I met a woman for coffee at Cafe de Flore today whose “moving to Paris” story inspired me; I thought you might like to hear it, too.
She’s a friend of a friend whose name was passed along with a request that I might help acquaint her with life in Paris. This is one of the many benefits of living here — I get to hear from so many people (friends and distant connections alike) who are coming to Paris and want the “inside scoop.” I don’t fool myself that this is due to my personal charm — let’s just say we had noticeably fewer visitors in Boston — but to this beguiling city that I am lucky to call home. (For now, that is. No familial panicking, please.)
So we met at Flore, one of the city’s most famous cafes, where Sartre and de Beauvoir carried on their infamous love affair. I recognized my coffee date right away (as she did me), marking one another by our unmistakable American-ness. There’s something about the open expression, eager smile and informal air that makes it instantly easy to spot fellow countrymen.
And so she shared her tale of living the Paris dream so many have, but only a brave few actually attempt. She leased out her house, bid adieu to her beloved job, rented a storage unit and filled it with her worldly possessions. No longer a kid but a woman in her prime, she’s lived long enough to know that life is short. Single and independent, it was time to explore the possibility of actually living in Paris. Her plan? To write, explore and expand her horizons — generally live life, and all its small pleasures — while figuring out what the next step will be. Pretty great, eh?
She’s staying in a Latin Quarter flat owned by some relatives, filling her days discovering museums, parks, restaurants and hidden treasures. (She also bravely joined a French gym, perhaps a post for another time…) There was talk of a memoir project and architectural research — both perfectly suited to the passions of this fair city. As we talked on about language programs, the many groups to join, classes to take and places to visit (not to mention shops to discover), I began to think her adventure may extend beyond her planned three-month stay. But as is always the case in life, we have to take that first bold step before we can see (or even imagine) the rewards that might follow. Bravo to her for having the guts.
Who knows? She may come to the end of her Paris stay and decide she’s ready to return to the full life she left behind. Then again, Paris has a way of changing people’s plans. I have a feeling she might be one of them.
What about you? Do you dream about living in Paris or somewhere abroad? If you live in Paris, was it tough to make the move? I’d love to hear from you…