SUNNIES. SURFACE TO AIR.
DRESS. MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA.
CLUTCH. BOTTEGA VENETA.
SHOES. ALEXANDER WANG.
The last page of my adventure, the end.
Ten months ago I packed my bags and moved to the city of my wildest dreams, Paris. It had always seemed to be an obvious choice to follow the ultimate path of fashion.
But when I finally put my words into action, and started packing things in Amsterdam I panicked and wondered whether I had taken the right decision. You see, I never was the kind of girl that would leave her friends, family and comfort zone behind. However, doubts or not, there was no way back. A year in Paris was inevitable.
With my mind and soul filled with expectations and questions I started living this new Parisian life. And though I had officially come here to pursue a master in fashion design and management I was honestly more looking forward to those hours spend not in the school benches, but sipping wine at comptoirs, strolling through hidden alleys, eating countless chèvres chauds and discovering this mystic and world famous nightlife I had always imagined myself part of.
So when after one month of school I still couldn't convince any of my classmates on joining my adventure of discoveries, home sickness hit me and kept sweeping me of my feet for a month or four. The expectations I had created for myself didn't live up to what was surrounding me, and my dream didn't turn out to be what I had expected. This point of my journey was mostly shaped by tears, lonely nights and complex thoughts.
Did this dream of mine actually exist? Or do we dream to adjust our thoughts to acceptance of our own real life?
This was the point in my journey where I discovered that you, yourself are responsible for your own luck. And that living life through the support of expectations and wishes, will always lead to disappointment. So I took matters into my own hands and faced the only way out of this loneliness, the awkward way out: visiting birthdays alone, meeting random people through social media or just on the platform of Gare du Nord (true story!) and having lunch alone at the best places in town - hoping to finally meet and join the real Parisian life.
Slowly things were taking a positive turn and for the first time after 4/5 month I started feeling happy and appreciative about my decision to move. This was the crucial turning point where I had no longer moved away, but had finally moved on. My objectives for the remaining time changed, and my journey was no longer something doubtful but it became the adventure I shaped it to be.
With an overdose of feedback on online Paris guides (Unlike, HipParis, De Quelle Planète Es Tu, Barts Boekje, Paris by Mouth, Ten Days in Paris, Paris Bouge) I challenged myself to discover at least 5 new places a week. This ambition led to the discovery of many things, but also to the discovery of my own interests which I found I had neglected while living in Amsterdam. You see, in the 5 years that passed in Amsterdam I had mostly visited the places I liked best (best coffee at Palladium, best tosti at Pompadour, best crowd at Wolvenstraat) and never really went out to check out the new places in town, thanks to the mediocre reviews others had already given me.
Now having conquered almost every corner of Paris, I know how much of a kick I get out of cultural visits and how influential they can be for your daily life. Walking down the same lanes as Marie Antoinette, looking through the eyes of Oscar Wilde, hunting through the stands of super cool retro furniture and gadgets, overlooking the magnificent rooftops on top of the Arc de Triomphe or even just a simple stroll along the Seine would put a bright smile on my face no matter what situation I would mentally be in.
Obviously I was still missing home, though as time passed by, I got used to missing certain people and things. I guess it was a matter of accepting the absence, for me, but also for those back at home. This all might sound ordinary, but this sort of acceptance (of absence) was hard and sometimes even heart-breaking.
My stories and memories were no longer shared and created by my familiar crowd, who truly knew and understood me - but were now a compilation of strange and new happenings that were no longer shared and understood by my loved ones at home (you know how confusing a conversation gets when you don't know the faces behind the names). It showed me the powerful cultural differences between me and my new foreign friends, what ultimately got me into some hilarious situations (e.g. an asian friend asking whether I find it strange to have blue eyes - true story).
Now since I had moved to Paris, I found it my duty to merge into French groups other than sticking around my international classmates. And I guess this is where I explain why I didn't stay in Paris, why Paris didn't convince me and why Paris didn't completely stole my heart.
With a few exceptions here and there, the Parisians have not treated me with much respect. Now I am not talking about the time I was threatened with a knife (again, true story) but it is mostly about the facial expressions and tone of voices I got surrounded by. Whether it was the cab driver, the woman sitting opposite of me in the metro, the boy behind the counter in the supermarket or just any random guy in a club they somehow seemed grumpy, annoyed and rude. Maybe I am again facing another cultural difference here, but the power of social tolerance was greater than the power of the city.
Luckily, the last few months have been the cherry on top. With overbooked weekends of sightseeing, shopping, terraces, parties and friends I have come to leave Paris with a somewhat broken heart. Paris is still the most beautiful city on earth, even after completing my bucket list and stumbling on personal disappointments. And it will still be my favorite city-trip across the borders, but for now it will no longer be my home.
Maybe one day I return, (I do believe there is a serious possibility if I ever come across that dream job) with a mind filled with new dreams and goals. But for now, I am happy to go back to Amsterdam, back home and find my own adventure.
Thank you Paris, for your sick ride. It is impossible to put into words how much you have touched me, but somethings are better off without words. Thank you to those I met along the way and made memories of a lifetime. You will always be part of an awesome story, one that many will envy. Hopefully our paths will meet again, one day.
Thank you to my friends who were kind enough to keep in touch, through postcards or through visits. It has made a great impact on me and I will not forget. Thank you for defining the true meaning of friendship to me, one of the greatest lessons I have learned.
And, last but not least, thank you to you! It has been an incredible experience having your comments and support throughout this entire journey, it truly felt as if you were joining me, my every discovery and my every thought. I hope I have given you a real clear indication of my Parisian life and that I maybe even have inspired you in some way. My stories will continue in Amsterdam and I hope I can count on your support. You are all the greatest source of motivation I can ask for, thank you once again.
Merci & a bientôt Paris !
For extra features of my Parisian adventure, browse through my Instagram, here.
PHOTOS TAKEN BY BAPTISTE MAZIERES