Living in Paris – Insider Perspective
Every mama has a story about her arrival in Paris, life in this city with her kids and how she found her feet and her path. Over the next months we’ll be talking to different inspirational mamas around Paris about their lives and their neighbourhoods. First up is Claire Brocklehurst, a mum of two, who has set up Our Mummy Life website with Amy Klein. Claire talks to MLP’s Jennifer Hamerman about life in Paris and her beloved 17th arrondissement…
Claire Brocklehurst moved to Paris two-and-a-half years ago. She lives in the 17th district with her husband Alex and their two boys, Eli (4.5) and Lucas who will soon turn 3. It’s their family’s fourth country after they were transferred to Paris from New York for her husband’s work. I first met Claire at a morning coffee she was hosting for fellow mums. She was a lively and warm host, such a positive personality, and I was eager to hear how she adapted to life in Paris, given she is a veteran expat. Is the transition smoother if you’re used to moving countries?
Gosh if I’m honest, I found our move to Paris to be the hardest transition yet.
She explains that it wasn’t easy, despite her history of starting afresh in new countries: “Gosh if I’m honest, I found our move to Paris to be the hardest transition yet. The language barrier was my first and biggest issue. Then I think the culture shock, sense of closure and people generally not as open to chatting in the park or anywhere really. Luckily I am used to moving and making new friends, so I have no issue networking and approaching people when I hear them speaking English!”
For me, one of the great upsides of Paris is the ease of family life, and I wonder if Claire feels the same? She responds: “I think Paris is especially fab with kids in the warmer months, or at least when it’s ok to be outdoors. With two busy boys, we love doing outings to places like the Jardin D’Acclimatation or any outdoor activities even if it’s just some ball play in our local Parc Monceau. The Cite des Sciences up in the Villette park and Cite des Enfants on the same site are our two favourite rainy day activities.
Family life in the 17th district
I am eager to know how she likes the 17th district where she lives as I have always loved that neighbourhood. What is it like for families? Claire clearly loves the area: “We really love where we live, on the corner of Parc Monceau. I think the 17th is very family friendly, a neighborhood feel with the rue Levis market. It’s a neighbourhood that is always friendly to kids scooting down the street especially on the weekend. We especially love spending time in Parc Monceau which is not too crowded, isn’t full of tourists and is well kept. The carousel is a nice activity for the weekend and the pony rides are fun too. My kids especially enjoy the newly renovated playground.
“Our local favourite restaurant is Le Dome Villiers. It is really good with the kids, has highchairs, an”d they tolerate the kids being kids! If it’s not too busy they will even provide some crayons and paper for entertainment so we can enjoy our meal. There is also a more modern carousel just on the corner outside Le Dome, which spaceships, helicopters, motorbikes and race cars!”
Dates nights and meeting friends
So Claire, the babysitter is booked. Where in the 17th will you take your husband? Give us a few places you love for a child-free evening. She laughs: “Strangely enough we always go back to Le Dome even without the kids, as they have some of the best cocktails I’ve had in Paris! The Pornstar Martini is my absolutely fave, and all my friends know about it too as we usually make that our meetup spot for a drink. A couple other hidden gems in the 17th, we love Petrus which is a fabulously chic restaurant on the Pereire (metro) circle. A less expensive and more casual vibe if we are looking for good dim sum, is YOOM Dim Sum restaurant on Rue Des Dames.
Launching Our Mummy Life website
I always admire those who arrive in Paris because of their partner’s job, have to cope with small kids in a new city where they don’t yet speak the language. That already seems like a big challenge. Yet Claire is running a new website with her friend Amy Klein. The two of them run Our Mummy Life, which at the time of writing has over 17.5k followers on Facebook. The women have a great style, with parenting, food, health, beauty and make-up tips delivered in a fresh, honest and engaging way. The emphasis seems to be on women sharing rather than telling others what to do. It is realistic and fun, as witnessed by Claire’s live Facebook broadcast on meal-planning.
I am eager to hear more about Our Mummy Life and Claire is passionate about it: “Our Mummy Life is all about real mums, real ideas, real life. As busy mums ourselves, we wanted to provide other mums with everyday things like easy at-home exercises, to beauty information and tutorials, to recipes and hacks. The idea is to make everyone’s lives easier and add some fun into parenting.”
She clearly loves the project and it is easy to see what a fantastic formula it is. Claire continues: “It always makes me excited to talk about Our Mummy Life. Amy and I never expected it to take off this fast and we are so thrilled with the international following we have gained, more importantly the women around the world that we are reaching. This was our goal to start with – helping busy moms all over the world, no matter their language, country or background – we all speak Motherhood! And supporting one another is what’s most important.”
And what’s next for Our Mummy Life? “Well, launching our website back in July was a huge step for us. We worked for weeks to build it and put all of our Facebook content and more on, so that mums all around the world have one place they can get all the exercise and beauty videos, skincare info, recipes, hacks, snack ideas and now even a story corner for their kids! So I guess the next step is continuing to reach as far and wide as we can, because even if we make one mum’s life easier, we have achieved our goal for the day”.
MLP’s Top Tips for the 17th
- The Parc Monceau is a joy. It’s beautiful but it’s very much a local park. You won’t find hordes of tourists, just local families.
- The Batignolles neighbourhood remains arty and has a charming village feel
- The Martin Luther King park is a gem. It has an urban feel and kind of reminds us of New York’s High Line
- Rue de Levis market street is one of our favourite Paris markets
- Le Club des Enfants Parisiens. Yes, the 17th has a private members club for kids. Despite the title, it’s not at all stuffy – lots of activities and workshops for children and they do a pretty good birthday party.
Enjoy the 17th Arrondissement!
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