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The Bittersweet of Holiday Time in Paris

I always find the holiday season a bit bittersweet.

The sweet part is of course the gathering together of friends and family with time off from the daily grind. My daughter and I decided a long time ago that we don’t like being apart over the holidays and so we do our best to be together here in Paris or elsewhere, as long as it’s together. (She arrived this morning, thanks to bargain air fares that made it very possible.)

Erica and Adrian taken 20 years apartErica and Adrian taken 20 years apart

Photo by Phyllis Prinz(Photo by Phyllis Prinz)

Paris tourism on the riseParis tourism on the rise

New Year's Eve with family and friends, photo by Pamela ShandelNew Year’s Eve with family and friends (photo by Pamela Shandel)

(Photo by Erica Simone) http://www.ericasimone.com(Photo by Erica Simone)

The bitter part is if those friends and family aren’t around and you’re left alone while others are enjoying what you’re not. Holiday depression is a fact of life and tomes are written on the subject. It’s normal and natural to feel a sense of social isolation which can make feelings of loneliness and symptoms of depression even worse. (Fortunately, the French are experts at making and taking antidepressants! “A study by France’s National Drug Safety Agency found that 32 percent of French people used such medications in 2013, either on a regular or occasional basis, French daily Le Parisien reported Tuesday.” Source: France24.com)

Every year, the balance of bitter to sweet is a bit different — depending on circumstances — but when you’re living in Paris, you can bet you’ll be inundated with friends and family who want to take advantage of the fact that you’re living in Paris! To all those who are new arrivals to Paris and fear holiday depression, forget it. It won’t happen. You will soon discover friends and family you didn’t even know existed before moving to the City of Light…the most visited city in the world.

There’s just so much to do in Paris. If you’re retired, you might think you’d be bored, but it’s just the opposite. There’s a reason Paris is the most visited city in the world and why it reached a record high this past year, even after the November 2015 attacks. I don’t have to even tell you why — you already know why, and that’s why you come so often or spend time reading Nouvellettres® like this that talk about life in Paris and what there is to do here…allowing you to live vicariously through our words.

Most of our clients seeking a property to rent long-term or purchase, request having a guest bedroom (which costs a lot more to have), thinking they will want to host their friends and family — they can’t wait to show them around THEIR town. This is BEFORE they get here and haven’t already made tons of friends — which everyone does. Making friends in Paris, particularly for North Americans, is as easy as collecting dirt on your shoes. The American community is closely knit, a barrage of concentric circles that are incessantly moving and overlapping, meeting whenever and wherever they can — circles of people who all share very similar characteristics, philosophies and interests. This is why it’s so easy to make so many friends — like a bird who finally finds his flock or a fish being dropped into a tank of other fish who look and behave just like him. Everyone seems to act and think relatively alike and that makes it much easier to relate to one another…quickly and easily.

So, what the newcomers don’t realize before making their full time life here, is that their lives will become MORE than full time with little room for the family and friends who fill up their guest rooms and who expect them to be their tour guides and show them their beautiful city. (Just how many times can one trek to the top of the Eiffel Tower in one year without getting acrophobia?)

If you wanted solitude or boredom, you aren’t going to get it by living in Paris. We “old-timers” joke about this all the time and warn them: “Just you wait and see! You may not be so happy to have that extra bedroom!” This may sound cold coming from one who jokingly calls her apartment “Hôtel Leeds” and changes the sheets in the guest room without blinking an eye. Yes, I’m guilty of enjoying having guests in my guest room (a.k.a. daughter’s bedroom)!

Meanwhile, Erica’s favorite sheets are on the bed, a fresh towel is on the “sèche-serviette” (towel warmer) and we have a host of activities planned for our time together over the holidays…with family and friends descending on Paris. This year is more sweet than bitter and we will not be taking antidepressants…not this year, anyway.

Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah to all.

A la prochaine…

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James Navé workshop

P.S. Don’t miss out on The Imaginative Storm Creative Writing and Storytelling Workshop, facilitated by poet and storyteller James Navé January 5, 2018. Details on our site. Sign up today!

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