Last month in Paris – Leaving the city that was my home for the last 6 years.
I have a love-hate relationship with Paris. I’ve lived there for my two first years of university and really had trouble connecting with the city. I was young and my friends and boyfriend were studying somewhere else. I found myself being a bit lost in this big city.
I changed university just after failing my second year, thinking never ever would I live again in this city. It was just not working for me. I then lived in four different cities, before the progression of life brought me back where I had promised myself I would never return: Paris! It was September 2014, in the meantime I had totally forgotten what I found hard there and most of all, I needed to lose myself in a city in order to combat the problems I was encountering at that time in my life.
It was the beginning of six years of Parisian life, including six flat relocations (four during the first year), interspersed with two two-month breaks at my parents' house in the countryside. I lived two months in the close suburb of Ivry-Sur-Seine, two months near the Eiffel Tower, one month in the 11th district in the Charonne area, two years in the Reuilly area, two years in Belleville, and a final year near the Eiffel Tower again. I lived at my Grand-ma’s, on two friends’ couch, alone, with one, with two, and with three roommates, then together with my partner and finally as a family following my baby’s birth.
I went to exhibitions, restaurants, bars, and parties for the first three years, I introduced Michael to Parisian life for the next two, I learned how to be a mum for the last one.
I went through Paris by metro, by foot and by bike. I experienced Paris under the sun, in the gloom, under the snow and during the heatwave. I experienced Paris celebrating and Paris mourning. I turned 28 on the night of the second 2015 Paris terrorist attack.
After three years, I started to get tired of the capital city. Beyond the exiguity of my apartment, it’s mainly the density of population that weighed on me. In Paris, you’re squeezed in public transports to go to work, in parks on sunny days, in bars to have a drink, in exhibitions… and with my quite small height, it was easy to feel suffocated.
It’s a false idea to say that Parisians are rude, truly, they are just squashed onto each other all the time! Which results in a logical protection reflex and a tendency to be irritated. It’s understandable when four of the five senses are permanently over-solicited: full of sight, but also full of smell and noise, to which are added the unwanted physical contact caused by the crowd.
At that time, Michael and I decided to move in together in Paris. He wanted to live abroad and I had not entirely accomplished what I wanted in Paris, especially workwise. We lived two wonderful years travelling across Europe, (re) discovering Paris together and knowing each other better and better in daily life.
Then, with Baby’s arrival, came the time to experience Paris as parents… That’s where, more than ever, difficulties rose. At the end of my maternity leave, travel times and the metro-work-to-sleep rhythm, drastically reduced my time with my child. The short nights and the daily race after time progressively exhausted us… Until confinement was announced in France because of coronavirus!
We immediately went to my parents to enjoy time with them a few months before our (cross your fingers!!!) departure to New Zealand. These two months of confinement allowed us to get away for a while from this city with which we had lost our link.
We’ve been back for a couple of weeks and now it’s nostalgia time. In just a bit over a month, I’m leaving my work and Paris. A bit over a month to go back to the areas I love, to enjoy the beauties of the capital city with Baby, to boat on the Seine…
It’s a special month coming up, a month to close a chapter of my life, a difficult chapter, but also thrilling and eventually happy. Paris is the great discrepancy of emotions: it is my happiness and my deception, my hopes and my despairs, my downfall and my rebirth.
So in this final part, even if I’m happy to leave, it is with a little twinge that I’m looking back on my Parisian time, a few month away from moving.