"The evolving Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ah, April in Paris, our first week (April 2008)

Bonjour Mes Amis: What we won’t do for high speed internet?! The flight to Paris was long and laborious, but we made it, other than getting a little kind a mini-hassled at the airport immigration everything is fine. I think they thought I was Abu Sayef (Pilipino Muslin terrorist).

True to French style, our apartment is "tres petite" everything is very compact and funky, but it’s growing on me. Surprisingly, our bedroom is larger than the kitchen and living room combined, go figure? I brought way too many clothes for the amount of closet space we have. I guess I should not have brought that valise; also I had a package of summer clothes mailed to me. Oh well, I gotta due what I gotta due to keep in Parisian style. As you all know, I love to cook and entertain. My local friend said that for a Parisian kitchen I have a pretty nice kitchen, that’s scary. I do have 4-burners, an oven that looks like about the size of a toaster oven, a dishwasher about the quarter size of an American dishwasher, and best of all a refrigerator that is so tiny that the freezer only has enough room for 2 ice trays.

The area we live in is actually very, very, lovely, it's quite Bohemian. I really, really like it. The people in our small apartment building are all artists, including our landlady who happens to be half American and speaks perfect American English. Let’s see, there's a torch song singer ala Edith Piaf who lives below us. So, I guess we truly are living the Montmarte experience. FYI..., If we walk to the end of our block, and one street up, we end up on the Montmarte plaza and then the Sacre Coeur. We can't believe how close we are. The beauty though, is that we're immune from the tourist 'cause our street is not a general pathway to any of the tourist areas of Montmarte. And, if we go down the hill, we are literally 2-blocks from the Abbesess metro stop, and all the shops and restaurants, and further down is the Pigalle and this huge boulevard. If you ever saw the movie Amilé that little restaurant etc., is around the corner from us as well.

We went out to dinner last night with a friend in the La Marais (Gay/Jewish area). It’s extremely trendy and happening. Rush hour is between 7 pm and 8 pm and they don’t even think about eating out till around 9 pm. We went to dinner at this cute café. Very young, I felt so old in that place, oh well; plastic surgery is next on the list. The food was good. I looked around the prices for meals and they’re pretty much in line with San Francisco prices, even when converting Euros to dollars; but that’s only in the local places, the tourist areas are very expensive. For a prix fix lunch or dinner it can run around 12-25 Euros. And, as some of you know, in SF that’s about average. We finished dinner at midnight, which is very common, since the metro closes at 1 a.m.

Today we went to the prefecture police to get our Carte de Sejour (i.e., green card); my God we truly experienced French Bureaucracy at its best. We had to wait for 3 ½ hours, outside in the cold with no public bathrooms and once inside we had to re-present all the paperwork we gave at the SF consulate. It was funny but sad, but the woman who helped us, and I use that word lightly, was taking personal calls and chatting with friends, her boyfriend stopped by and they starting goggling each other, then finally I was told I had to have more pictures, I ran around the corner to a photo shop, and it was closed, freaking out, I saw a sign at an optometry shop “photo” I say, what the hell, so I went in and asked and they offered it. Running back like a mad dog to the prefecture, I didn’t wait and went to the women who helped, but she told me to wait, since she was on another chatty personal phone call. Sorta reminded me of what the DMV in the states was like. I thought all is done, but NOOOO! We have to be interviewed before a card is issued and it was scheduled for June, by the time we finally get it we’ll be back in the U.S.?!?! After all this hassle we may just stay another year to make it worthwhile.

It was about 3 pm when we finished, they have no public bathrooms at the prefecture, remember, I’m the person who has to go to the bathroom several times and hour, not only that I hadn’t eaten anything, we were famished. So, we starting looking for a restaurant, most stopped serving food at 3 p.m., but we managed to find, of all things, an American restaurant in a touristy area. The hamburgers cost $15; I was so hungry I would have eaten a horse, which they sell. That was the best hamburger ever.

Tonight we went out and met some friends at an outdoor café for cocktails around the corner. On that corner is the vegetable stand where the crazy fruit vendor in the movie Amilié was filmed. The Montmarte truly is a beautiful area. As we sat having cocktails outdoors, we were looking down into the city since Montmarte is the highest point of Paris. “LIFE IS GOOD” anyway, after the prefecture experience.

Tomorrow we’re invited to some friend’s house for dinner. Just an FYI…, I’m told by a local friend of mine that if you’re invited to dinner, don’t bring wine, it’s considered insulting, bring chocolates or flowers. Thank God he told me.

Well this is all for now. Just wanted to share our first experiences in Paris with you all, keep in mind, we’ve only been here for 3-days and it’s been pretty exciting, can’t wait for the coming weeks, months etc.

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