My dwindling budget doesn’t really lend itself to eating at one of the thousands of brasseries each day; sipping on deliciously dry rosé and always finishing each meal with an espresso. I have tried ever so hard to quash my desire to stop in at every quaint Parisian den I pass by. Wrapped in my oversized vintage faux-fur coat and a myriad of clashing patterns, I stroll through the uneven streets eager to discover a place adorable enough to warrant spending money I should really be saving for more sensible things like a deposit for an apartment or shoes. And although I have always lived a champagne life on a beer budget, the very sensible side of me (which from time to time does rear its annoyingly truthful head) pops up and reminds me that if I was to continue down this path of overpriced salads on infamous terraces, I would soon be dans la merde.
I know. Poor me. Stuck in Paris with a moderate amount of savings unable to afford to dine out every single day where I can’t indulge my fantasies as some flush bobo perennially on holidays. What is this world coming too? The solution to these first world problems is quite simple. B R E A D! Bread (also known as my best friend also known as one of the most important things in my life) is perfection. And unless you have sampled the array of various freshly baked breads in this incredible country, you have not lived! Ok, ok. Dramatic AF, but French bread literally changed my life. Before I discovered the magical world of French baguettes, ficelles and pain rustic, I had intense reactions to bread and bread products. I would get fierce stomach cramps and even had chest pains. But here, in the magical land of France, I can gorge on as much bread as I like without feeling like I am going to blow up like Violet Beuregarde. Now, I’m not saying that you need to come here to experience artisanal bread at it’s finest, but there is something romantic about waiting in line with fellow carb enthusiasts, mulling over which baguette to choose from, ogling the glistening éclairs and tarte tartin in the glass cabinet and listening to the harmonious cacophony of French mutterings all before that wonderful greeting of bonjour!
Not only are there hundreds (literally hundreds) of different types of bread depending on region and season, but it is so damn cheap! For under 1€, you can walk away with satisfying and portable lunch. But, you can’t live on bread alone! So, for a few extras euros, you can have a delicious and fresh baguette with an array of fillings like Cambembert and country ham; rillettes and cornichons or goats cheese, figs and mache lettuce on a raisin baguette – like this one below from my favourite local, Pascal et Anthony, 32 Rue de Dantzig, Paris, 75015. This place is fabulous! Cheap but life-altering sandwiches, perfect coffee and free wifi. And within walking distance from Parc George-Brassens and an all-weekend second-hand and antique book market. Grab your delectable lunch and head to the park where you can see old friends converse, children play and just let the world pass you by.
Other than stuffing my face with the best bread I have eaten, I do enjoy other pleasures that this fair city has to offer. I have decided to walk whenever I can. If you have the time, comfortable shoes and the warmest of your fabulous clothes, I highly recommend it. I cannot express to you how much I truly love just getting lost. It is happiness in its purest form. We were discovering our wonderful arrondissement when the high from my last bread fix was starting to wear off. Searching frantically for a spot to lunch that wouldn’t burn a hole in my Pamela Barsky “I like to pretend I’m French” pencil case/wallet, we settled on a café of sorts that felt more at home in some secluded country town as opposed to a bustling metropolis. I guess Paris is like a box of chocolates: you never really know what you’re going to get. It was quickly apparent that this particular bar was a fan of horse racing; electronic gambling options and live races caught my attention from the corner of the room and I was rethinking my choice of establishment. As I was contemplating our quick and seamless getaway, I suddenly noticed the price of the wine and sandwiches on offer. We could have half a litre of wine and two baguettes with merguez sausage and pâté Basque for around 10€. It was decided. We were staying! It wasn’t only the insanely cheap yet surprisingly scrumptious sustenance that tickled our fancy and begged us to linger.
A group of sweet old men were playing chess at the back of the brasserie, sharing individually wrapped chocolates and laughter. They graciously accepted my self-invitation to play and for the next 45 minutes, nothing else was more important than that game of strategy. I fancied myself an okay if not good player; the possibly embellished stories of my grandfather’s superb chess skills made me believe that is was sort-of hereditary. But to no one’s surprise, I got completely obliterated. These guys were pros and I was way out of my depth. My poor playing and broken French didn’t stop us from talking about where were from, what we did and how much I loved living in Paris. It was the perfect way to procrastinate dealing with another bureaucratic task we had to complete.
Although I would love to meander endlessly down these perfect Parisian streets, the stark reality of trying to start a new life in a new city is slowly setting in. I have decided to say goodbye to the glamorous world of hospitality and find a job that is a bit more…secure. DON’T WORRY GUYS! I will still be pursuing a full-time career of writing and acting and singing! Phew. My days will mostly be filled with relentless applications for some incredible opportunities at home flitting between French reality TV shows and my favourites in their original language. Sex and the City in any other language is a travesty. But no matter how many hours I spend in front of the screen fastidiously triple checking each covering letter, I will always have time for the simple things: baguettes, wine and dreamily getting lost in this friend of the eternal optimist.