Paris Expats Abroad: 10 Questions with Photographer Laurent Lanée

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Paris Expats Abroad: 10 Questions with Photographer Laurent Lanée
When did you move to the U.S., and where do you live there? I moved to the USA in July 1988, right after graduating high school in France (Versailles). I currently live in Scottsdale, Arizona. When I first moved to the USA, I lived in a small town in Pennsylvania called Doylestown, between Philadelphia and New York City. I have also lived in Flagstaff, Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona, and Las Vegas, Nevada. Why did you move to the U.S., and what do you do for work there? I originally moved to the USA to attend university. It was a childhood dream of mine to be a student on an American campus and I had an opportunity to fulfill that dream at the end of high school. I completed 4 years of college in the USA and received a Bachelor of Sciences in Advertising. I never worked a corporate job in advertising in the USA although I did many internships in advertising agencies in Paris during summer breaks. I spent most of my corporate American career working in management in the travel industry for several tour operators, a major hotel chain headquarters, doing PR for Cirque du Soleil and then for nearly 15 years in the international corporate relocation industry. Since 2007 I also created a photography & graphic design studio here in Scottsdale that has kept me busy. Currently I am a stay-at-home dad to my daughter Chloe who was born in January 2014 with a rare brain malformation. Although her malformation still exists and she will most likely need more procedures (she already had six), she’s doing much better now and is completely stable but still has lots of different therapies every week that require our attention. You’re welcome to visit her public blog at Where did you live Paris, and what did you like best about your arrondissement? I was born in the 14th arrondissement but I lived outside Paris in the southwest suburb of Velizy-Villacoublay while attending school in Versailles (yes, very close to the castle) until June 1988. What did you do for work/study in Paris? I left France right after graduating high school with my baccalaureat. At the time (since French high school is somewhat specialized), I got a Baccalaureat G3 (Business/Marketing). I also did several internships during summer months in advertising agencies in Paris throughout high school and throughout college. What do you miss most about Paris? The architecture, the museums, the city and street life, the diversity of potential activities, the diversity of food options/restaurants, the mix of cultures… (Maybe if I lived in NYC, Chicago or San Francisco I wouldn’t miss these things as much.) What were some of your favorite places to go in the city? And your favorite things to do? Aside from all the different museums and gardens (love the Luxembourg garden and the Tuileries), I always very much enjoyed walking through the areas of the Latin Quarter or Montmartre. I also love walking along the river banks, on the “quais“. If you’re asking about shops or restaurants, I love the different street markets like in the Rue Cler in the 7th, Le Bon Marché and just about any cafe, brasserie and restaurant in Paris. What are some lesser-known cultural differences you’ve observed between Americans and the French? I’m not sure if these are lesser-known or not but I feel like the French often consider themselves to be superior and tend to be quite judgmental, easily saying out loud what they think and not being afraid to speak their mind and saying no if needed. There seem to be a lot more arguing among French people than among Americans. This might partly explain why they so easily revolt themselves in the street when they want/need to protest against a new law, a new business measure or to support a cause. From my experience, I feel like Americans are more diplomatic and more easily go with the flow or are not as straight forward, in particular in corporate environments. I also laugh when employees revolt themselves against their employers here in the USA and sometimes have people who don’t even work for that company stand on the street with banners on their behalf. Another cultural difference, which is one of the biggest in my eyes, is that French people tend to prefer awkward silence than to do small talk with a stranger like Americans do. I’m a believer that this contributes to making the French appear rude to certain Americans. Unlike Americans who will often strike a conversation with a stranger, French people keep to themselves and almost appear surprised and uncomfortable when someone they don’t know start talking to them. What French food do you most miss? All of it! Although French cheeses, breads and pastries are biggies! The diversity of meats and vegetables that are much harder to find in the USA, if not impossible. The fact that you can spend a week or two in France and not eat the same type of meat twice. If I had to pick a dish I miss the most, I would probably say the different charcuteries. Do you think you’ll ever move back to Paris? Yes, seriously thinking about it and hopefully by the time my daughter starts school in the next couple of years. My (American)…

Lead photo credit : Laurent Lanée

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Anne McCarthy is a contributing writer to BBC News, Teen Vogue, The Telegraph, Dance Magazine, and more. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Westminster and is the Editor in Chief of Fat Tire Tours’ travel blog. She lives in New York City.


  • Brian Chapman -Australia
    2016-10-20 13:49:36
    Brian Chapman -Australia
    You have provided some magnificent photos of Paris. It makes me think a lot about the shots and what I should be looking at. Thank you so much.