Paris has inherited a reputation for being glamorous and romantic. but, the past seven months have made me fall in love with the ordinary things in this "chic" place.
i'm not writing this post to complain, that's not my style. this is for perspective. there are a lot of preconceived notions about what living in Paris looks like on social media and in the movies. i can confidently say that while this year has been amazing, it hasn't been too glamorous.
for starters, there is nothing that makes me think "designer" about living on the 7th floor by American standards (in Europe the ground floor is 0. i live on the 6th floor #dothemath.) though, i will say the spiral staircase is a nice backdrop for photos.
every time i come home i always have one more challenge--102 winding and uneven wooden stairs that knock the wind out of me every time. i live in what used to be the old "maids quarters," which makes for cheaper rent and an amazing view.
sometimes i don't need that extra challenge from the day. the other day a white man called me a racist because i didn't respond to his attempt to engage me in conversation. i have more arms and legs than friends here, and in a place that values socializing at happy hours and cafés nearly everyday of the week, that can feel very isolating. at the end of a long day, tackling those stairs just adds a physical drain to my already depleted emotional stamina.
at the top, a tiny 300 sq foot apartment awaits me. my toilet sounds like there's a vacuum cleaner stuck in it. the duration of hot water in my shower has been a lesson in efficiency. there's no oven and my stove consists of two mini electric burners. there are many parts of my apartment where standing up straight would cause me a concussion. but, i have everything i need here, and it's made me devalue material things and chase experiences--even ordinary ones here in Paris.
i moved to Paris from New York, so the city seems relatively small to me, but it still packs in a lot of noise and public transit can be overwhelming. for that reason, i've become very mindful of protecting my peace of mind amidst my routine that takes me all across the city. for me, that means finding calming places that make me feel like i've journeyed somewhere else in the world.
one of the most amazing things about Paris, and France in general, is the café culture. I like to carve out "café time" at least 3-4 times a week. i can feel transported to another place even if i'm just in a coffee shop 500ft from my apartment.
every shop is different. the one across the street has a disco ball that completely contrasts the dark, wooden decor of a place that gives off the vibe of a neighborhood restaurant. another, where i drink my green tea/matcha lattes, has these suspended bird cage swinging seats that look out onto the street and amazing baristas who are often playing Drake.
(April 2017. Arômes Café. Paris.)
my third favorite café is decorated in pastel pinks and also functions as a flower shop and vegan eatery.
each coffee shop brings me a different vibe, but it's always nice to pack my bag and head somewhere new, even if it's for something ordinary like coffee and a place to read. i'll likely highlight a few in depth in the future just because some have such amazing histories, as some of the great thinkers, writers, and artists used to congregate in cafés centuries before.
journeying to a calming place doesn't require much planning, forethought, or money. sometimes i spend less than 2 euros on coffee to sit for hours and recharge. you can spend hundreds of dollars to do that on vacation, and sometimes it is important to completely get away. but when that's not possible, you can find an escape near home.
doing ordinary things in Paris, which has been my home for nearly a year, makes me happy. this lesson in appreciating mundanity will likely be the best souvenir i bring back to the states. it's about doing ordinary things without dismissing them as just another part of your day and cherishing the little things on my daily path even in the chicest city in the world.