dimanche 9 février 2014

Why I don't want to live in Paris (and bonus: why I am jealous of people living in Paris)

Paris... ah... Paris... everyone wants to live there, right? 

I fear the day my husband comes home and announces that he has a wonderful opportunity to work and live in Paris. Because I know that I could not say no as a position in Paris would be the cream of the crop for him. Thankfully, we think it will never happen because competition in his field is fierce in Paris.

So why don't I want to live there? 

After my London days, I knew that I was not made for big city living. London is great to visit, but to be honest, I didn't really like my time there. I didn't hate it, but I certainly didn't love it. After London I moved to Wales (a planned move) and I really enjoyed living there. Yes, I realise what I just said - I left a buzzing international centre to go and live in a small rainy city (no, it doesn't rain that much in London, it's just grey all the time), a city which other than a few foreigners passing through for a few months, had a very limited international scene and a city which had a high population of working-class families. Only 3 hours by train from London, yet a world apart. A world which I loved. 

The beach in my Welsh 'ugly, lovely town' as it is known to the locals. I used to come down here in between classes at uni just to breathe in the ocean air. Author of photo: Den Nation. 

The distances are too far apart for me in Paris. I need a less stressful place, preferably one where I can cycle everywhere. I would hate to be chained to the Paris metro and RER, a source of daily stress for some people living in Paris. Another thing that bothers me about the distances is that people are so sick of being suck in transport during the day and often live so far out of the centre that planning an evening out with friends is very difficult. I have friends (mutual friends) that see other less now that they are living in Paris than they did when they lived in separate cities in Province. I like how I can just call up people in Bordeaux and invite them over for the same day or invite them out for that evening and they'll come. 

A café at Gare de Lyon. Author of photo: Den Nation.

No, I don't really have a problem with Parisians. After all, Bordeaux is not known as being the most friendly city in France and I don't blame Parisians for being a bit unfriendly sometimes - I think I would be if I had worked hard all day slaving in an office and had to fight with other commuters for 2-3 hours trying to get home to my family. 

And then there are the house prices. There is no way we could ever afford to buy a place there. Owning our own place is important to us and even though my husband is highly educated and has a "job for life", he could never by an apartment in Paris (unless it was a shoebox). And it's not just housing prices which are higher, eating out and buying food at the supermarket costs more too. The difference in price between living here in Bordeaux and in Paris would not be covered with the 100 euros more a month my husband would receive for moving to Paris.

A statue of Josephine Bonaparte in Rueil-Malmaison, just outside of Paris.
Author of photo: Den Nation.

Not to mention the fact that I don't feel safe there. Pickpocketing is getting to be a real problem there as is aggression in the RER. I know that I could be attacked in Bordeaux or anywhere else for that matter and there is such a thing as common sense and intuition, but I feel that some parts of Paris are really dangerous and my chances of being a victim of aggression are higher in Paris. My husband's colleague, who used to work in Paris, had to walk through a 'danger zone' every day to get to work from the RER station. He would arrive with nothing on him but an old mobile phone in his pocket, his Navigo card and 20 euros in his pocket. What were the 20 euros for? In case he got mugged. I asked him why he bothered carrying any money at all and his answer? "If I didn't have some money on me, they surely would have beaten me up." 

And there's something about living in a tourist city that just doesn't fit my personality. Bordeaux has a lot of wine tourists, but people choose to come here - they come for a reason. A lot of tourists in Paris only go to Paris just because it's Paris. It's not a real reason for not wanting to live in Paris, but I can't explain it, living in a touristy place would bother me. 

Rueil-Malmaison. Author of photo: Den Nation.

Ok, so I've given some pretty convincing answers. But... there is another side to this... 

Things I wish I could bring to Province
1. The transport system. Yes, I know I complained about this, but this is, hands down, the number one thing I would import here. Bordeaux's trams are really elegant, clean and safe, but they are some of the slowest snails on earth. Problem with the tram? Well, it's not uncommon to see huge groups of people walking all together from the centre of the city to the university (a 30-minute walk for the science building, more for the others). If there is a problem with the tram, you are stuck. There is no option to walk to the next stop and wait for the next tram. You're only option is to get out and walk or try to find a bus to take. 
2. I don't really like Roissy, Paris's airport. The airport facilities are great, but half the times when I have a flight arriving there the plane goes around the airport for half an hour 'looking for a place to park because someone's in my spot'. Anyways, despite my complaining, I really wish I could have access to the wide variety of flights that living in Paris could offer me. I hate always having to pass through Paris because there are limited direct flights from Bordeaux. Not to mention the fact that getting to Bordeaux's airport with public transport is another snail ride. At least it only costs 1.40 euros (less if you buy a 10-trip card). 
3. A wide variety of Asian and other world cuisine restaurants. And at decent prices too. Sometimes I look at the prices of take-away menus that we receive and it shocks me so much. We try and wait for trip to Paris to take advantage of all the yummy food on offer there. Yes, there is something that is cheaper in Paris (other than flights). Slim pickings here in Bordeaux. 
4. Lower unemployment rate. I don't think I need to say more about this. 
5. Expat groups. Well, it's no surprise that there are not so many long-term expats here in Bordeaux. They are here... somewhere. 
6. I'm not really crazy about museums and culture so I'll won't really talk about that except to say that don't come here specifically for museums unless you want to go to wine museums. 

So I like to visit Paris, but I also like to leave Paris. I guess you could say that I like it in small doses. My visits there have greatly diminished over the past few years, but I am excited to be going back there next month for a visit. Bring on the Asian food!