Bonjour mes amis,
It has already been two months since our arrival in Paris! I cannot tell you how fast this time has flown by. We exchanged our house in LA with a sweet French couple in Nation (12th arrondissement) for the first two months so we could have time to apartment hunt. I am so happy we were able to live in Nation mostly because we were able to experience a new part of the city we have never seen before.
I feel like I have finally mastered taking Liv to school on the Metro. I used to be confused about which direction the train would go and call myself out as an obvious tourist during the ride by watching for every stop. Now, we know all the train lines and have the cool, I can’t be bothered look while on the train. I do still get secretly excited when an accordion player is on the train. Although once on a crowded train I got my skirt caught in the door.
Side Note: My hair is huge here. I spend hours flat ironing it and yet the second I go outside it turns into an instant pouf. Must be the humidity, there is so much moisture in the air.
Liv and I usually discuss our plans for the week and how we are adjusting to life in France during the ride. I ask her about the differences between LA and Paris. She makes statements like France is so much more cultural and historic than California. She told me, “In Paris everyone takes public transportation but hardly anyone in LA does. Most people at the grocery store are grumpy but here they care about helping you.” She also said the food here is much better than LA. She’s doing well in school. I have met some of the parents of her classmates (although very few speak English). Her curriculum is very similar to her French school in LA but they go off the campus for PE (which is called sports) and I feel terrible because I can’t help her with most of her homework (only math and English).
After I drop her off, I usually take the bus home because the Metro is very crowded and grab my luggy to pick up the day’s groceries. I still can’t get over how frequently I have to shop here. We go through groceries like crazy!
So far we absolutely love living in Paris. I still cannot believe we are here after dreaming of this for so many years. However, there are some downsides to life in France. Please don’t think I’m some entitled brat complaining about my great life, I just want to keep it real and show both sides of our life.
It is very expensive! So far we have plunked down quite a bit of euros for household items (new towels, shopping at Ikea for our new apartment, basic toiletries). It’s harder to stick to a budget because we had to stock up on basic items. Our first week here I bought Liv a scooter, new clothes and had to replace a pair of shoes she outgrew. This month Antz and I needed some new clothes because we (happily) lost weight! I spend €225 every month on our Metro/bus passes but sometimes in a pinch, we need to use Uber and depending on how far we are from home, it can be expensive. We needed to rush home from Versailles to make it to a birthday party on time and it ended up costing €65 for a 30 minute ride.
Liv really enjoyed her €9 smoothie.
The romper was for Liv but if they had my size I would totally rock it. I pretty much cleared out their home decor display.
However, groceries seem less expensive here than in LA. Like cheese, meat and beverages are super cheap. But let me tell you about the most magical, delicious item in all of France… la beurre!
Back home I buy insignificant salted butter for like $3.99 on sale. Here, I only buy Sel de Mer de Noirmoutier and it is so delicious. I use it on everything, you could tell me it has crystal meth in it and I would still be like “Pass the butter.” I must say, America is missing out on this fucking amazing butter. It costs €2.35!
However dining out is still costing a fortune. We stopped ordering cocktails and are sticking to drinking water but we can’t seem to keep our bill under €75. Recently, while out on a stroll around the neighborhood we found the famous rue Montorgueil. The heavens parted and angels sang as we discovered the most intoxicating smells of baked bread, meats and fresh fruit. The oldest bakery in Paris is located here. It’s now my favorite place to buy fruit and we fell in love with all the restaurants.
We brought home the best BBQ ribs and a half a kilo of cherries for lunch. Liv gobbled the whole tray in five minutes! Oh, and I am now a basket lady. I have bought three baskets since I got here. This is who I am now. Note: The fluffy hair.
We found this incredible living wall called L’oasis d’Aboukir. It rains almost once a week so I guess that is why this garden is so insanely green.
There are a few other annoyances here that I can’t seem to figure out. Like getting mail delivered. It seemed to be easier to get our mail when we were staying in Nation but that could be due to our sweet neighbors helping us out by accepting our packages. In our new apartment, we have a mailbox that we put our names on but nothing has been delivered so far. It took many attempts to find which of the local post offices our address belonged to. My French is not as great as I thought it was. I was able to pick up one package (I ordered five weeks ago!) yet three more are in mail limbo because we were told if our building has a locked gate, they can’t deliver packages. Uh, like every single building in Paris has a passcode door so why wouldn’t they at least email me or leave a note so I know where to pick up my stuff? Today I am going to Fed Ex for the third time to pick up a package that was delivered nine days ago! My Mom sent me a huge care package and it took me two weeks to figure out how to track it down.
Another thing I will never get used to is the military presence here. I mean, they all seem like nice soldiers but it’s jarring to walk down the street and then boom, there’s five or six fully uniformed army folks casually carrying guns that look like they belong in a video game. I don’t dare take photos of them but they do say bonjour without a smile as I walk by. Oh, and they wear berets. I suppose I am lucky to live in a relatively safe neighborhood because there have been random knife attacks since we have arrived and sadly, I am always cautious when we are in large crowds.
I also seemed to have a hyper-sensitive aversion to noise. I was equally annoyed by the nonsense noise caused by our hillbilly neighbors (they had the world’s lamest garage band) in LA. Here, the sounds are subtle but torturous. For example, we noticed the first night while in bed, the upstairs neighbor’s toilet must be directly above our heads. Imagine the sounds we heard. They also had some type of saloon door that swings shut. This door produced a boom, bump, bump, bump sound all day long, just about every 30 seconds. I was very close to paying them a friendly visit to offer some felt pads but we moved into a new apartment. Just as we arrived at our new home we were welcomed by the constant cooing of les pigeons. They nest outside of our kitchen window and their incessant cooing sounds make me want to murder. Liv and Antz swear they can’t hear them so I’m the only one going crazy over the sound.
My final (first-World) problem is our new apartment doesn’t have a separate dryer. They consider this country sophisticated? I was warned about the hard, scratchy towels of Paris so I’ve always traveled with my own towel. The night before we left LA, I took a shower and used my soft, brand new bath towel that I packed in my carry-on. Then as we were re-packing our stuff I realized I only had enough room for either my winter coat or my towel. I was already wearing my camel year-round coat on the plane so I had to make a Sophie’s Choice. I decided it won’t be so terrible to buy new towels in Paris once we arrived. Guess what? Soft, plush towels do not exist here! I was stuck using my face towel for the first week. Monoprix does sell towels but they have a scratchy texture and cost $32.99 each. So, lesson learned, travel with your own pillowcases and towels. I did bring my allergy-free pillowcase covers with me. So, I’m living in 1925 y’all!
I adore freshly dried linen sheets or hand-washed pajamas but putting on stiff as cardboard undies sucks! Now I understand why everyone has to iron clothes here.
In other fun news, it’s peony season! My favorite flower is in bloom and you can buy four stems for 20 euros. Well, that’s how much they were at the marche however Antz found a sweet bouquet for me for Mother’s day for just ten euros.
This is how they look three days later, swoon.
May 1st is May Day. According to Wikipedia, on 1 May 1561, King Charles IX of France received a lily of the valley as a lucky charm. He decided to offer a lily of the valley each year to the ladies of the court. At the beginning of the 20th century, it became custom to give a sprig of lily of the valley, a symbol of springtime, on 1 May. Nowadays, people may present loved ones either with bunches of lily of the valley.
Liv has been a crafting machine since most of her toys couldn’t fit in her suitcase. I took her to La Droguerie to buy a pom pom making kit. This colorful place is located on
9-11 Rue du Jour, 75001 Paris, France
She was able to customize her own glitter! This kid and I were in rainbow craft supplies heaven.
We try to go to visit a new arrondissement every weekend. The parks here are absolutely gorgeous. Just don’t ever step on the grass. When the sky turns blue here, you grab a picnic basket and run outside!
Jardin de Luxembourg
Rue de Vaugirard, Boulevard St. Michel, Rue Auguste-Comte and Rue Guynemer 75006 Paris, France
The boat rentals are €4 for 30 minutes. Liv chose Mexico to rep her Grandma Maria.
I think the pony ride was €8. Sweetest pony but our seven year old child is a giant.
4 route de la Pyramide | Bois de Vincennes, 12th, 75012 Paris, France
We also love strolling our new neighborhood to hunt for Invaders.
Liv pointed out the heart shapes in the window panes of that heart.
One evening we took a stroll and ended up on Île de la Cité just at sunset. I swear I am never going back to the US!! Life here is tres beau.
Ask me anything about living in Paris.