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Single in the City: Moving to Paris Tout Seul

HiP Paris Blog explores what it's like to move to Paris aloneCandice Johnson

As an expat in Paris there is one question I am asked without fail on basically every encounter with a new person: “So what brought you to Paris? Was it love?”

Oh man, do I wish I had a love-based story to explain my relocation to Paris! There is nothing more romantic to my mind than falling in love, throwing caution to the wind, and following your heart to Paris. I have lived that story in other cities, but the reality is that I moved to Paris to follow a job. Slightly different.

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The Expat Mom Experience: Paris Fashion Post-Baby

HiP Paris Blog explores the fashion mom bluesParis Fashion Week – Jag

The air in Paris is getting cooler and the metro a little busier with Parisians restored from summer vacation, which signifies la rentrée is in full steam. September marks the unofficial start of a new year where to-do lists are acknowledged again and event calendars fill up. And if you are in a major city, September also marks Fashion Week.

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The Expat Mom Experience: To Paris and Back with Bébé

HiP Paris Blog explores the expat mom experienceLisa Czarina Michaud

My family and I got back from our annual summer visit to New York. And if that wasn’t action-packed enough, we threw in an oh-so-out-of-the-way trip to Los Angeles. And as the cliché goes, we need a vacation from our vacation. Sure, it was a good time with memories to go around, but between the jet lag and the door-to-door travel time, which clocks in at about twelve hours, we’re wiped out. Raising a child, whose American roots are just as important as his French ones, pushes us to visit more often than we did when it was just the two of us. It just takes the wind out of us more now than it did then. Quelle surprise?

In our son Georges’ almost two-year life, he has crossed the Atlantic twelve times. And you would think after ten times, mom would have the system down like a pro. But no. Each time, I’m that mom. I’m the mom that scares girls in their early 20s, making me an involuntary PSA for birth control. Why? Because I make it look hard. Dressed in leggings encrusted with applesauce stains, stressed out hair that needs something —a relaxer, maybe? Do they still do that? — And frenzied attempts to keep my son off the moving walkway and to not touch the other passengers, I am not exactly the portrait of motherhood made easy.

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Posted in Parisian Living | 3 Comments »

The Expat Mom Experience: Reconsidering Paris

HiP Paris Blog explores being an expat mom in Paris.Lisa Czarina Michaud

I came to Paris with a three-month plan: go, see… and take it from there. Lacking any foundation like the security of a job, contacts, a suitable apartment or having much money, this plan had all the makings of a disaster. But I had to go. At twenty-eight years old I had yet to experience The Great Paris you read about in legacy literature and hear mused about in film dialogue. I wanted to experience the city as a local and showed up on Paris’s doorstep naïve and hopeful. The three-month trial swelled into several years where Paris built me up and broke me back down, enchanted and embarrassed me, and led to the quietude of marriage to the now constant movement of motherhood. Paris has given me nine lives. Having been a tourist, a wanderer, an outcast, a local, an expat wife, and now, an expat mom, these layered experiences ironed out the jagged edges of living abroad. Good thing, because if being an expat felt like the ultimate exploration into the unknown, the birth of our son Georges made me discover Paris once again, this time through the eyes of a mother.

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Living, Loving, Learning: An American Photographer on Starting a New Life in Paris

HiP Paris blog. Living, Learning, Loving. A bride viewed from the top of a Parisian spiral staircase. Photo by Marjorie Preval.

I don’t come from a family of explorers, travelers, or adventurers. My wanderlust has definitely been a learned trait, something that I’ve discovered after spending countless hours Google searching destinations I wished to visit. Needless to say, my parents were a bit shocked when I told them that I had bought tickets for my daughter Kailin and me to move to Paris the winter of 2011. My mother’s concern was that I “didn’t know a soul in all of France,” my dad’s was that I wouldn’t survive without knowing the language.

Armed with their endless words of advice and a handful of helpful phrases, such as “s’il vous plait, aidez-moi trouver les toilettes”(thanks dad !), my then four year-old and I boarded our very first trans-Atlantic flight to the City of Light. I wasn’t prepared for the anxiety attack I would have midway through our redeye, or how much I would fall head over heels once I’d arrived. In a penthouse apartment situated right across from Sacré-Cœur, how could I not fall in love with all that Paris had to offer me?

HiP Paris blog. Living, loving, learning in Paris. One of Paris' most distinctive features: its rooftops. Photo by Marjorie Preval.

HiP Paris blog. Living, loving, learning in Paris. Take a seat and have a moment with Lady Eiffel. Photos by Marjorie Preval.

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Posted in Parisian Living | 8 Comments »

Expat Special: What To Do With One Month in Paris

Piyapat Ch

You’re about to realize your dream: living in Paris for a month. You found an apartment, booked your flight, and learned how to ask for les toilettes.

You imagine strolling through the city, taking in the sights, hanging out at cafés, and being…Parisian.  Of course, part of the fun of travel is making new friends. As much as we love French hospitality, local Parisians and expats aren’t always hanging out in cafés looking for tourists to befriend. If your plan was to strike up conversation with the local artists over espresso at your neighborhood bistrot, you might want to think up a slightly more elaborate back-up plan. Just in case.

Michel NGUYEN; Yuwen Teo

Plus, maybe your idea of Paris includes escaping the tourist traps and discovering truly local haunts – great live music at an otherwise unassuming dive bar, or a fantastic meal at your neighborhood restaurant. With a dash of creativity, there are plenty of original ways to meet people and experience a little of the true Paris. Here are a few ideas: Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living, Travel | 16 Comments »

Smile: You’re in Paris

Paris Smiling Girl CrepesCnphch

It’s time to address a theme that has become a highly controversial component of my Parisian life: the smile. When I first moved to Paris, I couldn’t figure out why people seemed to pick up on my non-French status before I had uttered a word. Finally, a friend informed me: “You smile too much.”

Apparently, I was blowing my own cover. And it’s true: just as Parisians have a reputation for being particularly scowl-y, the French think Americans are too quick to put on a happy face. From the French perspective, the law of diminishing returns applies to smiling—the more often you do it, the less potency it has.

But despite having spent a considerable amount of time in Paris, I can’t seem to train my facial muscles into submission. It doesn’t help that I have a LOT of inside jokes (with myself), so it’s not uncommon to see me cracking myself up on the Metro or as I walk down the street. I understand this makes me look like a crazy person and might be confusing to outside observers, who often stare at me as if to say: “What’s so funny, American interloper?”

montage1Dave Bloom, Ko An

The answer: pretty much everything. (Except French advertisements, which try to be funny but are actually just weird and / or creepy).

Last time I was in Paris, I stopped at a tabac for an espresso. This was a legit tabac—the kind where grizzled old French guys convene to drink beer at 10am. I could tell the men at the bar didn’t really know what to make of me. It was definitely a “one of these things does not belong” situation. And while I’ve thought a lot about what it means to assimilate in Paris, I also get a kick out of subtly taunting the French and making them feel confused on their own turf. So I am pretty much in my element when surrounded by perplexed, drunk, old French guys. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 25 Comments »