I was in the southern part of the U.S. for three weeks and I’ve only been back in Paris for a week, but I already want to go back. I left 80 degree weather and have traded in my short-sleeved Lacoste shirts, khakis, and Gucci thongs for my long rain coat, scarf, and pullover. Could this be the beginning of the end of my desire to live in Paris? After living here for over six years am I now having what I like to call, my mid-French life crisis?
I’ve witnessed many Americans go through it. That need for convenience and just knowing and appreciating how things work in your own country takes over one day. People write me every week and tell me of their dreams of living here and yet I wonder if they really know what they’re giving up when they leave the good ole U.S.A? I think not.
Maybe I’m just going through my typical readjustment to French-life phase. It happens every single time I go back home, but I can’t help but think that this is perhaps the beginning of the end. Just a few days ago I was driving around in my mother’s 4X4, hogging the road like everyone else and enjoying my seemingly new found freedom. (Driving here is insanely complicated and that’s another article in itself). I frequented the drive-thru window at Wendy’s (don’t tell my French mother-in-law I actually indulged in fast food), the drive-thru window at the dry cleaners, the drive-thru window at the pharmacy, the bank, and even the convenience stores. It was all about the drive-thru! What am I talking about here? Again, convenience!
I got my coffees to go. I got food to go. I went to the salad bar and ate all that I could eat at Ruby Tuesdays. People actually held doors open for me and smiled and said “Thank you” without their eyes and hands saying “Get out of my shop so I can eat lunch.” What am I talking about? Genuine politeness and yes, convenience. And now let me mention the ultimate in convenience: Wal Mart. Those Waltons. How many times was I there? How much did I spend? And on what? Mundane things (but convenient) that you won’t find here, like chip-clips (didn’t really need those), rubbing alcohol (because the pharmacists here treat you like you’re asking for hard drugs and it’s costly), disposable diaper bags that smell like baby powder (okay, maybe I really do need those). But you get my drift!
Some of you would probably give your right arm to live here, left one too, but be careful what you ask for. Really. It’s not the same experience as when you come here on vacation. In those instances, you come, you tour the city, and you’re completely free of most hassles. But living here is a totally different thing. You’re thousands of miles from your family, friends, and your own country that you know and pretty much understand. You have to deal with the French way of life here and that relates to everything from paperwork to day-care and to yes, the lack of convenience.
Am I just too spoiled? I don’t think so. I mention convenience a lot, but that’s just one of the factors. Again, the family and friends issues weigh heavily as well as just being in one’s own land. (Why is Lee Greenwood’s song suddenly going off in my head? I guess I really am proud to be an American.) Don’t get me wrong. I do love France and I have French family here. The Louvre is here. The river Seine is beautiful. French food is wonderful etc. etc.…but…you know what they say: There really is no place like home. It just depends on where you feel at home most I guess. In any case, if you’re visiting, just moving here, or already been here for awhile and are experiencing your own mid-French life crisis, here are a few helpful addresses that might lift your spirits. I know they do mine.
U.S. Food & Groceries
Thanksgiving, 14 rue Charles V, Paris 4th. Tel. 01.46.34.14.12 (There’s a restaurant and grocery store.)
The Real McCoy, 194 rue Grenelle, Paris 7th. Tel. 01.45.56.98.82 (Snacks, Dr. Peppers and tons more.)
McCoy Café, 49, av. Bosquet, Paris 7th. Tel. 01.45.56.00.00
Breakfast in America, 17, rue des Ecoles, Paris 5th. Tel. 01.43.54.50.28 (Good pancakes !)
Indiana Café, 7 boulevard Cappuccinos, Paris 2nd. Tel. 01.42.68.02.02 (There are several locations in Paris. My favourite place for hamburgers, salads, and brownies.)
Pharmacy, 84, av. Champs-Elysées, Paris 8th.
Poste Office, Poste Louvre, 52 rue du Louvre, Paris 1st.
Gas Station, Total, Parking Georges V, Paris 8th.
News-stands, 33 av. Champs-Elysées, Paris 8th.
W.H. Smith, 248 rue du Rivoli, Paris 1st. Tel. 01.44.77.88.99
Brentannos, 37 av. Opera, Paris 2nd. Tel. 01.42.61.52.50
Missing Wal-Mart ? CVS ? Target ?
Priscilla Lalisse moved to Paris from Manhattan in 1999. Along with Bonjour Paris you can read her articles at Paris Woman Journal and Cafe De La Soul. Priscilla just finished her first novel, a work of fiction. You can read an excerpt (or contact her) at www.priscillalalisse.com.
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