Paris Highs and Lows

            It is on Summer Solstice eve, but in Paris it feels the peak of summer has hit.  Saturday’s temperatures reached 38 degrees Celsius (over 100 degrees Farenheit).  This is doable in other places in the world, but in a city that has old buildings with no air conditioning, it is unbearable.  A local Starbucks and airport even lack air conditioning, which blows my mind.  This is one luxury that I miss about America, the luxury of AC, even for the relief of my dogs.  Luckily, I have a portable AC, but the space still remained warm with the AC and three fans.  We slept on the floor near the air conditioning to find peace. One can’t help but notice that everyone is a little more irritable with excessive heat and no relief, even the metros were not functioning at normal capacity.  Since then a thunderstorm has swept through and cooled the land. 

            I spoke with a fellow American the other day, who has lived in the city for three years.  She seemed to have mixed emotions as she discussed the potential of staying in the City of Lights.  I said to her, “you seem to have a love/hate relationship with Paris.”  She responded with a smirk, “don’t we all?”  I agreed.  And we discussed that every place has it’s highs and lows.  

            I love the ability to walk to most destinations or the easy accessibility that public transportation affords here.  But my 27 square meter apartment (less than 300 feet), is beginning to feel cramped.  I noticed this last week, as I arranged two new art pieces in my home.  As they went up, an Edison lamp fell down, shattering glass everywhere.  I let out a scream.  It was primal and automatic.  My dogs peered at me with horror, wondering what they did.  I proceeded to sweep glass in my dust pan, and continue to find shards of glass in unexpected places. 

            I am hitting my six month mark of residing here in Paris, with minimal improvement to my French.  I have made friends, but they have not made my inner circle of deep friends.  I begin to wonder if I should renew my visa in France.  Should I extend my time here?  My dogs are still alive and aging, and it will keep me tied to Europe.  But I can’t help but wonder is another country pulling me? Is France sustainable, without knowing the language, or having a job here.  I could reside anywhere, but will I stay here? 

            Yesterday, I shared this reflection in my creativity group.  The group is full of other expats, who have been here for at least several years.  They reminded me the inspiration that resides in the city, whether this is in the bountiful art museums, the hidden gardens, the history lurking the streets, or the similar minds you interact with.  I’ve given myself a time frame of several months to decide.  It’s a magical place this city, but there are inconveniences one must face to reside here.  

“You stumble, you soar. And if you’re lucky, you make it to Paris for a while.” — Amy Howard

Paris Necessities

I have officially been living in Paris for five weeks, and there are two things I have noticed that are necessities for living here: a proper jacket and comfortable walking shoes. Shoes should not come as a surprise.  Paris is an easily accessible city by foot, and therefore many locals and tourists take advantage of this.  We walk several miles every day.  Comfortable footwear that navigates you throughout the terrain is vital to stay healthy and energized.  I have never worn my Doc Martens as much as I have this past month.  

Yet, I am fascinated by how much I have lived in my winter coat.  Several weeks ago, I bought a wool coat at a trendy shop.  It was camel colored, went down to my ankles, and was very French.  It also was 50% off and I thought I landed a deal with a 40 euro wool jacket.  But you get what you paid for.  I was wearing the jacket everyday, and slowly it began to fall apart.  The pockets began to develop holes in it, furries were building in the areas it was rubbing up against (by the coat pockets), and strings were coming off of it. I realized I was wearing this coat so much, and rarely took it off when I met with friends.  We spent most of our socialization time walking the streets or eating outside at the cafes, by heat lamps.  I noticed, I wore the same several outfits for much of the month, and my fashion did not matter as long as I had a nice jacket.  After several weeks of this beautiful coat that began to turn worn, it was time to invest in a more expensive wool coat.  This purchase also coincided with the Parisian sales period.  I donated my several weeks worn winter coat to a local person in need, and invested in this new camel piece. 

 

There’s beauty in the simplicity of being a local in Paris.  The apartments are small.  I was living in a four floor house in the UK, and now my apartment is less than 270 square feet.  It’s tiny home living, but you truly begin to value and use all that resides in your space.  Your life is full, even though space is small.  You realize you don’t need much, and take pride in the minimal items you do own and share with the world. 

Know if you are to ever to visit Paris in the winter, pack these two items: good shoes and a great coat.  Disregard anything else that’s worn underneath.  Nobody will notice.  Stay warm, cozy, classic, and chic.

“London is a riddle. Paris is an explanation.” —Gilbert Keith Chesterton