An Expat Mama in Paris sets her ‘sites’ on empowerment
One of the best parts of writing for Mama Loves Paris is that we get to sit down and talk with fascinating people and hear about their life and work, and of course, their Paris story. Join me in the Tea Lichou café as I chat with Alannah Moore, the author of ‘Create Your Own Website the Easy Way’ and a Paris Mama extraordinaire!
Alannah is a mama of one and lives in Paris – she’s from the UK and shares how she inspires people to set up their own website and what she loves and hates about living in Paris as an expat!
The book everyone needs
Alannah Moore has written a book that shows you that, you do not need to be an expert to build a professional-looking website. Whether you need a site for your business, an online portfolio to showcase your work or maybe just a personal site to share your travels, she is passionate about teaching people how to do it themselves, without having to code or spend a lot of cash. She explains that she wrote the book because it just simply didn’t exist already and what she enjoys most is empowering people to create their own sites. “A lot of people don’t realise that there are a number of really easy-to-use systems out there to create your own site. The books that do exist don’t tackle this. They focus on a bit of coding to create one amateurish-looking page.
My book shows you in jargon-free terms how to use the systems out there to create a really great-looking, credible and professional site.” Alannah really has achieved her goal. The book is fresh, accessible and very clear about how to build your site, issues to consider, how to work with visuals and everything from visuals, newsletters and email systems. It’s a clear and empowering read and the layout is great. You can focus in on the chapters that are most relevant to you.
A passion for empowering people with their own site
One of the great strengths of the book is its grassroots feel. It’s full of real-life examples of people actually doing it – building sites and the issues they faced. Alannah explains: “I am lucky enough to have worked one-to-one with a lot of people so I know the problems they tend to face.”
“The people who agreed to talk with me for the book were fantastic. They shared their tips and I think they helped to give the reader confidence. The book is not aimed at techies or web designers. It’s for normal people who want nothing less than a great-looking site and they want to read about it in a way that is fun and accessible.”
Long term Paris Mama
Alannah has been in Paris for over 21 years and she has an eight-year-old son. I cannot resist quizzing her about her favourite Paris haunts and her love affair with the city. She explains: “I am from London and I always had the travel bug so I didn’t really envisage that I would settle down here in Paris. It was an experiment and I am accidentally still here! You come, you make friends, you put down roots and then life starts to evolve and I never left again.”
From Montmartre to the 5th district
Alannah used to live in the Montmartre area and the re-settled in the 5th district. It’s clear she loves both: “I do feel nostalgic for Montmartre sometimes. It is so incredibly picturesque, plus that is where I lived my pre-child, carefree days. My favourite spot in Montmartre is if you go up over the top and slightly around the back, there’s a street with some wonderfully unusual houses, rue Saint-Vincent, I think. Some of the houses have modern bits stuck on and some are just old and fantastic. I had a car in my Montmartre days and used to have to go round and round the one-way system up there and I never minded because it was so beautiful.”
So how did she take to life in the more central 5th district? “I never thought I’d leave Montmartre but I moved to the 5th for reasons of the heart. And in fact, I then fell in love with the 5th! I live right by the Seine, right in the shadow of Notre Dame, although it’s on the other side of the water and I absolutely love it. It’s so central. People pass through all the time, they call to say they’re at St Michel and can we meet. You go downstairs out of your apartment and Paris is right there, all around you.”
Motherhood in Paris
Alannah explains that for her son, Paris is simply home, he has lived here all his life. “His favourite things to do are what you’d expect. He loves to go to the park to play football. We like to go down to the Seine, to stroll along the Quai de Tournelle with our dog, just before the sculpture park. The Zoo out at Vincennes is a favourite for us. We can spend all day there. When he was younger, we went to the Aquarium at Trocadero a lot. He loves to go to La Villette as well, especially to Cite des Enfants and Cite des Sciences.”
Alannah is also a mine of useful information about parenting in Paris. She thinks it is a great place to have a baby. “You get five days in a brilliant hospital, lovely food, taught how to bathe the baby, everything you need to know. Someone comes to your house, tells you the best place to put the bath, the crib. This is all so useful for a first-time parent. We also rented a transparent crib from the pharmacy and a breast pump, either free or at very low cost.
“the Anglophone parents’ group, Message. It is a wonderful way of making instant friends”
The PMI (medical centres around town for young children) are great for getting free check-ups, getting the baby weighed, medical advice. These PMI centres also have mother and baby groups so you can meet mums in your local neighbourhood. I would also recommend joining the Anglophone parents’ group, Message. It is a wonderful way of making instant friends and having activities to join. get your name down early if you want a spot at the crèche. And don’t be afraid to be persistent and drop in to remind them about you regularly. I really recommend having a baby here!”
Where to eat and where to relax in Paris?
Alannah loves to eat out. Her favourite spot for dinner is Le Comptoir de 5eme on Rue des Grands Degrés, right in her beloved 5th district. “It’s very small. In winter there are just a few table inside. In the summer they can seat more people with tables outside. Their food is French but very imaginative. They offer you wine pairings with whatever food you order, which I love.”
If I have to go up the Eiffel Tower one more time, I will throw myself off it!
And where does she go just to chill? “Down to the river. Or to little park on the Rue de Bièvre. It’s tiny, shady and quiet.” I remark on how refreshing it is that she didn’t choose a more obvious choice like the Jardin du Luxembourg and I love her response: “I hate the Luxembourg! It’s totally artificial. I know that’s a particularly French thing, these highly structured, official parks. But it doesn’t feel like nature or fresh air in any way. It doesn’t fill me with joy the way a quiet, leafy park would. It’s crammed with people. And that stupid, white dust gets all over you!”
Where to take (or send!) visitors
Alannah’s top picks to take visiting friends and family include the Pompidou. “I love to take visitors up to the top of the Pompidou. The views are fantastic. Yes, it’s not as high as other vantage points but there you are right in the middle of the city, seeing all the landmarks.”
A boat trip on the Seine is always a winner for her. She prefers the Bateaux Mouches. “You get to sit down. Someone else does the talking. None of this getting on and off like the Batobus. It’s a great way to have your visitors see a lot in one go, and from the river.”
She’ll never be going up the Eiffel Tower again. “If I have to go up the Eiffel Tower one more time, I will throw myself off it!” Instead, she’ll be advising her visitors to buy their tickets in advance to avoid the queues and she’ll be sending them off by themselves. And after 21 years of visitors, who can blame her.
Loving Paris (and the French!)
There is no doubting that this city has captured Alannah’s heart. “It is so romantic and beautiful. I have never got over it. Even when the tourists stand in my way and I am trying to get to the Metro station, I just rise above it because it’s all so beautiful.”
And does she love the French people as much as she loves their capital city? “Well you know I have so many lovely French friends so I wouldn’t want to say anything negative. But listen, it’s just a whole different thing. We Brits and Americans aim to be pleasing whereas the French don’t feel a need to please other people. You could say that your relationship with the French is actually a little bit more real – once their guard goes down and you get to talk and you see the real person underneath.”
MLP loved talking to Alannah Moore. Her book is ‘Create Your Own Website The Easy Way’, ISBN 978-1-78157-290-0 and she (naturellement!) has an excellent website for you to visit and get more tips. www.alannahmoore.com. Follow her on twitter @alannahmoore and like her Alannah Moore Facebook page too.
Our lovely tea, in a kid-friendly environment (with swings!) took place at Tea Lichou on Rue Broca in the 5th district.