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Should we move to Paris?!

(115 Posts)
Sparklemotion1982 Wed 16-Apr-14 17:48:14


I currently live in London with my husband, and he has been offered a job in Paris. I don't like London, I'm lonely here and hate the weather (before here we lived in Dubai for 7 years which I really loved, and I would love to go back there).

We have to decide whether to take the job in Paris and was wondering if anyone had any advice, having moved there.

We don't have children at the moment but would probably TTC over there as I am 32. I work from home so wouldn't meet anyone through work so am wondering what areas would be best to live in, and whether it is easy to meet people. We both only have rusty GCSE French so would have lessons over there.

Any advice would be very much appreciated as we are very confused!

Thank you!!

LillianGish Wed 16-Apr-14 19:55:36

I moved there just when I got married and loved it. Both my dcs were born there and I can highly recommend it (in fact my top tip for giving birth would be do it in France). That said we both speak French in fact dh is bilingual I think if neither of you speaks French your experience might be quite different. Where would your husband work as that would obviously influence where you might live. I'd also point out that the weather in Paris is quite similar to London.

dreamingbohemian Wed 16-Apr-14 20:05:31

I think if you're lonely in London, you'll be even lonelier in Paris, where you don't even speak the language. And the weather is not better really.

On the other hand -- maybe Paris will inspire you a bit more, maybe you'll be lucky and fall in with a good group of people. Healthcare and maternity is generally better in France.

So you could give it a try, but I think you need to be realistic.

juneau Wed 16-Apr-14 20:12:20

Well, I would go in a heartbeat, but that's just me. I've always dreamed of living in Paris.

Can you afford (or would your DH's company pay for) an intensive French course at the Alliance Francaise? If so, I highly recommend it. To get the most out of any OS experience you really need to speak the language - at least to conversational level (with the exception of the ME and a few other expat-heavy places).

If you work at home, however, I don't suppose you will be any less lonely. In fact, not speaking the language is likely to isolate you further unless you make a concerted effort.

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Thu 17-Apr-14 00:18:56

If you are lonely in London and don't speak French, if you move to Paris, it will knock the loneliness you feel in London into a cocked hat. Hate the weather in London? It rains more in Paris.

I don't mean to piss on your parade, but do think very carefully about it. The bureaucracy in Paris can grind even the most cheerful person down - if you don't speak French, and your partner does, this will put a huge burden on him, as he will have to sort out parking permits, electricity, utilities, make all the appointments for the doctors and dentist (because although there are a fair amount of English speaking doctors and dentists, the receptionists rarely speak English). And there is nothing more rage inducing than getting phone calls at work when you're in the middle of a meeting - there's a man here, I think he wants to read the meter, can you speak to him? Can you book an appointment at the dentist for me, and explain that my filling is loose, and I don't want it replaced with amalgam, can they do a white filling in its place? And having to book leave to go and deal with the parking permit people because the person at home doesn't speak enough/any French. (My DH worked from home - while he was used to it in London, he found it profoundly depressing in Paris - it was the lack of easy interaction with the outside world that did it for him, and a lack of friends, although he did make some.)

And in Paris, if you are not very confident at the language, some of the people in shops will delight in giving you entirely the wrong thing (actually, they do this with most foreigners, but it can destroy your confidence if you aren't very good at the language). It can be amusing, being given a millefeuille instead of six eclairs, the first time, but by the third time it happens - or if you just go into the bakery and ask for a baguette and they look baffled, shrug and serve the person behind you, it can grind you down.

Yes, it's a pretty city. But it's staid, middle class, middle aged and dull (that's my French neighbour's assessment, not mine - her son moved to London and she said what a lively city it was in comparison). Lovely for a holiday (but mind you don't tread in any of the dog shit that lines the pavements; very few people pick up their dog poo and there are millions of small dogs), fabulous restaurants, but so, so conventional. And never mind being the city of love - I knew five couples who split up in the four years that we were there. French divorce law, if that is where you are deemed to be resident, is not kind to the one who earns less...

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Thu 17-Apr-14 00:26:56

I've just seen that neither of you speak French - is there any way that at least one of you could do a really intensive course before you go, that gets you up to at least C1 level? Does your DH have a really good support network through work, that could relieve you both of as much of the bureaucracy as possible?

GreatAuntDinah Thu 17-Apr-14 06:37:46

But it's staid, middle class, middle aged and dull

Depends which bit you live in! OP, there are a fair number of support networks for English speakers in Paris so the isolation needn't be as big an issue as all that.

SizzlesSit Thu 17-Apr-14 07:17:04

I love living in Paris but I work, am fluent in French and am not looking for a huge group of friends (I have quite a few but with work and families ad the size of Paris its not easy to meet often)

Having said that, my English friends live here and the mum sees differents groups of English-speaking mums and their DC several times a week, loves exploring Paris and is so well known in local bakeries and at the market that she's always getting extra fruit/cakes for free...

MasterOfTheYoniverse Thu 17-Apr-14 07:21:25

Living in Paris will be as removed from what you will have experienced in Dubai as can be. And certainly the opposite spectrum of what you may have experienced living there with a baby/toddler.
I agree with all the warnings advice given above.
Maternity care is great but after you give birth it will be swim or sink and likely to be a very isolating experience.
There are many ways to enjoy Paris as a young couple. Being stuck at home with a baby is not one of them.

NomDeClavier Thu 17-Apr-14 08:10:14

Giving birth is great IF you speak good French and are stubborn OR you are happy to nod and smile and do what the doctor says. My French got very fluent very fast during my first pregnancy so I could argue my corner because I personally don't like their attitude to birth. Pregnancy care is second to none, BF support is almost universally crap.

Paris is wonderful IMO and I would go back in a flash but it can seem lonely and transient. There are the non French speaking expats who just float through for a few years and those who are there for the long haul but have a strong network of French and English friends. The first are easy come easy go and the second hard to find and get to know, and unless you're a long haul person they won't make the effort (generally speaking).

I found the Anglican church there a great help for meeting people. I'm still in touch with lots of people and if we pass through we always say hi.

Learning French before going would be a huge priority for me. If neither of you have enough to get by you're going to struggle.

SizzlesSit Thu 17-Apr-14 08:25:42

I would say though that there are loads of ways of meeting people.
Message is a forum for English-speaking mums (or if you're pregnant) andthere are meetups every day practically - both with and without DC.

Meetup also has loads of groups - including lots for expats of all nationalities plus French people wanting to meet to talk in English and in French (eg 30 mins if each si you both get to practise)

If you google associations English Paris you'll find many other groups. It all depends what you're lookin for. I've found integrating French groups of friends quite tricky. But groups of foreigners very easy.

Bonsoir Thu 17-Apr-14 12:48:38

If you can afford to live centrally and have the best of Paris on your doorstep I don't think it is all doom and gloom - the reality of Paris is that bits of it are up-to-date, glamorous and fun and others bits are from another age and place entirely, steeped in aspic and to be avoided at all costs! You become really good at mental slalom living here, picking out the bits that meet your modern woman expectations and closing your eyes to the rest. One thing is for sure: Paris is a very image conscious city and if you look midde-aged (which I am sure you do not) you haven't got a hope in hell of making inroads on the modern, forward thinking parts of society.

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Thu 17-Apr-14 22:43:12

Some of us have jobs where we meet "modern, forward thinking parts of society." smile Sometimes these people become friends, sometimes not. The most marvellous clothes horse does not an excellent conversationalist make!

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Thu 17-Apr-14 22:47:05

And I am not sure I would want to be friends with someone so shallow as to judge me on how I looked, anyway. Certainly my French (female) friends didn't (none of them were particularly image conscious - of my close friends, a couple of diplomats, a couple of business women, but they were very interesting people, which is surely what counts).

BOEUFster Thu 17-Apr-14 22:51:11

Bonsour, how silly! Surely not everybody in such a metropolitan city is so narrow-minded? I think people the world over prefer being around those who are relaxed, secure in themselves and great fun to be with, rather than the stereotypical skinny, uptight and RUDE Parisians who are paranoid about younger models pinching their husbands. That old trope of French bourgeois men taking mistresses is so outdated- there's really no need to chase eternal youth and to mistrust other women etc, at least in the modern world.

PortofinoRevisited Thu 17-Apr-14 23:05:06

Bonsoir, but you are middle aged and live near the peripherique and you seem to manage. I fear you are being a little unfair and dispiriting here. Maybe thats why I prefer Brussels as we don't give a shit about such things as modern woman expectations - whatever they are....

PortofinoRevisited Thu 17-Apr-14 23:18:52

Otherwise, I would go with what Sheherazade said. Moving abroad does not solve issues - it is same shit, different language with extra bureaucracy. A weekend in Paris is very different from moving to Paris. You have to do lots of homework.

Bonsoir Fri 18-Apr-14 14:19:37

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

dreamingbohemian Fri 18-Apr-14 14:44:46


OP it's a really good point about French bureaucracy. I think it was responsible for about 95% of the fights me and DH had when we lived in France, the fact that he (being French) had to take care of so much of it, and I hated feeling so dependent on other people. If you are used to being really independent and doing your own thing, it's incredibly frustrating to suddenly not be able to do simple things like make a doctor's appointment or get a phone contract or whatever.

Is Paris the only option for going abroad? Could you go someplace like Brussels or Berlin, where the language is not so much an issue? We live in Berlin now and it's sooooo much easier and laidback (and cheaper!)

My personal take is that it's only worth living in Paris (as an expat) if you have a ton of money so can live centrally and pay people to help you with all the complicated bits.

Bonsoir Fri 18-Apr-14 15:13:56

There are plenty of English-speaking HCPs in Paris to tide you over until you learn French - or even just because some things are easier to discuss with someone of your own culture.

Lots of people arrive not speaking French and learn it - especially when, like the OP, they are young and childless and have time to invest in language courses and making friends.

elQuintoConyo Fri 18-Apr-14 16:31:47

I live in Barcelona.

Just saying...

LillianGish Fri 18-Apr-14 16:42:15

I actually found having a baby to be the best way of cementing my French. There's nothing like having a real incentive to learn.

JenBehavingBadly Fri 18-Apr-14 19:46:21

Come now Porto. There's nothing wrong with living close to the perepherique. You can get a great deal on tyres from some of the local places, ven if the fumes can play havoc with your free radicals, ageing the skin prematurely.

PortofinoRevisited Fri 18-Apr-14 20:25:22

Sorry Bonsoir, I am certainly not envious of you! God forbid. I was commenting that you have given some very narrow minded advice to someone asking about living overseas which basically sums up to "Paris is not for you unless you are young and gorgeous" which coming from someone who is middle aged and living in the suburbs strikes me as a little unfair. I am also middle aged and live in the suburbs but usually prefer to stick to providing more practical information rather than inferring I am something I am not.

PortofinoRevisited Fri 18-Apr-14 20:27:06

And yes - I have been to Paris. Many, many times.

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