It’s true – Paris is the city of love, and I fell hopelessly in love for it.
When I jot down things that I most love about this city, I feel like it would end up being longer than a traditional baguette. Never did I think I would be living in Paris – but here I am and what a perfect accident it has been. So I thought, let’s clear the air and let you know how I ended up here from the abrupt end of my stint in London town.
So you left London high and dry?
Guilty – but I can’t say the reason was any good. I got the call to fly back over to P town in February stat. My Nonno (or for you non-Italiano folk, grandfather) was terminally ill, and he had turned for the worst. Within 24 hours, my room was packed away, I had left my room in Hoxton, and I was on a flight back to Perth. Fortunately, I made it just in time to see him, even if he wasn’t the strong man I remember him to have been when I last saw him the previous year. Unfortunately, he passed away just after a week after I had returned to Australia.
The following weeks, months had been trying on the whole family and I. I was glad I was able to have that time with the family, dealing with loss altogether, except, to be honest, I am not sure if I have dealt with it.
Something that lifted my spirits during this dark period was being told that I was going to be a Eurovision online correspondent for my old employer, Australian public broadcaster SBS. Literally, this was a dream gig and something that I was over the moon about.
Another massive announcement that was a welcome ray of sunshine in all of our lives during this bleak time was my sister’s engagement to her long-term partner Brett #AboutTime. At the end of April, after my sister’s engagement party, I was off to Portugal (where Eurovision was held) to prepare myself for the role of a lifetime!
How did I get to be in Paris in the first place?
After my stint at Eurovision and travelling around Portugal, I went over to France for a kitsch festival. I thought it would be one, two weeks’ tops – except, I kind of stayed on.
Every time I visit this fine nation, I usually stay with my friend Laure who I met when I was backpacking Estonia four years back. How I got talking to her was asking her if she wanted to join a private sauna party. OK, that part of it sounds kinky but there was a sauna just around the hostel that we were both staying at where you could privately rent for sauna times and karaoke – a wonderful combination chow mein in my books! So a group of us from the hostel rented the sauna, had copious amounts of booze (OK, yes not a great idea at the time – or in general as we were in a sauna) and had a merry time together. From the moment we shared the same hangover pains, we became close friends and maintained a friendship over the last few years with Laure always being the hostess with the mostest.
Fast forward, it was during my stay with Laure that she informed me her roommate was renting out her room for a month. Since I had no fixed plan other than to work on my website, the idea of spending a month in Paris appealed. I mean, how amazing of an experience would that be?! Oui Oui!
So what is life like in Paris?
Since I have been living here, I have fallen in love with the city more and more. Forgive me in my attempt to try and pinpoint it for you all, but really, when it all comes down to it, it’s the little things.
Amazing bakeries (or the boulangerie)
Shops of cheeses
Supermarket aisles of cheeses
Shopfronts that still have character and charm
The outdoor café culture of people watching
It’s Berliner-like bar and clubbing scene
The formula lunches (yep, those two-course lunch meal deals are a winner)
Public sparkling water taps
Duck confit (yeah, this girl ain’t vegetarian)
People making good use of public parks
The weaving of old and new art in and around the city
The list could go on but I think, but I think its more of the fact I feel like an outsider, peeping in and being enriched by the culture I am breathing in. Unlike life in the UK where I am surrounded by (naturally) English speakers and Australians (seriously, we are like a plague there!), I feel different; I feel unique and much more out of the comfort zone. Although, every time I do tell someone I am from kangaroo land it is (most of the time), met with “Oh your from Australia? How long did it take?” etc. – burning conversation starters, really.
One thing I love about Paris’s is its ability to retain its culture and not be subjected to mass commercialism on every street corner. It’s the sights; the signage’s of local businesses (art deco, retro – you name it, it’s the Parisian flair) that even captivate me. Commercialism (it seems) hasn’t taken over, and the culture and integrity of traditions have been preserved – right down to the local fishmonger! Despite it being a massive city, it still manages to have that local charm about it!
I seriously walk around this joint (that being Paris and its 20 arrondissements) with this smile of awe across my face like “Really, I am in Paris? Holy sheet it’s amazing!”
Fighting off the stereotype
Yes, the French sometimes do not have the best representation aboard – one being that they are rude and have a laugh that comes from the stomach that kind of sounds evil (gosh I wish they all did!). The truth is, I love French people. I can honestly say I have not had a bad experience where someone been outright rude to me and left me feeling shitty.
One thing I have learnt is that French people are proud, especially of their language and rightfully so. It’s not like its ambushed in your face constantly, far from it but they are proud of their heritage. With that said, the more time I have spent here, the more I have come to realise to live here, you need to learn French and English alone would not get me by. I am constantly reminded of this also.
For the first time, I feel like how people can be intimated with trying a language they are not confident with on other people. I mostly freeze up when someone speaks to me in French, stare at them puzzled and then for some stupid reason always apologise in English. I do attempt to speak the (very) minimal French I know. Happy to say its almost on par with my basic Spanish….just almost!
Job hunting (yep, it’s a bitch!)
When I started to go hung-ho looking for jobs in Paris, the more apparent it came to me that I will (surprise, surprise) need to know some French, at least the basics! I had joined countless Facebook groups to stretch my wings, get tips and pointers on how to get some work in Paris other than teaching English and babysitting.
The job hunt in Paris is still a work in progress. However, the more I dig deeper, the more I realise that maybe I won’t be able to obtain that dream job of mine in Paris. Sigh!
Check out – My favourite part of Paris!
What don’t I like about Paris
There is little that I don’t love about this city and let’s remember, not all cities are perfect. Each city has its problems – homelessness being a big one in big cities such as Paris. I think both living in London and Paris; I have never seen so much of it – it is a really upsetting sight. However, I never do I give out money as I don’t know what it is going towards (drugs, alcohol) but I do try and offer food or clothes when I can.
Other things I don’t like about Paris include the long commute – it’s a bitch. I have had locals tell me they think Paris is small – eh, yeah, I beg to differ on that one! It’s been like my London commutes, if not worse. Most often than not, my commute has been underground. So when I eventually make my escape from the home of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 40 plus minutes, it’s a relief that a) I made it out there and b) yey, I have been brought back to life in Paris again! Then again, who does love a commute in a big city, right?
The other big thing I don’t like about Paris is how some men treat it as an open-house urinal party. I can’t even express how many times I had seen some men openly pee on the streets. The most eye shocking encounter was seeing a man pull his pants down in broad daylight opposite public square, La Republique (Republic Square) with a whole bunch of bypassers walking by. It wasn’t like he was trying to hide it either. With that said, Paris knows it has a pissy problem. How it is combating it is being innovative with its public urinals, turning some into eco-friendly compost boxes. Good way to counteract a smelly problem!
The most surprising days in Paris
One thing I absolutely adored about this city is how it wholeheartedly embraces the arts, and this is no more evident than its cultural days.
On the 21st June, Paris hosts Fête de la Musique (Music Day), a day where people are allowed and encouraged to play music outside (live music or from a stereo), in public spaces and parks. I was fortunate to be in Paris in time for this unique event and loved every minute of it. Kicking off in the afternoon, it is as though every street corner in Paris had a party going on with music playing everywhere – from dance to classical and all in between, it was music to my ears to be amongst it all.
Another day in Paris worth putting in your calendar is Nuit Blanche (Sleepless Night). This major cultural event takes place every October and is a contemporary all-night free art festival that spreads across Paris’s streets and monuments. It is a combination of sculptures, projections, concerts and artful installations in and around the city. I somehow ended up at the zoo at night. At first, I was thinking that I was off to see a music show sitting down, so I decided to wear heeled boots. Little did I know, there was no music show at the zoo, so here I was, walking around the zoo with heeled boots, pint in hand and trying to spot animals at night. Let’s just say most of them were sleeping!
In the middle of the zoo, inside a man-made splash down mountain, was the centrepiece of the zoo’s attraction that night, a piano playing itself – it was super eerie! As I was leaving the zoo, I had whizzed by the manatee exhibition and saw a bunch of active manatees – the first time I had ever seen them too! So it was a bizarre combination, to say the least, going to the zoo at night and seeing a piano playing itself and manatees swimming around!
Another great thing about Paris is that on the first Sunday of every month, many museums and galleries offer free entry – a win on the wallet and a lovely way to spend a Sunday in Paris.
A move to a new city ain’t always easy
I cried. I had mental breakdowns and questioned if I should be in Paris or not. But here I am. I would like to thank my second cousin Sonia and her partner Borut for letting me stay with them while I tried to find my feet in Paris. It is with the love and support from you both (and Laure too) that allowed me to be here, right here in this beautiful city.
Check out – More Paris articles and tips
Have you lived in Paris before? What was your experience like living in Paris? Share below!