An Australian in Paris: Susan’s saga in 1975 – Part 2

Cécile Mazurier - An Australian in Paris croppedThe remains of my teenage cynicism got the better of France’s charms  and its romantic atmosphere abroad. 

However, after discussing with Susan Bromley what it’s like to be an Australian in Paris and mourning the closing of Caketown (a bakery in Newtown boasting the best croissants in Sydney’s Inner West), I’m starting to get the picture.

Once departed, France leaves you, at best, relieved or satisfied; at worst, like a jilted lover forced to establish a frustrating long-distance relationship.

Cliquez ici pour lire cet article en français.

The 70’s, from France to Australia

Cécile Mazurier - An Australian in Paris

After May 68, France was facing considerable sociopolitical changes and saw flourish new anti-establishment social movements. The MLF, the most radical feminist movement, entered the fight for the right to free contraception and abortion.

Meanwhile, in the Pacific, “the sexual revolution kind of, sort hit Australia but only kind of sort of. You know, men were men, and women knew their place.”

Susan Bromley is from Tamworth,  an outback town in New-South Wales, that was at the time “so WASP and whitebread” according to her.

That is what attracted her to France: “I just wanted to embrace everything that wasn’t that.”

The Far West in Paris, or how to really play cow-boys and Indians in France

Cécile Mazurier An Australian in Paris

In France, Susan worked as a nanny. First in Rueil-Malmaison, then, after some time in the Abbesses studio, she lived with a family in the 7th, not far from the musée Rodin.

Susan has always thought it is good for kids to be able to gambol in a garden. However, Paris, unlike Australia, faces a population density a wee bit higher, and a lot of kids (including those she was looking after in the 7th) are raised between four walls.

Susan then got a great idea: “I found out that the managers of the musée Rodin had an agreement where they would allow the children who lived  in the block of the musée into the garden for free. The little boy loved Lucky Luke, so we used to get dressed up as cow boys. The people at the gate knew us and so we would just go running straight through and into the garden We  had so much fun there. It was really good.”

The French melody of the Parisian subway

Cécile Mazurier - An Australian in Paris

I have never considered going down into the bowels of Paris to take the subway, crammed alongside a bunch of strangers, in the stifling fumes and humidity,  a nice thing to do in France.

However the merry visitor is not dissuaded by such petty excuses. Since she is roving about with an eye as fresh as a new-born baby, she can discern poetry even in the darkest corners of the Parisian subway.

“I got to know where all the great music was being played because, as you know, there are a lot of buskers in the tunnels and everything. And so, when I was going from one place to another, if I knew that there were musicians along the route, I would always allow myself an extra half-an-hour so that I could listen to the music and, you know, give them a bit of money. Because it made the journey absolutely brilliant”, she explains.

For Susan at 20, the idea of travelling in France “was like dying and going to heaven,” (said without any exaggeration). “I just walked around that city with this wide-eyed, happy expression on my face, because I thought I was in the best place in the world.”

Read the first part of Susan’s interview here, and discover the origins of her Parisian adventures.

And you? Are you an Australian in Paris? How did you fall in love with Paris? Let us know in the comment box below.

Images credits:
1. Paris… I love you, via
2. The cobblestones against pepper spray: the confrontation of the French students and the police, during the events of May 68, via
3. The Gates of Hell, behind the rose garden in the musée Rodin, via
4. Musicians in the subway, by Thomas Claveirole, via

About the Contributor

Cécile Mazurier

Three things about France I miss and how writing is (among other things) a way to sublimate the loss: 1. red wine 2. cornichons 3. sarcasm. I live in Sydney and I like demystifying clichés. You can contact me on LinkedIn or follow my non-adventures in my blog.

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