Posts in France
Cannes, Coming To A Close
 Happiest in a bikini with a drink in my hand

Happiest in a bikini with a drink in my hand

I arrived in Cannes mid-January, not really sure what to expect. Although I was really excited for the move, I was nevertheless nervous as I had just come from 4 of the best months in Paris, and honestly I didn't think Cannes could match that by any means. Fast forward 7 and a half months, and I'm sat in the airport lounge waiting to catch my flight home. Although I can't wait to be back in the UK - 7 months is a long time even for me, and I'm excited to be back in the English countryside with some cooler weather and good food - I'm already anticipating how much I'll miss this all considering how I feel now.

The reason I moved to Cannes in the first place was because I needed to have a job for part of my year abroad. I had just finished studying in Paris, and I was nervous about moving into an office where I had to work from 9 - 5, at least 5 days a week. Fortunately I settled in pretty quickly, and slowly I was given more responsibility which I've really loved and appreciated. While applying for the job, living in Cannes and working with boats sounded like a fun time, and I thought that if I had to get a job this job could be a good way to go. Truth be told, it's turned out to be 10 times better than I thought possible. I have a great boss and a good team, and every day brings something different. I always knew that the summer period was going to busy and stressful (I didn't realise how much until the Monaco Grand Prix in May) and so I'm super grateful for those first few months in winter where I could learn everything before the panic hit. There have been times when work has certainly been tough and I've just wanted to close down my laptop and switch off my brain, but I've found that these toughest moments are usually when I'm most proud of my work! The weeks have flown by and it will be strange waking up tomorrow back in my own bed with no office to go to or emails to check. Technically I'll still be a part of the 212 team as my boss has asked if I can continue growing the company on social media (follow us at @212yachts) whilst I'm at university, with some more marketing over the winter period. She has also offered me a summer job for 2019, but we'll see where I am in January when I'll need to make a decision. 

 Exploring the coastline

Exploring the coastline

Outside of work, I guess Cannes itself doesn't make time off any harder. The whole area and coastline is stunning, and sometimes I still pinch myself that this place has been my home for 2018. I love love love being by the water, surrounded by the mountains, with the sun on my skin, and it's made me realise that this is all I really want and need in life to be a happy bunny. I've been trying to appreciate all of this in my last few weeks here, consciously knowing that it would soon be time to leave.

I've also met some really wonderful people here, friends from all over the world and from different corners of life. I was very lucky to have Will here, and he introduced me to the crew side of Cannes - Janine, Chante, Caz, Jaak, Dingo, Tristan, Jackie.. and many more! All friends that I'm grateful to have spent the winter with mostly tucked away in a small Irish pub in the centre of town. I was so lucky to have Anna, one of my best friends from university and also on my course in Cannes with me, and we've had some of the best times throughout the past 6 months - skiing, endless beach days, and I don't even want to know how many bottles of wine we've consumed together. Along with Ellie, Ana and Rob also from uni, we had some brilliant nights out together! In the office, one of my friends from Paris Erin joined the team and we have become very close over the past two months, and I'm so grateful to have had her and Hannah in the office!

 Late night boat rides and swims

Late night boat rides and swims

Life in Cannes has been incredible, mad, calming and sometimes overwhelming. What is most peoples' weekend holiday, this was my everyday. Life is but a dream as they say. A few Friday's ago, a group of us drove along the coast from Cannes to Cap Ferrat in an open-topped car, picked up take-away pizza and hopped on to a friend's rib and cruised to Monaco. This kind of thing only happens in movies right? We swam at at midnight and it was one of the best night's I've had, floating in the ocean under moonlight with good company and lots of laughter. 

 Getting ready with the girls for Plages Electro on the beach

Getting ready with the girls for Plages Electro on the beach

There are so many things that I'm going to miss. I'll miss watching fireworks every week from the beach. I'll miss Tuesday yoga in Antibes. It takes place next to the statue of the head and there's always a gentle sea breeze at sunset which keeps you cool. I'll miss having almond croissants for breakfast and ice cream for lunch. I'll miss the islands, and I don't really understand why it took me so long to get out there. I'll miss living 3 minutes away from the beach, and my 9pm sunset swims when there's nobody else out and it feels kind of adventurous. I'll miss all of the great people that I've met out here. I'll miss golden hour, my favourite time of the day, when the sun is close to the horizon and the heat is gone but the whole of the bay and the mountains are lit up. Maybe I'll miss the sunsets the most. I'll miss walking along the croisette and through the rose garden to get to town. I'll miss the way the sun shines through the palm leaves. I'll miss the warmth against my skin and floating on my back in the ocean with my head half under. I'll miss having a 4 euro Provence rose in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other. I'll miss living in a bikini or swimsuit, and I'll have to get back into the habit of being fully clothed when out in public! I'll miss the chou-chou man who looks like Albert Einstein. I'll miss my little space on the rock so the sand doesn't get on my things. The list is endless.

I wonder when I'll next live somewhere like this. Give me the mountains, the ocean, warm weather and I'll be set for life. Oh and maybe through in a sunset every now and then.

France has been my home for the past year, and I am utterly grateful for all of the memories, both good and bad. I didn't realise how quickly 12 months could pass by, and how happy I could be away from what's been home for the past 21 years. I knew I was going to be sad when leaving, but it really hit home whilst I was in my taxi on the way here - this place feels like home and honestly my hurt hearts saying goodbye not knowing when I'll next be back. As the saying goes, how lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. The verdict? Very.

Hiking Up To Eze
 The view from the Cactus Garden in Eze

The view from the Cactus Garden in Eze

Although I've been here for 3 weeks, I haven't yet had a free weekend to relax and explore at my own pace. I wanted to spend at least a day in Cannes so I could do some laundry, clean my appartment and do some life admin, but on the other day I really wanted to go out and explore the area. Myself and a group of girls whom I'd met in a local bar decided to do the Nietzsche hike, a steep 1 mile vertical climb up from Eze-Sur-Mer to Eze village. 

We set off from Cannes around lunchtime, catching a train to Eze-Sur-Mer, located on the coastline just between Nice and Monaco. As soon as we stepped off the train we saw the signs pointing us to the beginning of the trail. Maybe I was slightly naïve, but I didn't realise how tough it was going to be from the get go as for the first 10 minutes, it was pretty much a steep hill straight up the mountain side. We had got off the train with another couple of groups who were also attempting the climb but after less than 5 minutes in, a couple of people decided to turn back. After 10 minutes, we saw the first of the steps. They were really wide steps and so with my long legs, I guess I had it slightly easier. The group of girls that I was with were all relatively fit, and we were soon moving ahead of everyone else. The signposts at the start of the track said that it was 90 minutes up, however a couple of reviews online said that they had done it in just over an hour - to give you a perspective of how fast they were going we did it in about 50 minutes! According to my phone's health app, overall we climbed 150 floors. This doesn't sound like too much, but at the time it felt like the stairs were neverending! I was really happy when we made it to the top, but I super glad that I'd worn workout clothes and proper trainers because I was exhausted and very sweaty! I think that if you're relatively fit you could do this, and it is possible to stop whenever you want. However there was very little shade so I definitely wouldn't recommend doing this on a really hot summer's day!

I'd read lots about Eze in the past few months, and I was so pleased to wait to finally go! Although lots of the restaurants and shops weren't open because it's not tourist season, I really wanted to go to the exotic garden! Entrance is 4 euros, 3 for a student, and you get a really good view. While the hike was tough, and even a few days later my muscles still ache, I really want to try and do a hike maybe every other weekend. The next one on my list is La Turbie, which overlooks Monaco.

Twenty Two
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Hello, twenty two year old Ellie speaking! Another lap around the sun completed! After celebrating my birthday on Thursday in Cannes, I wanted to do something special for my birthday weekend. I thought about skiing, but instead decided to head down to my second home, Hyeres, for a long weekend!

Moving to Cannes
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Currently this is one of only a few photos that I have of myself in Cannes, but that's about to change! On Saturday morning, I'm taking an early flight down to the Cote d'Azur where I'm planning to be based for around 6 - 9 months! Whilst I'm there I'll be working for the yacht charter company 212 Yachts, and it will be my first full time job with hopefully lots of responsibility! 

I've been to Cannes several times before so I know the layout a little and I know what to expect when I arrive! I've rented a one bedroom appartment right in the centre of town and only 5 minutes walk from the main promenade and the beach. I'm really looking forward to living so close to the sea and as the weather is certainly a lot warmer than the UK, I'm hoping I'll be able to spend lots of time outside. Luckily a couple of friends from university will also start arriving in February and my cousin is also based on a boat in the same port where my office is located so I won't be without company! 

Just like I was before Paris, I've got those nervous butterflies in my stomach but I think that's normal before moving somewhere new and I'm definitely more excited than I am nervous. I'm super ready for an incredible 8 months ahead of me where I'll learn and experience a lot, so fingers crossed it all works out well! 

It's Sunday evening and tonight is my second evening in my appartment in Cannes! After Mum left earlier today, I've spent the afternoon unpacking, sorting out the appartment, and buying some food to keep me going for the next couple of days. It's been about 5 months since I've been back in this part of France and I couldn't be more excited to be putting down my roots here for a while.

My Paris Favourites

In the hope that I may find myself back in Paris sometime in the future, I thought I'd make a note of my favourite places to eat and drink in the city of love and lights!

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For Brunch :

  • Hadware Société
  • Season
  • Holybelly 5
  • Zia
  • Breakfast in America
  • Eggs & Co
  • Cafe Oberkampf
  • Love Juice Bar
  • Ob-la-di
  • Le Bistro Mericourt
  • Big Love Cafe
  • Frenchie To Go
  • Wild and the Moon
  • Fragments
  • Republique of Coffee

Cafés :

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  • Café de Flore
  • The Smiths Bakery
  • Malongo
  • Shakespeare & Company
  • Pâtisserie Gérard Mulot
  • Pain Quotidien
  • Cafe Kitsuné
  • La Caféothèque
  • Strada Café

For Dinner : 

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  • Big Mamma Group; in particular Obermama, Pink Mamma and Pizzeria Popolare
  • Daroco
  • Margherita
  • Auteuil Brasserie
  • Chilango
  • Alcazar
  • Bamboo
  • Polpo
  • Marcella
  • 404

Bars :

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  • Rosa Bonheur Sur Seine
  • Flow
  • Lavomatic
  • Faust
  • Buddha Bar
  • Le Hibou
  • Bellevilloise
  • Gentleman 1919
  • Le Comptoir Général
  • Little Red Door
  • Le Perchoir
  • Le Perchoir du Marais
  • Mama Shelter
  • Cube Ice Bar

For Nights Out : 

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  • Wanderlust
  • Nüba
  • Concrete
  • Titty Twister
  • VIP Rooms
  • L'Arc
  • Ras Poutine
  • Queens
  • Vanity
My Paris Experience

When I arrived in Paris, if I'm to be honest with you, I had low expectations. I was excited, but I was also trying to be realistic and preparing myself for the fact that I may not love Paris as much as I hoped that I would. 4 months later, and it's fair to say that my expectations were blown out of the water and I have completely fallen in love with this city and everything that comes with it, good and bad. 

Let's begin with the not so good stuff about living in Paris. Paris is a place where people of all cultures, nationalities, ethnicites and religions come together, and personally I think that this multiculturalness is what makes cities so great. However in Paris there is a clear social divide and segregation which I didn't like, and at times this made me feel uncomfortable. There is massive inequality in Paris and it's so easy to see. Never before have I seen so much homelessness; in every metro station, in most metro carriages and around most street corners there were people sleeping rough on the streets with only a coat to cover them in the extreme cold. I heard during my time in Paris that the government has a great scheme in place to help people if they want help, so perhaps this was a choice, but whatever the reason, I feel like more needs to be done because it's a massive problem. There were a couple of times when I felt uncomfortable walking alone by myself in the evening and would sometimes just call an uber for a short journey home because I felt vulnerable walking alone at night. I'm not sure what it is, but in Paris if you go out showing even a little bit of skin, you get a lot of looks and comments. This was really, really bad in August and September when it was super hot and you had to wear as little as possible but still try to cover up because you knew that you would just attract unwelcomed attention. My last two reasons are a bit more light-hearted. I'm not sure if I've just forgotten what it's like to be cold, but in December, Paris was freezing! There were many times where I thought I had been the coldest that I've ever been and I don't think I could spend another full winter in Paris! Secondly, it was a bit of a shock when it came to how much food was in Paris! My food shops for a two week period were nearly double the price that I would spend in Bath. If I were to buy five avocados, that was a quarter of the price of my total food shop which made me laugh. 

So now to the good bits! Paris, is Paris. The city of love, the city of lights, and as cheesy as it is, the city where you can do anything and feel everything! Every time I stepped out of my appartment I had to remind myself that I was in Paris and pinch myself! When the sun is out and there are clear blue skies, there really is no where like Paris and the city felt so magical. I love the hustle and bustle of the city and how many things were going on around me! There was always somewhere to explore, or a restaurant to go to, or a bar where my friends would be and I felt like life was just really exciting. 

Our Last Super In Paris

Before leaving Paris, I wanted to organise a large dinner at my favourite restaurant before everyone began to leave Paris and head home for Christmas. After 15 weeks, and with only one week to go, we enjoyed a bittersweet supper at Auteuil Brasserie in the 16eme. 

Since first coming here with my parents in September, I knew that it would be a great place for a large group of my friends. It's always difficult in Paris to find somewhere that takes reservations and has space for big groups, and although it's quite far out of the way for my friends who live in the east, Auteuil Brasserie is just the perfect place. They had even decorated the whole place for a winter and après-ski vibe with some fake snow and white fur blankets over every chair. About 15 of us gathered for an evening of good food and even better company. 

Studying at Sciences Po

12 weeks later, and I have finally finished classes at Sciences Po. Although it seems ages ago that I walked into my first class, I also can't quite believe how quickly the time has passed and that I have one exam between now and finishing completely next Friday. I thought that I'd write a bit about what I thought about the university and whether I would ever return to Sciences Po.

So where to start? Maybe the fact that I love it here. I love the people I've met, I love the location and I love the things that I've learnt. I've met heaps of great people from all over the world, including lots of Lebanese, Americans and Canadians. I know that my experience wouldn't be half as good without them and all the great times that we've shared. I love that we're all studying political science and that they're all just as ambitious as me about changing the world, and I find it so funny that we can be sitting in a cafe and we'll go straight into discussion politics. Secondly, I love having classes in St. Germain; it's probably the smartest neighbourhood in Paris and it's pretty awesome studying somewhere that feels so special. I love the fact that there are also security men in suits on every door, and every time I show them my i.d. card, I have to remind myself that I made it here! I've also really enjoyed the majority of the content that I'm learning, and I feel like I've become a more well-rounded student, while working out what I enjoy and what I don't enjoy which is kind of crucial right now as I come to a time where I need to start thinking about what I'm going to do when I graduate from Bath.

Now the cons, and there are a couple. Firstly, the language. As well as I thought that I could speak and understand French, I soon realised that I could not. I really struggled in the first few weeks in class and outside class when nearly everyone that I met had French as their first language and they spoke it so fast with an accent. Secondly, the amount of work. Never have I been so stressed over such a long period. For about 8 weeks, I've had on average 3 assessments due every week. This meant that as soon as you handed in a 20 page dissertation or had a 10 minute presentation, you had another few to prepare for with just the weekend to get ready. 

Am I happy that I chose to study at Sciences Po? 100% yes. And even as much as I enjoy studying in Bath, I know that I'll definitely miss ScPo when I go back. Sciences Po is ranked 4th worldwide for political science, and I know that it will make such a difference to my CV and may help me to get a job that I really want. And who knows, I haven't yet decided what I'm going to do when I finish my degree in 2019, so If I'm not backpacking around the world, then maybe I'll apply to do a masters and I'll see 27 Rue St. Guillaume once again. 

Christmas Festivities In Paris

Now that's it's the first of December, I think it's the right time to start being able to talk about all things Christmas related! In general terms, I'm not really a massive christmas fan; I enjoy seeing the family all together and exchanging gifs and of course the food and watching christmas movies, but I do think it is sometimes over-rated and just incites the whole consumerism thing. Also, the temperature here in Paris has now reached minus numbers and the days feel super short as it's dark before you know it. However now that classes have finished, I've been trying to get out and see everything that Paris has to offer Christmas-wise! The streets are filled with fairy lights and christmas trees and it does feel ever so slightly magical. 

Living In The 16th Arrondissement

I've been living in the 16th arrondissement for nearly 4 months now, and so I thought that I'd write a post about my experience and whether I would live in this part of Paris again. 

Le 16eme, is located the other side of the river from the Eiffel Tower, lodged in between the Seine and the Bois de Boulogne. It's mainly residential, but you can find a couple of the key tourist sites like Trocadero, Iena and Alma to the north. When I'm asked where I live, most people are surprised to hear that I live there as it's not relatively common for exchange students to live there.  I've heard a couple of english voices, but it's mostly comfortable middle-class families living in big, spacious appartements, i.e. life goals. 

Although it can take 40 minutes to get to the Marais or Canal St. Martin, and it's completely the other side of town from the nightlife, I love it here. My main rule, was that I wanted to feel safe and I 100% do. I live on Rue de la Pompe, one of the longest streets in Paris, within 3 minutes walking distance from a metro on a central line and a bus that's direct to Sciences Po. For me, the location is perfect. It's certainly not where it's going on, and only a couple of my friends are living nearby, but I feel like I'm living the real parisian experience. 

If I were coming back as a young, single, girl again, I probably would live somewhere else. Not because I didn't like it, but because i'd want to try somewhere new and see a different side of Paris. If I were coming back in 20 years, with a family, then the 16th would definetly be at the top of my list of places to be based. It's certainly felt like home.