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!
I'd be lucky to make New Cross in 20 minutes, or Battersea...
20 minutes drive from central London on a Friday afternoon and you'd still be pretty much in Central London
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.
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.
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...
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!)
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.
Are you talking about Richmond, Staines, Windsor? They don't even compare to Rouen!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Exactly Lillian. Here it's more like everything from zone 2 onwards is alone the lines of the places you mention Sheherazade. There are no 'buzzing' areas except within Paris, zone 1, itself.
But they are slightly further than 20 minutes out of Central London - though I accept they are probably quite dull. I was thinking more along the lines of Ealing, Chiswick, Richmond - essentially these are suburbs, but still have a London vibe and their own charm.
There are some very dull places in commuterland outside London. Bromley isn't exactly buzzing. Twyford, anyone? Buckingham? Ruislip? Slough? Epping?
Excellent post Riverboat - your analysis is spot on.
Like an extreme case of local centralisation? I know someone who's talking about people getting pushed out of Paris. It's like people being priced out of their parents' neighbourhoods just outside London. I mean, Montmarte got gentrified too....
Paris is so different to London. Here, everything inside the periph is Paris, and everything outside is like a different world. I live in the east suburbs, 20m RER ride into Paris (and 20m in the car on those rare days where there is no traffic) and you would never believe that my town is just a few km away from one of the most beautiful, cultural cities in the world. There is nothing here, just apartments, houses, shopping malls and delapidated town centres with hardly anything going on.
Whereas London has stuff going on all over the place, in the inner and outer zones. I lived in zone 4 there, and there were destination bars and restaurants, street life, heaving parks, galleries, theatres...the main difference really being the street life. Outside Paris proper, it is non-existent. People don't walk, they drive everywhere. And if you want to go out, or do something of an evening (other than go to your one local restaurant, or to a generic Buffalo Grill or Leon) you go into Paris. It's just not the case in London.
I have friends who live in the west suburbs, Marly le Roi, St Germain etc. While those areas are infinitely prettier and posher than the east where I live, it still seems to be basically the same story in terms of lack of 'life' and vibrancy.
I don't get it really. Why is there not more demand from people living in the suburbs for bars, restaurants, culture, Paris-ness?
This is only tenuously linked to the OP, really. But if you take only one thing from it let it be this: don't contemplate moving to the suburbs of Paris if you already feel lonely in London. Stick to Paris proper. With your budget you can get something nice.
Took me 5 mins at the Gare du Nord...
will be living in a not particularly salubrious area in Paris from this summer. Had an opportunity to take an apartment off the Boulevard de Magenta- no thanks. Even around Rue Blanche you get idiots thinking they're fine to leer at you and make sexist demeaning comments as you walk by.
I say better to live in a boring but safe area really. Paris is so easy to navigate you can get to better places in no time.
There was a location on rue de Courcelles for dealers to meet Neuilly housewives who rolled up in their Minis to collect and pay. It was a badly guarded secret and has since been stamped on by the new cafe owner. It didn't make the neighbourhood dangerous, however, as payment and delivery were very reliable and said housewives went back to the comforts of their own homes for consumption purposes.
LOL at the drugs. The only time I was stopped and asked where one could buy cocaine, was early one morning on the rue de Courcelles. I said that this was the sort of area where people would have their drugs delivered to their apartments, not go to some grotty flat in the back streets to pick it up. I sent them to Chateau d'Eau but warned them it might be a bit early, as Parisians weren't early risers (I was doing an early shift at work in an emergency and had to be in at 0630).
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