Paris. City of Light. Paris is always a good idea. Home of art, wine, fashion, gastronomy, love…you get the idea.
No where on earth has a more romanticised image than Paris. In many ways, it more than lives up to what you would expect. As a Francophile from an early age, the city fascinated me. My first holiday abroad, age 9, was here. I excelled in French at school. I wrote my history project in school-leaving year about Napoleon’s stamp on Parisian architecture, the vision he realised.
Studying French law as a minor in university, my third year would be spent in L’Hexagone. However, I chose against Paris. Everyone was going there. I took the road less traveled and was the only person in my course to elect to study in sunny Aix-en-Provence. I had the best year of my life. However as graduation loomed and reverse culture shock set in, I looked for any excuse to return to France. A good friend planned on Paris. It made sense.
Having lived in the country previously, many of the initial cultural differences would not impact me as before. My spoken French was weak, but I could get by. We had arranged accommodation before arriving with a small agency that charged little by way of fees, recommended through an acquaintance. I had several in the city, and one very close friend living outside it, near Versailles. In February 2013, I packed my bags feeling nothing but excitement and anticipation at this new chapter, eager to discover what would happen next. In many ways, I reasoned, it would be an easy transition.
Until it wasn’t.