Should we move to Paris?!(115 Posts)
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!
OK, actually there are SOME places in zone 2 that are nice and still Paris-y (Boulogne, Vincennes, Levallois) etc. But a lot of not so nice places too (St Denis, Villejuif, Bagnolet...)
Compared to the residential riches that is zone 2 of London ...Clapham, Camden, Islington, Hackney, Kensington...places that you'd CHOOSE to live in, rather than being forced to live there because Central London was too expensive.
And looking at the transport map of Paris, zone 3 is really a wasteland. Some of the places in the West are OK in terms of not being dumps, but there is nowhere in the east, north or south that is in any way 'buzzing' or 'dynamic'...
Whereas looking at the London map, in zone 3 you still have nice places to live all over the place like Balham, Greenwich, Hampstead, Wimbledon, Finchley, even Stratford now...
I would LOVE to be proved wrong though. I am pretty much tied to living in the east / south east suburbs of Paris for the foreseeable future and am constantly pouring over the map trying to spot potentially nice places we could move to. If anyone knows of any hidden gems in the south or east suburbs I'd love to know.
There's no story and no community in many Parisian suburbs. If you are Catholic and want to get involved in parish life (and it can most definitely take over your DCs' life if you go the whole French hog with school/church/scouts/conservatoire structuring life 7 days a week) there is a ready-made community, but anything more imaginative is really hard to find in the suburbs.
But is there "community" in the London suburbs? I'm not talking about Clapham, Balham, Ealing etc, as they really count as "London" (and London is a lot bigger than Paris), but the drear beyond. This is a genuine question - I've lived in villages, where the sense of community was great, and in central London (where I am now), where there is something for everyone. But places like Bromley (20 minutes from Victoria on the train) and Twyford (30 minutes on a fast train) seem a bit of a wasteland to me.
You may be right, but what there most definitely isn't in Paris is the vast, semi-rural commuter hinterland that London has and that makes up the "greater South East" with lots and lots of desirable villages and small towns, great schools and general high standards of living. Fontainebleau? Rouen? Orléans? No thank you.
If you are planning to have children there then you might want to filter your location by proximity to a decent maternity, and whether you have a particular idea of the kind of birth you want/whether anglophone staff is essential (in the latter case you want the Hopital Franco-Brittanique).
Are you talking about Richmond, Staines, Windsor? They don't even compare to Rouen!
Agree that London is bigger, but (and my knowledge of historical geography is very shaky here) isn't that because it has grown organically and lots of little enclaves have joined together to become 'Greater London'? Whereas there is no 'Greater Paris'...Paris, the city has been hemmed in by the periph and motorways, that kind of organic growth has sort of been stumped and cut off. 'London' is way, way bigger than 'Paris', because Paris is now and (presumably forever) defined by the periph...psychologically and geographically.
That has always been my impression Riverboat. DH and I keep thinking we should explore a few 'burbs with a view to moving out for more space, but have yet to find anywhere that appeals. It also comes back to what Bonsoir said earlier in the thread about poor commuter connections (let alone if you want to do that journey outside commuter hours) and it not being aspiration all to do so. I certainly know more people who have an apartment intra muros and then a house in the country right out of town (usually picked up for a bargain price or inherited from a relative) so thinking that might be the way to go (though the idea of spending all my holidays maintaining a second property doesn't particularly fill me with joy!)
I know Parisians whose weekend homes are very close to Paris - think Versailles or Saint-Cloud. They have large houses there that they go to on Friday night, while living in a very central Paris apartment all week, bang next to their investment bank/law firm/PE offices. I'm not sure anyone in London has their "country house" 20 minutes drive from central London?
Holidays are, of course, taken somewhere completely different - at their beach house on Ile-de-Ré or near Biarritz, their apartment in the mountains and of course around the world...
I find it quite appealling to have a country house close by - you would definitely use it every weekend in that case! (But not Saint-Cloud, thanks.)
This has got me thinking - is London the only large city with a desirable/aspirational commuterland? I was thinking about other capital cities where I have lived - Brussels, well, you could commute from anywhere in Belgium and be there in an hour, and people did commute from Ghent, Leuven, Waterloo etc. Vienna - it's a long time since I lived there, but most people lived within the Ring or the Gurtel, or in one of the nicer outlying suburbs (which still had a Vienna postcode), like Grinzing.
Former Eastern European capitals are now developing desirable suburbs/outlying villages, I think - some of my Polish friends have moved out to Konstancin and Wilanow, for more space, but as one put it, villages in the British sense simply don't feature in Poland. If you tell someone you live in village, they will assume a dirty farm and a few tumbledown cottages.
New York has a massive commuter land.
Different cultures certainly have different perceptions of where is desirable. When I lived in Luxembourg it was noticeable that the French and Italians lived "en ville" in apartments and the British and Germans wanted houses and gardens in villages.
20 minutes drive from central London on a Friday afternoon and you'd still be pretty much in Central London
I'd be lucky to make New Cross in 20 minutes, or Battersea...
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