American expat, Richard settled in Paris 11 years ago. Travel writer, photographer and blogger, he enjoys making people discover the “City of Lights”.
Where are you from, Richard, and what are you doing nowadays?
I am an ex-New Yorker who moved to Paris in 2005. I was a chef & caterer in New York. In Paris, I am a travel writer/photographer, blogger, with a popular blog since 2006, and private tour guide, giving clients neighborhood tours, showing them the off-beat Paris they never usually see on their own.
Why did you choose to expatriate to France?
I’ve always dreamed of living in Paris since I was 21. I decided to follow my dream.
As an American expat, what where the procedures you had to follow to move there?
I had to apply at the French Embassy in New York for a “Carte de séjour” which is the equivalent of a green card in the US.
How long have you been in the country?
It's been eleven years now.
What has attracted you to Paris?
So many things: arts, culture, food, architecture... Just the beauty of the city.
What has surprised you the most at your arrival?
How much slower the pace was than in New York, which I didn’t realize before.
Was it difficult to find accommodation there?
I was very lucky and found a rental apartment in less than a month, but now it’s much harder since there’s a shortage of housing.
How do you find the French lifestyle?
Much more laid back than in New York. People don’t work as many hours and have much more vacation time. People enjoy life here first and work comes second.
Have you been able to adapt yourself to the country and to its society?
Yes, I’ve always felt at home here, even when I didn’t live here. However, there are a few things that I will never get used to.
What does your every day life look like in Paris?
I usually do one of my three-hour walking tours showing clients the city. After that, I go for lunch in a cafe, outdoors when it’s nice out. After that, I find new activities to attend in the city such as concerts, theater, cultural events, art openings, and museum exhibits. Later, I write about them on my blog or for other magazines. At night, I write my blog.
What is your opinion on the cost of living in Paris?
I’m from New York, so it’s hard to give me sticker shock or to think things are expensive. On a day-to-day basis, I find Paris about 25% less expensive than New York, especially in terms of food. Prices for fresh food at the markets are so much less and better than in New York. Certain restaurants are much less expensive than in NYC. For instance, you can find some great deals on two and three-course lunches for less than 20€ in Paris, which you can’t find in NYC.
Is it easy for an expat to live there?
It depends. It’s important to already have friends here before you move. It’s a big city, so sometimes it may be hard to make your way here if you don’t have friends yet and you don’t speak French fluently.
How do you spend your leisure time?
I go to cafes, new restaurants, art exhibits, dance performances. I also travel a lot.
Your favorite local dishes?
Cheese, foie gras, croissants, crêpes, Croque Monsieur, beef Bourguignon.
What do you like the most about the country?
The physical beauty, the culture, food, and its incredible history. Also, the hedonistic lifestyle, where pleasure and well-being come before work.
What do you miss the most about your home country?
I sometimes miss the easiness and more positive attitude back in the US. I also miss Broadway and theater, as well as American entertainment.
What has motivated you to write your blog “Eye Prefer Paris”?
Blogging was in its infancy when I started in 2006. So many people would ask or e-mail me about what to do and see in Paris. I thought a blog would answer their questions.
How does it help?
Many of my blog readers make lists of things I write about, and when they come to Paris they go there. I often get e-mails thanking me for those experiences they wouldn’t have had if they hadn’t read the blog.
Would you like to give any advice to soon-to-be expatriates in France?
Be patient. Make sure you have a job lined-up or at least enough money to live on for a year in case you don’t find a job right away.
What are your plans for the future?
Continuing with my blog and tours, having a photo exhibition and writing a book about Paris.