Ah! The City of Light. In 2011 we put all of our things in a storage unit and flew to Paris France. It was one of the scariest decisions we've ever made but has proven to also be one of the most rewarding! Here is a Paris Guide a friend wrote for us when we came to Paris on our Honeymoon. I'm putting together my own recommendations as I get to know the city better. In the meantime you can read about Things to Do in Paris and Things to Eat in Paris. Thinking about making the move abroad yourself? Read about my experience moving and living in France right here.
I’m in Paris this week and I only like to travel with a carry-on. I did a post last summer on how to pack for Paris in the summer but the winter is a whole other beast so I thought I would do a post on it. The first thing I think about when packing for the winter is being warm. When you are a tourist you have to dress warmer than the average Parisian who is usually just going from home to work. A tourist spends most of the time outside going from location to location so you have to dress for the elements. Paris rarely gets snow but gets a decent amount of rain. I’ve found a good pair of leather boots repel the water just fine. It’s not worth bringing a whole other set of rain shoes. If you are going somewhere in Europe with a lot of snow it might be a different story. I usually buy an umbrella for 5 Euros from a street vendor if I need it, same with cheap black gloves. I don’t pack that kind of thing with me because they usually get lost quickly and I don’t want to worry about lugging my good stuff across the pond with me. Below I’ve listed what I brought with me with an explanation of how I use it. The main thing to think about when you are traveling in the winter is that every single outfit is basically going to look the same because of your winter coat. So pick your warm coat first and then plan all the outfits around that. I bring enough underwear so I only need to do laundry once (if I’m staying for 10 days I bring 5 pairs!) I do a load midweek (it’s usually underwear and tshirt layers) to save space.
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I love using Airbnb when I travel for so many reasons but this is especially true in Paris. The hotel rooms in Paris tend to be teeny-tiny so getting an apartment is a way better value. If you haven’t traveled much in Europe the idea of staying in a flat vs. a hotel can seem strange (I had to talk my sister into it recently) but it’s how most people travel in Europe. I lived in Paris for a year and a half and my friends are always asking me to help them choose an Airbnb so I thought I would do a post on how to choose an Airbnb Flat in Paris. I actually just returned from a trip to Paris and we stayed in the most beautiful Airbnb flat. (Of course there are lots of great neighborhoods but for the sake of this post I’m going to narrow it down to my three favorites.)
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I’m so excited… for the first time since we moved back 2 years ago, I’m headed back to France in a few weeks! I’ll be spending some time in Dijon, Reims & Poitiers and then ending the trip in Paris (with a quick sidetrip to Morocco!) I can’t wait to visit all my favorite places and go say hi to our old apartment. If you have any recommendations of new places that have popped up since we lived there, I’d love to hear them!
And just in case you want a few of my Paris recommendations, here are a few of my favorite posts from when we lived there:
Once we officially had our French visas we put all our plans into motion. We made a packing list of the kinds of things we wanted to bring with us. We researched movers and storage places to keep our things in San Francisco while we were gone. We started to take French lessons from a tutor. We tried to estimate what our monthly costs would be and looked for hidden costs so we wouldn’t be surprised. And last but not least we started to look for a Paris apartment. (Here is my first post.)
Looking for an apartment in Paris is a dream and a nightmare. Since I knew it would probably be the only time we were going to live in Paris, I really didn’t want to skimp. I wanted it all: parquet wood floors, floor to ceiling windows with a view, a great Parisian neighborhood with a market, a nearby Metro stop. I dare you to look at Paris apartment listings without getting starry eyed. It’s impossible. There are some really amazing apartments out there. On the other side of the coin, Paris apartments can be old, have very strange layouts, are hard to find, and can be very expensive. In general if you are looking for an apartment in Paris I would look on Seloger, Sabbatical Homes, Fusac, or Craigslist. (In order of helpfulness.)
(Continue reading below for our story and all the surprise costs.)
I am missing Paris this week. We have been home three months now and I have been trying to process the whole experience. I wanted to write down my thoughts on the subject before I forget everything. Moving abroad was definitely one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Before we went Paul and I had always talked about moving abroad like a lot of people do. But the motivation really came when I was at a photo shoot for Anthology Magazine and the photographer and the artist (whose home we were shooting) were talking about the time they each had spent in Paris. And it sort of clicked, I realized that a lot of creative people I knew had “done their time” in Paris. I don’t think moving to Paris is necessary for being creative but I decided if there was any way we could make it happen, we should try.
We started to research about visas and we realized if we could both keep our jobs and work remotely from Paris then we wouldn’t have to go through the challenges of finding a job and getting a work visa (very difficult). We were also happy to find out that rent in Paris is cheaper than in San Francisco. Our two bedroom apartment in Paris which was in a nice neighborhood and had a small view of the Eiffel Tower was about $2500/month. In San Francisco a two bedroom in an equivalent neighborhood would be more like $3200/month. If you don’t live in a city that probably sounds like a lot but all the New Yorkers reading this I’m sure are rolling their eyes about how affordable it is! (On a sidenote, my sister moved to the French countryside at the same time and they have a huge Farmhouse for about $1500/month. She covers all of that in this post.)
The financial aspect for me was the most frightening. I don’t get nervous very often but it was terrifying putting ourselves in a place where we weren’t sure how much we would make (as freelancers our income is always inconsistent) or how much our monthly expenses would be. Sometimes people use words like “lucky” about us moving to Paris, and I know we are. But I want to sit them down and explain to them how scary it was moving to France. It put us so far out of our comfort zone in every way possible. We didn’t speak French, we didn’t know a soul, we didn’t even have a place to live, or (continue reading below)