My hands down favorite thing about writing Feather Factor have been the interviews. Through them, I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many fantastic people from all around the world that I admire – and I often wonder months after I’ve had someone on here about how they are doing.
One of these people was Carin, who some of you remember was a beautiful editorial assistant at Elle Decor Sweden. After Carin’s interview I had a few readers ask about her and whether she had a blog, which she didn’t at the time. Half a year later though, Carin emailed me – she had moved to Paris, and had started a blog! I was so interested in her move, and awed by the photos on her blog, that I had to ask her back. So please welcome Carin again – and enjoy her beautiful photos!
Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?
My name is Carin and right now I’m living in Paris, France. I came to the city of lights to learn the French language, indulge in amazing food, yummy treats and to discover a whole new city. I quit my job and left both family, friends and boyfriend back home to make this little dream happen for myself – and I’m so happy that I did.
Since we last talked…you have moved to Paris! What brought about this decision…and were you scared?
Actually it was after the trip to Paris, about a year ago, and the last time we talked, that I made this decision. Or well started to think about an actual move… It took some time for me to actually make the decision and stick with it. During the trip, in March 2011, everything just felt right, I didn’t want to go back home. When I came back to Stockholm (where I usually live) I started thinking about spending some more time in this beautiful city.
The word scared is really an understatement to describe my feelings about this trip and this decision at the time. I know it may seem very silly to some people, since it’s only for a shorter period of time, but this was a big thing for me. Although, after a while I managed to push away those scared feelings and now I couldn’t be happier over the fact that I did. Once here, it’s not scary at all. It just feels right!
What’s been the most happily surprising thing you’ve discovered since moving to Paris?
I don’t know if this is surprising but it really was an eye opening experience for me and it’s one of the things I will try to carry with me wherever I go from now on. I love how the French people enjoy life. I love how they enjoy themselves even though there’s no special occasion! I love that there’s a five meter line outside every patisserie and boulangerie in the city on a normal Tuesday just because they want something delicious. I love that so many people go to their boucherie to buy their meat, to the vegetable stand to buy their vegetables and fruit, and to the crémerie to pick up some cheese. I think that you make the smaller, normal things in life, a bit more special this way. Perhaps it sounds like such a cliché but I’ve fallen for this mentality completely. Why shouldn’t you let yourself indulge or treat yourself to something nice when you can?
How about anything that you found out was harder/more difficult to get adjusted to than you thought?
Since it’s within Europe the culture is generally quite similar to what I’m used to (although completely different in some ways)… Many people were shocked when I told them that I was going to live in Paris when I didn’t know a single word in French except bonjour and merci. I think it’s still extremely common for people to believe that no one in Paris speaks English, which is not the case at all. I’ve come to realize that it’s actually often quite hard to get to practice your French in this city, because as soon as they hear that you’re not French they want to practice their English as much as you want to practice your French.
Although I won’t lie. I’ve encountered the people who lived up to the stereotype as well. But often times I think it’s just a question of how you approach a person. I found out that the right way is to greet the person you want to get in contact with, with a: “Bonjour” (this is a must) and then, if you want to speak English nicely ask: “Vous parlez anglais?” which means: “Do you speak English?”. I can understand that you can get annoyed when people just come up and grab you and say: “Do you know where this place is?” while pointing to their map (which have happened to me several times now). Perhaps it’s just me who’s gotten too influenced by the French people, but I prefer starting the conversation with a “hello” or “bonjour” before asking your question.
Has your style changed since you moved there? Do you really think that Parisian women “dress better”? If so, what would be your advice to dress more like a Parisian?
I actually made a promise to myself before I left which was: to dress more creatively. Unfortunately I have not fulfilled this promise yet, but I blame the rain and the bad weather that’s been here in Paris for the last couple of weeks. And the before that, I blame the cold. So it’s still on my list!
The boring (and simple) answer to the question how to dress more “Parisian” is: wear black. And lots of black. Because it seems like everyone is wearing black in this city for some reason. My beige coat and I seem to be quite alone in this colourless city (and beige isn’t even that much of a colour to begin with). But perhaps it’s because of the bad weather, although I doubt it…
Even though Parisians tend to wear black most of the time, they often do it with style. Yes, Paris is a very stylish city but of course it depends on which person you’re looking at and which areas and neighbourhoods you visit – as with every city I’m sure. I can’t wait until it gets a bit warmer here and everybody takes of their outerwear, I’m hoping for some great inspiration!
Any new items that you’ve picked up during your stay there?
I haven’t picked up anything special so far… And by special, I mean bags. But I have my eyes open and if I’m really lucky I’ll perhaps find what I’m looking for before my days here are over! I can tell you this though: it’s really hard keeping your wallet from losing every single cent in a city like this, I see a million things that I fall in love with every single day. …So well yes, a couple of things have made its way into my possession over these past few months but not the thing (bag) I want the most.
Now that you are almost moving back…how do you feel? Are you glad to be moving home…and what do you want to take in/experience/do before you move?
No is the simple answer to your question. I’m not happy to be moving back home. And I’m not really sure how I’ll cope with the fact that I’m actually going home when the time comes and I have to pack up my bags and leave my adorable little apartment, which I’ve grown to love more than my place back home. I’ve made friends here, the people in my neighbourhood now know me (and finally accept me!), I have my routines, and my likes and dislikes. It will be so hard to give all this up…
I have a little list of the things I absolutely want to do before I go home again. Although it just keeps getting longer and longer since I’m adding more and more stuff onto it instead of ticking them off… But aside from everything I physically want to visit and see before I go home I also want to soak up as much of the good energy here as I possibly can. Some things, like enjoying myself even though there’s no special occasion, I really want to take with me wherever I go in life.
Can you describe your dream day in Paris? Starting from the morning…to evening…including walks, where you would eat, etc.
Oh, this is fun! I just made another promise to myself: my answer to this question has to become reality before I leave!
I would start my day with croissants (yes, plural), jam, orange juice and a cup of tea at a small café somewhere nice. It doesn’t have to be any special café, just one that looks cosy and inviting, and that serves good croissants – bien sûr!
Next I would visit La Grande Epicerie, which is a huge grocery store, located next to the very famous department store Le Bon Marche in the 6th arrondissement, that has everything imaginable. I don’t need to buy anything when I’m here (although that’s a plus) I just love browsing around in this amazing store. From La Grande Epicerie I would stroll around Rue de Grenelle, Rue du Bac, Rue du Four and Rue Bonaparte just to end up at Place Saint-Sulplice where you’re only a few steps from the gorgeous Jardin du Luxembourg.
I would buy a good magazine or bring a good book, find my way to the back of the Jardin du Luxembourg (if you’re walking in from the Place Saint-Sulplice direction) grab one of those green chairs and just relax for a couple of minutes, or even hours.
After that it’s lunchtime. And for me this is not a hard choice. I would start walking, or take the bus, to the 7th arrondissement, to Rue Saint-Dominique to be more exact. There I would drop by either one of the restaurants Café Constant or Les Cocottes, which are two of my favourite places in all of Paris.
When I’ve finished my lunch I would continue to the 8th arrondissement, taking the path closest to the Eiffel Tower to get a magnificent view while walking towards my goal. I would find my way to Avenue Montaigne and admire every single display window along this beautiful street.
After spending way too much time dreaming about beautiful (and very expensive) things I would cross Avenue des Champs-Elysées to get to the corner of Avenue Matignon and Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. From there I would follow Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré/Rue Saint-Honoré all the way to Jardin du Palais Royale – of course with the mandatory “stopping at every window display along the street”. I would also pick up a couple of treats along my way, perhaps a macaron or two, preferably from Pierre Hermé, Ladurée or Hugo & Victor. Then I would find a nice spot at Jardin du Palais Royale and just take a moment to relax.
After my little sugar break I would stroll along the Seine, passing Pont Neuf and Île de la Cité, only to find myself ready for my next sugar stop on Rue du Roi de Sicile in the neighbourhood Le Marais. There I would have to options: taste the best ice cream I’ve ever had outside of Italy, from Pozzetto, or indulge in a dreamy pastry from their next door neighbour Comme à Lisbonne.
When I’ve picked my poison I would grab it and start walking towards Île Saint-Louis (the smaller of the two islands in central Paris), go down the stairs from Quai d’Orléans, which would take me down to the border of the Seine. I would sit there, enjoy the evening sun and look out over this amazing city and just be really happy that I am where I am at the moment.
For dinner I would go to L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon (where you should book a table in advance to be on the safe side), located on Rue de Montalembert in the 6th arrondissement, and just enjoy the fantastic food that they have to offer.
… It’s going to be a pretty busy day.
You were taking photos at Paris Fashion Week.What were some of the favorite styles you saw? Is it a bit funny, watching people pose for photos and all the photographers?
Fashion Week was one of my favourite experiences in Paris so far. I think that I had just as much fun as the other people had even though I didn’t go in to see one single show. It really was a madhouse outside the locations. People say that about fashion week but I didn’t believe them until I saw it with my own eyes. Although it was of course a very exciting and absolutely gorgeous madhouse… I couldn’t help myself from literally laughing out loud when I saw this spectacle for the first time. There were people dressed up to their teeth, photographers running in huge groups around one person trying to capture the very best shot and their targets walking back and forth to show off their best angle.
There were even people dressed up just as much as Anna dello Russo, who weren’t even invited to the show but just wanted to catch the eye of a photographer. Then you realize how big this street style obsession really has become. But I’m all for it since it’s so much fun! It was also amazing to see the people you admire and just read about in real life for the very first time, for example: Garance Doré, André Leon Talley, Nina Garcia, Anna dello Russo, Natalia Vodianova, Nicky Hilton, Scott Schuman, Joe Zee and Grace Coddington.
I loved that the city came alive and for once, most of the people dared to wear colour (even though it rained most of the time). It was like watching a runway show happening right in front of your eyes with all the people going to the shows as the models. I can safely say that the fashion I saw, didn’t disappoint. I think I saw more bags, jewellery, coats, outfits, shoes and bags again, that I wanted to just grab and run away with than ever before in my life! Let’s just say that I’m definitely coming back again.
Finally – please share something else surprising about yourself…that has emerged since your move to Paris!
I really enjoy being by myself. I don’t know if that’s super surprising (or even exciting to know) but when I left home I was quite nervous about having only myself and being totally alone in the beginning of my stay, since it takes some time to meet new people and make new friends. But it was not a problem at all; it was quite the opposite actually! Even now, and even though I’ve made a lot of new friends I love to be by myself sometimes. I think it’s really important to appreciate the time you have with yourself and learn to really enjoy those precious moments. Sometimes there’s simply nothing better than to just sit down somewhere; in a park, at a café or by the Seine and just be alone with your own thoughts.
Isn’t Carin so lovely? And how fantastic was her description of a “dream day” in Paris? She sounds like the perfect person that I’d want to spend a day in Paris with – or anywhere else! As as an only child, I definitely related to the words around alone time – one of the most wonderful feelings is being completely at ease by yourself. Thank you Carin for sharing some of your Paris experience and your stunning photographs with us! For more of Carin and Paris, make sure to check out her blog, Paris in Four Months.