In every country, in every city, life is a little bit different. That’s why I’m going to share this post about a typical day in my life living in Paris. Of course, not every day is as charmed, but for the most part, I do love living in the City of Lights.
7:00 am: Wake Up
Okay, so maybe this is closer to 7:30 am some mornings. It really depends on when I actually went to sleep the night before. Either way, I wake up, get dressed, and head to the kitchen to make some breakfast. Parisian breakfasts are pretty much non-existent (maybe a baguette, some coffee; cereal if you are lucky) but I can’t survive my morning classes on that alone. So for me, a typical breakfast could include toast, baguette, eggs, chocolate au pain or oat cluster cereal with nuts. Weather permitting, I then take my breakfast out on my rooftop terrace to enjoy the view of the Eiffel Tower in the morning sunshine.
Breakfast on my rooftop terrace, looking across to the Eiffel Tower and Les Invalides.
8:30 am: Walk to Class
Most of my classes are at La Sorbonne Université which is just down the street from where I live. I also take a class with the Panthéon, which is also only a 15 minute walk from my place. Along the way, I can smell the bakeries making up the day’s fresh-baked goodies, and the markets are usually just setting up for the day. I haven’t given up my Canadian habit of bringing tea with me to class, but seeing Parisians with drinks in their hand is very, very unusual. I live in the Latin Quarter, which means that there are many random Roman ruins tucked in among the Haussmann style buildings. The sidewalks are wide and always busy with people on their way to work, to school, or doing their errands. Yet somehow, they all look so chic!
Typical French style: a trench coat with dark pants cuffed to show your ankles in white
tennis shoes (Adidas are wildly popular) and a simple, neutral leather handbag.
9:00 am – 12:00 pm: Class
I study history, but I also have some other courses as well. At the Université Panthéon-Sorbonne, my professor for my class on modern art history in France teaches at the university and is also an artist himself. He likes to take us out to art galleries and museums for our lectures. Maybe we’ll have a lesson on the differences of Impressionism between Georges Seurat and Éduard Manet in the Musée d’Orsay. Or perhaps we’ll study Monet’s Water Lilies up close in the Musée de l’Orangerie. If we aren’t in a gallery, we have our classes in a beautiful art nouveau building with flowers and fruit carved into the archways and grand stained glass windows depicting arching lemon trees. If I am at my home university, the famous Université La Sorbonne, I take my classes at their most well known campus on Boulevard Saint-Michel. The prestigious location, as far as I’m aware, only hosts classes for their senior students and graduate courses. The other classes are hosted in various locations around the city. This location has grand amphitheatres with frescoes and paintings decorating its wood paneled walls.
One of the old hallways of La Sorbonne University.
12:00 pm – 3:00 pm: Lunch & Errands
Lunch is usually a pretty simple affair – baguette, cheese and fresh fruit usually do the trick. If I don’t have another class in the afternoon, this is the time I usually get my errands done. I’ll head to the markets and little shops to fill my panier with fresh produce from all over France. Some favourite foods here are not as popular in other countries. The French love mirabelles, which are little yellow plums. They are the size of large grapes and are juicy and sweet. Apricots are also popular, especially for jams and fillings inside pastries. Another popular pastry filling is pistachio, and of course, chocolate. Bread is abundant and comes in many different styles. I prefer the demi baguettes because they are only half the size of a regular baguette, which is more than enough for me. At the poissonerie, smoked Norwegian salmon and Atlantic cod are the most common choices. The boucherie is always well stocked with pork chops and mini chickens. Steak (and red meat in general) is not nearly as popular here as it is elsewhere. The fromagerie always has a huge selection of hundreds of cheeses from all over France, each one a small wheel varying in colour from pure white to bright orange. Some are covered in wax, while others are wrapped in cheesecloth or paper. Camembert is the favourite cheese of Paris, although I don’t care much for it. It’s sort of like a runny, stinky, stronger-tasting Brie cheese. It’s the smell that puts me right off. Wine from one of the many caves is the cheapest drink on offer, with prices as low as 1.32€ a litre. It comes in very high qualities at very reasonable prices due to Paris’ proximity to Champagne and Bordeaux. Shallots are the onion of choice, although you can find others if you look for them. The eggs are brown and sometimes speckled. I can buy them for 1€ a dozen, which is a very good price. Most other veggies are present, except that corn, peas, most berries, and a few others foods can be quite difficult to find. Orange juice is offered freshly squeezed all over the city. I’m also sure to grab a fresh bouquet of herbs to cook with. Their flavour is so much better when they are fresh.
Fresh local produce from the market: tomatoes, peppers, apples, shallots, broccoli, cucumber,
lettuce, lemon, celery, carrots, fresh herbs, eggs and cheese.
3:00 pm – 7:00 pm: Free Time
This is the time I have to do whatever I wish with. I might meet up with some friends to have a dinner party at someone’s apartment. Or we might explore some of Paris’ landmarks. Monday nights I take a tango class at a dance studio in the trendy neighbourhood of Le Marais. This is a great way for me to practice my French using new vocabulary in a practical way, plus, I love to do something that keeps me active aside from biking everywhere. If it is a rainy afternoon (and this does happen fairly often) then I might get a head start on some of my readings and homework. On those days, I like to curl up in the library in my building, which is in the art nouveau style with beautiful wood finishes and chandeliers hanging from the coffered ceilings. I can choose to sit in one of the big wingback armchairs by the cozy fireplace, or sit at a desk close to the windows and balconies that view the Eiffel Tower and Les Invalides.
The library with its beautiful decorations and big focal fireplace.
7:00 pm – 11:00 pm: Dinner Before Bed
I like to always keep a couple of already cooked dinners ready to go in the freezer in case I have too much studying or something else to do. Otherwise, I like to try new recipes that I’ve learned during my travels. I’ve recently mastered how to make my own Tagliatelle and homemade Ragù sauce from scratch, so those have been a popular choice lately. Otherwise, I might make some Ratatouille, stew, chicken or fish with potatoes or rice and veggies, or a mix of whatever produce I picked up that week. I like to read a good book before bed, or watch an episode of my favourite show on Netflix. Then I try to call it lights out before 11:00 pm or midnight so I can be ready to go bright and early in the morning!
Enjoying our homemade pizzas in Florence, Italy.
Pretty much every other weekend, or whenever I have a holiday (and France is quite fond of their holidays!), I like to take a little daytrip or weekend out to explore France and surrounding Europe. It might be a day trip to Rouen, or maybe a week exploring Italy. With transportation usually being quite cheap, there’s no reason not to!
With Morgan and André on a weekend trip to Strasbourg.
That’s About It!
That’s pretty much my typical day as a Parisian. It took some getting used to, as the pace is quick in a busy city like Paris. But the adjustment was expected, and now I love my little routine. I am uncertain how I will be able to change again when I move next!