I’ve been asked this question countless times since moving to the City of Light. My answer: every time we came to visit we were sad to leave. It’s a beautifully harmonious city – the architecture, art, people, parks, and style. Look in any direction and there is something of beauty to behold. Our family is creative. My husband, Mike is a fine artist. I’m a designer. Our son, Max is a budding creative force. We’re constantly going to galleries and art exhibitions. Art shows are advertised everywhere on the street, in the Metro stations, on buses. Often we simply flâneur. Strolling is a pastime.
In The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough a wave of “aspiring Americans” were coming to Paris by the 1830’s with high hopes and ambitions to excel in work that mattered to them. “…and they saw time in Paris, the experience in Paris, as essential to achieving that dream…” I relate to this. I’m en repos – taking a break by feeding my soul through spiritual contemplation and art. Mike already has a large body of paintings he’s created in the last nine months. Max is hard at work on his YouTube channel.
Max got into a good school where he’s gained quick fluency in French. We live a more “sustainable lifestyle”. We walk everywhere and use public transportation. When we need a car, we do car share or rental. The majority of the groceries and food we consume are all produced in France, so we’re supporting local business because that’s the main choice. We live in an 84 square meter apartment with a 40 square meter terasse on a quiet courtyard. We only packed what could fit in our suitcases. Our son’s bedroom faces the street with a peek-a-view of the tip of the Eiffel Tower. His nightlight is the tower’s light beam sweeping the sky.
Make no mistake; it’s an urban lifestyle. Weekday mornings when our son walks himself to school he passes our homeless “neighbors” in the square across from our building. You have to be vigilant of piles and smears of dog crap on the sidewalks. In recent months, Paris has had some of the worst air pollution in the world, beating Beijing. Paris stinks; thanks to diesel fumes, incessant nervous smoking, human piss, fishmongers, baking baguettes and Chanel.
We are meeting great people – expats and French alike. There is a civility and politeness that is human. Paris is racially and generationally diverse. Africans, models, Muslims, Asians, diplomats, gypsies, waiters, suits, hobbling old people and toddlers on push scooters.
I used to travel here for business over the last 20 years to get inspired for the next season’s line and to see the retail and consumer market trends. I’m living my dream to follow my creative urge. This is a long-term inspiration trip. I’m sketching and designing again, going back to the roots from which I veered after a long career in corporate America. It’s romantic here and I’m in love, again.