Interview: Mary Kay Bosshart
Mary Kay Bosshart is an American by birth, Swiss by marriage, and a newbie to Paris. She has started a great blog, Out and About in Paris, on which she shares her discoveries in the City of Lights.
She visits (and takes great photos of) exhibitions, restaurants, even quaint side streets, and encourages people to suggest other places to visit.
How would you describe yourself in three adjectives?
Curious, adaptable and happy
What is your connection to France?
After falling in love with Paris when I was 18, I started plotting and planning ways to return, including majoring in international business and studying French. Over the years, however, my dream of living in Paris had receded so far into the background that I wasn’t at all pleased when my husband told me that we were being transferred here last March. By that point, I just wanted to stay in one place for more than a couple of years and to start putting down roots. It just goes to show that you never know what surprises life has in store for you and that forgotten dreams may still come true.
You were born in America, your husband is Swiss and you have lived in Switzerland, Germany, The Philippines, Indonesia, and Trinidad and Tobago. What keeps you in Paris?
My husband’s job.
What has been your experience of living as an expat in Paris? (including friendships, living costs and work)
Friendships – Before moving here, I had heard from other expatriates that it’s hard to make friends. Meeting people, both French people and foreigners, has turned out to be surprisingly easy. What’s proving to be more difficult is finding the time to get together with the people I’ve met because we’re all so busy.
I’m also fortunate to live so close to my friends in Switzerland because they’re usually happy to spend a couple of days with me in Paris. One of them plans to come for a visit next week.
Living costs – When we used to live in Montreux, Switzerland and were paid in Swiss francs, I would occasionally cross the border to go shopping in France and always thought that everything was much less expensive here. That has changed now that we’re paid in Euros!
Compared with the United States, however, I’ve found that personal services, like haircuts, massages and facials are cheaper because the tip is already included in the price.
Work – As a Swiss citizen, I’m able to work in Paris without getting a special work permit and there’s a very large demand for teachers of business English and English (both of which I’m qualified to teach), but at the moment I’m having way too much fun blogging about Paris to commit to a real job.
Your blog ‘Out and About in Paris’ features interesting and sometimes obscure things that residents or visitors could do. It’s a lot of fun.
Thanks, I’m having a lot of fun writing it!
Why did you start a blog?
Shortly before moving to Paris, I started reading blogs written by other expats and found that they provided wonderful insights into daily life in the city. After showing a couple of the blogs to my children, they encouraged me to start writing one so that they could follow what I’m doing. The biggest benefit of writing a blog with ‘Out and About‘ in the title is that it really pushes me to get out and explore Paris.
How would you describe your blog?
It’s about whatever is happening in Paris or whatever I’m doing on any given day. One post may be about sampling hot chocolate at Jean-Paul Hevin and another may be about Pere Lachaise cemetery. I guess that it’s just a potpourri of topics that I find interesting.
– How do you keep finding original things to share with readers?
I really like it when readers comment or send emails asking, “Have you seen or done X, Y, or Z?” because then the blog is more of a collaborative effort. Just recently, Christine sent me some fascinating information about a clandestine group whose mission it is to help restore the cultural heritage of Paris. That’s probably not something that I would have come across on my own and it gave me something completely new to research.
But otherwise, I also spend a lot of time scouring websites, travel forums and Twitter for leads.
Now, let’s play a quick game of favorites.
What is your favorite Parisian arrondissement?
Do you know the song, ‘Love the One You’re With’? I guess that I’m fickle because my favorite Parisian arrondissement is wherever I am at the moment – be it in the touristy 1st or the lesser known but equally fascinating 18th arrondissement.
Where is your favorite place to eat in Paris?
I’m still looking, but there are lots of contenders, including le Timbre, Kunitoraya, A Priori The, and the Marches des Enfants Rouges.
Where is your favorite place to drink in Paris?
Any place with a view, although that’s going to change now that the weather is getting cooler. Last week, we had a great evening sipping kirs on the terrace of the Pomipou Center. With a beautiful view over the city, it’s the perfect spot to watch the sunset.
Which is your favorite Parisian monument?
The Eiffel Tower. Whenever I’m having a bad day (yes, it happens – even in Paris!), I step out on my balcony to get a glimpse of it and to remind myself how lucky I am to be here. Things always seem better after that.
Where is your favorite place in Paris to relax?
My apartment. I don’t really relax when I’m in the city because I always have my camera slung around my neck (it’s fashionably black!) and am constantly on the lookout for photo opportunities.
Where is your favorite place in Paris to celebrate a big event?
We haven’t celebrated any big events yet, but we’ve made reservations at Chez l’Ami Jean for Thanksgiving Dinner. It’s one of the restaurants where Grant Achatz, the chef of a 3 Star Michelin restaurant in Chicago, likes to eat when he’s in Paris.
What is your favorite recent discovery in Paris?
The rue Moufftard and the Place Contrescarpe in the 5th arrondissement, although it wasn’t really a personal discovery because a Parisian told me about it when I asked him to describe his perfect day in Paris.All images © Out and About in Paris