Travesía Conde, 4, 28005

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Treated to by a good friend, this is where I spent my 21st birthday lunch. Although again, very vibrant on the inside, we sat outside under a parasol while looking at the colourful menu. I chose the traditional chicken quesadilla and my vegetarian buddy the veggie fajitas. We started off the meal with nachos too, covered in cheese, guac and salsa. A great and refreshing drink to try is the chelada, which is a traditional Mexican beer (normally Pacífico) topped with lemonade. Traditionally Mexican and super tasty. Oh, and don’t forget the margaritas…

Taquería Mi Ciudad, Calle de las Fuentes, 11, 28013

On a boiling hot summer’s afternoon in July, I found myself wandering the streets that break off from the Puerta del Sol to find this little, and I mean tiny bar-restaurant that served really authentic tacos. As said before, I am one for the tinga de pollo, so I ordered that along with the carne con chilli y chocolate, flavours that happened to compliment each other perfectly. If you like heat even when it’s up in the late thirties during summertime in Madrid, then this is the taco bar for you!

Stay tuned for my next post all about my weekend getaway to Mallorca!

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Ser niñera en Madrid

Has llegado en Madrid para empezar tus prácticas. Pero después de poco tiempo, y después de aprovechar de la comida rica y de la vida nocturna animada, de pagar billetes al Prado y también de financiar tu situación de convivencia, te encuentras con menos dinero que pensabas. Entonces, ¿por qué no buscas un trabajo de tiempo parcial?

La ciudad de Madrid tiene una abundancia de puestos para estudiantes, particularmente en los restaurantes y tiendas, donde la lengua de inglés está deseada. Pero si te apetece algo diferente (que lo pagan bastante bien), te recomendaría cuidar a niños.

Mi experiencia de cuidar a niños no empezó exactamente con buscar trabajos de ser niñera. Originalmente, empezaba intentar conseguir más alumnos para clases particulares de inglés. Ya tengo una certificación de TEFL* (enseñanza de inglés como idioma extranjero), así que intentaba aplicar y practicar lo que había aprendido a través estas clases. Te diría que esto puede ser buena idea; sin embargo tienes que estar muy organizado y preparado para todo. Utilicé el sitio web Mil Anuncios para promocionar las clases de inglés, y al principio recibía mensajes de mucha gente ilusionada de aprender inglés por un precio bajo.

Pero era cuando recibía un mensaje de una compañía de niñeras, que decidí que era mejor que parara la búsqueda de estudiantes esperanzados de inglés. La compañía me ofrecía 650-700 € al mes por cuidar a tres niños – de 2, 3 y 5 años – por 3-4 horas al día, 4 días a la semana. También, encajó perfectamente con mi horario de trabajo de prácticas en Tridiom.

La verdad, yo no tenía mucha experiencia de cuidar a niños antes de empezar, y eso me puso nerviosa. El trabajo consiste de cogerles de sus escuelas correspondientes, alimentarles, cambiárseles de ropa y también cambiar pañales, a jugar con ellos y separarles cuando uno decide de morder el otro. No es tan fácil, y también es una responsabilidad increíble. Pero a la vez que tengas una rutina, todas las cosas se ponen en su lugar, y los niños empiezan acostumbrarse a tu rutina también.

Además, hablar en inglés es esencial, así que no tienes que necesariamente saber español. Normalmente con trabajos de niñera, los padres esperan el inglés ser la lengua principal que utilizas con sus hijos. Varias veces encontraba que, de repente, ellos cambiaban de hablar inglés al español conmigo; “¡Cógelo!” o “Quiero un cookie!” resultaría en “No! Ask me in English first!”.

Como un estudiante, puedo entender completamente por qué al principio te darías cuenta de cuánto cobrarías e inmediatamente querrías apuntarte para hacer lo mismo. Pero ahora, después de dos meses cuidando a los niños, no me encuentro pensando en el dinero que estoy cobrando, pero en la sensación de satisfacción que me dan ellos. La sensación que experimentas cuando les has enseñado algo en inglés, o cuando no quieren despedirte cuando tienes que irte al fin del día, te hace querer quedarte allí.

Así que, si estas buscando o tienes la intención de buscar otro trabajo mientras estás en Madrid, si tienes alguna experiencia con niños, o si te gustan, te lo recomendaría hacer lo que hice yo. Podría ser por el dinero al principio, pero si tienes la suerte con tu familia que tenía yo con la mía, va a ser una cosa de que vas a tener ganas cada día.

Being a Nanny in Madrid

You have arrived in Madrid to start your internship. But after a while, and after making the most of the delicious food and the exciting nightlife, paying for tickets to the Prado and paying your previous month’s rent, you find yourself with less money that you thought. So, why don’t you find a part-time job?
The city of Madrid has an abundance of jobs for students, particularly in restaurants and shops, where English is especially sought after. But if you fancy something a little different (and pays rather well), I would recommend becoming an au pair.

My experience of looking after children didn’t exactly start with looking for nanny jobs. Originally, I was starting to try and create a clientele for English tutoring. I already have my TEFL certificate (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), so I was trying to apply and practise what I had already learnt through these classes. I would say to you that this is a good idea; however you have to be very organised and prepared for everything. I used the website Mil Anuncios to advertise my English classes, and at the start I was actually receiving messages from lots of people excited to learn English for a low price.

But after receiving a message from an au pair company, I decided it was best to stop the search for prospective English students. The company offered me €650-700 a month to look after three young children – 2, 3 and 5 years old – for 3-4 hours a day, 4 days a week. Also, it managed to fit in perfectly with the office hours I was already working at the translation agency.

Honestly, I didn’t have a lot of experience with looking after such young children before starting, and this was nerve-racking. The job consisted from picking the kids up from their respective schools, being sure to hold their hands tightly when crossing the road, feeding them, changing them (and also nappies), to playing with them and separating them when one decides to bite the other. It’s not easy, and it’s also an incredible responsibility. But once you have a routine, everything tends to fall into place, and even the children get used to your routine too.

What's more, speaking English with the children is essential, so you don't necessarily even need to know Spanish. Normally with nanny jobs, the parents are expecting English to be the main language that you speak with their children. Many times I would find that they would suddenly change from speaking English to Spanish with me. "¡Cógelo!" and "¡Quiero un cookie!" would result in me saying "No! Ask me in English first!".

As a student myself, I can understand completely why at the beginning, you would notice how much you’d be earning and decide to apply straight away. But now, after two months of looking after these children, I don’t find myself thinking about the money I’m earning, but about the feeling of fulfillment that they give me. The feeling you experience when you’ve just taught them something in English, or when they don’t want to say goodbye to you at the end of the day, just makes you want to stay there for longer.

So, if you are looking for or intend to look for another job while you are here in Madrid, if you have some experience or just like children, I would recommend you do the same thing I did. It could be for the money at the start, but if you have the same luck with your family as I did with mine, it will end up being something you look forward to doing every day.

 

Si prefieres leer esto en español, haz click aquí.

Update: Madrid’s trendiest terrazas

I apologise to whoever actually reads my posts about not writing anything for what seems like a decade – there’s no excuse, I’ve just been enjoying Madrid too much! But on the upside, that means lots of places and experiences to share with you all.

The first post I have decided to write after my 4-month absence will be all about the best rooftop bars for the tastiest tipple. Me being me, I have managed to get myself to a fair few, and have generally ended up staying there long enough to get hungry and order tapas too. So here is your list of what I consider the best terrace bars I have come to find in the city.

Círculo de Bellas Artes, Calle de Alcalá, 42, 28014

Located just off Calle de Alcalá, the Círculo de Bellas Artes is perhaps the most well-known terrace bar due to its panoramic view of Madrid that you can experience as soon as the elevator doors open. The famous photos of Gran Vía and Calle de Alcalá where you see the prominent Metrópolis building are all taken from the same angle on that rooftop terrace. I have probably been to this terrace more than any of the others, with only a €4 entry fee, however the cocktails don’t reflect the cheap entry price. With a glass of wine also at €4, I was pleasantly surprised at how I was able to enjoy such a view without delving far into my pockets. Although I have never dined there myself, there is also a sophisticated-looking restaurant that overlooks the city, and on a clear day, as far back as the Sierra de Guadarrama.

 

Gymage, Calle de la Luna, 2, 28004

Unfortunately with rooftop bars, cocktails don’t tend to be low-priced, and here we must have paid around €8-9 for a margharita. However I found this bar trendy and modern, with a maximum clientele age of around 30. On hot summer days, the terrace pool is buzzing with people, so be sure to bring your friends or just lounge poolside with a drink and good book.

 

Jardín Salvador Bachiller, Calle de la Montera, 37, 28013

I have to admit I have never seen drinks like the ones served here at Jardín Salvador

Bachiller. A more enclosed terrace, it makes up for it’s lack of view with the beautiful surroundings you sit in while enjoying your cocktail. Green plants climbing up the walls, wooden and thatched furniture with pillows to ensure comfiness, and drinks served in various Mayan-looking wooden skulls, as well as other beautiful crystal glasses.  The bartenders here tend to go OTT with the production of their cocktails, with glowing ice cubes and floating edible flowers, but I feel that’s what makes it even more unique.

 

Taberna Puertalsol, Plaza Puerta del Sol, 10, 28013

I visited this terrace restaurant/bar with a couple of friends and we ordered tinto de verano and tapas. Sheltered from the sun, you are offered a full view of Sol, one of the main plazas in the city that is always heaving with people until the early hours of the morning. It tends to be busy up here, but the prices are reasonable and the food tasty. The patatas bravas are definitely worth trying.

 

El Corte Ingles Callao, Plaza del Callao, 2, 28013

This was maybe the first rooftop I visited in Madrid and it is still one I enjoy going to

often. I’ll admit it’s downfall is that there is not enough space for the capacity of people that are usually there, however it depends on the day of the week, time of day and also how hot it is, as there is no cover for when the sun is out, so people will tend to enjoy a drink there in the evenings when it’s cooler. Also rather over-priced (a plate of nachos is €12 – not very Madrid) although again, great views looking down on the Callao square and across to the mountains.

 

Do be sure to check out my other posts, and I will be keeping you updated with other info and places to go to help you plan your trip to Madrid!

Wine Tasting ‘Ô Chateau’ style

After reading the book Bright Lights Paris, written for people who want to travel to Paris in style and visit all the hidden places only Parisians know about, as well as the top sites, I decided that wine tasting would be a perfect activity to celebrate my sister’s 18th birthday. And not just wine tasting, but wine tasting at the renowned Ô Chateau, with a full page dedicated to the company in the book, plus a special mention from princess-to-be Meghan Markle who also wrote about how much she loved it. Located off a little street not far from the Louvre and right in the centre of Paris in the 1st arrondissement, it offers 2-hour wine tasting sessions in English with a professional wine connaisseur.

Olivier Magny is the guy who set it all up, young and very French however speaks perfect English and was the one to give us the oenology experience around France’s wine regions. You sit around a table in a cosy wine cellar with wine glasses eagerly waiting in front of you, and you start off the tasting by going around the table with an ice-breaker – who you are, where you’re from and what you’re doing in Paris. Slightly off-putting for those who don’t like to speak aloud in front of a group, but Olivier is very easy-going and put everyone at ease. Also by the end of the tasting and 5 small glasses of wine later you’re all chatting and laughing anyway.

People asked me if it was a “proper” wine-tasting, as in did we swill the wine in our mouths and spit it out after. Honestly, Olivier says that’s up to you, you can either just take a sip or two of each, or you can enjoy the whole glass. Now the Ford family doesn’t let good wine go to waste, so it was obvious what we chose to do. We selected the tasting that introduced us to wines made in different regions around France, and it was a very detailed and very well presented, easy to follow and just really interesting. I learnt things about wine I never knew before – about how they make it, label it, the different types such as bio and sparkling wines, all according to the different French regions.

If you’re stuck on things to do in Paris, or have done all the museums and main sites and just fancy something a little different, I would certainly recommend Ô Chateau Wine tasting. Magny has also written several books in both English and French all about Parisian and French culture – my Mum got me his signed book for Christmas WTF: What the French? which I’m currently reading now and learning a lot more about how the French live!

A 2 hr wine-tasting session at Ô Chateau is €55 for adults and €49 for students. Ô Chateau, 68 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 75001

Insider’s Guide to Paris

I’m coming to the end of my time here in Paris, so I thought I’d put together a post about some of the things I’ve loved most about the city, and the things I think you should all try out!

The Lido

Among all the things France is famous for, cabarets are definitely up there. I was lucky enough to go to the Lido on the Champs Elysées with the office, considered one of the most prestigious cabarets in Paris (no, the Moulin Rouge is no longer considered no.1 …). Having never previously been to see a cabaret, I didn’t really know what to expect, maybe a raunchy strip tease with a cancan at the end. But after this experience I would 100% recommend it to anyone visiting Paris who fancies treating themselves to a night of music, luxury and bling. While lapping up the champagne and foie gras (perks of the office), I watched an approx. 2-hour show that consisted of dancers, acrobats, mimes, singers, ice skaters … The nudity was also kept classy and the show was cleverly choreographed. 

Tuileries and Rue de Rivoli

When I think of the Tuileries gardens, I instantly have the memory of sitting by the fountain in one of those green chairs on an early-September day, when it was still warm enough to sunbathe. I’d either go with friends while we were on a walk to somewhere else, or by myself where I could sit peacefully and read my book under the sun. Tuileries sits between the river Seine and the Rue de Rivoli.


Rue de Rivoli is a long road that stretches from the Ave. des Champs Elysées, past the Louvre, all the way to the Marais, connecting central west and east Paris together. On it is Galignani‘s, a quaint and traditional book shop that sells anything from French classics to the history of Tsarist Russia (it also has an English section which is useful for non-French readers). After a browse, I would recommend Angelina’s for brunch, where you can have a light brekkie of croissants or pastries, or something savoury like an eggs benedict or club sandwich. If you even just fancy a hot drink which is still just as filling, the famous chocolat chaud Angelina (extortionately priced at €8.20, but so worth it).



SEASON

Season has to be one of the nicest brunch cafe-restaurants at which I have had the pleasure of stuffing my face. However, because it is so popular and “très chic” for non-Parisians, it means there is usually an hour waiting time and only tourists who have heard of the place are its customers. I had a huge stack of fluffy pancakes with maple syrup, walnuts and bacon, plus an amazing hot chocolate served in a huge artsy mug (I wanted to buy one I liked it so much, however I don’t think they were selling). 


Kusmi Tea & LØV

Tea is a big deal in Paris. Obviously, the Brits are always associated with the traditional Earl Grey and English Breakfast, however Paris has grabbed the concept of tea and run away with it entirely. Kusmi Tea is actually a Russian brand, but is a huge hit here in the city. I’ve seen teas I didn’t even know existed, like black tea infused with chocolate and orange, and green tea infused with lemon and popcorn. It’s colourful shop full of tins of tea stacked to the ceiling has you in awe when you arrive. LØV is also a tea brand, now owned by Kusmi Tea. What I love about LØV (ha) is that it’s all organic, and also a bit cheaper than Kusmi Tea, although not by a huge amount. My favourite teas: Ginger and lemon green tea and Blue Detox by Kusmi Tea and LØV green mint tea. 

The Arc de Triomphe

This experience was what I considered one of those special moments you don’t expect to be that special, but really is. Free access to EU citizens under 25 (to the Brits – hurry up and do it quickly before you have to pay!) my boyfriend and I climbed up the Arc de Triomphe one evening (100s of stairs, just warning you) and the view was really amazing. I would say even better than the view from the Eiffel Tower, because from the Arc you can actually see the Eiffel Tower. A 360 view of Paris and the roads leading off the roundabout, including a stunning view of the lit-up Champs Elsyées. It was also very quiet, maybe five of us altogether at the top. If you are up it at the beginning of the hour after 6pm, you’ll also see the Eiffel Tower sparkle!

I will be adding more to this post, plus there are more posts coming soon, such as my experience wine tasting for my sister’s birthday plus a post about my time working for the Paris Tourist Office! Stay tuned.

Places to apéro

I’m a big margarita fan, and I have to say I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the price of cocktails in Paris. Plus they’re strong, so you sort of think the price is worth it. At least a couple cocktails down. I haven’t been to really well-known places I’ll admit, because they turn out to be pricey and I am a student after all, but here’s a list of my favourite places to sip on a cheeky apéro in Paris.

Le Paradis, 76 rue Saint-Martin, 75004

This café-bar is my go-to place for meeting friends and having a cocktail. Happy hour is 4.30pm-9pm where cocktails are €5.90. It’s really central, but located on a quiet street off the Rue de Rivoli.

Yellow Mad Monkey, 8 rue de Lappe, 75011

This bar is what I consider “trendy” where youngsters go for an after-work on Friday evenings. What I liked about it was it was always busy, and has a huge tree appearing to be growing up through the bar. I don’t remember there being a happy hour so I think cocktails were more around the €9 mark when we went there.

Le Comptoir Général, 80 quai de Jemmapes, 75010

I took my sister here for her 18th and we both had loads of fun. As a sort of intimate-club, it has a small dance floor, lively music and a large area with sofas. The large bar at the end, which is usually crowded with people, serves mojitos for €8. The decor had Caribbean-holiday vibes to it, with high-standing plants over the sofas and bamboo stools sitting at a wooden bar. A good night out if you just want to drink and dance, as well as meet lots of Parisians!

Favela Chic, 18 rue de Faubourg du Temple, 75011

My first couple of months here in Paris were spent going to this bar-restaurant-club with other 3rd year friends on their year abroad. Really fun atmosphere, and good remixes of old classics like MJ. I’ll admit most times I’ve been here I’ve had wine as it came out cheaper. But still a good place to take friends for a fun night of dancing. Also close to a little pizzeria which I’ve gone to when I get peckish on the way home.

Eating out à la française

It’s safe to say the last couple of weekends I have been stuffing my face with whatever delicious French feasts I could get my hands on, largely due to the fact I wasn’t paying (thanks Mum). I’ve put together the best places I went to and what food I ate there as these seem to be the best brasseries I have come across since living in little old Pari.

Le Molière 12 Rue de Buci, 75006

 

A main dish, a dessert and a glass of wine for €16, this petite brasserie in the Odéon area is sat right in the heart of the bustling Rue de Buci, where the street is lined with restaurant terraces. I stumbled across it one weekend with my friends and I liked it so much I took my family the weekend after!

La Focacceria 12 Rue Dupetit-Thouars, 75003

Not really French, but a thin cheesy pizza topped with

parma ham and free focaccia with olive oil on the side helped cure the hangover we had that day. A chic little ristorante in the Marais and it’s on a really quiet street so it’s also nice to just sit outside when it’s warm and enjoy a cold drink.

Le Petit Cler 29 Rue Cler, 75007

A pretty little brasserie that serves amazing food. Very chic and tucked away from the busy streets just across the Seine, we booked a table

of six and sat out on the terrace under the heaters above our heads. Reasonably priced, and the fillet of duck we all ordered was cooked to perfection. The staff were also so lovely and welcoming.


Café du Rendez-Vous 2 Avenue du Général Leclerc, 75014

Located in the foodie part of Montparnasse, we didn’t fancy a full sit-down meal, so between six we shared a charcuterie board and bread with olive oil and vinegar, plus wine of course. Again, the waiter was very hospitable (typical high-quality French hôtellerie) and the food was great.

How to outfox the Parisian pickpockets

So Paris has a big pickpocket problem. And to those of you who heard about my stressful yet amusing experience of having my bag swiped from my seat at a restaurant in Granada earlier this year, you’ll know that I am always on high alert for pickpocketing. Now I suppose this isn’t really about ‘outfoxing’ a pickpocket, but definitely some pointers as to how to identify them and other types of cons and crooks. Some may be obvious, others are not, and I honestly had no idea when I first came here of the extent some people go to just to steal your cash. I’ll start off with the obvious tips:

  • Don’t leave your phone or wallet on the table at a restaurant. Obvious, yes, but I’ve done it plenty of times and have always been told off by friends. Especially if you’re sitting in one of the many Parisian terrace cafés, people come along and take your phone without you even realising. A common trick is they’ll approach the table and set a map down over your phone, asking you for directions while sliding your phone from under the map into their pocket.
  • Avoid using your phone out and about – I’ve heard of people having their phone snatched while texting in the street or on the metro.
  • Wear a small bag over your shoulder, make sure it is zipped up. Try and keep your bag close to you, if the strap is also very thin, its easy for a pickpocket to just cut it off. My Dad gave me this small pouch big enough to hold my phone, keys and cash, which is sometimes easier if you want to conceal it under your coat and not worry about someone nicking it.
  • Don’t put valuables in open pockets of your coat/jacket – people will just stick their hands in your pockets so fast they’ll be running away with your phone and wallet by the time you’ve turned around.
  • Don’t handle cash out in public – if you’re getting out your wallet or a wad of notes, you’re catching the attention of nearby pickpockets and they’ll target you.
  • Lots of pickpockets work on metros too. On line 1 you’ll hear the typical “Beware of pickpockets” come on the loudspeaker at Franklin Roosevelt and it’s true – hear out for the buzzer which means the doors are about to close in just a few seconds; this is generally the perfect time for a pickpocket to swipe your phone or bag, run off the train, and the doors close before you can even get out of your seat to chase them. Particularly line 9 and the RER B heading north, these lines can be a bit dodgy at night and are notorious for pickpockets so if travelling alone, I would either use the night bus, Uber or taxi.
  • Never get in an unidentified taxi. All Parisian taxis will have the clear ‘Taxi Parisien‘ sign, anyone else who claims to be a taxi driver but hasn’t got this sign on their car is just a super dodgy person. Twice since being here I’ve had someone approach me asking if I need a taxi, one asking me in the street and one while I was hailing a cab he pulled over and claimed he was a taxi (no taxi sign). Now, I’m pretty sure taxi drivers don’t come up to you and ask if you need a taxi, so be careful of that as they may be thieves or worse …

Now on to the less obvious:

  • Some crooks go to the extent of pretending to be a police officer. We all know what happened with Kim Kardashian, two French men dressed up as police officers got into her building and stole all her jewellery etc etc … But it’s true, thieves actually do this. If a ‘police officer’ comes up to you and asks for your identity papers and money, it is 100% a scam. Police officers will never ask you for money, but if you’re still not sure, ask to see their police identity card, which should have POLICE stamped in red across the front, with diagonal blue, white and red stripes in the left corner.
  • Be vigilant at ticket machines. At Charles de Gaulle airport, there are sometimes people wearing fake badges pretending to be airport staff helping people with buying metro train tickets. These people are scammers and will try to take your money, card or wallet as soon as you expose it at the machine. Just to be safe, I would go straight to the information desk to buy travel tickets.
  • Don’t buy the stuff people sell on the streets. Although its all just cheap memorabilia which looks like a good bargain to take back for a friend after your trip, you’re actually giving money to illegal organisations and ‘underground networks’. Also, some bags and purses you see people sell on the street are sometimes things that have been stolen from other tourists.
  • Fake petitions. In many tourist areas in Paris, such as the Opéra area, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and the Avenue Champs Elysées, young girls and boys may come up to you and ask you to help fund a foundation or charity, asking for your money and signature. While distracting you with signing something, the rest of the group will come and take your valuables from you. I’ve seen myself the ‘gang’ of girls, no older than 17, in the Opéra area, who work for a pickpocketing organisation based in Romania.
  • The three-card/cup trick – a lot of you may have seen this in London, they do it a lot on the bridges in Embankment area. Basically, either with two black cards and a red card, or three cups with a ball, you have to bet money (50 euros minimum) that you will find the red card, or the ball under the cup, and then receive double of what you bet if you get it right. It looks so easy, because there is always someone in the crowd who wins every time, but these people who win are actually working with the dealer. You will lose every time, the game is a scam, so don’t play it, however tempting it looks.

I hope these tips are useful to those coming to stay in Paris, or for you year-abroaders who are planning on living here. Don’t forget, Paris is such a beautiful city, so it’s 100% worth going out and about exploring. However when you do, just be careful and don’t let these cons catch you out!!

Tired of the fog? Try the frogs!

Unfortunately, it was not with my own wit that this phrase was thought up. I read it in an article in the Figaro yesterday (an advert by Place de la Défense, the businessy area of Paris, apparently you’ll see it in a lot of London underground stations). But it caught my eye and I decided to steal it, as it is specifically aimed at us English folk. But it’s true to say, while reading this article about how President Hollande wants to “make the most of” Brexit, I can’t help but think about how many bussiness people from the UK are going to want to move abroad and work now that the pound has dropped to an all-time low (lowest in 168 years, £1 = approx. €1.11).

However, I’m not going to bore you all with a post about the plunging exchange rate and the UK’s unequivocal mistake of leaving the EU. THIS post is about my personal pros and cons of living here in Paris, and if you are tired of the fog, whether you really should try the frogs … (Paris has fog too, one morning lo and behold I couldn’t even see the Eiffel Tower from my bedroom window).

Now of course I am encouraging living abroad, hence the name of the blog, so I am not saying don’t move to Paris. But at the same time I aim to be truthful, about the good and the bad of all the places I go to, so here goes:

Pros

  • Paris is obviously a beautiful city, I don’t really need to mention that. The Haussmanian architecture, the gardens, the monuments, the art … it’s never-ending and there is always something to see.
  • It’s always buzzing, so going out at night is just as fun and busy as at daytime (this can also be a con considering my window opens out onto one of the busiest streets off the Champs Elysées …)
  • The metro is very well connected to all parts of Paris – you can get from the heart of Paris, out past the ringroad into zones 3-5 in under an hour just using the metro lines (plus it’s €1.80 for a trip anywhere in zones 1 & 2, it’s not like London where it charges you by distance)
  • A glass of wine can be as little as €4 (that’s the cheapest I’ve found so far, I’ll update if I find cheaper, of course I would recommend just buying a bottle for a fiver)
  • Museums are free if you’re under 25, which is amazing if you’re a student travelling or if you are living here like I am because you can go to all these major museums (Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Centre Pompidou) and be able to see all the exhibitions free of charge – just make sure you bring your ID with you.
  • Amazing for shopping … need I say more?
  • Paris prides itself on la gastronomie (gastronomy) and la gourmandise (love of good food) so wherever you go its likely the food you eat will be pretty great.

Cons

  • Pickpockets. I’ve already had the experience of a young girl approach me on the busy Champs Elysées and ask me if she could use my phone “to call her sister that she’d lost”. She looked about my age, and I noticed she had no handbag, a major red flag in the identification of a pickpocket. I politely said my phone was an English phone (true) and that it couldn’t make calls abroad (false), but that she should talk to one of the many police officers strolling nearby or go into a shop and use their phone. Sorry, but if you don’t have a handbag and say the police aren’t helping you, I’m going to automatically assume you’re a pickpocket. However, I’m sorry if you had actually lost your sister.

Hotspots for pickpockets: Champs Elysées, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower and Opéra, however you never really know and they are pretty much everywhere (I’ve even heard of someone having their phone swiped on the metro), so just keep a look out and your stuff close to you. Check out my post on useful things to know about pickpockets in Paris and of all the different things you need to look out for – there are so many ways people can scam you in the streets.

  • Paris is expensive. It may be cheaper than London but it is still pretty pricey. However, there are ways of budgeting and as mentioned before, plenty of places to go for free to get a taste of French culture.
  • Paris is … I wouldn’t say safe, but well-patrolled in tourist areas. It’s like any city, but when you’re out in Paris at night you have to have your wits about you. You can’t just go wondering around by yourself at 2am after a Friday night ‘after-work drinks’. There are some areas which are considered quite dodgy, and I wouldn’t recommend using certain metro lines too late at night.
  • Nightclubs are expensive. Drinks usually start at €10, plus in most places it’s a €20 entry fee. I personally prefer going to bars where there’s a bit of a club scene too (the music is played loudly like a club so people tend to dance more as the night goes on) where drinks are cheaper and you don’t have to pay to get in.

As you can see, the pros outweigh the cons, and the cons really just mean you have to plan and think ahead while on your trip. Hopefully some will find this useful!