Happy Days

Google Paris by Expat Edna

You see this? You see this post?

This is me throwing up my hands and saying, I give up!

I give up trying to catch up.

If I was working the same part-time tutoring hours I did in France, no doubt I would have told you all about Oktoberfest and Dubai by now (did you know I was in Dubai for the last month? I was! See, I’m so behind.)

But I’m working over-full-time these days — and after 3290 hours a week of editing other people’s English, the only thing I want to do when I get home is pour a nice strong G&T, not spend more time at my computer editing my own English.

This post by TwoOregonians was kind of the final push — the traveling duo recently welcomed their first child and Bethany wrote about how, in light of new time constraints, she’s decided to switch gears and start posting in snapshot form:

I’ll more than certainly cringe a few times when I push “publish,” but I’d rather imperfectly share the things that make me smile than perfectly hide behind fears of incomplete masterpieces.

Same goes for me.

From now on I’m going to jump around a bit, my pieces may be less text and more photo — but I’d rather have posts out there, however imperfect, than keep my memories waiting on a hard drive for a perfect post that will never come.


…But first, I’m going to do THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE of that and present right now, in one gigantic photo essay, everything I’ve been trying to write about months. (Months, I tell you. It’s embarrassing.) I just need to get this off my chest, even if it makes no sense to anyone but me, because it has been clogging up my wheels for far too long now and once I finish this photo dump then I can finally move on with my blog, okay?

So here it is, in simplest terms:

Here are some things that happened. They made me very happy. (Even when other things were going to hell.) And I left Paris on a high note.

These are some people who made me happy:

Danielle's birthday by Expat EdnaView from Le Quarante Trois by Expat Edna

Danielle, whose birthday drinks introduced me to Le Quarante Trois — otherwise known as the rooftop of the Holiday Inn, otherwise known as one of the biggest surprises in Paris (seriously, the Holiday Inn! Who’d’ve expected it.)

Sara's 80s birthday party by Expat Edna

The whole Paris crew, who are obscene levels of sweet and hijinks fun and by far my favorite people in Paris — partially because they didn’t get mad at my trusting ways when, at the 80s-themed surprise party we threw for Sara, I casually let in a bunch of French strangers who knocked on the door at 3 am asking to join the fun.

lindseys birthday

photo courtesy Pictours Paris

Lindsey, whose birthday party was complete with makeshift bedroom photobooth and a fabulous crew of several other Paris bloggers/photographers.

Chicken dinner - Expat Edna

And of course my Parisian partner-in-crime Ashley, who is a far better cook than she lets on and prepared a whole French dinner for friends on her birthday.

Canal St Martin by Expat Edna

There were many happy discoveries — like finding that the less hipster-y part of the Canal St Martin that stretches down to Bastille is perfect for post-brunch walking.

Musee d'Orsay by Expat Edna

Or finally visiting the Musee d’Orsay, prompted by a visit from Julika, the art historian — I never would have appreciated Art Deco or that famous sculpture of ‘Nature unveiling herself before Science’ (marble busts all look the same to me) if not for her.

Musee d'Orsay clock by Expat Edna

Silly me — this may be my favorite museum in Paris. The old train station vibe, the impressionist works, the ridiculously photogenic clock — I can’t believe I put off visiting it for over a year and a half. Mistake.

Seine and cider by Expat Edna

As always, I very much enjoyed introducing others to the magic of strolling through Paris at midnight. (Magic, brought to you by cider.)

Alex and Mario in Paris by Expat Edna

Nomadic friends Kate and her fiancé also swung through town gathering stories for Mario’s site Someone Once Told Me, and I had great fun introducing them to my non-blogging friends over picnics and ice cream.

BJ Novak in Paris - Expat Edna

And how about that time I discovered BJ Novak doing a reading at Shakespeare & Co?

Duroc metro station by Expat Edna

Then there was Fête de la Musique, one of the greatest nights I’ve had in Paris. An annual music fest, it’s basically when everyone in Paris pulls an all-nighter, especially on the banks of the Seine, to celebrate the arrival of summer and it is just a grand old time, let me tell you.

Fete de la Musique by Expat Edna

I missed the celebrations last year but more than made up for it this time around: a large group of us picnicked along the river until night fell, watched one of our number wade around the fountain at St Michel, caught the metro (which runs all night for the Fête) to Pigalle, danced on the tables at Glass until 5 am, then went back to the island for Belgian beers and stayed up chatting with good friends till 10 the next morning.

Ile St Louis from my window by Expat Edna

That same weekend, I moved onto Île St-Louis. Very possibly the single event that brought me the greatest amount of joy all year.

Parc Buttes Chaumont by Expat Edna

Then of course, there were the picnics.

Beernic by Expat Edna

Buttes-Chaumont was one of my favorite locales, given its views over Paris and the high density of locals. I don’t think I heard a single person speaking English while I was up there beer-nicking.

My favorite quai in Paris by Expat Edna

More often than not, we picnicked along the Seine, because it was now home. Where it used to take me 45 minutes to get from the 16eme to the river, it now took 45 seconds to get from my door to the quai.

38 Ile St Louis picnic by Expat Edna

Toss in picnic staples from 38 Île Saint Louis, a fresh baguette from the island boulangerie, homemade bloody marys and good company, and I’d be set for an entire day.

Firemen's Ball, Paris by Expat Edna

And oh man, Bastille Day, the biggest blowout weekend I’ve spent in Paris — the festivities of which actually started the night before, at the Firemen’s Ball, where I drank champagne while rocking out on a fire station bar.

(Sidenote, I LOVE the Firemen’s Ball — it’s like the guys got together and said, “Screw our safety training! Let’s crowd the fire station over capacity, let people smoke indoors, throw in tons of booze, and just see what happens.”)

Bastille Day 2013 by Expat Edna

Bastille Day itself went something like this: Picnic on the river. Pack up blanket. Head to Champ de Mars. Try to find friends amongst 12940821 thousand other people. Give up. Picnic some more while listening to Lang Lang and a symphonic orchestra perform underneath the Eiffel Tower. Ooh and ahh while 40 minutes of fireworks are set off to a somewhat-odd musical theme of “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité”…

Parisian lamp posts at midnight - Expat Edna

…then meander through the suckers trying to take the metro home and instead have a nice leisurely stroll, following the river past the Pont Alexandre, Rue de Rivoli, with a short break in the Tuileries, past the Louvre and Hotel de Ville until you arrive back home on the island. Vive la France.


I also managed to do some summery things:

Aqua Boulevard, Paris - Expat EdnaAqua Boulevard Paris - Expat Edna

For instance, did you know there’s a water park in Paris??? There is. It’s called Aqua Boulevard, it’s huge, and surprisingly full of enough fun to last a whole day.

Paris Plages 2013 - Expat Edna

I did wander through Paris Plages a bit. Sure, the sand on the banks thing was novel —

Volleyball at Hotel de Ville - Expat Edna

— buuut I was more drawn to the ‘shirtless dudes playing beach volleyball in front of Hotel de Ville’ part.

Recipe Incubator with Mardi at La Cuisine Paris - Expat Edna

A couple times I’d pop across the river to hang out with Mardi and Jane at La Cuisine Paris. From Mardi I learned how to make financiers at her second annual Recipe Incubator.

Spray cheese - Expat Edna

While from Jane I learned the proper way to drink (and pronounce) Taittinger champagne at an indoor picnic with a few other France bloggers — and also that there is spray cheese in Paris. There is SPRAY CHEESE. IN PARIS.


Night cinema, Paris - Expat Edna

I know I keep listing a bunch of superlatives, but this was another one of the BEST things I remember from my last months in town:

Parc Villette, Paris - Expat Edna

The outdoor cinema at Parc de la Villette. 

Nearly every day for over a month there would be a movie screening at dusk, with the selections ranging from French to international, old classics to relatively-newer classics.

Where the Wild Things Are, Paris - Expat Edna

The night I went, I’d been having a particularly down day, and even considered canceling our movie plans (‘but the Parc is so faaar’, I believe was my argument).

But as soon as I stepped foot into the park, saw the sea of people setting out blankets and picnics and preparing to watch Where the Wild Things Are on a calm Thursday evening, something snapped. I was suddenly happy, like someone injected pure bliss into my veins. I’ve never had such a quick turnaround from Debbie Downer to Smiles McGee. It was like crack for my soul.

Billecart Salmon champagne - Expat Edna

Champagne helped too. (PS, if you’re ever looking for a good champagne, GET THIS. It’s my new favorite. Even pairs well with the Laughing Cow cheese you had to get because you forgot to hit up the fromagerie before they closed.)

(Another night I also watched Midnight in Paris in Montmartre, overlooking Paris, and that was unreal. But also a story I’m saving for later.)

First Lady concert, Paris - Expat Edna

And then there was this other BEST weekend, which was (not to be read in the wrong way) also the weekend Mike and I split up.

I’d been so morose all afternoon that by evening, my roommate had enough and was all, Let’s go out! Let’s find you some live music! Let’s get you around other people so if you’re going to be miserable at least I can pawn you off on some strangers! (He didn’t say that, but I wouldn’t have blamed him.)

Meanwhile I’m all, “Sure, but is there even good live music in Paris?”

There is. There SO is.

Roomie took me to L’Alimentation Générale, a bar with a divey renovated-warehouse vibe that reminded me of every live music venue I went to in Shanghai (meaning I loved it immediately), where this awesome two-person French band called First Lady was playing — and by the time they ended with this rock cover of No Diggity (that I have since downloaded and listened a thousand times) I was jumping around, beer in hand, worries out the door. Power of live music, man.

French BBQ - Expat Edna

The next day we trekked out to the ‘burbs and had the Frenchest of barbecues. It was spectacular — but I’ll save those details for another time. It was everything I’d ever wanted from a French barbecue and more.


Edna and Kelly, Red House, Paris - Expat Edna

VISITORS! Another reason I was happy to extend my stay in Paris an extra couple months: it meant I could catch up with my best friend from Asia after not seeing her for two years (I took her to Red House, of course) — and my sister came to visit on her first-ever trip to Europe!

Sister in Paris - Expat Edna

We did the usual tourist loop.

Les Berges - Expat Edna

Relaxed a bit off the tourist loop.

Montmartre musicians - Expat Edna

Whiled away a sunny afternoon listening to this band in Montmartre. (I’m such a sucker for live music.)

Most colorful wedding in Paris - Expat Edna

And caught possibly the best wedding party I have ever seen, anywhere, ever. I mean…just look at how high those hat feathers go.


All good things must come to an end, though. For my last week in Paris I eased up on the picnicking to tick off some Paris Bucket List items:

View from Sacre Coeur - Expat Edna

I climbed the 300 steps of the Sacre-Coeur for this view. Worth it.

Sainte Chappelle - Expat Edna

I finally checked out what all the fuss was about in Sainte-Chappelle.

Cafe St Regis - Expat Edna

I ordered French Onion soup in France (specifically, at Cafe St Regis). Also very much worth it.

Last picnic - Expat Edna

On my last night in Paris I had one more picnic with my best friends, watched the sun get all pink and dusty over Notre Dame, and tried to say my goodbyes while friends from Jersey threatened to throw me into the river (so we don’t have to say goodbye to you! they explained) in a worryingly serious tone.

Paris was wonderful. I left happy.

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  1. This was wonderful Edna! I love your photos and the positive energy of this post! And I cannot wait to drink cider with you again (though I’ll have to practice a less tipsy looking cider commercial smile until then)!

  2. Edna, I LOVE this post! I’m so happy that my little “hands in the air” update on my own blog inspired you to let go and just have fun, too. I feel like we’re probably pretty similar — getting hung up in our own minds on these big posts that we wish we had time to put together… I totally get it.

    And I totally love that you’ve compiled one epic list of moments from life in Paris. You’ll look back on this and relive so many memories, no doubt. Especially as this chapter fades farther into history. Enjoy the new things on the horizon, and just have fun sharing what you have time to share here on the blog. (& I’ll try to do the same!)

    xx Bethany

  3. Really wonderful post made me wish I lived in Paris! Though I’ve been many times, it’s truly surprising all the things I’ve missed, definately starting a Paris bucket list lol.

  4. Ah, I’m so happy you posted this! I have so many thoughts on it as well. First of all, THAT’S Aquaboulevard? I thought it was supposed to be lame lame! Secondly Paris this summer was absolutely amazing, love the pics you took of my birthday by the way. Paris Plage was actually really cool and the fireman’s ball was insanely fun. Also the pics of picnicking on the Seine kind of made me want to cry. (This post reminded me of how much we used to hang out back in Paris by the way- also makes me want to cry. I was also at the SOTM picnic and the 80s party… ugh I miss you.)

    And I really need to check out Saint-Chapelle AND Red House when I get back! And next year I finally have to go to Fete de la Musique and the outdoor theatre at La Vilette, they look amazing!

  5. SO happy for you!!
    From someone else who has had one of those weird heartbreaking but equally awesome years I appreciate how hard it is to put a positive spin on things!
    Oh, and sorry for never replying to your message on facebook…..I will go do it now!
    Laura xx

  6. I’m sure I speak for all your readers when I say that I am just happy to hear what’s going on with you, and any morsels you choose to throw at us I’m grateful for, whatever the form they take! Plus, it’s not like you’re a dud behind the camera, so posts that are more photo-intensive aren’t going to be a hardship or a slog to get through!

    I’m so glad that your remaining months in Paris, despite a few bittersweet moments, were so epic and happy. And I’m so glad that we finally got the photo proof of it all! :D

  7. Such wonderful pictures!

    And after seeing your picture with BJ Novak, all I have to say is…RYAN STARTED THE FI-YAH!

  8. This post made ME so happy! Yay. And I’m so, so, so glad to know you’re still only a stone’s throw away :) see you this weekend!

  9. First of all: that picture you have of the waiter giving a thumbs up may possibly be the best picture I’ve ever seen on the internet ever! Secondly: I’m so glad you managed to fill all your time with these lovely things – despite the troubles you always have a knack for making things special! You certainly did so for me when I was feeling blue :) best of luck for your next adventure! xx

  10. Bah. I need to go back to Paris. And I need you and Ashley to be my tour guides. Preferably during this all night party thing.

    Seriously though, I’m glad you were able to have some awesome times this summer :)

    And I may have to do a huge SE Asia photo dump along these lines to catch up on everything I missed writing about…

  11. Oh I loved this post! SO MANY good memories!

  12. I wish I got to be in Paris for summer but I will have to save that for another time. Love l’Alimentation Generale, I think it’s probably one of the coolest (probably too cool for me) places in Paris – and that’s saying something!

  13. LOVE your photos hon!! Can’t wait to see you back in Paris!! xx

  14. This made me so happy– it was like I was almost there, getting those ewwy gooey feelings about everything that is special about Paris! I´m going back….no matter how broke it´ll make me. You guys are like the queens of Paris, it´s amazing.

    And also- just because it´s more photos and less writing, it is no less significant! More of these amazing times are to come for you soon, I´m sure of it!

  15. Haha, we’ve just been rewatching the Office (well, rewatching for me, first time for Ewan) and I literally went “RYAN!” when BJ’s picture came up. Amazing!

    This post gave me a little hit of the happiness you talk about – I’m so glad you were able to leave Paris feeling good. The way you leave a place is so important to the way you remember and think about it and the Paris in this post is absolutely wonderful!

  16. FIIIIINALLY! I love this pictures, and now I can visualise everything you were telling me about in Milan! The fireworks show at the Eiffel Tower looks amazing, and your sister is so cute! Also, now I have an urge to go to a water park. But it’s November. In England. THANKS, EDNA. *runs off to sob in room*

  17. Lovely.

    Now a Dubai post please. I am uber curious what you thought, haha.

  18. Edna, this post made me so happy! It brought back such wonderful memories of summer in Paris! I love your pictures, especially of the Orsay and the Fête de la Musique. You’ve inspired me to add some things to my bucket list like going to Le Quarante Trois and also that onion soup – it is so cold here now! I know you miss Paris, but as your post shows, you take advantages to explore and discover new things wherever you go and your adventures are just going to keep continuing!

  19. Wow, what an amazing summer! I’m now looking back on my last months in Shanghai and wishing I’d gotten more done! And I agree with Stephanie, I’m thrilled to get your updates stress about making each post perfect. Your readers love all the tasty tidbits you share :-)

  20. Beautiful photos! One lengthy post. Must have taken a while. You feeling better? You got a post out…
    ALl about expectations. I know only a sliver of what you’ve gone through but BIG life changes, changes our lives including how and how often we blog.

    Like the Happy Days idea.

  21. Love this way of catching up-I can relate to wanting to say things in a specific way, and getting bogged down in trying to make that vision come to fruition. This is the perfect way to do it!

    Oh, and on a different note, the musee d’orsay is my absolute favorite! So glad you like it-I feel like it’s almost a hidden gem, just because it doesn’t get as much attention as the louvre and some of the other really popular museums.

  22. Love this!

    Just wanted to thank you for your Paris recommendations. I love that you did the touristy things we did on our trip, including climbing all those steeps (oof!) and visiting Saint-Chappelle. (By the way, when we first went in we were confused—this is it? Then we realized, duh, there are stairs!)

  23. You’re making me want to move to Paris! Lovely photos! BTW I can definitely relate to this: “but I’d rather have posts out there, however imperfect, than keep my memories waiting on a hard drive for a perfect post that will never come.”

  24. Oh, your life. <3 These photos, these adventures, I just love them.

  25. Christiaan says:

    I love the opening paragraphs of this essay. I completely feel your sentiment that after correcting English for extended period of time, one has no juice left to blog as well. Alas, a more photoheavy blog seems like an appropriate solution!

    Also, congrats on meeting BJ Novak!!!

  26. This post brought a smile to my face. Reminds me of the seemingly endless summers growing up, when every day was an adventure. Looks like you made the most of your summer in Paris!


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