“She Let Us Eat Cake, And We Did!”
The American community in Paris is a rich tapestry of like-minded individuals who, for the most part, have one very important personality trait that binds them like glue — they are risk-takers.
Sure, there are a few who came to France via their U.S. companies, transferred over with a cushy job, a cushy salary and some cushy perks, but even those were willing to take on the challenge of living in a foreign country, learning a foreign language and dealing with the cultural differences. Even they can boast of being risk-takers, in spite of their ‘cushy’ situation.
Others fell in love with France and were determined to find a way to make it work, no matter what. I have met hundreds of people along the way who have done exactly that — gotten the ‘bug’ (what I call “La Maladie”), returned time and again to find a way to earn a living or buy their own pied-à-terre, fallen in love with a French person or just decided this was a better lifestyle for them.
France is no easy obstacle to overcome. The French are perhaps the most civilized people on the planet, but that makes for an even bigger challenge. Their language is complicated. Their laws are complicated. Their culture is complicated. “Tout est compliqué.”
Having the right to live here in itself is a challenge and having the right to earn a living here even more so (unless you have one of those cushy jobs where your company has sponsored your livelihood). Not only must you be willing to take the risk of failure, but you must be willing to face all the challenges along the way.
There are way more than 100,000 Americans living in France, although no one knows the real figures. So, why do so many of us take these risks and challenges?
It’s a question I’ve pondered myself many times over the course of the 15 years of living here. The only thing I can surmise, besides the appeal of a sophisticated and civilized culture, which includes the French appreciation of art, architecture, gastronomy, etc., etc, and everything beautiful, is ‘passion.’ ‘Passion’ for life in every aspect is something the French do very well and it’s terribly contagious. For the French, life is not about being ‘easy,’ but about being ‘rich.’ And ‘rich’ has nothing to do with money. ‘Rich’ is like that richly woven tapestry that makes up the American community in Paris — full of life!
Americans in Paris are no traitors to their American roots, either. “Au contraire!” In fact, they carry t
he flag on their chests like proud soldiers. Sure, there have been a few embarrassing moments in our political history, but still, we have huge advantages over our French fellowmen which enable us to overcome all odds.
The American backbone built with optimism, courage, resourcefulness, entrepreneurship and unconventional thought, enables us to overcome the challenges that this foreign land imposes upon us. The French wouldn’t fair so well in a similar environment! (But don’t tell them I said that!)
On March 7th I’ll be speaking at “Paris Soirées” about how I personally overcame these challenges. But there are thousands upon thousands like myself who could easily contribute to the discussion. And to those of you who are frightened of taking the risk or facing the challenges, talk to those who have cast their fears to the winds.
We Americans in Paris have the best of both worlds. We have the sophisticated civilization created by the French and the personality of America combined into one rich tapestry of many colors. Yes, Marie-Antoinette — you let us eat cake and we ate it, too. Or was that really “brioche?”
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
(casting the presidential vote)
P.S. Scroll down to learn more about the talk at “Paris Soirées” and how to reserve your place if you’d like to join us!
P.P.S. If you’d like a private consultation on how to go about making your life here or owning your own pied-à-terre, visit Consultation Services for more information.