Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bonjour, Paris!

Am I really here?? The first few days I really couldn't believe it. Besides the jet-lag, I was in a bit of culture shock. After 6 months of planning and a lifetime of dreaming, I was finally in Paris. And not just for a weekend getaway, or even a month's vacation. I'm here for a whole year.

I keep finding myself wanting to dance onto the streets of my newfound home and belt out these lines with Fred Astaire, Kay Thompson, and Audrey Hepburn:

"Bonjour, Pareeeee!"

My host mom greeted me at the Charles de Gaulle airport with a sign saying "Welcome, Ruth!" and a big hug and kiss on the cheek. I think it is so special that someone in her position (CMO in a global capacity) would take the time to come personally to get me from the airport and give me such a warm welcome. We talked the whole taxi ride home, and she helped me with my gigantic bags, despite her fabulous stiletto heels (this woman's shoe collection is a whole different topic). 

I met the child I will be au pairing for, who in this blog will henceforth be referred to as my little buddy. I also met the outgoing au pair, who was to train me for the few days during our crossover time there. This also meant sharing the au pair studio apartment on the 6th floor. (No elevator, friends. Hollah for dem sexy gams!) It's a good thing we hit it off right away, because we were pretty much together the entire week of training. I also had no phone service during this time, just wifi, which was a surprisingly nice technology detox. 

That first night, we walked to the Eiffel Tower, which is about a 15-20 minute stroll from my apartment.  Now, I have to make a confession. My first impression of the Eiffel Tower was DRUMROLLLLLL...... {deflate}. 
Aghh, am I even allowed to say that?! I mean, it is the symbol of the City of Love worldwide, and yet when I saw it.... Oh well. At least it photographs well! (I later discovered I much prefer the Eiffel Tower on a misty, gray afternoon. I think it's the orangey lights at night that kill it for me.) 

What I did love about that night was an incredible, authentic Nutella crepe (my first purchase in euros!), the two lovely carousels nearby, and the discovery of open floor tango dancing in a square right in front of the Eiffel Tower! If Paris was trying to make up for the wet blanket first impression, it definitely was in the right direction. 

The next day, we ventured over to Montmartre, on my request, because I figured if anything would get me in the right mood for settling into Paris, this charming little village preserved in the northern region of the city would do the trick. I was right! The Sacré-Cœur, the hilly streets, the small shops....I loved it so much, I decided I would have to make a second visit as soon as possible. 

Next up: the Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe

We championed these two monsterous French icons on Saturday, making sure to stop by the flagship stores for Sephora and Louis Vuitton. All this within walking distance of my apartment, can you believe? I will definitely need to make some reconnaissance shopping trips in this next month to try out some of these here European brands. Oh la la

However, my favorite part of that trip was not the fashion and beauty at my fingertips, no! It was the bakeries. I was introduced unexpectedly and delightfully to Ladurée, a standout sweets and bakery chain in Paris, this one nestled inconspicuously in a both seedy and swanky corner of the Champs-Élysées. 

After attempting my own macaroons this summer, I was eager to try some of the real deal. And were they ever. I tried "Iced Mint" and "Coffee." The first tasted like a perfectly fresh mint leaf, not overly sweet or sugary like most mint flavors in America. The second had the exact smell and taste of a freshly roasted Columbian coffee bean. You might be like, well duh, that's why they are named that. But it's hard to describe how precise the flavors are without being obvious. Truly scrumptious.

During this past week I also experienced my first Shabbat, or the Jewish day of rest. This was the moment I really started falling in love with my new world. It was absolutely fascinating to see the different rituals that go into the meal, and seeing the family laugh and tease and interact with each other brought me such joy. And the food... oh my word, the food was outstanding. I have never had challah bread before, but I think it changed my life. I also learned how to eat a whole artichoke, something I would never have attempted in the States. I think this year is going to be full of interesting food.

I guess you could say my first week in Paris has been plein de nouvelles découvertes, full of new discoveries!


  1. Hi! I stumbled upon your instagram last night while looking at the hashtag #parisaupair or something like that and was so excited to see today that you are blogging about this adventure. I am graduating in August and am SERIOUSLY considering becoming an au pair in Paris (as long as I can get my family on board with the idea ;)). I hope you continue blogging about this experience because so far you have only made me want to do it more! My love for the French culture has grown more since seeing your pictures and I can't wait to be back in the city one day. Hopefully I can make this little dream of mine happen - I'm glad to see you did for yourself!

    1. @pattyandmuffin thank you for reading! I will definitely continue blogging, and I hope these posts will help you make the best decision for you. It was terrifying, but I'm so glad I did it!