Archive for the 'TIPs (This is Paris)' Category

Paris’ New “Budget Participatif”

This week voting began in a new Paris initiative: for the first time in the city’s history, residents get to choose how to use 5% of the municipal government’s investment budget. This budget participatif, which will amount to 426 million euros over 6 years, was one of mayor Anne Hidalgo’s campaign promises. It’s happening now.

(A quick video on how it works, in French, is below)

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Create What You Seek + The Kale Project

Eiffel Tower in the mistBetween my writing residency and road trip, I’ve been away from Paris for some time. I’ve gotten caught up in other worlds, but the city’s on my mind.

“April in Paris” is one of those phrases that instantly evokes a certain nostalgia. A mood set in three simple words. (Listen to Ella & Louis do their rendition of the song).

I’ll be interested to return to Paris this month (though I’m not rushing my sojourn in Guadeloupe. Bravo to those who figured out my current location from the last post’s clues!). Distance is always great for allowing us to see places we know with fresh eyes. I wonder, too, if Paris – and France – have some new changes in store.

After two rounds of voting, Paris elected its first-ever female mayor, Anne Hidalgo. (Most of France moved to the right politically in the recent municipal elections, but as Paris is so often an exception, the Socialist candidate prevailed there).

Hidalgo was born in Spain, but grew up in Lyon, becoming a French national at the age of 14. She quoted the writer Sacha Guitry in saying: “Being a Parisian is not about being born in Paris, it is about being reborn there.”

Continue reading ‘Create What You Seek + The Kale Project’

Luck and Expectations: Some Thoughts on Moving Abroad

Thinking of moving to Paris? Carpe Diem.

Thinking of moving to Paris? Carpe Diem.

Recently I was tapped as an “expat expert” and asked to contribute a tip about living abroad for an HiFx campaign. At first I balked at being considered an “expert.” But then I reasoned: if experience is what makes someone knowledgeable, then I must know something after 7 years in Paris.

Still, I had trouble coming up with concrete advice. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that everyone’s experience is different. Part of the adventure (and frustration) of life in France is that it’s difficult to pin down the precise rules. Documents asked of one person for a dossier, for example, may not be requested of another.

Art along the Seine

Art along the Seine

In the end, perseverance counts more than anything. My tip, therefore, emphasized attitude, summed up in a few short lines. (You can see the full list of tips here; mine will be added soon).

The topic got me to wondering, though. How could I expand on the lessons I learned moving to the City of Light? I realized expectations and the perception of luck play a major role when I talk to people about moving abroad. Here are some broad thoughts on the subject:

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Quiet Paris (Giveaway!)

Quiet ParisAs if in answer to my pleas, the sun finally appeared in Paris this week. Starting Sunday, spring burst forth fully formed. The city sighed collective relief.

The long walks I alluded to last post obviously bring even more joy now.

In a bout of perfect timing, I also received a new guidebook that champions the wandering approach. The introduction to Siobhan Wall’s Quiet Paris has her musing: “walking around, I wondered whether we are now less familiar with losing our way and coming across places by benign accident rather than preordained design.”

Wall seeks the calmer side to cities, you see, places off the beaten track. Previously she has produced Quiet London and Quiet Amsterdam. But is it really possible to escape the hustle and bustle in Paris, the world’s most popular tourist destination?

I always approach anything promising a “secret” City of Light with a slice of skepticism. Luckily, this sweet little pocket guide soon swiped away any hesitation. It delivers.

While some old standbys certainly appear (the elevated leafy walkway known as the Promenade Plantee was packed this weekend, for instance; ditto, I imagine, Parc Buttes Chaumont), plenty of entries were new to me (the Musee Bourdelle in the fifteenth? The Bibliotheque Marguerite Durand devoted to French women and feminism?)

Author Siobhan Wall

Author Siobhan Wall

After the elegant intro, the guide is divided into 12 sections: museums, libraries, parks & gardens, places to relax, places to worship, shops, restaurants, cafes, bookshops, galleries, cultural centers, and places to stay. At the end is a handy index of places by arrondissement. There are more than 120 listings in all.

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Of Melancholy and Marvels; Paris Years On

Sion_Crossroads_PereLachaise
Did I ever tell you about my first trip to Paris?

A rainy weekend in late November 2005.

At that time, I didn’t know the gray of the sky was semi-permanent, that the drab monotony even had a name (la grisaille). I did intuit, however, that the city always looked beautiful anyway.

A transport strike (another common feature, I would learn) was in full swing and so I arrived into central Paris only after a chaotic RER and metro ride.

But out I finally popped onto Rue de Rivoli, the Hotel de Ville lit bright by early holiday lights. Beautiful. There’s that word again. I was overcome by my first sight.

Continue reading ‘Of Melancholy and Marvels; Paris Years On’

First Signs of Spring!

Last night I returned from Prague around midnight. It was wonderful discovering a new city – and I’ll be sharing more about that trip soon.

Prague was pretty cold, though. Much better than I expected (the forecast before I left had predicted rain and below freezing temperatures and that did not come to pass), but I have to say waking up this morning in Paris to bright sunshine was fantastic. The sun is supposed to continue its star role and the City of Light will hit 60 degrees this week. Hooray!

It’s not my neighborhood park by any means (I’m a Right Banker all the way!), but the Luxembourg Gardens holds a special place for many. It’s certainly a good place to mark the arrival of spring.

I hope your week is starting off bright and sunny, too. More soon!

Mon Pays et Paris

The Friday before Christmas Eve – woo-hoo!

Just thought I’d share my version of holiday music. I’m no caroler, but this puts me in a certain kind of spirit.

J’ai deux amours: mon pays et Paris, the song says. “I have two loves: my country and Paris.” Ain’t that the truth.

I do sometimes feel stretched across the great Atlantic. Family and friends gathered together back in the States; I miss them from here. But I also feel like I am home. Home in Paris. Why limit love? Love is meant to be big and generous and open-hearted and deep. How great to have two loves.

Mon pays et Paris.

Merry Christmas, everyone!


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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