A Love Affair with Paris
written by CJ Parry
Given that it’s the worlds most beautiful city, people dream of a life in Paris. The French capital attracts an audience of millions, most of whom fall head over heels in love with her stunning beauty, cultural prowess, sense of style, cooking skills and of course her exquisite taste in wine. Not to mention that accent! What’s not to love?
The thing is. When one speed-dates Paris for a few hours, a short weekend or even a month or two; there is no doubt, that one can be left reeling and positively giddy with joy, after having one’s senses massaged by this seductress. I get it, I really do! I’ve been there. I’ve oooohed and aaaaaahhhed and at times been overwhelmed, by the captivating charm of the capital. But dating Paris and living with her are two very different things.
Of course, if you choose the latter, it can work out. But there are a few things worth mentioning when it comes to making the transition, from part-time Paris lover to a full-on long-term live-in relationship. Most expats know what I mean! Because for most of us, when the reality sets in, it can be so shocking that for a minute you wouldn’t be blamed, for thinking that someone had played a cruel joke on you. As the veil is lifted and Paris reveals a few challenging qualities.
I won’t make this a long-winded complaint about the flaws of Gay Paree. But here are a few useful tips, for those who are considering moving to Paris and jumping in feet first.
Let’s just be clear, the French language is utterly enchanting and irresistible. Even listening to two natives arguing can lead to a bout of paralysing eroticism, and Paris is well aware of how desirable this makes her. But if YOU CAN’T really speak the lingo or move fluidly through the tenses or flip your adjectives and nouns, while you attempt to semi-fluently purr your well-rehearsed phrasebook sentences into her ear, then… be prepared for a “hand to the face” moment! Followed by a rather disappointing, brow-dipped spew of deliberately pronounced franglais ” We cannnn speak Ingleesh if you waaaaant?”
It’s a gutting rebuke of your best efforts but this smackdown is a common occurrence. It doesn’t hurt quite so much when you’re dating Paris, but when you’re living with her it becomes quite uncomfortable and at times an issue.
So you’ve been dating Paris on and off for a while, and aside from buying tickets to her favourite Opera or slotting a few coins in a machine to get you metro billets, encounters with administrative teams hardly feature. And you gleefully carry on with you brief exposure to Paris, blissfully unaware. But then you move in, maybe you’ve had to apply for a residency permit or perhaps you need to register for your taxes or sign up your children for summer events. Well get ready for a trial separation, because there is every chance you will be revealing your more – shall we say – demented and at times hysterical side.
As you bang your head against a brick wall trying to rewrite your application for the 6th time whilst waiting in queues for hours, only to be told it’s not satisfactory and told to return another time. Or discovering by telephone after weeks of waiting for documents to be returned, that you cannot be found on the system! This can drag your relationship down. But be warned, Paris is stoic and unapologetic about this and if you complain, all you’ll get in return is her resting bitch face – so suck it up!
You’re not French
There are certain places in the world that one can visit, where your cultural difference can create fascination and for some, wild excitement. But Paris has seen it all before and quite frankly she prefers the French. She just feels more comfortable amongst her natives. So, when you’re not French this can sometimes become a little awkward. In small doses the non-French are fine but we do have ways that Paris often struggles with at times. For example, smiling. Now if you are one of those people who smiles frequently at random strangers, as you’re wandering the rues of the city, then your relationship with Paris could come to an abrupt end. She isn’t digging it people! She does not understand why you are smiling at her and quite frankly she wants you to stop!
Renting an Apartment
So you’re ready to move in with Paris? Things are getting serious! But one should be aware that she isn’t going to make it easy. It’ll take months before she’ll allow that to happen. Jumping through hoops is the name of the game! Bureaucracy will rear its ugly head again as she’ll insist on a box file full of papers to prove your eligibility, as well as your financial status going back months maybe years!
Then, you’ll have to wait in line behind hundreds of potential suitors, as the grilling assessment of your suitability takes place. Just note, that Paris is likely to swipe left! So, consider aggressively pursuing other options – perhaps an apartment finder will help you out! But be prepared for the hefty fees. However, in spite of the harrowing experience endured as you attempt to get the relationship onto a firmer footing, potential bliss awaits, once you find the perfect space. But you’ll have to weather a storm to get to that feeling of calm satisfaction.
There is no doubt that Paris has very expensive tastes, so if you have short arms and deep pockets you’ll struggle to keep her interest. Even in Bon Marché one of her favourite stores, you can find water that costs €65!
It’s no secret that heading out for a date with Paris involving food, shopping and drinking can have you secretly dialling your bank – for a credit extension – from the bejewelled toilets in the crypt of some fancy restaurant… but it’s Paris! Beguiling, beautiful Paris, where even the sales can be too expensive to indulge in. There will be moments of reflection, during your relationship with this city, where you’ll wonder whether it was worth spending all that money – on various knick-knacks – which once totalled, probably could have paid for a cheap weekend away in the Greek Islands.
On balance though, most people feel that Paris is worth it. Hooked by her exquisite allure and charisma, how can anyone possibly resist! Despite her apparent flaws, she continues to fascinate, engage and entice us and we are prepared to succumb to her needs whatever the cost.
If you enjoyed this post and your thinking about moving to Paris, check out a couple of our other insightful experiences of Paris. Like, Can living in France force you to become French? or 23 ways to survive the first year at French school or OMG! I’m living in Paris
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