Our first week in Paris has come to an end, and what a week it’s been. There’s a learning curve to any new city, and Paris is no different. We are trying to live here, not just vacation here, which means finding supermarkets and hardware stores, buying dish towels and removable coat hooks. We purchased SIM cards and monthly metro passes; we considered joining a gym. It’s been a challenge, finding our way around a new city. For the first few days, we went to the grocery store every single day, buying things like flour and salt and an egg pan. On the fourth day, we gave in and ordered a pizza. From Pizza Hut. We drank French wine with dinner though, so it wasn’t a total wash.
Our vacation rental is probably fine. The pictures online suggest a vintage, shabby chic aesthetic. Upon closer inspection, however, it leans more towards shabby. There are no closets, so we unpacked into one very tiny dresser and a disturbingly unsteady china cabinet, the doors of which fall off every time you open it (we left the doors off permanently – they’re hidden behind the tiny dresser.) We moved the breakable things to high shelves and stashed everything else in the guest room. This is what our living room used to look like:
And this is what it looks like now:
Our second day here, we lost power due to some faulty oven wiring. It took twenty-four hours to be repaired, which is a minor inconvenience for adults, and the apocalypse if you have children. We ate take-out by candle light, went to bed early, and, with no way to brew coffee the next day, dressed everyone in the dark and wandered around early morning Paris in search of sustenance, which was also kind of pretty.
By the weekend, things were looking up. We knew how to use the metro, our lights were working, and we were the proud owners of several key pantry staples (oatmeal, anyone?). We could roughly navigate to the major neighborhood landmarks – a playground, the grocery store, a few cafes – without breaking out Google maps, and Dave was making his way through the local boulangeries in search of the perfect baguette. I had big plans to visit the Pompidou, Museé Rodin, and Marché Grenelle. Sadly, that was when we encountered our most formidable opponent to date – what the French call “la gastro.”
La gastro, as the name suggests, is a particularly aggressive virus that wreaks havoc on one’s digestive system and is accompanied by various unpleasant flu-like symptoms. I’ll spare you the details, dear reader, since I’d like you do return to this blog someday, but suffice to say that we did a lot of laundry, changed a lot of diapers, and quarantined ourselves in the apartment for the duration. We are mostly recovered now, and feeling, once again, optimistic about the weekend.
I had this fantasy, before we arrived, that when we moved to Paris we’d become fancier, more sophisticated, more French versions of ourselves. Avery would start sleeping through the night, like magic. Connor would eat his vegetables and call me “Maman” in an adorable accent. My scarf collection would double and I’d get 15% more glamorous. The reality has turned out to not be quite so shiny. Moving is hard, and the chaos of this transition has taken its toll on all of us, except maybe Dave. He’s turned into a French-speaking gourmet chef who goes to farmers markets and jogs while the rest of us nap.
But if we’re being honest, that’s been him all along.