This is the fourth and final post of my London versus Paris Cheers, Madame! series with Selena of Oh, the places we will go! – and what a series it has been! To recap: the first post recounted our first impressions, the second our perfect day, and the third special memories in the opposite city (Selena in Paris, I in London). To wrap it up, we thought we would share with you what we have absorbed from out time living in these two cities, and how it felt to have somewhere foreign turn into a place we consider to be home.
I lived in Paris for 3 years. Anytime you live somewhere for an extended period of time, you start to pick up bits and pieces of that place, that culture, and adopt it as your own. It becomes your “new norm” in lifestyle. And attitude. There are many elements of French culture that still remain a mystery to me, but there are other parts that I embraced, and continue to live by today. Two hour coffees, for example. Wine being acceptable from lunchtime onwards, for another.
But much of what I absorbed was less obvious. More in my mindset than in behavioral patterns. When you transplant yourself to a foreign land, it opens your views, and freshens your approach to life. Why do they take those 2 hour coffees? Because they don’t rush the moment. They work to live, not live to work. Same goes for the wine. The French truly have a “to each their own” attitude, so you find less judgement being passed, and less gossip circulating. You learn the French way of flirting to get anything done. And you definitely learn patience, and the ability to be flexible.
This learning and absorbing process doesn’t go away once you start to refer to a place as home. Living in Paris is one of those bucket list regulars, and an experience that is constantly changing you. For me, the sense of belonging came when I had made a circle of friends, both expat and French, and started to be able to communicate in the language. I didn’t feel like I was missing everything all the time anymore. I could understand the ladies talking on the street in front of my window. Sure, they were talking about swimming pools… but I could understand. I had MY boulangerie, where the lady always knew my order. She would greet me with an enthusiastic bonjour and ask comme d’habitude? As usual? I had my favorite local spots, and I never had to carry a map. How’s that for a sense of belonging? And I can still walk those streets everyday, in my mind, just like I was there in reality.
Today is also the third #CheersMadame twitter chat, at 12pm EST/5pm GMT. Make sure to sign on at that time as Selena (@SeleneThePlaces) and I (@CreatriceMonde) talk about the history of London and Paris, and England and France in general. There is also still a link up, where you can share your own stories. It will be live until November 29, so still a few days to add yours in! We’ve enjoyed reading the posts added so far. And in closing, we’d love to hear your feedback!! What did you think of the series? Are you ultimately Team London or Team Paris? Any side-switchers out there?