A Rainy Parisian in Sunny Valencia

¡Hola Paris! Valencia Speaking! Sorry I didn’t write to you earlier, but life is so intense around here! I have so many things to tell you: Paris and Valencia really are so different! I left a romantic but stressful city for a place that is much more relaxed, yet filled with action – being the third largest city in Spain. Everything is easier here.

For example, searching for a room in a shared flat. We all know how in Paris finding accommodation is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Over here, you just have to look for ads on the phone boxes, make a few phone calls and you’ve got your place to stay.

‘‘Mediterranean Spanish Style’’

Walking through the streets truly opens your eyes as to how incredibly different it is here. The colours, Bye-bye to lots of grey, hello yellow, orange and green! The Mediterranean Spanish style of architecture reflects the Valencian way of life: joyous and warm.

People’s driving styles are as fast as the weather is hot. Am I in Paris or Valencia? Same cars, same crazy drivers… You know, the Latin blood…

The city is divided by the Rio, a dried-out river, which is now a wonderful garden (the Turia gardens), stretching from the east to the west. The funny thing is that, if you look at a map of Valencia, the Rio crosses the city in the exact the same way that the Seine divides Paris. Everybody knows how romantic and beautiful the banks of the Seine are, just around ‘‘Saint Michel’’ and ‘‘Le Louvre’’, even more so in the evening. Now take a walk through the Turia gardens, also extremely lovely in the early evening close to the ‘‘Palau de la Musica’’, and enjoy the coloured lights, the fountains, the thousands of trees, the monuments…

Absolutely splendid. Maybe not as breathtaking as the Parisian banks, but still definitely worth the trip.

In recent years, every summer, Paris has been providing for its people the ‘‘Paris-Plage’’ operation. Hundred of trucks unload tons of sand on the riverside, so that Parisians feel a bit better if they can’t afford to go on holidays. It is a nightmare! Crowded tiny pieces of beach, without any possibility to swim, because the Seine is so dirty.

People here laugh about it. Lucia, a truly outgoing Valencian girl told me: ‘‘The dream is to live in a city like Valencia. Big, cosmopolitan, with great beaches.” She said:”I was in Paris and I loved it, but this ‘Beach in Paris’ was so ridiculous!’’ I told you: everything is easier here. If you want the beach, you have it. It’s the same with everything and for a much cheaper price.

The difficult area is working. If you look for a job as a waiter or a barman, it is quite easy. However, as soon as you start to look for a position more like a career job, you soon realise that the job market here is not so open. Paris, on this level offers a lot more possibilities.

‘‘Outdoor Party’’

But hey! We are in Spain, right? People just forget about their problems by partying even more. Contrary to Paris, the best discos are outside of the city. You have to go by cab or by car, which makes no sense because everybody enjoys a few drinks in a disco. But beware! Music is not, in my opinion, Valencia’s speciality. In many places, you’ll hear the Spanish summer hits, which are, for some foreigners, not that appealing. And don’t forget that, like Paris, Valencia is quite a rich city (compared to the rest of Spain): You’ll have to pay an entry fee for many clubs, which is around ten or fifteen euros. Paris is by far definitely the better choice for avid night-clubbers, in my biased view! Still, something is intriguing here in the clubs. Maybe it’s the smile that everybody keeps on their faces while dancing, definitely less ‘‘status-oriented’’ as compared to our French capital.

The ‘‘Oberkampf’’ strip in Paris has its twin here: the ‘‘Barrio Del Carmen’’, the liveliest streets to visit at night. Numerous bars, fairly priced, a few places to dance… ‘‘Botellons’’ is the Spanish name for people who can’t or don’t want to spend so much money in bars. Alternatively, they just fill empty plastic bottles with beer, vodka & lemon or whiskey & coke and hang-out together for the night: outdoor party! Actually, this phenomenon is huge here compared to Paris, especially in this ‘‘Barrio Del Carmen’’. If you feel more like having a drink in a quiet place in the early evening, opt for the ‘‘Barrio Juan Llorens’’. It’s the tiny ‘‘Saint-Germain’’ of Valencia. Pretty and peaceful until the clubbers descend. Compared to Paris, where people start going out around 9 or 10pm, the nightlife here starts a lot later: 11-12pm for bars, 2-3 am for discos. The biggest difference between these two cities, in the end, is the weather. Sunny Valencia and Rainy Paris… But hey! Don’t worry my friends; I’ll be back in Paris one day. It is still one of the most elegant cities in the world and I will be forever in love with it. On the other hand, everybody needs a break, be it for a few months or a few years. But I tell you honestly, here in Valencia, I found my break to be just like paradise…

Julien Ferrat

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1 Comment

  1. Lesley

    Just spent 2 months in Valencia again but back in London and missing it already?

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