Friday, January 30, 2009

Accidental Parisian's Top Ten

I just got my carte de sejour and am feeling pretty good about life. The feedback on this blog has suggested that I seem a bit negative, down, even cranky about my Parisian existence. That's not really the impression I mean to give, although I'm not going to pretend that life in France is one big party, either. (Although, my best friend in Paris - let's call her Mazarine - is a big party person, and has reminded me that we've had some good times together. Absolutely, and more on that later).

So, here's a list of my Top Ten - the things I really like about living here:

1. Croissants. More specifically, pain au chocolat, the ones from my local boulangerie Le Chant du Pain (yes, that really does mean "The Song of Bread." Can you imagine naming a bakery that in, well, anywhere outside of France?). I spend most of the week looking forward to my weekend pain au chocolat: either Saturday or Sunday morning either MCM or I run out to get fresh ones, still warm from the oven, while the other makes espresso and sets the table with our wedding china. Bliss!

2. My apartment. It's small - about 400 square feet - but has lots of natural light. It's a building from the 1920s and I love the original period details - the wooden floorboards, molding, and metal scrollwork outside the windows. (Picture this Caillebotte painting). Also, after having moved around so much, it's great to have a place that really feels ours, and to have our own furniture. Sure, it could be a tiny bit closer to the metro, and I wouldn't mind a bit more space for guests, but I'm happy.

3. Public transport (when it's not on strike). I think cars are fine for other people but I have no desire to own one myself. Occasionally MCM and I will rent one - to go somewhere on a weekend, or for moving - and we enjoy the freedom it gives, but we're very happy to return it when the rental ends. French public transport has its problems - the RER is dirty, the long-distance trains are expensive - but I appreciate having such a large, affordable network.

4. The architecture. I love 19th century Haussmanian buildings, in particular.

5. Wine. This deserves its own post, but do you know why French people seem so knowledgeable about wine? Because it's cheap and it's everywhere. If you lived in France, you'd know a lot about wine, too.

6. Houseguests. When you live in Paris, people want to visit you! Our closest friends are scattered around the world and we're really lucky that some of them want to vacation here.

7. Public health care. When it works, it's pretty good. I still am not really in the system and am paying out of pocket, but I will get reimbursed for most of it.

8. The climate. Even though I haven't really lived in New England since 1992, it's home, and I will always be biased towards 4 distinct seasons. Paris doesn't have the same extremes of weather, but it has a fairly cold winter and warm summer. It's also much dryer cold than I experienced in the UK in Ireland and I find that I don't actually feel as cold here.

9. The respect for food, and the knowledge that food vendors have about their products.

10. The churches. Paris has so many; each one is unique and many are beautiful. My favourite is La Madeleine, near Concorde. When I feel a bit lost in Paris, or a bit overwhelmed, I find it very refreshing to stop in one and recharge for a minute.


  1. I just found you today, through Cake Wrecks, I could have written this blog 10 years ago! Ok, 12. I was working as an assistante de langue for a year, and wanted to be anywhere but Paris! Plus, I was single, and kind of poor. But I did my best to enjoy it while I was there...I think I still have a list somewhere of things I knew I would miss when I returned to the states--I'm sure several of them are the same as yours. I'm curious--what arrondissement are you in?

  2. Thanks Flartus! I'm glad you like the blog and have shared some of my experiences - Paris is one tough nut to crack, but I think it will be worth it.

    I have to come clean - I'm not in Paris proper, but about 500 feet over the Paris city line. Yes, that makes me a banlieusard! But I don't mind, and it's one way to be a little less poor in Paris.

  3. The longest I ever stayed in Paris was a month and by the end of it I was sooo delighted to leave. I think it's the coldest, bone-chilling place outside the Artic. And the greyness can get to you, though I love the light at all times. Then again the past two weeks were the best weather I've had anywhere.
    I found you through David L. and very pleased :)


Please leave me a comment! (As I am writing this blog anonymously, please address me as Accidental Parisian, even if you know my name in real life).