Archive for February, 2012

Author Interview: Aurelia d’Andrea of ‘Living Abroad in France’ (Plus: A Reader Poll!)

Aurelia d'Andrea (photo by Sophia Pagan)

When my (crazy) idea of moving to France first came to me ’round about 2005/2006, there weren’t that many practical guides explaining how to make it happen. I found books with titles like “Working and Living in France,” but these were inevitably written largely by and for UK residents.

As all of my North American expat friends can attest, a vastly different set of challenges face those not already wielding an EU-passport.

That’s why it’s lovely to see a new book (released Valentine’s Day – aww) written for a more North American audience.

Aurelia d’Andrea is a freelance writer, former magazine editor, and professional Parisian dog walker (!) who has put together a useful guide to Living Abroad in France (conveniently, that is the title of the book, too!)

D’Andrea hails from San Francisco, but has successfully navigated two different long-term stays in France. Her book covers everything from planning a fact-finding trip to moving with pets, the different types of visas and their associated requirements to renting or buying an apartment.

The guidebook is engaging and accessible and packed full of resources. Besides admiring the work it takes to put together such a guide, I’m also relieved to have an easy title to point to now when others ask me how they too can live in la belle France. “Get this book,” I can now say. (Phew, I’m off the hook!)

It takes real perseverance to make the dream of living in France a reality, but as d’Andrea proves – it’s possible. And so worth it.

I’m happy Aurelia agreed to answer a few questions for the blog.

I was stunned to learn that you researched and wrote this entire book from scratch under a very tight deadline. The book gives an overview of everything from French government to getting your kids into school, handling administrative hurdles to mapping regional geography. How in the heck do you even approach putting together such an extensive guide on such a large topic as “Living Abroad in France”?

Continue reading ‘Author Interview: Aurelia d’Andrea of ‘Living Abroad in France’ (Plus: A Reader Poll!)’

No More ‘Miss’ : Mademoiselle is Out

Yesterday a decree came from Prime Minister Francois Fillon’s office: “Mademoiselle” will be phased out of usage on all administrative documents from now on.

You probably already know: a man is always “Monsieur.” But a woman is either “Mademoiselle” or “Madame” based on marital status. The government and feminist groups have now successfully argued that this differentiation doesn’t make sense.

Is this the end of an era?

Continue reading ‘No More ‘Miss’ : Mademoiselle is Out’

Monday Morning Music: Zaz in Montmartre

I love running into (good) performers on the street. It’s a sweet bit of serendipity that lifts my mood.

Here’s a ditty by the French singer Zaz. The song, “Les passants,” means passerby.

I thought this might help you imagine strolling through Montmartre and add a little pizzazz to the start of the week. (Thanks PerfectlyParis for the link!)

What are your favorite surprises?

My New Love

There she is.

My new love.

Appropriately under a collage of Doisneau photos and next to some flowers.

My new piano!

We haven’t been together long, but it’s the real deal.

Yes! I bought a digital piano and it makes me so happy!

I had never heard of this proverb until reading this essay, but I think it’s true: “Play the piano daily and stay sane.”

You might remember back in the new year I made 2012’s theme all about play. I assembled a micro piano to tide me over, but now I have a real one. It has already transformed my daily routine. It has already started beating back the winter blues.

It’s been 15 years since I even touched a piano, so I’m reteaching myself all of the basics. But it’s remarkable what is still inside, too.

Continue reading ‘My New Love’

The Day Before V-Day…

…or as I like to call it, Monday.

Happy! (On Rue Montorgueil)

A friend asked me take some snapshots today as I went about my day. To link them thematically, if I wished, but just to notice what was around me.

So, I take you with me, too.

Continue reading ‘The Day Before V-Day…’

Author Interview: Amy Thomas of ‘Paris, My Sweet’

Amy Thomas (photo by Lindsey Tramuta)

I always love tucking into a new book, but there’s an extra special thrill when the author is a friend. I was delighted (and amazed! and overwhelmingly happy!) when I received my review copy of Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) by the très-talented Amy Thomas. Her book just came out February 1.

Besides being a successful advertising copywriter, popular blogger, and oft-published journalist with articles in The New York Times and National Geographic Traveler, Amy is also a self-described Sweet Freak. Her book winds its way through the City of Light in search of perfect pastries and also points us to the best sugary addresses in the Big Apple, too.

What I really adored about Amy’s book, however, was how seamlessly she wove her own personal journey alongside her quest for the tastiest of treats. This is a memoir, you see, and it delves into the sometimes bittersweet realities of being a fish out of water – even when land is Paris and so heartbreakingly beautiful.

Any expat will relate to the excitement and challenges of finding yourself in a new place.

And anyone with a sweet tooth will agree Amy makes a great case for eating dessert for dinner. I devoured her book in two days.

I am thrilled that Amy was willing to answer a few questions today.

Amy, we both share a common condition: we are in love with both Paris and New York! This yearning for one place while living in the other takes up a large part of your book. How do you reconcile having these two loves now?

Continue reading ‘Author Interview: Amy Thomas of ‘Paris, My Sweet’’

Paris: 50 People, 1 Question (What Makes You Happy?)

February is traditionally a tough month for me.

Not only is it one of the coldest (I woke up to snow covering the ground yesterday!), but the promise of spring still feels so far away. The sky is gray; days short. Then there’s that whole V-day thing right in the middle of it, but we shan’t talk about that.

I’ve been pretty social so far this month, but sometimes, all I feel like doing is being a hermit.

Hunkering down has its benefits, though. It’s a time of reflection, as well.

Lest it sound like I have a case of the winter blues…well, yes, true. But I’m really happy, too.

Here’s a video that asks people in the streets of Paris that very question: what makes you happy? It seems a simple question, but as you’ll see, people at first have a hard time answering.

It may sound strange, but this is part of what I’m sorting through these days. What does make me happy? What do I want to be doing? Where am I heading? What is my purpose? And what about this thing called love?

Thankfully, a whole ton of things give me joy and I get on a roll as soon as I start: the sun, a smile, finding just the right word. Friends. Family. A good book. A cup of tea. Chocolat chaud. Kindness. Seeing a friend’s face, even though we’re an ocean apart (thanks, Skype). Light seeping through the window. Surprises. This American Life.

And of course, Paris. Watch the video then share if you’d like. I’d love to hear:
what makes you happy?


paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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