Special Hen Party in Paris
“America is my country and Paris is my hometown.” These words by American writer Gertrude Stein, will be meaningful for the lovely group of ladies I met yesterday.
Months ago, I was booked to run my life drawing class for a group of Hens in Paris. The group were not French, but Americans. The Hen had wanted to go to Paris for most of her life. The lovely Maid of Honour Tiffany, had arranged for her to fulfill her dream.
I’ve been to Paris a number of times, but never for work and certainly never for less than a day. We came to the conclusion that the Eurostar was the best and most cost effective way for them to get me there.
Bookings had been made and arrangements seemingly going well until a week or so before the big weekend. AirBnB issues, air and rail strikes as well as an accident on the motorway were all about to throw a big box of spanners in the works.
A week or so earlier, some members of the group were informed that their flights from New York had been cancelled. They had to work hard to rearrange.
Alternative Hen Party Venue
They had to find alternative property which was further away from the original location. This was going to pose problems for me because I had to travel into Paris and back home on the same day. It would have been an 8 minute walk but the new venue was half an hour away. It was a tight schedule.
I was them told that my return train journey had been cancelled. There would be no other train on the Friday evening – or in fact any other trains on Saturday or Sunday! Their life drawing experience and my chance to model and tutor for a hen party in Paris were fading away. The group were luckily staying until Tuesday and so the only remaining option was to have it on Monday. Tiffany managed to re-schedule my tickets which meant that I was still going to Paris, albeit three days later than planned.
The day of my travel was going to be long, but at least everything was on. Getting to King’s Cross and clearing Customs to catch the 11.30am train after after a four and a half journey by car and rail was always a little optimistic at the best of times.
What I didn’t account for or expect, was a massive car crash on the M4. The StatNav was telling me there would be a 40 minute delay to my planned arrival and so I decided to get off piste and off the motorway. I should have bit the bullet and stayed on the motorway. It was a nightmare, but on the positive side I did get to experience some pretty and winding countryside roads.
I was an hour later than I had planned arriving in west London, then getting to the Underground and to the Eurostar station in the other end took longer than I had expected as well. Stressed is not an apt name for how I was feeling.
I arrived ten minutes before the Eurostar departed. Anyone who’s travelled with them will know that they’re not in the habit of letting anyone close to a train if they arrive less than 30 minutes before the train leaves, so I had missed it.
I then had to pay to change both the outward and return journeys, but I was on a train an hour later than planned.
Arriving in Paris was fantastic and hugely exciting. Getting the train to the new venue location was easy, and a gorgeous duo came to meet me to guide me to the rest of the group as planned.
Arriving at the Latin Quarter
They were staying in the Latin quarter, the south of the River Seine. The apartment was in a building that was an old chocolate factory and was dripping with charm, character and elegance.
Finally things had turned a corner and everything fell into place. The Bride to Be, Hannah and the rest of the group made me feel incredibly welcome into their company. I felt very relaxed and as a result, I probably talked a little too much about myself.. but I still managed to get them to accomplish some very nice drawings. The session went wonderfully and they all loved it and said that the life drawing was the highlight of their weekend.
Tiffany kindly booked and paid for a taxi for me to return to Gare Du Nord train station at the end. There was so much traffic on the Paris roads on a Monday evening that I was now late for the return leg, and that was the last of the evening..so I had to catch it! I eventually I had to jump out of the cab in order to run the final few hundred yards with all my materials on my back. To say I was sweating and panting is a grave understatement.
I did get to the departure lounge in time, but only because of the fact that I been transformed into a ruthless abuser of common societal rules of standing in line or queuing! I’m not proud of walking ahead of a number of people who’d been waiting, but my severe ‘fight or flight’ state had got the best of me.. To those patient passengers, I apologise for overtaking you.
Eventually I arrived home in bed at one in the morning. All I could think about was how amazing a day I’d had. Despite the obstacles, Paris turned out to be as much of unforgettable experience for me as I hope it was for Hannah and co.
Teaching beautiful New Yorkers how to draw for a hen party in Paris – does life get any cooler than that? “Jack, I want you to draw me like one of your French Girls”
If this article has inspired you to indulge yourself in some artistic life drawing (hopefully not in Paris for a while!), please get in touch.
Since writing this blog, the organiser Tiffany has kindly written a review on the independent review site.