Thursday, 17 April 2008


So finally the big news. I've found an apartment! I didn't want to say anything until I moved in, in case I jinxed it, but here I am! I managed to find it in less than 24 hours, which is apparently a minor miracle in Paris. I've got a big room with a double bed, and windows with shutters and view out onto the street. I'm living about 5 minutes from the Arc de Triomph in very calm and posh neighbourhood, and there's a little outdoor fruit & veg (and bread and cheese since it's France) in a nearby street. I'm super happy because I have all the things I was talking myself into being ok with living without - an oven, a bath, a freezer, a washing maching and even a kettle!

Yesterday was spent ferrying stuff from the old place to the new one - fortunately there was a direct metro line, but it was still a major pain lugging suitcases up and down metro stairs and in crammed carriages.

Today I went shopping and tried to stock my cupboard. It's a bit of an odd thing to do - starting from scratch. I suppose I will build up staples as I go along, but what are the real basic things you need to start with? I ended up with tinned tomatoes, lentils, baked beans (from the English section of the supermarket), pasta, couscous, bread, yoghurt, sugar, salt, butter, oil, vinegar, tea, tomatoes, a cucumber and a few fresh fruits. Have a missed anything essential?

I went to the street market, of course, even though I was told not to because it's more expensive than in the supermarket. I just can't bring myself to do it though, to buy from huge companies when the street stalls have such beautful produce and you can actually see the person who's getting your money. And what's the point of being in France and having markets like that at my disposal if I'm not going to use them! Today I bought these teeny weeny strawberries that were so sweet they tasted like strawberry flavoured lollies - I've never had anything like them.

Tomorrow I am going to find an English shop, because I realised there were a couple of things that I am going to NEED sooner or later: Worcestershire sauce being the first. I think I will have to try and find an Asian grocer soon too, because the Asian sections in the supermarkets here are depressingly lame, and a tin of coconut milk costs more than a coffee. Also I'm going to need a mortar and pestle and I imagine it will be the best place to find one.

Have I mentioned the milk? The French drink long-life milk and I just DO NOT get it. Considering how seriously they take their cheese. I am considered very weird for buying expensive milk that will go off.

The only other thing I did today was to go around to the art galleries and buy abonnements. If you're under 26 you can buy a yearly pass to each of the Louvre, the Pompidou and the Musee d'Orsay for about 10 coffees each. That represents a bargain to me, but I have to get in fast this week and buy them before my birthday. It was a surprisingly big hassle (actually, I shouldn't be surprised at how much of a headache anything is in France by now) and I didn't even get the one for the Louvre becuase of an 'exceptional closure'. I do not think it means what they think it means, becuase they seem to happen ALL THE TIME in this country. But anyway, it meant a lot of walking which was not such a bad thing, and I'll just have to go back tomorrow.

The other news is that I have a job as an English teacher! (Which means next week I'm going to have to learn English grammar...). It'll be teaching business people individually or in small classes, but I'm afraid I don't know much more than that because it doesn't start for another week. In the meantime I have to take the letter promising me a job to somewhere to stamp my visa before I can sign a contract and after that I have to register for social security etc. Welcome to France!


Elsie said...


i also like to have tinned corn and tinned beans (kidney or white beans which i use with rice/pasta when i can't be bothered with meat, or i add pasta sauce or tinned tomatoes with herbs to make a kind of baked bean thing without the gooey fake tomato sauce).

Other 'essentials' for me are dried herbs/basil, soy sauce, chilli in a jar (sambal oelek), garlic chopped up in oil (no smelly fingers) and spices (i have cumin, paprika, ginger, and i would have garam masala but its very hard to find here so i have nutmeg, cloves and cardamon instead)

m∃ said...

Hmm. I can't say I've ever used tinned corn or beans much, but creamed corn i could use for soup.Then again, your reasons sound logical so maybe i'll think about it.

Yeah, I know I need soy sauce and spices but I think I need to find an Asian supermarket. The French are very conservative with what they sell in the normal ones and in any case only sell spices in huge big expensive jars which is a bit stupid I think.

Elsie said...

The corn and beans are really just fillers for when you don't have anything interesting in the fridge. If you've never used them I doubt you'll miss them ;)

I understand the difficulty in getting asian foodstuffs, its not too bad here but not as easy as at home, and I can imagine that France is 10 times worse in that regard...

Molly said...

I have at least five varieties of rice, but if you are stocked up with cous cous, bread and pasta you might not need any more carbs :-P Plus I have various asian noodles too - soba, udon, ramen, rice vermicelli, but I don't think they class as staples.
My only other suggestions are emergency entertaining foods - sweet biscuits to go with tea or coffee and a tin of smoked oysters, a jar of olives, some crackers and maybe some nuts to go with wine / beers. And you can always break into the emergency supplies & have an impromptu feast (Ratty & Mole style) when the cupboard is otherwise bare :o)