The Paris Diaries: My Arrival

Seven years ago I moved to Paris to be a full-time nanny (au pair).  I still have all my old blog entries filed away privately.  Little by little I thought it would be fun to share pieces of those romantic and difficult days with you.  Starting with my arrival. I’m actually here.

And I’m not just another tourist this time around. In my handbag sits keys to my Parisian apartment and my cell phone, even if they’re lying next to atleast three guide books.

A couple of nights ago, I was rocked to sleep by the night train that took me from the sleepy South of France, to Paris, the city itself just waking up in the morning light. I was met by the Monsieur of the children I will be caring for, and driven to my new home.

Driving through the city I was very aware that I was no longer in the small village of Castelnau de Montmiral. People walk differently, talk differently, dress differently, love differently. And I am anonymous again.

I feasted on a large bag of croissants and baguette with the family, who warmly took me into their top floor apartment, immaculate, modern and mostly white, with a view of the top of the Eiffel Tower if you lean out the window.

The children laughed and played, climbing on any furniture they could. But energetic as they are, they are polite, well dressed, and being raised in a very positive manner. The parents encourage them to learn, discover, spent time outside, and respect others as much as possible.

This family is incredibly generous, giving me new towels, bedsheets, and a small flatscreen TV since the one before was broken.

And even though I have to carry a purse with toilet paper and my keys every time I go to the bathroom down the hall, my miniscule apartment is absolutely perfect. Furnished with everything I need-minus toilet-it is cozy and stylish.

I’m overwhelmed by the city. My first few days have been spent mostly walking around, trying to settle in my new surroundings. I have a huge craving to become une vraie Parisienne, unidentifiable as a toursist.

One thing I noticed is that all the women have perfect hair. So, as my initiation I took myself out for a haircut and highlights, where the hairdresser kindly offered me une cigarette with my cafe, and gave me his phone number afterwards so we could go out for drinks. He thought I looked like a movie star, and charmed as I was, I don’t think I’ll be calling.

Another thing I would have to improve to become une vraie Parisienne is my sense of style. Women here have a definite look, they have mastered coordination, and wear heels as easily as I wear my flip flops. But as much as I’d like to make over my whole wardrobe, my budget will only allow so much. It will come, it will come, I tell myself. One day I’ll walk around without ‘TOURIST’ stamped on my forehead. One day.

For now I’m just trying to get comfortable. And so I should make my way out of this sleazy internet cafe and continue walking. There are still so many streets to discover, and I have a list of small errands to run. I can’t believe I’m running errands in Paris.

I’m here. I can’t believe I’m here. And this time it’s home.