There it was in the window, a miniature grand piano made entirely of chocolate, filled with delicate, pastel coloured macaroons. Next to it were chocolate cars, chocolate boats, chocolate champagne bottles, and chocolate hearts. With my nose pressed against the glass, a notice caught my eye ‘’staff wanted,’’ and so begun my three days a week in chocolate heaven. .
I was on an Erasmus exchange from the Winchester School of Art to the Ecole Maryse Eloy in Paris for five months, sharing a shoe-boxed sized studio with a fellow exchange student, whilst learning to cope with the arduous teaching methods the French are so keen on.
I divided my time between attending classes four days a week and working behind the macaroon bar in the chocolate shop, as well as trying to see as much of Paris as I could! Fortunately for me the language wasn’t a problem, I grew up in France and I was comfortable enough chatting away to the other students, defending my work from the tutors and selling macaroons.
There were three of us from Winchester, and we were dubbed “nos amis Britanniques’’ by the tutors, a collective term (of endearment I hope!) .We were somewhat a novelty being the first English exchange students to study there. The other students were curious, and very friendly, although incapable accepting that Winchester was not in fact Manchester, a point I don’t feel I ever successfully put across.
Parisians are the original hipsters when it comes to nightlife. If somewhere becomes too well known, then it is instantly deemed ‘pas cool.’ Nonetheless, there was an abundance of great clubs and bars open till all hours and our fellow students were keen on throwing very loud flat parties. The university was in the 11th arrondissement, fairly central, and the building was divided between a fashion school and the graphics department. Working so closely with fashion students was not only entertaining, (oh the outfits) but it was also exciting – with regular castings and shows, and the occasional hissy fit.
The apartment I shared, was just off the Place de la République a great location near the Canal St Martin, which is always buzzing with the impeccably dressed, effortlessly cool, skinny, smoking Parisian elite, and you can barely walk two steps without tripping over a pug or a bull dog – or as the French would say – a ‘Boule-dogue…’
Written by Anna White