Learning to Love Paris
France was the first country I ever visited outside of England. I was eleven years old, and on the year seven exchange to France. I have vague memories of this trip.
I remember being so homesick I called my Dad and begged him to come to France and take me home. I remember loving drinking hot chocolate out of bowls. I remember my French exchange host cutting herself and saying “aie” and I thought it was so strange that there was a different word for “ow”. I remember friendship bracelets and fluorescent juice and weird looking cars and pistachio ice cream and not being understood when asking a stranger “pour aller le gare?”
Twenty years later and not much has changed really. Except now it’s red wine I’m drinking out of bowls instead of hot chocolate…
Twenty years later and I’m working for an international organisation in a job I enjoy and spending my weekends with friends I’ve grown to love.
I don’t know how it has happened, but twenty years later I am realising a dream of living in this infuriating and beautiful city of Paris.
I’m not going to lie to you, we’ve had some pretty tough times over the past year and a half, Paris and I. There have been moments when I’ve hated living here, but have felt compelled to stay because of my job. I have been so homesick for England I have spent hours watching old comedy shows on YouTube and have gone to Marks & Spencers on the Champs Elysées just to be around English things.
But now, Paris and I are on good terms again. Since starting my blog in January 2012, my eyes have been re-opened to all the exciting aspects of living here.
My heart lifts again when I see the Eiffel Tower suddenly appear out of nowhere or when I take a walk along the river near the Ile St Louis. I get a little thrill when I’m rattling back home on the metro in the early hours of a Sunday morning after a night out drinking wine and eating cheese with new friends.
My self-esteem takes a boost when I manage a conversation in French by myself, or re-use a phrase or word that I’ve heard other people use. And my taste buds go wild when I devour croissants, tartes, brioche, crêpes and all the other foodie delights that Paris has to offer, even for a vegetarian like me.
Despite all its downsides, the likes of which I am never shy to point out, Paris is a really incredible place to live. The cafés, the arts, the beauty, the people (ok maybe not so much the people) all combine to make a great quality of life and certainly give a lot of inspiration for writing.
In my blog I try to share my experiences, the good and the bad. I only write from my own experience, and sometimes that may equal me having a bit of a rant. But hey, if there’s one thing Parisians love more than anything it’s having a good old moan.
So really, with me you’re getting an authentic (pretend) Parisian experience.
Do come and visit and say hello, it’s always nice to hear other people’s views and experiences.
A bientôt, j’espère…
1. Marks & Spencer via independent.co.uk
2. Anne Mellino, maviefrancaise via Flickr