Strolling in Storyland

Welcome to a world where imagination runs free

God save the Frenchie: A Parisian in London

on October 13, 2013

Red phone booth UK

London is just a few hours away from Paris by train, but it’s enough to make a Frenchie feel like an alien for just a couple of days. And it’s a wonderful feeling. It’s not just that you feel small in a wide new world, it’s that you feel renewed, amused by every funny little detail, amazed by all the differences you notice that make a city unique.

Of course Londoners drive on the left side of the road and I almost got killed quite a few times. They really are crazy drivers, crazier even than Parisian drivers, but maybe it’s a big city thing.

I took zero pictures during my entire stay because I wanted to feel the city, lock each important instant in a safe of hidden memories and those strong imprints will remain with me forever. Feeding ducks while strolling through  St. James’ Park, being mocked by drivers amused by the baffled Frenchie learning to cross the street, enthralled while Elektra plotted her revenge against  her mother Klytämnestra at the Royal Opera House, reading a novel in Hyde Park, munching on free                               pizza in Chinatown.

Speaking of Chinatown, London has an official Chinatown like New York and other American cities. Paris doesn’t. There’s Belleville in Paris where there is an important Asian community (where I buy my aloe vera juice. Delicious), but no official Chinatown. So while in London, on my way to Piccadilly Circus, I stumbled across Chinatown and boy was I happy I did. Restaurants, colorful decorations, acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Chinese food is a lot less expensive in London than in Paris.chinatown1
So I continued to Piccadilly Circus where I was met with “lions and tigers and bears, oh my”! No, there were no such things but in my imagination there were. I just cannot reconcile myself to the fact that the name of a place can have no relation with what you’ll find there. The French are very prosaic when naming their streets. There are a couple of street names that you are sure to find in every French city: heroes of the French resistance ” Général de Gaulle”, “Jean Moulin”, other historical figures like “Jean Jaurès”, “Gambetta” and then of course there is the one thing the French are very proud of and you will find this name in every French town as a street name, or subway station, or a square or all three it is… “République“.
Yes, we are proud of our Republic, of the fact we are no longer a monarchy and that we got rid of our king ages ago. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t care less about Buckingham Palace. It is probably something engrained in every French soul from the moment we go to school and learn about the French revolution.But there it is.
Also, when you’re a Frenchie in London, you have to let go of some of your pride. Yes you will encounter constant reminders of French military failures and British victories. You’ll probably quicken your step on Waterloo Road and won’t linger at Trafalgar Square, and Churchill’s statue will remind you that, yes the British won WW2 and yes, the French lost and cooperated with the nazis. So, let go of your patriotism for a couple of days and all will be well.

Look away from these metaphorical Halls of Shame and head straight for the British Museum which is absolutely free (except for a couple of temporary exhibitions). Londoners are awesome. If you’re a British tourist in Paris and expect to get the same treatment at the Louvre, don’t kid yourself. The Louvre isn’t free, the British Museum is. God bless the UK. I saw mummies, tons of them. I’d seen one mummy in Istanbul, but only one. In the British Museum there was a whole graveyard of Egyptian mummies. It was a little creepy, I have to admit. However, in Paris there are more museums dedicated to a specific types of art: if you want Asian art you go to the Guimet museum (one of my favorites), for African arts you’d go to the Quai Branly and so on, while everything was kind of thrown together in the British Museum. I still enjoyed the museum especially its Greek antiquities.

I also visited the Victoria and Albert museum and learnt a lot about Asian art notably Korea, Japan and buddhist art. Now I can tell you all about Buddha’s positions and gestures in Buddhist art. Everything was very well explained which is yet another difference with Paris. In Paris, there are many, many museums which is great. But there aren’t many explanatory notes so you have to research everything on your own or have a guided tour which I absolutely despise and avoid whenever I can.

I didn’t see a lot of graffiti in London, even when I left the center, but maybe I should’ve looked in specific places, like I did in Berlin. You won’t find graffiti in the subway like in Paris, which is too bad and made trips in the subway kind of bus
I took the bus whenever I could, sometimes even missing my stop on purpose just to stay comfortably seated in the upper level of the flashy red bus and watch the city pass by.

Finally, the opera house in Covent Garden.Royal Opera House
Those of you who have read my novel “A French Girl in New York” know how much I love classical music. I’ve seen performances in the Opéra Garnier in Paris, the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Hungarian State Opera.

I’ve seen the Scala in Milan from the outside, but it’s one of my dearest wishes to see a performance at the Scala.

For now (without having entered the Scala) I can sincerely say that no opera house is more beautiful than the Opéra Garnier. That being said, the Royal Opera House is magnificent and is a very close second. I’ll go back as soon as I can. Listening to Christine Goerke as Strauss’ Elektra was breathtaking and one of the most enchanted moments of my existence.

I’m eager to be a Frenchie lost in the elegantly-named  streets of London again.

3 responses to “God save the Frenchie: A Parisian in London

  1. Vera says:

    Greetings from Australia!
    I have enjoyed reading books 1 and 2 of the French Girl series. I was just wondering when the third book will be released? I’m beyond excited to find out what happens to Maude & Matt.
    Thank you. 🙂

  2. annaadams333 says:

    Hi Vera! I’m thrilled to be receiving a message from Australia. Thanks for reading my series!
    Book three is in the works and will be out early 2014. I’ll be posting news about book 3 on my blog so you’ll stay in the loop 🙂

  3. 14catgirl says:

    Hi my name is Abby and your book series a french girl wiped harry potter off the shelf I love the stugel the romance the fact that she realizes that she has to tell the trying tr
    uth no matter how hard it is, ect the only thing I did not like was that her and matt( matt is so awesome )!!!! Did not get back togeather ); when will the third one be released? And please make matt and Maude a item in the next one , other then that this is a series you need to make 1001 of
    P.s I need to read the french girl sereis agen SOON

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