Expat Life in Paris: What’s it really like?

Coucou,

Yesterday Antz and I picked up our cartes des titres (annual immigration renewal) for our second year in France. Voila!

IMG_3388
IMG_9874

It just happened to be the hottest day in France’s history and our celebration was short lived for two reasons, the first was Antz carte de titre is expiring five months earlier than mine because he has an issue with his health insurance. The weird thing is we both submitted identical paperwork (we have the same insurance) so this is French bureaucracy at its finest. We will have to reapply in October to fix this costly mistake. Then on the way home from the Prefecture, Antz realized he accidentally left his phone on the desk of the lady who helped us. We hurried back and got his phone, so despite these hiccups, we are still here (at least until January 2020!) which is a victory.

IMG_0860

I wanted to update our expat life in Paris since it’s been quite awhile. Antz has been working freelance (with US clients) and Liv is finally on summer break. I am busy this summer hosting many friends visiting from the US. If you follow me on Instagram (you follow me, right?) then you can check out my Stories named Summer 2019. This is our first summer in Paris that we haven’t left town. I would love to share some of our daily experiences and observations that are different from our life in Los Angeles. Full disclosure, I don’t want to make this into a Paris vs LA comparison post or sound like I am complaining too much, I just want to give you a real perspective of some of the obstacles expats may confront. This doesn’t mean we don’t love living here and we are grateful everyday. I just want everyone to know, nowhere is perfect, even though photos may perceive it to be.

IMG_0682

School summer break – Liv’s school summer break begins after the first week of July. This is four weeks later than her school break in LA. It was difficult for us counting down those long four weeks mostly because France was experiencing a canicule (insane record high heatwave) this year and it was so hot that school was cancelled due to the extreme temperatures. The French have a strange aversion to air-conditioning so when it’s hot, it is miserable. The good news is she had swimming class every Thursday at school which is wonderful. I used to race across town on Fridays after school for Liv’s 15 minute swimming lessons in Pasadena and most of that time she spent just waiting for her turn to swim. After five years of lessons, she wasn’t really making progress and I didn’t feel like it was worth the money and stress. So, we love that extracurricular activities are included in the school day here FOR FREE! It really helped her cool down during the heatwave.

Apartment-12

During the last week of school, Liv’s class put on two performances for the parents. The first was a music and choir recital which was adorable beyond words. The older class sang “I’m Singing in the Rain” in English and I couldn’t help but giggle at their sweet accents. Liv’s class performed a play in French and Olivia portrayed a funny duck. We had no idea what the play was about but thoroughly enjoyed our duck’s antics. Antz made her costume using stuff around the house, bien sûr. He even painted her old Adidas yellow and felted a duck bill.

IMG_0428

Liv & her 3rd grade teacher

Most French families have second homes in the countryside so most of Olivia’s school friends are away on vacation during the summer. It’s been helpful that we’ve had so many visitors from LA so she’s seen many of her old friends. She also spent the first two weeks of summer break in camp! It’s a daily camp at the local recreation center (centre des loisirs). Everyday they ventured out into the city for field trips, swimming and nature hikes. She loved it!

It was a little hard for us to navigate the camp schedule because the website is in French and I couldn’t access my online account due to a glitch, so Liv had to translate for us the best she could. Our friend who works at her school helped us register her. It’s little things like this that sometimes can be frustrating. I need help setting up an online account so I can access the camp website yet there’s really no one to help me. I even went to the local Mairie (town hall) to get help to set up our account online but the woman told us she was new at the job and couldn’t help me. So everyday we didn’t find out what her schedule was until she came home and told us about it. I am still waiting to receive a bill in the mail for the camp a month later. Sigh, Que sera, sera.

This is a typical daily commute for me.

During the heatwave, Liv and I took the bus outside of Paris to go swimming. We arrived at noon but the attendant told us due to a “technical” issue the pool was temporarily closed. Such a bummer because it was burning hot and it took us over an hour to get there. Instead of going back home, we decided to go Pokemon Go hunting nearby and grabbed some sushi for lunch.

I love the Montreuil Mairie (town hall) and I caught a new 3-D Invader.

By the time we finished lunch, I called the pool and they told me it was open again. So, there is an inconsistent summer schedule in most of Paris. Did you know that a swim cap is required at public pools here? Liv’s cap never stays on because of her thick hair.

Most businesses have signs on their doors saying they are closed for weeks for summer holiday. August is the official month that Paris shuts down (the French enjoy five weeks of paid vacation) but most of my favorite places like Monoprix, our bakery and the farmers market will hopefully remain open. It’s been tricky when my friends visit because they want me to take them to all my favorite places but they have been closed all month.

58522022831__F7085060-C200-4C80-8E9D-95F5BFCDF3EE
Our favorite American bakery have been closed for weeks.

We are fortunate to live close to Monoprix (French Target) which is open everyday except Sunday evenings (they close at noon). I practically live there, I go almost everyday.

ACS_0393
IMG_1113

For the past year we have been carrying heavy groceries home in our bags so last week I made our first delivery order online. I was shocked that the minimum order was €50 and the earliest delivery time is the next day. It was almost a challenge to meet the €50 minimum to place the order. Luckily, I was able to stock up on bottled water, bags of ice and every heavy item I could think of. I used this app to place the order. If you happen to live in France and are thinking of placing an online order, please use my friend code for a discount for the both of us. The groceries arrive in crates which are easy to bring in our elevator. This is my €55 order.

I don’t know how often I’ll order delivery but it is a helpful service to utilize.

Since many restaurants are closed for summer vacation, we’ve had to resort to getting fast food because they are the only places open all-day. It’s not even close to how often we would eat fast food in Los Angeles but after a fourteen year boycott, I had to break my No-McDonalds policy out of a starvation necessity. Here’s the difference, McDonalds in France have grass-fed beef, growth hormones are illegal, there is no such thing as super size and the largest drink size seems smaller than a kids size! The restaurants only have kiosks to place an order and there are no refills on drinks. You can order fresh croissants and even a McBaguette. There is no fast service in Paris, you wait much longer for your food but they rarely get your order wrong and if you order food to go you will always get napkins, and they package your drinks so they won’t spill. I do find it absurd that they charge for ketchup but offer curry sauce and mayonnaise for free. Honestly, McDonalds reminds me most of back home. P.S. I think the pizza here is dreadful.

I’ve been eating healthier because the food here isn’t full of pesticides and hormones. I do still crave food from America. Antz made this silly photo of me along with my favorite foods.

IMG_1917
The pepperoni pizza, hot fried chicken and butter crunch candy are only available in the US and I miss them the most!

Navigating daily life in Paris can be a 50/50 split. The French have a way of making everything beautiful but also miserable. French people believe that air conditioning will make you sick so they have practically outlawed it except for tiny portable units that are noisy and only work if you stand directly in front of them. They are very progressive in their culture but some things they refuse to move forward on. If you order ice in a restaurant they look at you with utter disgust. Their language is elegant poetry that I could listen to all day, yet a nightmare to learn with a varying degree of arbitrary rules. Paris is a living piece of art. My favorite part of living here is discovering new street art and gorgeous architecture. It’s so refreshing not to be overwhelmed with advertising billboards, loud airplanes and tacky strip malls. I love finding new street art in our neighborhood. Sadly, someone has been going around the city painting over Invaders, the wall that awesome mural Liv is standing in front of was just demolished and someone tore down this Madame Chat. It’s so annoying that there are haters out there that must destroy to feel better about themselves. I am lucky I have so many photos of this precious art that is always disappearing.

Beauty is truly everywhere here however…don’t spend too long looking up at the stunning buildings because there is dog poop everywhere! It’s terribly smelly this summer due to the hot poop on the sidewalks. It’s weird how there are absolutely no stray animals in Paris yet so much poop. There’s also a urine epidemic that disgusts me. Yucky men pee in broad daylight on the streets with no regard. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen men standing against a wall or tree peeing in public. Listen, I can tolerate the smoke, I am used to the traffic noise but the pissing in public and nobody bats an eye, I do not like it at all. Women aren’t squatting on the streets openly peeing so why do men get to spray walls like feral animals? The city even puts out these open urinals (I suppose to suppress the peeing on buildings) but I don’t understand why this is even necessary? There are enclosed toilets everywhere so why do I have to walk around in piss puddles because baby boys can’t hold their pee pee until they get home like us ladies have to. Ugh! Do not fight me on this, it’s gross and needs to stop. Put your weiner away guys!

This adorable kitty on a leash at the post office, I absolutely support.

Désolé, on a sunnier note, Liv and I spend a lot of time at parks near our apartment. I love the small parks full of shady trees and benches. I haven’t seen many swings in parks here. There rarely is grass lawns that you are allowed to walk on. They usually have dirt or sand which bums me out because it’s dirty but there is a park with shock absorbent pavement similar to York Park in Highland Park. Most parks have ping pong tables so we bought our own set to play.

WMUX6783

For every complaint I may have, the trade off is we still live in freaking Paris! The most romantic city in the world. Like any place it has it’s typical up and downs. I can’t tell you have many times I’ve been told one thing and then the next day the exact opposite. We have been battling with our landlord for over a year to fix our excruciating slow wifi speed and replace our intercom phone so we can buzz visitors into our building. I spend hours sending emails and making calls to customer service and I rarely get results no matter how wrong they may be. It is practically criminal to admit a mistake no matter how glaring it may be. It’s become funny to us how many contradictions we encounter. The rules always change but no one tells you what the rules are, it’s up to you to figure it out. I’m quite proud that I’ve managed to rent an apartment, enroll Liv into a great school, made many friends (although several of our expat friends have moved on) without speaking the language or having any family here to help us. Everyday we still pinch ourselves we are here.

IMG_E0183

I love this flawed yet magnificent place and I feel French in my heart even with my ‘orreeble Fwench azcent! Merci, for reading my blog and I hope you stick around whilst I catch up on our travel posts from this past year. I am working hard to upload, edit and post over 100,000 photos.

ACS_0484

Bisous,

The Hall Conleys

Advertisements

Musee d’Orsay

As many times as my BFF Aimee and I have visited Paris before, we have never made a trip to visit the Musée d’Orsay. Built in a former train station in 1986, Musée d’Orsay is the little sister to the overcrowded Louvre. I bought our tickets online on their French only website and we took the hot, hour long bus there. Guess what? We went on the wrong day! It wasn’t so bad, we ended up walking through the beautiful Jardin de Tuileries and hit up the summer Fêtes des Tuileries. The only thing was I didn’t have euros on me so we couldn’t go on any rides. Liv was placated by the world’s biggest cotton candy. So pro tip, if you want to hit the carnival in Paris, always have euros on you, they don’t take credit cards.

Don’t let those smiles fool you, we were dripping with sweat and so hot we were considering jumping into the Seine!

Beautiful Beau-Arts design.

DSC_0796
Okay, let’s try this again. The next day was much cooler and we took the Metro this time so the ride over was much shorter.
DSC_0897

I relate to her on so many levels!

DSC_0834Musee d'orsay

I was super excited to see the Edgar Degas Little Dancer of Fourteen Years sculpture. It was much smaller than I imagined it would be.

DSC_0865French is Beautiful

Oh my goodness, I was so frustrated by my photos in this light. I tried every possible setting and angles. This was my heavily edited result but there is something about the low lights in museums that work against me. Any tips or solutions?

DSC_0887

Liv was highly amused by this guy. Fortunately for us, Aimee was there for some serious art appreciation so we checked out the Van Gogh exhibit and she was excited to see the Gauguin art. Her Mom is an Art Historian so she has a sophisticated level of art snobbery.

DSC_0842

Liv and I chuckled at the long-legged cat.

IMG_0051
We were blown away by Van Gogh’s pieces. I wish I could have captured the vivid blue paint better than my iPhone did however it’s best to see them with your own eyes. It was an inspiring experience. I have to return to see the Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec artwork.

ACS_0122

We climbed upstairs to see the famous clock but had to wait forever for the selfie seeking mobs for a shot. I guess we are the same, taking the shot for the ‘gram but I don’t get how anyone gets a clear shot that isn’t a dark silhouette against the clock. Thank you Lightroom app!

IMG_0075French is BeautifulIMG_E0096French is BeautifulIMG_0058

DSC_0893French is Beautiful

Musée d’Orsay
Rue de Lille
75343 Paris

Open Tues – Sunday from 9:30 am – 6 pm and until 9:45 pm on Thursdays
Closed on Mondays

Jusqu’ à plus tard amis!

Infinity Mirrors by Yayoi Kusama at The Broad

On New Year’s day we started 2018 in the most colorful way possible. Yayoi Kusama is one of my favorite artists because she has a wig made of yarn. She is also a brilliant and weird  lady that I adore. I’ve previously tried four times to get into her Infinity Mirrors exhibit unsuccessfully but finally, we got in and I was so stressed about the 45 second time frame, I only managed to take blurry photos. I don’t know how other people take such lovely photos because when you get in the lights begin to blink so timing the perfect shot isn’t easy.

This time was no different. We had about 30 seconds for each exhibit which gave me anxiety! My favorite art piece (the yellow pumpkin room) did not allow cell phones but oddly, I have seen many people posting photos on Instagram. I know the artist wants us to be in the moment and not worry about taking selfies but if I don’t have a photo, did it even happen?

DSC_0919

IMG_7033-2IMG_5855IMG_5826IMG_5773IMG_5820

DSC_0999image1-6IMG_7009

IMG_7219

DSC_0047DSC_0076DSC_0097

DSC_0984This is my favorite photo of Antz

This room started off white and visitors are given dot stickers to add to the room. We were there on the very last day so we were given unlimited stickers. It was definitely Liv’s favorite room.

DSC_0170DSC_0169

DSC_0130DSC_0112DSC_0117IMG_7211
Find the bike

DSC_0131IMG_5843IMG_5861IMG_7138IMG_7094-2DSC_0158DSC_0146

IMG_5876
These cuties

DSC_0222
This is Noemie. She was Liv’s preschool French teacher and she is the reason Olivia speaks French with a native accent. I am forever grateful to this woman.

As we were leaving Olivia asked for Van Leeuwen ice cream. They seem to always be parked outside the Broad.

IMG_5803

California Love Art show

Antz was asked to paint a few pieces for Leanna Lin’s Wonderland for their California Love art show. He doesn’t have the time to paint like he used to so when he does finish a painting, it’s a big deal. I was bummed to discover he entered a painting I want to keep for myself but I just may buy it as a birthday gift.

DSC_0367

Antz pieces are above him in the center (Girl in the Park & Home)

Liv in the park

Hey, that girl looks familiar!

DSC_0348DSC_0346DSC_0341

DSC_0343DSC_0344

There are so many rad things at Leanna Lin’s.

How adorable is this 16 Candles card?! (my favorite movie when I was 14!) Antz discovered his love for Jarritos soda in grapefruit.

IMG_9083

Liv made a new friend, Foxly.

DSC_0371

The show will be featured until April 24th and is located at:

Leanna Lin’s Wonderland
5024 Eagle Rock Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90041

Bravo Antz!

LACMA Rain Room

I was so excited to hear that the Rain Room exhibit is coming to Los Angeles. I was so bummed I missed out on seeing it at MOMA in New York a few years ago. I bought tickets for the earliest date which was a month in advance. Olivia always gets excited to visit LACMA so she happily ran around the Urban Lights exhibit and wrap herself in spaghetti noodles (I don’t know the name of that one!) Of course I am reminded of the last time we were there for the incredible Stanley Kubrick exhibit nearly three years ago.

DSC_1394

It was impossible to get her to leave the noodle display!

DSC_1110DSC_1113DSC_1118IMG_1818DSC_1112DSC_1111DSC_1117DSC_1119

We arrived an hour earlier than our Rain Room reservation so we meandered (such a great word I don’t use enough) through the Japanese screen exhibit and checked out the beautiful Matisse.

DSC_1175DSC_1190

DSC_1192DSC_1194DSC_1196DSC_1198DSC_1197DSC_1202DSC_1210DSC_1215DSC_1211DSC_1216

DSC_1256DSC_1259DSC_1262DSC_1265DSC_1272DSC_1291DSC_1295DSC_1303DSC_1301DSC_1353DSC_1329DSC_1305DSC_1306Liv got soaked! They told us to move slowly, she didn’t listen.

DSC_1361DSC_1273DSC_1326DSC_1316DSC_1330This photo was a happy accident, I was trying to get Liv’s silhoutte but I got her profile instead. This child is effortlessly stunning.

DSC_1281DSC_1350DSC_1349DSC_1323DSC_1324IMG_1849IMG_1838

#rainroom

DSC_1379DSC_1380DSC_1383

Across the street from LACMA is the Wende museum which has an exhibit of segments of the actual Berlin Wall. Liv and I have been studying US Presidents so it was fun to discuss JFK and Ronald Reagan.

DSC_1405DSC_1409DSC_1421DSC_1426DSC_1428

I think she loves her new Bobo Choses skirt. It’s hard not to buy all their rad clothes.

DSC_1439DSC_1440DSC_1441DSC_1448

I wish I was half as cool as Liv is at five years old.

DSC_1486DSC_1487DSC_1490DSC_1492DSC_1489

The rain room will be at LACMA until March 6th. Reservations go fast so get your tickets today!

Los Angeles County Museum of Art
5905 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036

A bientôt!

The BRO-Duh Museum

I know I spelled Broad wrong in my title but for the strange sake of fancy people wanting to sound fancy, The Broad rhymes with road but you’ll never hear me say it like that. I say Broad like fraud, like an American! Anyway, the highly anticipated Broad museum opened in downtown LA a few weeks ago. I signed up for online reservations in early August and the earliest opening I could get was October 1st. We have been excited to check it out since the building itself looks like a piece of art. It’s hard to compete when you are across the street from the famous Walt Disney concert hall designed by Frank Gentry.

IMG_6661DSC_0317DSC_0386

Obviously this was her favorite room

DSC_0328IMG_9612IMG_9523IMG_9520IMG_6675

Olivia took this photo of us. She’s getting good with her composition.

DSC_0381

My favorite Jeff Koons piece

IMG_6665DSC_0327

Antz wanted this art

IMG_9543

DSC_0404

Murakami is one of my favorite artists. I was so bummed when I missed his show at Versailles.

All the batting my lashes and pleading didn’t get me any Murakami plushies

IMG_9603

There is such high demand for online reservations there is almost a 2 month waiting list. I definitely would like to return since we didn’t get to see the Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room.

The Broad Museum
221 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012

LA Cake Club & Hello Kitty Exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum

Hello friends, I’ve missed you! This weekend was a busy one. Liv’s school follows French curriculum so when they have holidays off, so does she. She’s on October break for a week. We went to  Cake 🎂 Club this past Saturday. I missed the last one since we were in Europe so I missed everyone. I made pumpkin squares with cream cheese frosting. I was concerned about the recipe since I ran out of granulated sugar and substituted brown sugar but Antz thinks it made it taste even better. He loved them and devoured about 5 squares!

Here’s the recipe I used
Sara’s Mom made this beautiful cake
My sweet friend Ellen made this amazing Dutch waffle cheesecake
Honestly I always kick myself for not taking better/more photos at Cake Club but I’m usually stuffing my gob or chatting so much to remember.
  Thanks for another fantastic cake club, Sara!

Liv and her Cake Club BFF ran around like Superheros all hopped up on sugar

My friends and I decided it was a good idea to head over to the Hello Kitty exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum after lunch since we were so close.

We went to a kid-friendly Japanese diner in Little Tokyo
The food was excellent
The museum had timed entry so it wasn’t very crowded.

She’s adorable
I owned about half of this stuff in the eighties
I think it would be a rad idea to paint the walls in our garage like this one
I still think my bike is the best Hello Kitty beach cruiser ever!
I’ve been search ebay for this Mike Carroll for Sanrio skateboard for months, no luck
I hope to book a flight on EVA airlines one day
I loved Hello Kitty, My Melody and Little Twin Stars when I was growing up
Nine apples high

This piece was made out of tiny Hello Kitty heads all by hand using a ballpoint pen!
Cuddly Rigor Mortis seems to be following me
I was a little too excited so I didn’t keep a steady hand while snapping photos, whoops!
This reminds me of Mark Ryden but it’s not *gorgeous frame*
I own that tiny beaded purse on the right!
Hello Kitty dancer
Me and my crew. So much fun guys!
What’s up with pervvy aninme-robot Hello Kitty?

Buy your tickets online in advance so you won’t have to wait at the door. The exhibit will be at the museum until April 2015. 

Misha Lulu presents Life’s Adventures & Mysteries Art show at Leanna Lin’s Wonderland

This Saturday was the monthly Nela Art walk. It also was the opening of my sweet friend Karen’s art show Life’s Adventures & Mysteries. I loved every piece, Karen and Joe are so talented. There was also cute handcrafted headbands by Persimmon Jewelry adorable dolls made by Miko Design and floral wreaths by Cakies. One of my favorite shops for kid’s clothes, Kumquat was there with the new gorgeous Misha Lulu Fall line. It was so lovely to reunite with the Misha Lulu family. Olivia gets so excited to see Bela and play with the “big girls”! I saw most of the Misha Lulu Moms and I hope we are able to get together again soon for a shoot. We really wanted to walk to the art walk but the weather was unbearable so we opted to head home early to relish in the air conditioning.

There seemed to be a Misha Lulu attire dress code
Lovely Karen, always so chic * I want her dress!*
Bela is the cutest little spy ever!
Such remarkable pieces, we need more walls in our house!
How amazing are these dolls by Miko Design?!
I’m not at all embarrassed to admit I want one of these crowns for myself!
Trying on a Persimmon Jewelry headband
I bought the dress Olivia is wearing two years ago from Kumquat!
Liv is becoming such a good photographer
This lollipop dress is perfection. I love the bright, cheery colors and the cut is so good on Liv’s long frame. It’s one of my favorite dresses.
Liv picked her favorite. I adore the new Fall line!
This mustard dress is soooo pretty! It’s on my wishlist for Christmas
I may have to return and grab the Nan Lawson and Cuddly Rigor Mortis prints!

Everywhere you look in Leanna Lin’s is awesomeness. I would buy everything in there if I could. Bravo!!

Liv scored a Tokidoki Unicorno
You do not say no to a card this incredible! 

Huge, Exciting NEWS!!!

Don’t you hate when someone tells you they have big news but they can’t tell you yet? I have to be that guy right now. I am super duper excited for my secret news but I can’t share with you until next week.

and NO, I AM NOT PREGGERS!!

So this weekend was busy and fun. We were invited to try a ballet class with Liv’s friend Jianna on Saturday morning. The class is a little too early for my taste but it’s worth getting up at 8 on a Saturday! Anna Maria is amazing! I loved her other classes but I’m ready for Liv to get more one-on-one training and work on her technique. She’s on her way to becoming a ballerina.

Anna Maria, her daughter, Jianna and Liv

After class, we met Aimee for lunch at The York *which is becoming my favorite place for lunch*

Bestie kisses

We had the afternoon to take naps and play tea party with Liv before we headed back out for the Nela artwalk.

This guy looks like Wills & Harry!
Shopclass had a mini craft fair behind their store. Too bad I left my wallet at home or I would have bought a ceramic necklace I fell in love with.
I love these napkins!
Our artist showing off her work
The Nela Kids art show will be at Mi Vida Boutique until September. Lovely stuff!
Noel is super sweet, she made this spray paint art with Liv
I’m so proud of my future street artist!

We picked up Coral Reef Chinese food in Atwater Village for dinner to go. It was better than Panda Express but cheaper than PF Changs. It was decent, authentic Chinese food.

Sunday we went to Antz Mom’s house to borrow a few things from her. Clinnie cooked a delicious feast for Justin’s birthday/homecoming from spending most of the summer at his Grandmother’s house in Arizona. It’s cray cray that I was there when he was born and he’s 13 years old now. Dang, I’m totally a fossil!

Antz Mom, Dad, Justin and me back in 2000!

30 Day Photo Challenge – 10/30

I’m one third of the way finished!!

Today is a childhood memory.

Tea party

As an only child, I would spend hours playing alone in my room. I had imaginary friends and dolls that could talk. We would have tea parties and I would fake a British accent. Liv has a teapot that sings so she does the cutest dance and at the end she takes a bow. I still can’t get her out of that damn Cinderella dress and heels.

Tonight is the NELA art walk. We are so pleased that Liv is making her artist debut with her “rainbow” piece for sale at Mi Vida Boutique.

I hope you all can play along 30 Day Photo Challenge