City vs. Country: From Paris to La Loire Valley, Pt I

by Emily Dilling

City Life vs Country Life. On moving from Paris to The Loire Valley.

Anne Arnould

It had only been a few months since I moved to the French countryside, but my city life already seemed like a distant memory.

City Life vs Country Life. On moving from Paris to The Loire Valley.

Emily Dilling

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.

City Life vs Country Life. On moving from Paris to The Loire Valley.

Emily Dilling

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.

City Life vs Country Life. On moving from Paris to The Loire Valley.

Emily Dilling

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.

City Life vs Country Life. On moving from Paris to The Loire Valley.

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.

City Life vs Country Life. On moving from Paris to The Loire Valley.

Emily Dilling

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.

City Life vs Country Life. On moving from Paris to The Loire Valley.

Emily Dilling

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.

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

Written By

Emily Dilling

Emily Dilling is a France based writer and author of My Paris Market Cookbook: A Culinary Tour of French Flavors and Seasonal Recipes. In 2005 Emily moved to Paris from her native California and began exploring the cities markets, restaurants, and cafés. In 2010 she founded the blog Paris Paysanne, where she writes about her favorite addresses and artisans in the city. Emily currently lives in the Loir-et-Cher region of France, where she writes and works in the grapevines. View Emily Dilling's Website

4 comments on “City vs. Country: From Paris to La Loire Valley, Pt I

We’re hoping for a Part Two? How has it been so far?

lovely story,good luck , we left the UK 14 years ago and we are in the pays de la Loire.

All the very best for your life in the Loire.

Loved the story and looking forward to reading about your life in the Loire.

Cocktail Saturdays

I love your writing Emily. Great post.


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