Why Daisy came to France


Although all Daisy’s early connections were with Italy, her admiration of novelist Honoré de Balzac, film producer François Truffaut and photographer Henri Cartier-Besson took her to France, where she fell instantaneously head-over-heels with the City of Light.       

Daisy and I had several exchanges via Twitter before we finally met at a pretend picnic on the grass near the Tuileries Gardens. We were participating in a film shoot at the request of our friend and fellow blogger, Abby Gordon, for House Hunters International.

The intrigue of the French City of Light

The Louvre is Daisy’s stomping ground, as she runs a Treasure Hunt at the museum called THatLou which is becoming increasingly popular and seems like wonderful fun. I just have to find the time!

At lunch one day, Daisy, who was brought up in New York, was talking about many summer holidays spent with her art historian mother in Rome. All her connections seemed to be with Italy, so I asked her how she came to be living in France.

She explained that at the age of 30, after the death of her Shanghainese grandmother, “I wanted to go somewhere I didn’t know well and where I didn’t know the language for a few months”. It was a toss-up between Shanghai and Paris. She flipped a coin…and Paris won.

Daisy moves to the French capital

Daisy initially rented an apartment for three and a half months in the Marais. With no French and no Visa, it was more a holiday than anything else. She eventually found a part-time job through Fusac helping an Englishman launch a classical music website. Four or five people were crammed into a small room in a huge apartment, building a database of concerts across Europe.

From June to October 2004, Daisy soaked up Paris, walking from the Marais to her job in the 6th, learning about classical music and letting Paris get under her skin.

She returned to New York and volunteered for the John Kerry campaign. After he lost the elections, she returned to Paris, this time to a tiny flat in the Sentier, and taught English for a year for a company that kept promising a Visa, but never delivered. She wasn’t the only one to be duped!

She was totally underpaid and ate out of tuna cans. “It was glum”, she says. But then an aunt died, leaving her a little money. She met her Argentinian husband in May 2006, prompting her to look for a “better job and learn the language – get in the system”.

Daisy wins the battle with Paris

After writing 250 letters trying to convince potential employers to hire her as an editor, she was becoming desperate. Understandably, no one wanted to go through the hassle and expense of getting her a French working visa when they could employ a UK citizen instead.

But in March 2007, she was offered her current job as Communications Manager with a corporate real estate consultancy that was willing to get her a Visa so she could start working in October.

That period “was the happiest time of my life. I was floating on air – I had won the battle”. She married in May 2009 and, as her husband has a Spanish passport, papers were no longer an issue. Daisy now has a two and a half year old boy named Storsh.

THATLou was set up in March 2012, after germinating for six months and Daisy hopes it will eventually enable her to devote herself to the enterprise full time. I certainly hope it will!

Have you struggled with immigration in France? Share your experience in the comments below!

Image credits:
All images © Rosemary Kneipp, except 3 by Mary Kay from Out and About in Paris.

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Rosemary Kneipp

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