January 28, 2016
It had only been a few months since I moved to the French countryside, but my city life already seemed like a distant memory.
In exchange for a Parisian apartment, I now have a house in the Loire Valley. I also have a dwarf goat and a giant goose in my yard, a basketful of freshly harvested walnuts and farm-fresh vegetables in the kitchen, and 150 bottles of Gamay juice fermenting in an ancient stone shed in the front yard, slowly becoming my first batch of wine.
I spent the better part of my 20s in Paris and the city saw me grow from an awkward 23-year-old who thought any wine with bubbles in it was Champagne to a slightly less awkward adult who could sometimes describe wine in a way that sounded like I knew what I was talking about. Paris had been a companion and inspiration, cajoling me into that lovely French flirtation with excess that is excused because it is how you learn how to taste. In Paris I learned how to truly appreciate the taste of food, wine, beer, and coffee, as well as what makes each unique and special. These impressions and lessons culminated in a book I wrote in honor of the city and its inspiring food culture, My Paris Market Cookbook.
Even though I was born in California, it was Paris that taught me how to be a young, and then older, adult. Paris is where I learned how to host a dinner party, Paris gave me the confidence to make writing my job and not just a favorite thing to do, and Paris taught me patience, something I knew would serve me well no matter where I was living in the world.
Despite my love for the city and its place in my heart, I began to feel like my time there was coming to a close. Expensive rents, stressful days spent trying to make enough money to pay said rent, and the endless city sounds took their toll this past summer; my cat even had a nervous breakdown due to the incessant and invasive noise. When my veterinarian handed me a prescription for cat Xanax, I decided it was time to put in notice on my apartment and start looking for a country home.
Emily Dilling; Palmyre Roigt
Making this move certainly had an element of risk. What if I didn’t like country life? What if I would regret giving up Paris, where I’d worked so hard to carve out a space for myself? The me of 10 years ago – the one who boarded a plane and moved to a foreign city where she knew no one, and had no real plans for what to do when she got there – had grown up and become more wary and less spontaneous. I worried about whether leaving the city was the right thing to do and surprised myself with how tentative I had become in making life changes. In times of doubt, I reminded myself of how my move to Paris had changed my life and how I couldn’t imagine life story without a Paris chapter. Even if at times it felt scary or sad to think of leaving my home, it also seemed silly to turn down the opportunity to add a new adventure, and the promise of fresh life experiences, to my story.
I mentally prepared for the tough times I anticipated might lay ahead, missing lady-lunches with fellow expat/food writer/independent women friends, the craft beer bars that had started filling up Paris just a handful of years before I was leaving, the convenience of city life, and the fact that even though I wasn’t born in this city or even this country, after nearly 10 years Paris had become my home.
Before leaving Paris, I took time to soak up as much of the city as possible. I enjoyed morning coffees at Café Lomi and those precious lady-lunches with friends at Holybelly. I took the long way home, all the time leading to extra long walks by the canal St. Martin or along the Seine. In the evenings I would enjoy craft beer at Le Supercoin followed by moonlit strolls along rue Caulaincourt, which gives the best-ever views of Montmartre’s charming staircases, decorated with glowing lamplights, metro signs, and bistrot awnings. Even when it came to packing boxes, Paris still had my heart, as I put away bits and pieces of my life that I forgot I even had. I listened to the sounds of Barbès from my window, stopping to sip on beer from Brasserie de la Goutte d’Or and eat takeaway pizza from Il Brigante, a favorite neighborhood spot. I was pretty sure you couldn’t get pizza like this in the countryside, which sparked a flare of worry that I quickly quenched by forcing myself enjoy the pizza, the beer, the green wall I had painted in the dinning room of my favorite apartment all the more.
While embracing these last days in Paris, I also braced myself for the shock of this impending life change. I wanted to prepare myself for lonely times, times when a stroll along rue Caulaincourt or a beer at Le Supercoin would no longer be options. But every time I worried, I found relief in knowing that I was moving to the Loire Valley with a kind, sensitive, and loving man I’d met during the grape harvest for winemaker Noëlle Morantin the previous year. Her vineyard was only a ten-minute walk from our new home, making the story seem to come full circle. I was beyond excited about all of our country life plans, and felt confident that once we settled in, I would be so distracted by my new life I would hardly have time to dwell on, or mourn, my past one.
- Emily also shares her experience participating in the vendanges, or wine harvest, in the Loire Valley.
- If moving to Paris is your dream, Tory Hoen gives nine reasons why quitting her job for Paris was a great career move.
- Want to get a taste of the Loire Valley region? Context Travel offers a wonderful tour of its best chateaux.
Written by Emily Dilling
Emily Dilling is a Paris-based American. She is the founder of the blog Paris Paysanne, which documents her quest to find local farmers and seasonal produce at Paris markets. Emily’s writing has also appeared in publications such as The Huffington Post (US & French editions), Ecosalon, The Portland Mercury, and Local Spotter.
Website: Paris Paysanne
Tags: barbès, Brasserie de la Goutte d'Or, Café Lomi, city life, city vs country, country life, Countryside, Emily Dilling, Gamay, Goutte D'Or, Holybelly, Il Brigante, la loire, Le Supercoin, moving, Noëlle Morantin, paris, rue Caulaincourt, the loire valley, wine
Posted in Parisian Living, Travel, Uncategorized | 5 Comments »