Two years of living in France just doesn’t sound right. It doesn’t seem possible that exactly two years ago I left Dallas for Paris. And it wasn’t easy – I was a wreck. I think part of Romain probably wanted to get on the plane alone and leave me at the airport in Dallas. I always told myself I had two years to test out France because I don’t think one year is enough to decide (unless it’s going horribly).
Two Years of Living in France
I was surprised by how much easier year two was compared to year one. The language started clicking, I became more comfortable with French procedures, my neighborhood, and my routine, but mostly I became more confident in myself. I stopped being so nervous about doing something wrong whether à table or with the language and just went for it.
In the first year I was back and forth between the US and Paris a lot. I wouldn’t have skipped any of those trips, but in retrospect it was difficult. I was having my cake and eating it too with the best of both worlds between the US and France. And that was great, but it’s not a sustainable way to live in the long-run. 2020 forced me to stay here, but beyond that it showed me another facet of life in France that I never knew I would enjoy – country life.
Being in Normandy during the confinement was a wonderful experience. Of course there were ups and downs and it wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty close to being perfect. It was a full-on immersion into French family dynamics, language, cooking, and life. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I especially wouldn’t have traded it to spend three months in my apartment in Paris.
Two years of living in France have flown by. Lots of great things have happened, and also lots of not so great things have happened. But I think the good always outweighs the bad.
I actually wrote about this day, but my favorite from September was just a random Sunday. It was a mix of some very French things and some very not French things, but all together it was perfect. Some of my favorite days are the unexpected calm weekends with lots of walking.
October is favorite month of mine in Paris. The weather is generally pretty good and the fall colors really start to show up. While there were lots of great highlights in October, a standout was visiting the Restoration Atelier at the Musée Yves Saint Laurent. It was such a unique ‘this kind of thing only ever happens in Paris’ experience.
To be completely honest, November 2019 is a month I would love to forget. But that’s not how life works, and there were definitely some positives. The two best days in November were Thanksgiving and the day after when I found my Christmas tree. Celebrating Thanksgiving in Paris is different than it is in the US, but it’s always special and the perfect way to kick off the holiday season.
December was filled with many wonderfully festive moments, but none can top the behind the scenes tour of Palais Garnier that Romain surprised me with. It’s one of my favorite places in all of Paris and I’d never even though to visit during the holidays. It was a special afternoon and one of my highlights from the entire year.
A white camellia in the courtyard of my apartment building was the highlight of my January in France. While it may not seem incredibly exciting, in the middle of a cold and rainy January it seemed pretty great to me. I also spent half of the month at home in Dallas so my options were a little limited.
February in Paris (aka the month before everything changed) was filled with beautiful sunsets, fun dinners, and a memorable visit to Hôtel de Lauzun. The biggest standout for me was meeting 94-year-old Dr. Stephen Weiss, a World War II veteran. Along with a group of Americans we surprised Dr. Weiss when he arrived at Gare du Nord before a Ravivage de la Flamme ceremony the following day at the Arc de Triomphe. It was a powerful meeting that became even more meaningful after learning that Dr. Weiss passed away just several weeks after the ceremony.
The first half of March was normal and great the second half was…not at all normal but still great. I can’t believe that I was initially questioning the decision to go to Carolles before the confinement because looking back on it it was the best decision ever. I had so many ‘Normandy firsts’ and highlights from March, but my favorites are a tie between mowing the lawn (so much fun) and having one last sunset drink before outings were banned at our ‘Corona bar.’
April was a very good food month. I just scrolled through my camera roll and wow, we really didn’t hold back. I’m tempted to make all of the food the highlight of the month, but the garden was too pretty for that. When all of the days started to blend together and each one kind of felt like Groundhog Day, the garden was the only indication that time was in fact passing by. I loved taking walks with Dalton and watching everything bloom, especially the cherry blossoms which have an especially sweet story.
My favorite part of May was an almost daily trek next to the beach to sit and listen to the waves crash. Sometimes I went alone, sometimes I was with Romain and Dalton, and bien sûr, sometimes I brought a margarita. I mean how could I resist? These peaceful evening moments of complete calm and stillness.
June brought a little bit of normalcy back to life with the reopening of terrasses in Paris as well as some of the smaller museums. The first museum I went to was the Musée de l’Orangerie. The visit was wonderful and it was a part of life in Paris that I’d missed dearly. I wish museum experiences could stay like this because it really was so pleasant.
August is always a nice time to be in Paris (unless there’s a heatwave) because it’s empty. This year it was especially empty which was extremely evident on my morning walks. A huge takeaway from this entire year will definitely be how lucky I am to have experienced a Paris like this. I don’t know if the opportunity will ever come around again. If it does, I hope it’s not because of a pandemic. August isn’t quite over, but for now that’s my highlight.
As I was going through trying to find photos I came across a screenshot I took of a quote on Instagram, and I think it pretty much sums things up:
Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and the awful it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.L.R. Knost
I hope you enjoyed my recap of two years of living in France. Needless to say, the journey continues.