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It's the Point of View that Counts
Parler Paris--your taste of life in Paris and France
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
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Dear Parler Paris Reader,
This week I have a really different view from my windows than the usual from my Marais apartment -- shuttered windows only a few meters across my narrow street, red geraniums in the foreground, and other people's lives one can see in the windows that I've come to know and feel I can touch.
Today I write you from a 25th-floor one-bedroom penthouse of a contemporary building on the upper West side of "La Grande Pomme" just behind Lincoln center with two terraces and a view of the Hudson River on the West and West End Avenue traveling South. It's an apartment rental from a local agency that by sheer luck, started out as a moderate studio apartment for a very reasonable daily rate ($125 a night), upgraded by the agency to accommodate other renters' requests. This is one of those times I'd have to agree...I'd rather be lucky than smart.
The contrast of these New York City luxury digs with my own humble abode in Paris was the first culture shock of this week's return to the U.S. The street 25 floors down is uninviting...wide sidewalks, all tall contemporary structures, no little merchants stretched along the ground level to support our everyday living habits. It's all about view...not what lies on the street level. As I look across the buildings and see rooftop terraces and people sunning themselves on their balconies, I fully realize that the price of real estate is usually all about view from just about any place on the face of the planet, Paris included. Doesn't a view of the Eiffel Tower command a higher price than a view of a gray-walled courtyard? Mais oui!
Our first day in the city was spent shopping for things we can't get in Paris so readily or inexpensively...an American computer keyboard...Victoria's Secret lingerie...and ordering up a "make your own salad" at a little eatery called PAX. This is the Americana one can easily come to miss...lots and lots of inexpensive products, sold in stores that take good old-fashioned healthy retail competition seriously and new ideas of convenience to make life a little "easier."
Tiring as shopping the city streets can be, I longed for a café or brasserie where we could stop for strong espresso and instead mostly found Starbucks. It simply isn't a good replacement for a Paris café with it's little round tables, cane chairs, black-vested smug waiters, strong French roast coffee and the ability to sit for hours over just one cup.
The noise level in "the city" (New York as opposed to any other) is always an initial shock to my system...taxi horns, emergency vehicle sirens, people yelling into cell phones and talking loudly with one another caring little about who hears their conversations. Almost every shop or restaurant is playing loud music meant to reverberate against their hard surfaces to create a certain frenetic energy. It seems that the city produces many decibels above any Paris street. There was no reprieve.
After dinner with old friends and family living in the area, it hit me how much I felt like a "fish out of water" now. Even after having lived in New York at one point in my life, I had become an alien with my American roots and newer European sensibilities. Am I just being critical or really feeling the pain of having a foot in each world? Even my daughter who spent the first half her life in Los Angeles and the second half in Paris, and now has been living in New York almost two years concluded..."Mom, it's just not Paris."
We both understand what that means.
A la prochaine...
P.S. For those of you who are thinking of putting one foot on the other side of the Atlantic as I have and the thousands of others who have made the jump, we're going to be addressing all these issues at the upcoming Working and Living in France Conference June 18 to 20 in Paris. Professionals such as Laurent Ginet with Sodip Audit de France will be talking about minimizing your taxes when you make the move to France and Frédéric Fauchereau with Advantage Insurance will be resting your assured that you'll be able to easily and inexpensively insure your home, health and car while in France. For more information and to register to take advantage of the group hotel rates, visit /parlerparis/liveinfrance/wlif/wlif_home.html or write Schuyler Hoffman.
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* Further resources:
* We're meeting in Paris this June for three power-packed days to learn how to make your dream come true!
* Need to understand how to make it work for you, then take us up on a one-on-one.
* Paris Confidential -- our newest book for those who want to know the real Paris.
* Though France might seem as familiar as any other Western country, the truth is, from paying taxes to having a baby -- things are done differently in France. Read the stories how other people maneuvered the system.
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Copyright 2004, Agora Ireland Publishing & Services Ltd.
It’S The Point Of View That Counts
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