Paris: Amélie, lights and crowds

Two weekends ago saw Fran and I head to the city of love: Paris. Quite the appropriate place to spend our one-year anniversary. But did I fall in love with Paris? I wanted to, and hoped to, but I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would, mainly due to the anxiety-inducing hordes that roam the capital.

Regardless, there were some real highlights to the city. The first being a little surprise tour (courtesy of Fran of course) of the stand out places in one of my favourite films Amélie.

Strolling through Montmartre hand-in-hand felt like the romantic and pretty Paris I was hoping for. We started off at Sacré-Cœur, a prominent setting in Amelie, one which hosts the scene with the phone call and the little yellow arrows. Here we stocked up on bread, vegan tapenade, macarons, and crêpes at the food stalls, while taking in the view of the city. From there we strolled down to the famous fruit and veg shop from Amélie. (The one with that prick of a shopkeeper who Amélie truly screws over with her admirable wit and dark side.) Then it was down to Café des Deux Moulins where Amelie worked her magic and played cupid.

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 I have to admit: the hub of Paris is beautiful under the night sky. We got to see a snippet of the Eiffel Tower and The Louvre during the day, but both spots are stunning at night. Every evening (every hour on the hour) is when you’ll see the Eiffel Tower dazzle and sparkle, which in my honest opinion, is a little gimmicky. Five minutes later is when you see the iconic tower in all its glory, without those sparkling lights. The tourists were quiet again as they left our viewing spot, Trocadero. That’s when we could just stand there taking it all in.

I was much more impressed by The Louvre Pyramid though, which stood strong in all its modern confidence in the middle of the Palace grounds. The juxtaposition of the architecture is striking but I love it. It boasts confidence and stylistic flair in a city that still gleams the French Renaissance style despite the modern and urban turn that Paris, like most capitals, tend to take.

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Overall Paris is a lovely city to visit but the swarms of people put a downer on the experience, which is a real shame.

Lessons learnt: expectations don’t always match reality, seeing major sites during the night as well as the day is well worth it, I could eat French baguettes all day every day.

 

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Our LDR: commuting between England and Spain

In a few days I’ll be in Paris with my boyfriend celebrating a year of being together, officially. It will be exactly a year since I asked him out in a pub in Winchester, that first weekend we spent together. He does like to point out that he thinks we’ve been together for longer though seeing as our first two dates were in August last year, plus there’s been something between us since 2015 when we both swiped right.

For us, it’s always been a long distance relationship, where we commute between England and Spain, between my student house in Southampton (and now my family home in London) and his shared flat in Madrid. We’re lucky we’re not as far away from each other. It could definitely be worse. Imagine if we’d hooked up before I went on my year abroad in Mexico. That would have been real tough.

There are advantages to this type of relationship. We both love travelling so going to Spain three times over summer and visiting different towns and cities was lovely. Then there were other times where we would be at his family home in Álora and everything would slow down for the both of us. Not only do we get to see more of Spain together, but we’ve also seen more of the UK, from days in Brighton and Winchester to weekends in Bristol and Cambridge. We’ve also been to Porto and Lisbon, and we’re heading to Paris in a few days. (Even with these trips, we still haven’t actually taken a flight together.)

We’ve met each other’s relatives and friends, been camping twice together, enjoyed live music together, and we’ve even played house in Fran’s dad’s flat in Benalmádena. Yet the longest we’ve ever spent together in one go is seven days. So in November we’ll be playing house again, when Fran will be here for two weeks keeping me company, flat and job-hunting while my parents are away. Am I excited? Fuck yes. Am I nervous? Not as much as I have been.

We’ve definitely had our ups and downs over this year, aggravated by a few life changes from me graduating and moving back in with my parents and trying to find a career, to Fran finishing up a job contract and being on the lookout for a new one here in London.

LDRs can be tricky to manage and maintain but to be completely honest, I think we’ve done a great job so far. We speak almost every day via Hangouts where we watch Friends, That 70s Show or the occasional film, we make the effort to see each other regularly, and we have plans for our future.

Our relationship may not be ‘normal’ or ‘conventional’, but it’s ours.

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