The French have a deep appreciation for food history. Starting at the very base of production, France has a system called Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC), which translates into ‘controlled designation of origin.’ The AOC acts as a certification mechanism for quality control and geographical delineation. It applies mostly to Parisian household staples like wine, cheese, meat, honey, and butter. The goods that fall under this umbrella are subject to observing centuries-old production tradition – meaning every taste is as rich in history as it is in flavor.
France produces upwards of 350 types of cheese, and every one of them is at your fingertips when you live in the capital. Indulge in a creamy yet mild Brie over breakfast, or nibble on a stronger Camembert after your afternoon coffee. From breakfast to dessert, it’s always time for a scrumptious slice of one of France’s national prides.
Wine, and having an appreciation for wine, is a big part of life in Paris. Having a glass or two with meals or splitting a bottle amongst friends is inevitable any day of the week. Even the cheap stuff is pretty fantastic in comparison to its international counterparts. Better yet, it’s also culturally acceptable to drink in public. So feel free grab a bottle, a blanket, and a friend for a picnic on the Seine.
When you were a kid, there was nothing like waking up to the smell of Mom’s freshly baked goods wafting down the corridor. Bring that back into your life by waking up in Paris and popping into your local boulangerie on the daily commute. The golden croissants, crisp yet fluffy baguette, and delectable éclairs are a simple and delicious reality of everyday life in France.
Producing some of the world’s most famous chefs and restaurants, Paris is the hub for haute and traditional varieties of French cuisine. Dine on simple, elegant fare from confit de canard to steak tartar or pots of freshly steamed mussels. Another beautiful reality of the Parisian food scene is that the majority of restaurants are independently operated. This helps fuel a sense of pride, responsibility, and artistry in the work of even small establishments – meaning quality meals at almost every price point. Sure, there are big box chains but nowhere near as prevalent as in other large cities around the world.
The world of French desserts is one of pure pleasure. The entire experience from taste to the presentation is an exercise of technical artistry. The texture of a silken dark chocolate mousse or the crack of your spoon delving into an expertly crafted crème brûlée are merely two examples of the moments to be had in the world of Parisian desserts. Only by making the move can you try it all, so for this reason alone, get packing.
Paris follows a more realistic circadian rhythm than other large cities. There is a strong emphasis on working to live, not living to work. The work-life balance is actually observed in Paris with 35- to 40-hour workweeks, long lunches, and a standard of 30 days vacation per year. This doesn’t even include bank holidays, of which there are 11. Don’t mistake balanced for relaxed – they earn their lifestyles. According to the OECD, the French are amongst some of the most productive employees in the EU, even producing more GDP per hour worked than Germany.
The French allocate roughly 30 percent of their GDP to welfare and social redistribution. This translates into rent subsidies for students and young persons trying to make a life in France or generous child care allowances for families. So, while some taxes on goods and services may inflate baseline expenses, it’s widely redistributed for the greater good of society. Depending on your documents, maybe even to you!
Paris is remarkable for the distinct energy and personality in each of its 20 arrondissements. It’s impossible to tire of the city as a whole since there’s always another flavor and energy to choose from – all you have to do is hop on the metro. Paris is rich with a wealth of museums, cultural centers, and historic buildings open to the public. There is always the opportunity to be engaged in the world of art and history from the Musee d’Orsay to the Catacombs. France offers free admission to those under 25 with a long-term residency visa or EU passport, so it doesn’t have to cost a dime! If you’re north of 25, don’t fret – Paris offers free admission on the first Sunday of every month as well. There’s no excuse for missing out!
High education in France costs pennies in comparison to other countries like the United States or Canada. Higher education requires marginal fees from between 150€-700€ per year from students as the rest is subsidized by the state. A large variety of scholarships and additional subsidy programs are available for low-income students as well. Other expenses like books are not covered, but medical coverage is provided until age 20 when it boosts to a meager 200€ per year. Any way you spin it, a plane ticket over to Paris is a small price to pay in comparison to the crippling debt often endured elsewhere.
While a dense city, Paris offers refuge from the bustle in one of its many stunning and well-manicured gardens. Get a breath of fresh air while walking pond side or through the hidden orchards of the Luxembourg Gardens. Be whisked away in the romance of Parc des Buttes-Chaumont grottos, waterfalls, and cliffs – all in the middle of the city. Paris provides wooded sanctuaries and floral walks throughout its streets, making it possible to take a moment in the midst of it all.
If taking a time out in one of Paris’ parks isn’t enough, the city is well located for international travel as well. Living in Paris means living in the center of it all – really. Hop on a train to London for the weekend, or snag a cheap overnight bus to northern Spain. Perhaps Zurich, Amsterdam, or Brussels call to you for a quick weekend escape. All of it is possible without even hopping a flight. Opening to the realm of air travel means a quick jump over to Rome, Berlin, or Copenhagen. With good timing, planning, and a bit of luck, seeing other major cities is a breeze when you live in Paris.
Another benefit to life in Paris is that the world often comes to you too. Every September, Paris Fashion Week brings out the most stylish stars, industry heavy hitters, and the world media. Showcasing top design talent, the week celebrates the beauty and artistry of designer clothing. It also highlights the diversity of Paris as many international houses choose to host their shows in the city. The city also hosts Men’s Fashion Week in June and Couture Fashion Week in July for the diehards of fashion.
Couture and designer fashion is wonderful to behold but is not always affordable to put on your back. The French, and particularly the Parisians, are renowned masters of everyday understated elegance. Less is more for most Parisians who take to simple cuts and mixing only a few colors per outfit. Accessories are where the outfit gets more personal and original but are used sparingly, really as a singular final touch. Moving to Paris means editing your wardrobe down to the essentials and updating with chic brands like Comptoir des Cotonniers or Sandro.
In Paris, a night out is an enjoyable marathon, not a sloppy sprint. After dining on an elegant meal at a restaurant or at home, Parisians turn to their favorite bar to meet up with friends. Most bars host lengthy happy hours from 6 PM to 10 PM, so grabbing a drink doesn’t have to break the bank. If dancing is on the menu, clubs are open until 4 AM, so there’s no rush there either. There is always a plethora of shows to check out from up-and-coming to established music artists of any genre, theatre, opera, or comedy. Paris is a hub for electronic music and the hottest new DJs, so you’ll always be ahead of the curve in that respect.
Pure and simple, French is a gorgeous romantic language to the ear. It may take a while to learn, but Parisians are more patient than they’re stereotyped to be when it comes to speaking with foreigners. Even if you can’t get it right away, don’t worry – most people do speak English in the capital, so you will survive in the meantime.