Q: Why did you move to Paris?
A: My husband and I had always wanted to live abroad for a short time with our kids, specifically, somewhere in Europe. Scott was inspired by the memoirs of Theodore Roosevelt, who said his year spent traveling Europe and the Middle East with his parents was the most important and educational of his life. We spent a memorable trip to Paris in 2011 and decided this was our city! Then we figured out a way with Scott’s job to create the opportunity.
Q: Are you coming back to Charlotte?
A: Yes! This is a temporary assignment. We rented a fully furnished apartment in Paris and brought only clothes and a few personal effects.
Q: Was apartment hunting in Paris similar to an episode of House Hunters International (HGTV)?
A: Yes and no. It was definitely as fun as it looks on TV. Paris apartments are amazing; that is, the old, Haussmann-style with beautiful floors and picturesque views. We also saw some efficiency apartments that lacked both a view, and a toilet.
And, like on TV, the apartments go FAST, so you have to make quick decisions.
Q: Is living in Paris expensive?
A: Compared to Charlotte, YES. I have heard from others that it is comparable to New York, and less expensive than London. Also, if we are craving “American” goods like peanut butter, those items are very expensive.
Q: Do you speak French?
A: The short answer is no, but I’m learning. As a student, I took about 3 years of French. As we planned this trip, the entire family took French lessons at Ecole du Samedi (www.frenchschoolcharlotte.com) and Carolina Language Academy (www.carolinalanguage.com). Still, when we got here, I realized I am a true beginner (une vraie débutante!). The kids get French everyday at school, and Scott and I are taking lessons here through Alliance Française (www.alliancefr.org).
Q: Are the French as rude to Americans as we have heard?
A: No way! The French are lovely. They have a very strong culture of (verbal) politeness. Although it took some getting used to, it’s quite refreshing. Every person, regardless of job or social class, is afforded a sincere “Bonjour, Madame or Monsieur” accompanied with eye contact. One is also expected to say “Excusez-moi, Monsieur…” before asking a question, followed by a “merci” of course. Southerners should totally understand this! It’s just good manners. But we realized how often (as Americans) we just approach a shopkeeper and say “Where is the milk?” or “Do you have this shirt in a medium?”
If you do this here, you will get in reply a strong and pointed “BONJOUR, madame.”
Q: How are the kids adjusting?
A: Fantastic. They have each other, and now they have some friends at school. Adjusting to the new foods here was a bit challenging, but just at first.
Q: Where are your pets?
A: We left them behind in the loving care of family and friends. We are indebted to them for caring for our sweet animals until we return. Our dog is an energetic Golden Retriever puppy who would be miserable cooped up in an apartment in an urban environment.