This year, for Round 3 of Parents in Paris, we needed to find a new destination.
The first year, we stuck around Paris because there was plenty to see for my Dad’s first time in France and of course there was that little business of my wedding. The second year, we covered a few more of Paris’ Greatest Hits including a visit to Versailles, and then hit the road up to Normandy for a tour of the north’s amazing WWII history.
For this trip, we decided to head south, to Provence.
I had long joked that for my impending 30th birthday, I wanted to gather a bunch of my friends and go to Disneyland. I thought, what’s more ridiculous and silly than for a bunch of adults to go to Disney? And while it did start as a joke, over time, I really came to love the idea 1) because it is silly to celebrate your 30th birthday in a children’s theme park, and 2) because I love Disney and why the hell not.
So when my 30th actually rolled around, Frenchman and I thought… let’s do it!
Having visited nearly all of the major sites that Paris has to offer on their first and second trips to France, when my parents came to visit this spring, we were looking for something to do outside of the city. We had visited Versailles last year, so that was out. We discussed Fontainebleau or Chantilly or Vaux le Vicomte but my dad just wasn’t interested in more chateaux, no matter how impressive.
What he wanted was something not too museum-y. Something old. Something village-y.
The village of Provins
We settled on Provins, a medieval walled city located just an hour from Paris. Not to be confused with Provence, this village is a World Heritage Site known for the 13th century walls surrounding it and its 12th century tower. It’s also a very easy train ride from Gare de l’Est for a few euro (or included in your Navigo!)
We arrived at the station in Provins, which is located down in the modern part of town, and hopped on the little shuttle bus that takes you up to the old city. In theory, this bus makes several stops, and we had planned to get off in the lower city for lunch, but the bus never stopped and never gave any indication that getting off was an option. SO directly to the old city we went.
The shuttle drops you off at the tourist center, where you can buy tickets to the various activities, including falconry shows and jousts. We skipped that and walked up to the gates of the walled city.
I did it. I finally got my hair cut in France.
To explain how serious this situation was, let me explain. It had been a full 2 years since I’d had a real haircut (before I moved to France).
Now, I’m already pretty bad at scheduling haircuts at home, in English. I wait ages until we’re way past acceptable length to actually make the call because it can just be such a hassle. It took me years to find a salon in Boston that I liked and would regularly schedule appointments with because my requirements are, apparently, complex. They are as follows: 1) good with curly hair, 2) open late enough on weekdays to go after work, 3) online appointment booking.
Online appointment scheduling should be standard for every salon. There. I said it.
It just makes sense! Who has the time to call, and then when they inevitably offer you a day or time that fits none of the original availability you’ve given them, you have to go back and forth wasting everyone’s time. Why not just provide a calendar that we can all check at our leisure and click on the timeslot that matches up with our own schedules? But I digress…
Since this is Paris, I knew there was no way I would find online booking in a salon here. The bigger hurdle was getting up the courage to actually go for the cut with a language barrier of unknown proportions. (What’s the lingo for layers and low-maintenance, no I don’t own a blow dryer that works here, and no I don’t style it, well, ever, in French?) It’s hard enough to explain to a stylist exactly what you want in your own language. Doing it in French is a real risk. Continue reading
It’s January, the start of a new year. Everyone at work, though just back from their holiday breaks, has been talking about what trips and vacations everyone has planned for the year. While I don’t have all of my weekend jaunts and 3-week retreats scheduled just yet, it got me thinking about what’s on deck for 2017.
So here it all is! A schedule of all the events and noteworthy Paris things to come this year that I’ve got on my radar. Give or take a few dozen, that is: Continue reading
Last year, I just missed the Fête des Vendanges. It ended the 9th of October. I arrived the 10th.
This year, there was no way I was going to miss this!
La Fête des Vendanges 2016
A “fête des vendanges” is a wine harvest festival. THE Fête des Vendanges is a wine harvest festival in Paris itself, in Montmartre. Because there’s a vineyard in Montmartre. Did you know that?
So this particular Fête isn’t just any wine-soaked fête, it’s a wine-soaked fête perched atop the highest point in Paris, surrounding the iconic Sacre Cœur and overlooking the rest of the city. So you can see why I was determined to go to this year’s event. Continue reading
I’ve had so many things to say – and so little time to say them.
First and foremost… It’s my France-iversary!
I’ve officially been living in France for a full year, minus those couple of months at the start of this year. But my stuff has been here for a full year and that’s what counts. Home is where
the heart your stuff is.
It’s amazing to me that it has been a year already. This time last year, I was just moving into a freezing apartment with no heat, nervous to try the metro alone, and starting a long, strange few months working from home. I can’t believe how much has changed since then. Travel, engagement, married (twice), working, feeling settled… I couldn’t have asked for more. Continue reading
I know, I know. It’s been forever.
And I’m sure you’ve been sitting on the edge of your seat, near tears, just waiting for the next post from l’Américaine.
Well, here it is. So sit back, worry no more, your favorite expat has finally gotten her sh*t together enough to write you a story about what’s been happening… more or less.
But let me tell you, it’s been a busy few weeks (or months? I don’t know how long its been since I wrote anything). I started a job and got busy and got tired from all the French being spoken at and around me all day every day. I took a whirlwind trip home to Boston and back in the span of what felt like 2 days (it was 4). I did lots of wedding planning and preparation for September, and move/house planning. And then every day les français at work ask me when I’m going on vacation and I have to sadly say I’m not, really (as they leave for 2 week trips to Sri Lanka and Norway, lamenting how short it is). Continue reading
A lot has happened in the last couple of months, and I haven’t written about any of it.
It’s not like I didn’t have the time. For almost all of April and May, I was home just about every day. With exceptions of course for that time I got married and the week I showed my parents around Paris, I’ve had a pretty wide-open schedule. I’ve filled my days with job-hunting for hours on end, cat-snuggling (a full time job on its own, really), and going for really long walks to get lost and find my way home again. And yet somehow, I never found time to tell you all about it. Or maybe I just wasn’t inspired after several days straight on the couch.
Human contact is a funny thing. Too much of it and you’re dying for some alone time in your jammies with a snack and your favorite shows. Not enough, and you start to become a bit too attached to your Netflix account, who is always there for you and would never do anything to hurt you.
Over the last couple of weeks though, things have been looking up! Good stuff has happened, the weather got better (briefly), and I started to spend more time with fun people other than my cat. Lunches here and there with friends, shopping trips, and – most important of all – I found my people in France for weekly Game of Thrones viewing. It does a person good to find their fellow nerds.
Anyway, I’m bouncing back with a few random thoughts from the last few weeks of “Spring” here in Paris: Continue reading
I quit my job to live in France.
That sounds like an intriguing start to the next New York Times Best Selling novel, but the reality of it isn’t as fun as it sounds. I mean, I can’t say it’s all bad, not at all. I get to sleep late, go nowhere if I don’t want to, hang with the cat… It’s actually pretty great. For the first week or two.
After the rush of wrapping up my job at the company I was with for over 4 years (and saw grow from 10 people to nearly 200), rushing back to France and getting married, then showing my parents around Paris for a week, I was ready for a break. It was nice to relax a bit. But after the first couple of weeks, having nowhere to go gets old.
When you picture “I quit my job to move to France” you imagine leisurely strolls through ornate gardens with a croissant in hand, sipping espresso at cafés, and mid-week visits to world-famous museums. The problem is that while, yes, I do have all the time in the world to do those things, I don’t have the income to support it. You can’t make daily trips to the terrasse for a coffee on an indefinitely-unemployed budget. That’s the part they forget to mention in movies; the funds required for a life of leisure.
So what do I do with my time? Whatever’s free.
So here’s my Unofficial Guide to Being a Bored Expat