The city of love, a place of wonder, where Hemmingway lay his hat and the morning air is a constant breeze of fluffy bread, buttered pastries and delectable sweet delights. The rumours are true, Paris is a moveable feast.
The close of Summer 2019 saw me packing up my West London life, saying goodbye to my comforts, friends and family and taking on a new adventure with my work in this metropolitan madness.
Having just passed my one year anniversary here I realise I have learned a LOT about the challenges (and rewards) that come with being an expat in a country where you don’t speak the language. There have been many ups some (lock)downs and everything in between.
This may not be the definitive guide to moving to this shimmering city (google search warrants the clickbait)…but I hope it’s a few basic and key points that will help you as I fumbled my way through learning as I went along.
MOVING TO PARIS WHEN YOU DON’T SPEAK FRENCH
The first 3 months are difficult, really difficult. You will struggle to understand basic questions, people will get frustrated with you, you’ll want to give up…but don’t. It’s incredibly important to remain as patient as possible when learning a new language and the good news is, you will get there. Now after spending 8 months (I excluded lockdown in the UK) in Paris I can comfortably say I went from knowing nothing. To confidently and comfortably reserving a table, visiting the pharmacist, going to aesthetician appointments, being at the grocery store and asking for things and more. Even if I don’t understand the full sentence I can now hear key words to react to the question appropriately.
- If you can afford to – get lessons. They will help you with the basics to accelerate your integration. Also watch Netflix in French with English subtitles!
- Keep goggle translate on your home page – using this helps you learn a little a day when you’re forced to find the translation for something
- Don’t surround yourself with other expats! Integrate as much as you can in to French circles
- Listen to podcasts like Coffee Break French, buy books like Learn French with Paul Noble – snackable sources of information really helped me pick things up!
If you know me, you know my intense obsession with brows. When asked what my favourite feature is it’s ALWAYS my brows. That is, when I’m having a good brow day. Three months ago I discovered this relatively new beauty treatment via Instagram (don’t judge). Followed by…well over an hour of #browlamination searches I was hooked. This brushed up, fluffy and full brow was everything I’d hoped for and more. Think Gigi Hadid brows. Shortly after, a friend of mine recommended a brow artist she new based in London and it was then that the talented @Thea.Beauty_ entered my life. I won’t look back!!
I’ll be honest, I was a little anxious about this trip. For the main reason that I had nothing but fear at the thought of having food poisoning. A result of hearing every single travellers account (in detail) of their Delhi belly. Spoiler alert…I didn’t get sick once!
I went to India nervous but within hours of landing was utterly mesmerised. I didn’t want to come home.
We set off on the adventure for my dear friend @RoopGill’s wedding and quite frankly it was the most sensational event(s) I have ever been to. The colours, the smells, the flavours, the parties, the PEOPLE. Everything about this trip was such an excitement. Following the wedding we ventured on for a Friend-moon to tackle the bottom half of the golden triangle, Jaipur and Agra. I absolutely fell in love.
In celebration of my love-affair with this country, here are my tips for visiting:
- Forget what you think you know and embrace the magic and chaos. – The place is a wonder – so many times I sat in awe as we watch monkeys commute across city buildings and cows stop 60MPH traffic on the motorway because they fancied crossing…
- Travel around to explore different cities! But be prepared to have long car journeys. Driving in India is a rollercoaster of a ride but they know what they’re doing so forget your highway code and road rules. Some times you’ll need to stop at motorway restaurants/shops to pee. Take toilet roll on your journeys as well as hand santisers. We visited Jaipur (Highly recommend staying in Shahpura House.)
- Eat the food and prepare to eat a lot! Indian food is generous and so delicious you can’t stop eating. I avoided ice, tap water, raw foods and salads, ate mostly vegetarian. I didn’t get food poisoning at all, despite lots of people telling me I would. I can’t tell you how sensational the Punjabi and Rajasthani cooking was! My absolute favourite dishes were the Dal Makhani (black dahl), Paneer Masala and Keema curry. If you’re in Jaipur I highly recommend grabbing a bite to eat at Baradari restaurant and bar. It’s more spenny than most restaurants you’ll come across but nothing out of question for London. It’s a great spot to stop at before going in to City Palace next door. P.S. don’t order western food here. Their Indian dishes were awesome.
- You MUST visit the Taj Mahal. At first I wasn’t keen on hitting up the tourist hot-spots so (I’m ashamed to say) I toyed with the idea of not going to the Taj Mahal. I am SO glad we did. It was one of the most breath-taking buildings I’d ever seen and it was a marvel to explore the grounds. Everything about this visit had charm. From the monkeys being thrown bananas by the security guards to the Arabic script that graced the marble tiles.
- Say YES to a wedding invite. If you ever have the honour of being invited to a wedding in India – don’t think, just go. It will be one of the most memorable and special things you will experience. An absolute RAVE of a party! Make sure you pre-order enough traditional clothing for each event (there may be four or more). I wish I had ordered more as it made it so much more special when everyone is dressed in the beautiful, bright colours. Prepare yourself for the time of year you’ll be there. I went in December and wished I’d taken warmer clothes. Layering is everything at that time of year.
You may not know the name D’Esclans but you’ll know know the iconic – Whispering Angel Rosé. A staple to our summertime, patio drinking. Even if you’re not wine obsessed this is a trip worth making from the Cote D’Azur.