Saturday, January 17, 2009

Introduction: I am not a Francophile.

There. I've said. Go on, hate me. After all, doesn't every American woman dream of living in France? Isn't France like, ya know, that most amazing place, with its cafes, little dogs, the Eiffel Tower and fashionable women? Isn't Paris the most exciting and romantic city in the world? Don't you just looove croissants?

Well, I love croissants as much as the next woman. In fact, I have tried the 8 boulangeries within a ten minute walk of my apartment, and I have identified the best croissant maker in the quartier. Someday, I plan to have a heated argument with a French person who disagrees with me on this subject.

But France, like any other country, has its annoyances and problems - strikes, bureacracy and dog poo are on the top of my list. My move to Paris was not a long-awaited or well-planned one; in fact, my darling French husband (let's call him Mon Cher Mari, or MCM) had never desired to return to France after years of living abroad. Paris was too small, too insular, too expensive, he said; we would never both be able to find satisfying careers. Somehow, though, there were a number of personal shuffles, and MCM suddenly had a new job in Paris and I had nothing to hold me back from joining him. Friends and family were delighted for us (how exciting! you lucky things!), but I felt deflated, as I wondered how I would have any kind of professional life in France. (And, I should add, those who have followed the saga of my professional development understood my concerns and were very supportive). I was also determined: I told everyone that we would make the most of the move, that it was an exciting new phase in our lives, and that there was nothing we couldn't handle. After all, we have both lived in several countries in the English-speaking world. We were seasoned expats. The first few months would be unsettled, we acknowledged, but everything would be fabulous by Christmas. In fact, I was quite confident that by Christmas, my French would be fluent.

So, why I am starting this blog in January 2009? After six months, it feels like we've only scratched the surface. My French is fluent enough to get by, but not perfect and not improving very quickly. We haven't made many friends - and to be honest, we haven't made much effort to make many friends. MCM has been working 70 hour weeks (no, not 35, friends) and I've been trying to work from home and teach part-time. We do not yet feel comfortable, happy and settled in Paris. We need to take action, and I think writing about my experiences will help me to make sense of them and set goals for moving forward.

I hesitated about starting this blog. There are already so many blogs about the wonders of France, the clever ironies and quirks of French behaviour, and the joys of Parisian life. I know I might come off as a moaner. How dare you dis the French, you ungrateful brat!? Plus, the French can be so full of themselves. Should I really be indulging these people even more?

So, this blog is neither intended as a bitter rant nor a nostalgic ode to la belle France, although it may contain both at times. Rather, it's an exercise that I hope will prove cathartic for me and entertaining for you, dear reader. (And if you don't like it, well, go and read something else).

The Accidental Parisian


  1. Dear Accidental Parisian,
    Love your blog -- keep it coming!!!
    Post me another comment with your e-mail address & Skype contact name so we can stay in touch.
    The Empress of Nishihara

  2. Oooh. My blog isn't a "I love Paris" blog either. You're in good company!

  3. ah, if your French hubby hates Paris, you are excused!

  4. Well heck my blog is! an ILP blog that is and I've painted myself into a corner and can't get out. Literally! Painted that is. But I don't dream the way I used to about the place...nice to hear some words of discontent.
    You might very much enjoy the current pop song, Ca m'enerve..

  5. Came across your Blog and I like it.

    Expat life is not always glam only...people just don't get it.
    How about snow at the end of April?

  6. I have no idea how I came across your blog this morning but I love it!
    I'm going to have to spend some time reading through the months back to the present but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make!
    I spent a week in Paris last year and dream of going back with my husband (went with friends). I love trying to figure out if I know where you're talking about!

  7. Dear Accidental Parisian,

    from one anonymous academic blogger to another: hello, it's nice to "meet" you! I see that we have other things in common too: I'm also living in Europe at the moment and in a long-distance marriage, but not for much longer. I came across your site through Lets Go Ride A Bike and I'm delighted to have found you! I look forward to many future visits, a bientot!

    S. of academichic

  8. Hello S. of academichic,

    Nice to "meet" you! If you want to come to Paris and teach me how to thrift, you would be most welcome. I haven't been posting frequently but with the academic year winding down I hope to be back here more often.

    BTW, hope that you're moving back with your husband, not splitting up!


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).