Blog Crawl: 6 Random Things I’ve Learned My First 15 Days in Paris

I’m in a Paris expat blog crawl! I’m not entirely sure what that means, other than the fact that there are people jumping from blog to blog today in an effort to make some new expat friends, online and offline. So if you’re here for that, welcome. And if you’re just back because you like to read my blog, you rule. Hi again and thanks.

Since where I’m from, a “crawl” implies that we’ll all be drinking for the next 11 hours and since we’re all supposed to give away a prize of some sort, I thought I’d combine the two: I’ll put everyone who @mentions me (RBrownie) and my little blog in a tweet today or tomorrow in a random drawing for a bottle of wine. (I’ll also @ you back either today or tomorrow.) If you’re not into the tweet thing, shoot me an email to say hi as your @mention. ( That feels a little dirty, but there you go. Now you know; that’s how I roll. Not dirty, but with wine. And now, my “learnings” so far. (Also, please scroll to the bottom of this post for a link to Blog in France; click there for a link of where to go next!)

  1. People really do wear berets here. What’s up with that? I have no idea if the people wearing them are actually French, or if they’re travelers wearing them in an attempt to be hipstery and ironic, but I’ve seen a lot of them. In the wearers’ defense, it’s been really cold here, but come on; there are plenty of other non-beret options available, people. This is Paris, after all.
  2. French TV is an entertainment goldmine. One minute you’re listening to Marge Simpson’s excessively urgent and high voice on the French Simpsons, next you’re watching some high-brow French version of Othello, then you walk away for two minutes and when you come back there’s a full-on naked three-way happening on the same channel you just left.  WHAT? Which brings me to …
  3. I’ve said it before here and I’m saying it again now: People in Paris have a lot of noisy sex.  Good for them. Maybe that’s why …
  4. French people are nice. Yes, really. This isn’t a lesson for me, it’s more of a gospel I feel the need to pass along since probably 6 out of 10 people made some snide comment about how rude French people are when I told them I was moving here. True, there are some not-so-nice people in Paris. There are also some not-so-nice people in New York, in San Francisco, and pretty much everywhere you go. When you stand and point at people instead of trying to speak the language in their country (as I saw a man do tonight—while wearing a beret—true story) or you constantly talk about how much better things are where you live, they get a little pissy. You can’t blame them. And really, is it so much better? Does your country sell chèvre in the shape of an Eiffel Tower? No. I didn’t think so.
  5. You actually do need to speak French to live in Paris. Not to visit, but yes, to live. Those people who say you don’t need to? They’re wrong. Don’t listen to them. I feel like I’m only getting 30 percent of the experience right now, with my 30 percent recall. I’m mad at myself for not getting on the language train sooner, but I’m working on it.
  6. Everyone should experience living in another country at least once. This is my second round of expat-ness; the first time was in London, but I had friends with me so it was different. Every day at least once, I have a moment where I feel so happy and so overwhelmed with gratitude to be here, that I either almost start to cry or smile so big people think I’m crazy. And every day at least once, I feel so lonely and so isolated from my friends and family and my old life that I want to cry; I don’t want to be back there just yet, but I do feel a little sad. It’s hard to explain, this feeling of simultaneous joy and loneliness/sadness. I wouldn’t change a thing about what I’m doing – the isolation is just part of the package I guess, or maybe it goes away over time. I love seeing and doing something brand new every second of every day; it’s without a doubt the best thing I’ve ever done and the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And the best part is the amazing people I’ve met so far – which is exactly why I’m doing this: to meet more great people. Find me at if you want to scout out some decent coffee (yeah, I’m being one of the people from item #4), start a writing group, see a French garden, drink a French wine, or anything else fun, I’m in.

Read the next blog! Go to Blog in France for the full list of where to go next. (Did I mention that HTML isn’t my strong point? Please do take a sec to go there so you can hop on to the next place. Thanks!)