Or ‘how to go on holiday without really having to go on holiday’
Remember when the novelty of the New Year faded and you were sat at your desk, chin slumped on fist, dreaming of your next holiday? A thousand exotic beach locations and city breaks paraded through your head, while an impossibly bronzed and deliriously happy version of yourself frolicked in the foreground. If you seized the moment and booked yourself a break, then well done. You’re probably doing important foreign cocktail research, twisting by the pool and not reading this blog.
But let’s not assume all of us are lucky enough to have given our passports an airing – some of us routinely decide not to flash the vacation cash in the summer months, meaning that ‘holiday’ is little more than the name of an early Madonna song (and I wouldn’t blame you a tiny bit if you were reluctant to step on a plane at this exact moment in time).
Personally, Granny flat sucks money out of me like the the aforementioned cocktail through a curly, flourescent straw, plus I have a bumper crop of kale-in-window-boxes and fledgling herb garden to keep hydrated, so two weeks away just isn’t an option. But here’s a rundown of ways in which you can kick back and relax in France’s capital, whilst fooling yourself into thinking you’ve had a nice long break.
This town, is coming like a ghost town…
There is no better time of year to enjoy Paris than during that hallowed month when the holiday magnet draws most of its population away. You’ve always wanted to try that restaurant that had rave reviews but could never get a table? Now is the time to pounce (not literally of course, this is not feeding time at the zoo). You’ll find the pavements much easier to navigate, queues for all the cool stuff more small caterpillar-like than anaconda-esque (though the busiest spots will always be busy), and the city’s spaces more warm and opening in their collective embrace. Take FULL advantage before the hoardes return.
Living in a place might give you local’s bragging rights, but in reality, it’s the visitors to a city that tend to know your patch way better than you do. As a resident, rather than chillin’ like one, you spend your waking life with head down, charging through the crowds tutting, stuck on the endless cycle of metro, boulot, dodo (that’s the deathly trio of commute, work and sleep for the non-Frenchos). Now is the time to raise your noggin and smell the municipal roses. I bet you there’s a list a mile long of places that you’ve been meaning to explore in Paris, but never have. Now is the moment to show that list who’s boss.
Leaf it all behind
Yes, the country bumpkin hat is on again – need I mention all of the glorious green spaces begging to be inhaled outside of Paris? With the Navigo being dezoned and the RER almost floating under the weight of its lack of passengers, heading out into the sticks is one of the best ways to changer tes idées, i.e. blow those mental cobwebs away and clear your head. Isn’t that what holidays are designed for?
The host(ess) with the most(ess)
If sightseeing on your own sounds about as sociable as playing Candy Crush on your iphone, then open your floor to some of your friends. You’re in Paris! They’ve probably been hankering for an invitation for ages, but you’ve just been to busy and important to notice. Seeing the city through fresh eyes is truly a wonderful thing, and you’ll have to search out some new and interesting out-of-the-guide places to impress their culottes off with.
It’s all in the mind…
Mindfulness is the buzzword of the year it seems – that blissful practice of ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’, taking the time to fully live in and appreciate the moment you’re in. So switch your whirling head down a few gears and take a good look at what’s around you. Take a stroll around a different quartier, and look, really look at what surrounds you. Those metro stops between work and your nice warm bed are not there to prolong your morning agony, put a name to a concrete face and go and check them out. You never know what you might find (though I’ll put a fiver on at least one croissant).
And finally, if you can’t be interesting, at least be clean
The official ‘get your rubber gloves on’ time is traditionally the spring, but I’m a great advocate of a summer clean – given that you can fling your windows open without a care in the world this time of year. If you suck at relaxing (I hear ya – the talent escapes ol’ Jack Russell me), hate the idea of museums, came last in strolling class and generally like the indoors life, then take the opportunity this August to get yourself tidy and organised and ready to kick the rentrée in the bottom come September. You’ll reach a blissful state that even two weeks on a Greek island will find it hard to beat.
All that remains for you to do is to dust off your holiday sandals, juice-up the camera and hit the road. And don’t forget to send me a postcard.