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Virgin Year in Paris

So, it’s official. I have lived in France for a solid year. We decided to move to France for a few reasons. The primary reason we moved is because my husband is French and his family is here. Secondly, his father was very ill and my husband wanted to be with him before he passed away. (Sadly, mission accomplished.) Thirdly, my daughter was accepted to The American University of Paris. So, off we went. We originally moved to Annecy, France and moved into my husband’s parent’s house. That, uhh, didn’t go so well, so we are now living in Paris. Before I moved to Paris in September 2013, I spent the entire month of August reading books on Paris. What I discovered before moving into Paris and have now realized is true, is that it takes a sense a humor to live in Paris.
Nothing will “go smoothly” in Paris. At least not on the first go around, that is. To get something accomplished in Paris it takes three or four attempts… Even for French people. Something is always closed, someone you need to speak with is always on a two hour lunch break, you don’t have the right paperwork, something was lost in translation, you didn’t provide enough information, you’re doing something the “wrong” way, you’re expecting too much, you’re in the wrong neighborhood, blah blah blah. I shouldn’t complain about living in the most beautiful city in the world because the good outweighs the bad. However, I thought it would be fun to detail the good versus the bad about living in Paris. It’s not all macaroons and roses.

 Let’s start with the good…
Good: If you buy something in Paris… A lipstick, a cake, a T-shirt, a perfume… It is always always always delicately wrapped to perfection. Even if it is not a gift, it is now. Don’t expect the salesperson to quickly throw something in a bag and you can be on your way. Not going to happen. (You’re not at Walmart.) Dedicate an extra five minutes to everything because your purchase is busy being "coiffed"… including your sandwich. Love this.

Bad: Parisian cafés apparently have a hard time with the concept of ice. If you order a drink, you will get no ice. If you “rudely” ask for ice, you are going to get two miniscule cubes that melt within seconds. Hate this.
Good: Parisian gardens are not for drug dealers. Parisian gardens are for mothers with their children, elderly people, chic hobos, dogs, workers on a break from their jobs, lovers, rich people relaxing and families. I never feel like I have to “watch my back” in Parisian gardens. And everyone throws away their trash. Love this.

Bad: I don’t like when Paris tries to Americanize itself. I don’t like seeing Starbucks, food trucks, juice bars or Chipotle in Paris. I do, however, go to every one of those examples on a weekly basis. Hate this.

Good: Museums are crowded. Why is this good? It’s good because it proves that culture, art and history are still respected and appreciated in Paris. I should also point out that crowds do not bother me at museums, because I get in first and free. First and free! Thank you ALS. Love this.
Bad: There is no Target, J.Crew, Whole Foods, Home Depot or Staples in Paris. Sometimes you just want to go to one shop for everything. There is an IKEA by the airport, but who goes to IKEA? (I do.) I want to choose to go to a boutique, not be forced to. Hate this.

Good: Gas station food. Swear to God, my husband actually looks forward to his “favorite carrot salad” at the gas station. French gas stations have toubouli salad, ham and cheese baguettes, café au lait, fresh croissants, gâteau au chocolat and fruit. Love this.
Bad: Gas station food. One time my husband was running into a French gas station and he asked me what I wanted. My response was, “A cherry Slurpie, nachos and a sweaty hot dog.” The look he gave me was priceless. Unfortunately, you’re not going to get any of that deliciousness in French gas stations. They don’t even have Doritos! How am I supposed to enjoy my road trip to Normandy without my Cool Ranch Doritos? Hate this.

Good: Parisian men dress well. Even Parisian teenagers. No one wears jeans so low that you can see their privates. No flip-flops. No baseball hats. No golf shirts. No printed tees. No tank tops. No gold chains. No board shorts. Parisian men seem to make an effort here… An effort all on their own. Fitted trousers, baby blue button-down shirts, scarves, respectable shoes, colorful blazers, chic shades, cool hair, no socks or colorful socks, suits and ties. Love this.
Bad: Everything is closed on Sundays. What the f*ck! Hate this.

Good: Everything is closed on Sundays. Parisians definitely enjoy their Sundays. Take Luxemburg Garden for example… Children are sailing their little boats in the pond, families are having a picnic on the lawn, the tennis courts are used, teenagers are making out and smoking cigarettes politely, boule is played with wine in hand, children’s playgrounds are packed, ice cream cones are licked, books are read leisurely in a perfect green garden chair, strolls are taken hand-in-hand, and the pace of Paris slows. Parisians even enjoy their Sundays in the winter…They just add hot chocolate. Love this.

Bad: I hate when French people take an American word and try to make it French. For example, le shopping, le week-end, le picnic, le jogging, le smoking. Hate this.
Good: No one tries to rush you out of a café. You can sit at a Parisian café nursing a cappuccino for four hours smoking 900 cigarettes if you want to. Love this.

Even if you don’t live in Paris or plan to visit Paris, it’s fun to see how Paris operates. It’s bizarre. There are a lot of entertaining books about this subject that I can recommend because I’ve read every single one of them… Here they are.






Yes, I read all of those books… in a month and a half (except three of them I read later). Clearly, I had a lot of time on my hands…on account of my retirement (hint: ALS). They are all utterly entertaining and give you an unabashedly true slice of life in Paris. Guess what? You can purchase all of them in my Have Some Decorum Bookstore HERE.
Merci, Paris for a beautiful and interesting first year.
A toute!


  1. Hi Ellie, I discovered your blog a few months ago through Habitually Chic and wanted to let you know how much I am enjoying reading your witty and forthright posts. Love your take on living in Paris!

    1. Dear Daphne,
      So glad you like the blog. Thank you for your kind words. Heather from Habitually Chic and I just did the day together. Love her. Hope you're having a great day. XO Ellie

  2. Started my day with a migraine and a good laugh, thanks! For the laugh that is, not the migraine;)

    1. Dear Brenda,
      you're welcome for the laugh… Not the migraine. :-)
      Hope you're having a great day.

  3. Love this! You are such a funny and gifted writer!

  4. OMG u are F@CKING FUNNY! just discovered ur blog from Habitually Chic and u are now my new found funny love...there's nothing more funny than a good looking well mannered gal that uses fowl language to get her point across...juss sayin!

  5. Had to laugh......after living just outside of Paris for four years......everything you say is true....except I found Cool Ranch Doritos at Carrefour......

  6. I would add "Paris to the Moon" by Adam Gopnik to this list. :)

    Is there really a Chipolte in Paris? *crazy jealous even though we are having roasted lamb and endive for lunch*

  7. Don't think I was reading your blog yet when this was published. Glad for your links to previous posts at the bottom of the page. One thing that drove me crazy when I lived in Paris is that you can't return anything. Period. I remember trying to return a child's top to DPAM. I had bought 2 of the same tops in different colors. One had been worn and washed (according to the care label) and it shrank down to Barbie doll sized. I took both back and argued that it was no longer wearable. I could have been talking to the wall - the salesperson wasn't going to take it back no matter what. I had a few other situations, but finally realized it was pointless.

    The closest store that I found that kind of equated to a Target is the Auchun at La Defense. Metro Line 1 to the end. Do you take the Metro? Spacious and well stocked - pretty sure it is open on Sundays, too.