Monday, August 24, 2015

GUEST POST AND GIVEAWAY!!!! with Isabelle Andover, author of Cocktails at Le Carmen

Being an expat in Paris, as Chloe in Cocktails at Le Carmen quickly discovers, can be both utterly infuriating and completely amazing.

Let's start with the not so good stuff first: the housing situation. Paris' chronic housing shortage means high demand, high prices, and a lowering of expectations on the part of the prospective tenant. Never mind being a young professional with a foot firmly on the career ladder; if you don't have a French person earning a substantial sum who will agree to pay your rent in case you can't, that flat you have your eye on will mostly likely get snapped up by someone else. At worst, you'll probably wind up living in a tiny garret on the sixth floor, no lift. And if you're lucky enough to escape the "shared toilet on the corridor" situation, your shower cubicle will most likely be positioned in your 'kitchen'.

Administration. French administration is notorious, form filling is laborious, and sometimes rules defy all reason. Picture the following. You can't open a bank account without an electricity bill, but you don't have an electricity bill as you can't find a flat to rent.... Because you don't have a French bank account. As crazy as it sounds, this really did happen to a friend of mine. Luckily, you can usually find a way around it.

French television. In a popularity contest with English television, I have a feeling the latter would win, hands down.
The language barrier: you will make a faux pas, not have a clue what is going on and feel completely bewildered, never mind how good your French is. Top tip: obsédé basically means a sex maniac. So next time you try and complain about how your boss is obsessed with work, be careful how you phrase it.
Thankfully, the good far outweighs the bad.

Paris is pretty. So, so pretty. No matter how long you’ve lived in the city, you’ll never get tired of wandering around and admiring the view.

You can eat croissants or a pain au chocolat every morning for breakfast. So much better than boring old fruit and yoghurt. Hell, you can even eat macaroons for breakfast if you feel like it.

Transport is cheap! For a capital city, the price of a Paris metro pass is pretty reasonable, particularly when compared to other cities like London. And when you factor in your employer paying half under French law, it's a win-win.

Your life sounds amazing by default, because it's PARIS. Never mind that 90% of the time it's "metro, boulot, dodo" ('metro, work, sleep'). It's actually quite embarrassing when you go back to England for a holiday and mention to someone that you live in Paris, and their eyes inevitably widen and they look seriously impressed. "Wow," they say, their mouth hanging open like that of a thirsty Labrador. "That's amazing". While you might be an honorary Parisienne, you're still a deeply modest, self-deprecating Brit at heart. So even though deep down you secretly want to shout "yeah, it is!", you feel compelled to reassure them that "it's not that great really".

You'll never run out of things to do. Museums, parks, rooftop bars, Disneyland, walks by the Seine, a beach in summer, Paris has it all.

The shopping is fabulous. Department stores, chain stores, hip boutiques in the Marais–wherever you prefer to shop, you'll be spoilt for choice. Just make sure you have a healthy bank balance beforehand.
The food: also amazing. Nutella crepes, juicy steaks, moules frites, all-you-can-eat sushi. You name it, Paris has it. How do French women not get fat?

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