“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast” -Hemingway
We’ve officially lived in Washington for a year now. We’ve loved exploring the Olympic Peninsula (and hope to explore more this summer) and vacationing in Hawaii. It’s also been lovely being closer to family and seeing old friends (and making new ones).
I really enjoyed our time in France though. We met so many great people there and loved learning more about the history and culture. It’s been a year, but I still miss it and so I thought I’d write some thoughts on five things I loved about our time living in Paris.
We met some truly wonderful people while in France. Some were families at the same MBA program that my husband attended (and weren’t French at all) but many were also from our little village where we lived and where our oldest first attended school or were from where we attended church. We felt that most people were always very polite to us as we stumbled through a new language and culture.
To go along with that, it seemed like everyone always had great manners. From an early age in France, it seems that all children learn the four magic phrases: Bonjour, Au revoir, S’il vous plaît, et Merci. One of Adeline’s first words was Bonjour and both the girls knew to say it (or at least wave) when we greeted people. Everyone was very polite. I loved walking into the boulangerie and hearing Bonjour or Bonsoir and repeating it back in reply. It was just so nice.
I feel like this really goes without saying. The food was amazing. We lived down the street from our local boulangerie and would walk there several times a week to get fresh baguette, pain au chocolat, pain de mie, croissants, and the occasional macaroon. It was the best bread I’ve ever eaten!
We had London eat at the maternelle once a week just to experience the food. The school lunches were as good as eating at a nice restaurant (the total opposite of American school lunches). Below is a sample lunch menu from the crèche. On Lundi (Monday), the children had salmon with green beans, plain yogurt, and applesauce without added sugar.
The food always felt so much fresher. We could eat out at a nice cafe and not feel unwell afterwards. Our girls were served real food and not overly processed chicken nuggets. It was fantastic and we really enjoyed trying out the local cuisine.
The Beautiful Architecture
When we first came back to the United States, I kept thinking about how boxy all the buildings were. Paris has beautiful architecture and even has a law that says that buildings can only be so tall so as not to ruin the beautiful skyline.
France (and Europe in general) has so much well-preserved history that we loved learning about. We loved visiting beautiful chateaux, villages where famous artists once roamed, world class museums, even ancient cave art. France has an incredibly rich history and it was amazing learning more about it (and seeing it in person) while we were there.
The Proximity to Other Places
I loved how we could hop on a train and be in London two hours later. Our plane rides to both Rome and Spain were also only a couple of hours. We did road trips to Belgium, the Netherlands, and the south of France. It was amazing and incredibly easy and we really tried to take advantage of that while we were out there.
That said, there are definitely a couple things I don’t miss about living in France. I don’t miss driving a stick shift car (I much preferred walking). I love having a dryer here in Washington and don’t miss at all having to hang up my laundry outside or over our bathtub (when it was raining) to dry. I definitely don’t miss the Prefecture (basically the French DMV only way, way worse) or how long it could take to get things done.
Overall though, we really loved our time out there and France will always hold a special place in our hearts.