Cheers, Madame! Reflections

Paris-Rooftops

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.

Paris-Facades

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.

Paris-Seine

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.

Paris-Musicians

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?

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Read more Reflections  //  Travels (or France)


  • Oh so true and that’s exactly what happened to me living in Germany the first time. I can’t imagine what it will be like this time and I can’t wait to finally feel that sense of belonging again. Your post sounded so nostalgic and a bit sad….funny how we can be homesick for a place that was once so new and not our “home country”.

    • It is funny how you absorb so much of that place that you can literally become homesick for a foreign land. I think it ties into setting up that sense of belonging, and when you go back to your own country, you don’t really have a sense of belonging there anymore at first. France, and Paris, is like a comfortable glove to me – requires very little adjustment to fit just perfectly. I simply must go back one day. 🙂

  • I completely agree about picking up the little things and carrying them forward. You make the french culture sound so beautiful, with the not rushing the moment and the less judgement passing, it sounds perfect. I’m still London all the way, but you’ve made me want to spend so much more time in Paris 🙂

    • It’s those little details that you hardly even notice that stick with you the best! French culture can be aggravating and frustrating at times, but if you can just go with the flow and appreciate the nuances, it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. Having said that, if someone offered me a visa and a one-way ticket to London, I wouldn’t even hesitate a second to say yes!! 🙂

  • I completely share that feeling of taking the time to do things in France and enjoy them rather than rushing. I’ll always keep that. I’m surprised that Paris has it though! When we visited Paris one of my biggest fears of moving there was that it would be ‘another’ London and that we’d be rushing around trying to do to much and not really enjoying the moment but maybe I underestimated its Frenchness! We’ve been debating spending our next 6 months there rather than in the South as there are more opportunities but still not sure. Missed out on CheersMadame twitter chat last night but I love this series and hope you can do it again or something similar!

    • The south of France for sure had a slower vibe than Paris, but even in the busy city the people know how to sit down and take a 2-hour coffee break! I knew I had adapted when I met friends at a cafe, we sat for 2 hours before we even considered moving on, and it still took us another hour to do so. In the States, 45 minutes for an everyday meal is considered long! I would love to do another series similar to Cheers, Madame! – you never know, maybe it will get resurrected, or expanded to include rivalries between other cities!! 😉

  • Jennifer R. Mullin

    What an amazing opportunity to truly learn how another culture lives. I knew I liked you!

  • Isa

    I just moved to Germany 2 months ago and I’m still working on the friend network… but once that happens, hopefully I’ll be able to have a similar experience! I’ve loved this series!

    http://lasaloperie.blogspot.com

    • So glad you enjoyed the series!! Two months would be extraordinarily quick to get settled – you will get there!! Once that happens, I’m sure you will have a very similar experience. Where in Germany are you? Don’t know it too well, but may be able to point you in some directions! 🙂

      • Isa

        I’m in Mainz, near Frankfurt. This isn’t my first international move, but the first few months can be challenging, if exhilarating. Definitely if you have any pointers toss ’em this way!

        • Very true – the first few months in any new place can be challenging! I don’t know anyone in that area – one some people in Berlin and Munich. There some great bloggers out there based in Germany though, including Deanna of From Casinos to Castles, Megan Joy Jaunts, and World Traveling Military Family. Check them out! 🙂

          • Isa

            Thank you! On it!

  • JourneysOft’Fabulist

    Love your pictures. The buildings of Paris are truly romantic – you can see where it gets its reputation.

    • Thank you!! Parisian architecture is simply gorgeous – no other way to put it really! 🙂

  • Adria J. Cimino

    I thought this was a great series! I’ve enjoyed the beautiful photos and the interesting posts. Merci! I’m on team Paris 🙂

    • Thank you!! So glad you enjoyed it – Selena and I really enjoyed writing it! And my heart will always be in Paris as well. 😉