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Finding Yourself In the City Of Love: A Newly Single Girl In Paris

HiP Paris Blog, Oz John Tekson, A Newly Single Girl in Paris

Oz John Tekson

Breaking up with someone you love is often a terrible experience. Breaking up with someone you love in what is supposed to be the City of Love can be a heart-wrenching emotional roller coaster.

HiP Paris Blog, Kat..., catherineshyu, A Newly Single Girl in Paris

Kat… & catherineshyu

Unfortunately, at the end of February, I found myself in this exact situation: ending a long-term relationship with a Parisian in Paris. At least by this point, Valentine’s Day had passed and I was no longer bombarded with images of happy couples in love, discounts on holiday-themed lingerie, and sickeningly sweet His & Her gift ideas on every street corner.

HiP Paris Blog, Casse-Noisette, Clapagaré ! (Les chiquitos), A Newly Single Girl in ParisCasse-Noisette & Clapagaré ! (Les chiquitos)

Nevertheless, the first few weeks were incredibly difficult. Not only did I have to deal with the usual post-break-up challenges common to any city — cancelling all the plans and trips we’d made for the following months, packing up his things in my apartment – but I also had to walk down the same Parisian streets that we had strolled through hand in hand, eat the foods he had introduced me to, and hear the romantic lilt of his language everywhere.

HiP Paris Blog, Making Magique, A Newly Single Girl in ParisMaking Magique

The worst part? Being French, he had one of those first names that 1/5 of the French male population seems to share. Included amongst the many other Arnauds in my life were (in no particular order): four people at work, two personal friends of mine, the guy at the Bastille Sunday market where I buy my vegetables, and the man at my favourite boulangerie!

HiP Paris Blog, MarioMancuso, A Newly Single Girl in ParisMarioMancuso

But what’s a newly single girl in Paris to do? Clearly you can’t hide from your baguette man forever! Or refuse to eat caramel au beurre salé simply because he introduced it to you.  And so after the first couple of weeks of skimming depression, I decided to pick myself up and find new pieces of light in my little world of Paris.

HiP Paris Blog, Chris JL, A Newly Single Girl in Paris

Chris JL

Discovering new parts of Paris
First thing on my list was discovering new parts of the city. I had lived here for three years, but a lot of my memories had been made with Arnaud, so it was time to start carving out new territory just for myself. I noted down all the recently opened hip restaurants, cafés and bars that I had been meaning to hit up and enlisted my friends to check them out with me. I tallied up cool new exhibitions and made plans to go with a couple of art fiends. Sometimes I even went for walks by myself in neighborhoods I’d never explored before. Suddenly, my previously lonely days were filled with coffee dates at Coutume Café, drinks at Le Mary Celeste, and weekend strolls around the 11e.

HiP Paris Blog, *nikita, A Newly Single Girl in Paris

*nikita

Meeting new people
One of the difficult things with break-ups is that you often also have to break up with that significant other’s social circle. There would be no more ski holidays or concert dates with other couples he knew. But it also meant that I suddenly had all this free time (and social energy) to find other human beings who might inspire me.

HiP Paris Blog, Making Magique, A Newly Single Girl in Paris

Making Magique

I made an effort to reach out to new people, said yes to whatever invitations came my way, and re-launched my Diner des 3 Découvertes supper club. I signed up for bikram yoga and discovered a terrific health-conscious community, and started going salsa dancing to get back in touch with my Spanish side. Opening myself up to new people brought me wonderful new experiences during the past two months – including Carin Olsson’s Éclair Smackdown for HiP Paris and planning an impromptu girls’ trip to Corsica!

HiP Paris Blog, Karigee, A Newly Single Girl in Paris

Karigee

Meeting new men
I suppose the last step in any post-break-up process is being ready to put yourself out there again. Contrary to what many people believe, meeting new men can be as daunting a task in Paris as it is in anywhere else in the world. Upon my friends’ urging, I timidly and painfully subscribed to match.com – then immediately unsubscribed once I saw the results. I reluctantly agreed to a few dinners where couples were eager to introduce me to their single male friends. I even went to a cocktail bar to practice a few fun flirtation strategies with the girls, then chickened out and went home to read a book at 4am.

HiP Paris Blog, ga3lle, Karigee, A Newly Single Girl in Paris

ga3lle & Karigee

You see, I’m still at that stage where I’m painfully too shy to meet new men. Much to my amazement, I have found something that works for me.  Three words: conversation exchange programs. After hearing a good friend speak about it, I decided to sign up to continue to improve my French in return for helping someone with their English. The next morning, I woke up to at least a dozen emails by Julien, Nicolas, Vincent and the like, asking to meet over coffee or lunch or drinks to practice French and English together (surprisingly, no Arnauds have come through my mailbox yet!). It’s not a date; it’s not a set-up. It’s just a friendly rendez-vous with someone who might or might not be interesting, where learning the language is the primary objective and where an unexpected spark might just be a nice cherry on top.

HiP Paris Blog, Karigee, A Newly Single Girl in Paris

Karigee

And so, nearly two months later, this newly single girl in Paris is finding herself. She’s checking out new restaurants with friends, organizing dinners with strangers, dancing / reading / doing yoga more often, and from time to time meeting a new guy over a cup of coffee and some Franglais. I have learned that overall, the post-break-up healing process in Paris is not so different than in any other city around the world. It’s just that cultural barriers and that sense of “separateness” that every expat experiences mean that it requires a bit more effort and creative thinking to get through it all.

HiP Paris Blog, Making Magique, A Newly Single Girl in Paris

Making Magique

Above all, I have learned that Paris is not just a city for lovers. It’s also a city for strong-willed, independent, creative people seeking compassion and inspiration – and you don’t need to be in a couple to be part of that.

HiP Paris Blog, Carin Olsson, A Newly Single Girl in Paris

Carin Olsson

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Written by Milsters Mac for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

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Written by Milsters Mac

Milsters MacMilsters Mac is a third culture kid and serial expat: Canadian by nationality and Spanish / Filipina / Chinese by background, she has lived in 13 countries on 4 continents -- partly due to her parents' professions, partly due to her inner global nomad. In 2010, she left London to pursue her lifelong dream of living in the City of Lights, where she could fully indulge her love for French literature, cheese and wine, macarons, museums, and the art of taking your time. She has recently settled into a new apartment in the Haut-Marais, but personal and professional projects mean that she splits her time during the year between Paris, Buenos Aires, and Vancouver.

Website: Little Pieces of Light

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Posted in Parisian Living | 28 Comments »

28 Responses to “Finding Yourself In the City Of Love: A Newly Single Girl In Paris”

  • Inez says:

    Can you please tell me what the language exchange program is? (their url?) I’m traveling to Paris in two weeks ;)

  • Carin Olsson (HiP Paris) says:

    I’m happy we could give you a little inspiration. Have a great time in Paris!

  • Andrea says:

    Thanks for your post. Ironically enough, I am travelling to Paris this weekend fresh after a breakup, to the most romantic city in the world. But your post has been inspiring, and I really look forward to discovering myself once again. Thank you!

  • Vladimir says:

    Well it is a shame… that your love story did not end so well with that guy … anyway as you stated in your post .. life goes on and “love is endless” there are many people wanting to share their love with you … and of course I guess you want to share yours and be loved … I’m a Colombian guy and lived there … of course now I live in my beautiful country … if you ever come to Colombia you would be more than welcome … here we are very friendly …

  • Faye says:

    This is such a beautifully written and inspiring article Mislters

  • Justin says:

    Thanks for the article Mil, what a great little piece! :)
    I too have met many wonderful people through a language exchange. In fact, will be visiting a certain someone is Paris on my upcoming trip.

  • Sumit Singh says:

    Hi,

    Very nice to read your post. I am too feeling little lonely here but started now to Find and explore Paris myself.

    You inspired a lot to enjoy here even if you are alone.

    Let me know If you want to add something extra in your life in Paris with having a coffee with me.

  • Gooya says:

    Spent a month in Paris last summer…would have loved to have met you! Really enjoy your p.o.v. and rradng about your experiences!

  • Wendy M says:

    Thank You so much for sharing such a powerful experience with us. It takes humbleness to accept how we feel at times. Remember that there are other ones in Paris exactly that are going through this also and reading this post is like fresh water in a hot day.

    xoxoxoxoxxo

  • Jacquie says:

    I wish I could share this piece with every woman in the world, single or married, because it’s more about finding yourself again, and reconnecting with who you really are and what makes you happy. I have daughters that could learn a bit from you.

  • Melanie says:

    So, so true.

    With or without a man, I agree, Paris presents the perfect balance of challenge and beauty to nudge us women in the direction of truly discovering ourselves in a greater depth than ever before.

    Thank you for this beautiful post Milsters.

  • This is stunning and fantastic and amazing. I just loved it. Thank you so much for sharing with all of us!

  • Lorelei says:

    I adored this post. Good for you for finding the strength and confidence to push forward and make the world your own. Breakups are never easy and these types are easily applicable to anyone who is hurting, anywhere in the world. We can’t run away from places that once meant something different to us than they do now. But we can create new and important meaning.

  • Candice says:

    Oh I admire you !
    I have traveled all over the place and gone on many an adventure, but with a companion that does more than his fair share of Taking Care of Things.
    I can imagine breaking up and being on my own in some ways but I am a wimp and I greatly admire any woman who strikes out on her own and can look at herself in the mirror and say See… I did this all by myself.
    You are someone to admire and to emulate, how great is that ? :)
    besitos, C … back in the USA

  • What a lovely article! And I didn’t realize that our journeys into singledom in the city were so similar. I can’t wait to read more from you, doll!

  • Vicki Archer says:

    Such a beautiful post. Doing a conversation exchange program sounds like such a fantastic way to meet new people! Good on you for getting yourself back out there! :)…xv

  • Gustaf says:

    A quote from Albert Camus springs to mind – “In the midst of winter, I found there was within me an invincible summer.”

    You seem to do well and the things you’re doing also seems to work for you which is great. There will still “rehab moments” but in the end things will be as it should be………….

  • Danielle says:

    Beautiful, Milsters. You inspire me. xo

  • Maddy says:

    What a wonderful post! Such a great reminder that finding yourself is possible anywhere, it may just take some extra work to feel comfortable again. And I think this lesson can apply regardless of the city, culture, or relationship status of the finder. :)

  • Ohlala Maman says:

    Great post, very honest and beautifully evoked. Your attitude is inspiring, even for non-singles who need to refind themselves in Paris again and keep looking for the positives.

  • Shiv says:

    I am going through the same process, but in London. Such a difficult time but comforting to know that others are having the same experience (although I wouldn’t wish it on anyone!)
    I have always wanted to live in Paris and love this article. Also looked at your blog and it is great, so inspiring!

    xxx

  • Laura says:

    I loved this! Thank you for sharing a piece of your path with us…Inspiring and beautiful :)

  • Jane says:

    Loved this post and it was very inspirational, I think to single women of all ages. Wonderful to be open to new experiences!

    Jane
    Flora Doora

  • Tory says:

    Really liked this post. I’ve been there! And honestly, my single days in Paris were some of my happiest and most mind-opening.

  • Kat says:

    I agree that conversation exchanges are a great no-pressure way to meet new people, whether you’re single or not. I’ve met a lot of friends (and then their friends etc) this way!

  • audrey says:

    love love love this article! going through this at the moment…you feel like you’re the only person in the universe who’s in this situation but, actually, we all seem to go through very similar thought processes…

    from the avoiding everything he’d introduced to you, seeing/hearing his typical french name everywhere (mine was also one of those), having to walk past streets, parks, landmarks you had spent time in & around together (this is where we…, that day/night when we….) & genuinely missing people he’d introduced you to….. and then pulling yourself together…….grabbing my camera as I type to go capture Paris in all it’s moody, rainy glory this afteroon…….sans french boyfriend:)

    xxxxxx

  • Sandy says:

    This was such an honest and well written piece…bravo to you for moving on with such panache!

  • k_sam says:

    What a beautiful post, and one I really identify with. I moved to Paris from Brittany after a seven year relationship ended, and really found myself again as a single girl in Paris. I have such great memories of that time period and the wonderful friends I met. And funnily enough, I met my husband through a language exchange – it wasn’t my goal in signing up, but I’m sure glad I did. Just goes to show you never know where life will take you! :)

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