Paris Vs. New York

I didn’t learn how to ride the train in New York.  I learned it in Paris.

Paris vs. New York

I lived in Paris when I was twenty years old.  I thought it would be cool to live there for a summer, so I went to my local credit union and applied for a $1,000 loan.  I figured it would be worth it.  It was.

living in paris

I signed up for an architecture course at the American University of Paris & off I went.  I lived in the 16th Arrondissement in a tiny maid’s quarter at the top of a gorgeous residential building.  I had a round window in my room where I could see the Eiffel Tower.  It was as charming as could be.

I tasted my first Nutella in Paris.  I figured out that my bakery pulled hot baguettes out of the oven at 4 pm.  I loved shopping the yogurt aisle at the grocery store, which really was the entire aisle.

I went to my first Opera.  I adored the flower shops where they tied flowers in nosegays.  I listened to Vivaldi in the Sainte-Chapelle.  I practiced my French with my neighbor’s cat, Poupee.

I remember being so strongly impressed by the fact that Paris really is romantic.  It seems everyone is in love!  You see affection everywhere you go.  I remember thinking it would be wonderful to return someday with a loved one….I’m so glad that I got to return to Paris with Danny a few weeks after our wedding…   

[The prints are from my new favorite book, which just came out last month….”Paris Versus New York, A Tally of Two Cities” by graphic designer Vahram Muratyan.  He’s a lover of Paris, and noted these friendly differences while walking around New York.  See more of the prints hereAnd thanks to Stephmodo for the recommendation!]

Lately, I have actually been wanting to rent out our condo in New York and live abroad.  Perhaps Bali, India or Africa (what do you think….any recommendations?)  Danny just smiles.  Of course I’d think of something like that.

Where would you live if you could just up & move someplace?      

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  1. Mommaexpat February 28, 2012 at 9:59 am - Reply

    We're living that dream right now. After Paris I'm thinking anywhere else but "home." This traveling itch has only begun to be scratched. =)

  2. jen February 28, 2012 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    After years of thinking about it, last year we just "up and moved" to the mountains of NC and we love it here. It's truly home for both of us. I would still love to spend a month or two living in Paris, Amsterdam, Buenos Aires.

  3. Susan February 28, 2012 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    Yes, it's a fabulous book and blog! My mind is always in Paris…and a good portion of my heart lives there.

  4. Karen February 28, 2012 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    I've actually given this a lot of thought, and would definitely move to London. Because they speak English, and the culture is familiar yet different, and it's a great base to travel throughout Europe. My husband, unfortuntately, doesn't share the same dream (he doesn't even like to travel, he tells me).

    My second choice would be Australia (Sydney or Melbourne).

  5. Alyssa Haws February 28, 2012 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    My family recently returned from living abroad in Ethiopia for 2 years. I would totally recommend traveling to Africa as a MUST!! The Ethiopian people are warm, the culture fascinating, and the food is phenomenal. Since returning to America, I've been scheming how to get to India. My vote for you is Africa first and India second.

    • mara February 28, 2012 at 5:07 pm - Reply

      Ah – Alyssa – – you get my heart going….I would LOOVE to live in Africa!!

  6. Shiloh Donkin February 28, 2012 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    On a boat, a small/medium sail boat, port hopping up and down every coastline we fancied. Big dreams.

    • mara February 28, 2012 at 5:06 pm - Reply

      Shiloh! Dang. Love that idea. I know someone that did that – lived on a boat for a year….they loved it. I got to go on a sailboat trip for a week with my boss and his family once – we went through the Greek Isles and the Turkish coast…it was my first real boat experience like that…and I was completely, head over heels sold on the idea of traveling by boat. And well, living by boat for an extended period would be an experience unlike any other!

  7. Melissa February 28, 2012 at 5:14 pm - Reply

    I'm so jealous of your summer in Paris! That sounds utterly amazing. It is definitely high on my list of cities to live in. I could also see myself in South Africa or Australia. After NYC, I'm ditching this cold weather thing!

  8. Maria February 28, 2012 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    OH I hope you do go live abroad! It would be so fun to follow your journey and I bet it'd be great for blog traffic;). I vote Bali!

  9. Lottie February 28, 2012 at 5:36 pm - Reply

    I always think about living abroad but know deep down that I will always chicken out–think I would head to Hong Kong or maybe New York–I would say Paris but I don't think my french would be up to it.

  10. Molly February 28, 2012 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    Have you ever done a home swap? My coworker does it all the time. You should do it!

    • mara February 28, 2012 at 8:56 pm - Reply

      I have rented out my apartment over the holidays (via craigslist) but have not yet done a swap. I think it's a fantastic idea!

  11. Hadley Howard February 28, 2012 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    Luke and I discuss this regularly because we would *love* to up and move somewhere (tenure is great, but it also basically means we'll never move from this community in which we swore we'd never find ourselves!). Thankfully, we get to travel internationally for work, which is important for giving our children some kind of "Utah's Not the Real World" reality check. We had initially thought we'd retire in Sydney (where Luke's from and his entire family still lives), but we've turned our thoughts toward Paris now. We *love* Paris (who doesn't?) and I'm not allergic to it as I am to my beloved London (I think it's the diesel). We (and the children, natch) will be there for the entire 2nd half of this year, and I anticipate that it will be difficult to return home to our normal life (and that, as with other international travel experiences, we'll be appalled by Costco when we return). My brother is in the foreign service, currently stationed in a part of Africa I'd never even heard of before his posting, and I've told him I'd love to visit him… elsewhere. 🙂 Cape Town, perhaps? I like a city.

    • mara February 28, 2012 at 8:59 pm - Reply

      Hadley – I'm so fascinated by your family. It's so fun to learn more. And how awesome that your children get to experience life in other places!

  12. Tiffany February 28, 2012 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    Living abroad is my dream. It will happen some day, it will!

  13. Lisa Johnson February 28, 2012 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    I would for sure move to sLOVEnija. It is the only country with the word LOVE in it, which I know you appreciate. 🙂 I served my mission there and have been back multiple times to visit. It has all the European charm, but is so small that hardly anyone knows about it. They have everything from castles to caves, mountains to quaint coastal towns. My ♥ truly belongs in Slovenija and I would move there tomorrow if I could.

    • mara February 28, 2012 at 9:01 pm - Reply

      I need to brush up on my geography and see where this is! 🙂 Thanks for the suggestion!

  14. Melanie February 28, 2012 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    I am so incredibly jealous of your life!! Not in a bad way but in a I should so be more like that way. I am very recently divorced and could really go anywhere but I have a home and feel tied to it. I should really man up and rent it and go somewhere exciting. Even New York would be a dream! One day I will either have enough financial secutiry that I feel like I can do it or I will come to the realization that you did and take the risk and just go for it. My practical side just won't let me leave my stability and roomy income in the cheap midwest.

  15. Sandi February 28, 2012 at 7:59 pm - Reply


  16. Anonymous February 28, 2012 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    Mara! You should post more on when you lived in Paris…. How you did it, did you live alone, how was the class and all of that kind of stuff! I lived in Ecuador for 3 months and worked in an orphanage….. if i could do that the rest of my life I would but I really would love to hear more about it and see pictures!!!

  17. The Style Curator February 28, 2012 at 8:51 pm - Reply

    3 years ago, we sold our house, gave away a bunch of stuff, put the rest in storage and moved to Africa. Then we moved to England, where we are now. I'm thinking Australia or Singapore next!! It's amazing but it is also really challenging. There is a lot to think about, from practical to cultural to familial to financial. It's a big decision and I would not recommend you do it if you think it's going to make your life more exciting or that your existence will turn into a 24-7 holiday. It's like anything else – the reality is never quite as good as the fantasy – but it has been great and I really feel like our daughter especially is getting the experience of a lifetime.

    • mara February 28, 2012 at 9:02 pm - Reply

      Wow. What an adventure. And thanks for tips!

  18. Anonymous February 28, 2012 at 11:29 pm - Reply

    Do it! We just returned from living in Tanzania for a year with our two kids. It was a life-changing experience for all of us, for all different reasons. Life is short…be bold! (I wrote about it here:

  19. christina February 29, 2012 at 1:36 am - Reply

    I'd love to live in Omaha, but only because I think the word "Omaha" is sooo beautiful! "Sitka" too.

  20. Punky J February 29, 2012 at 3:48 am - Reply

    I have house in Brazil. In Sao Paolo a little beach town just steps away from the water. We are always looking for short term renters in between our travels to and from… just sayin'!

  21. Punky J February 29, 2012 at 3:49 am - Reply

    Here's an idea… You and Danny can stay in my little Brazilian beach home and I'll stay in your apartment in NYC! Perfect.

    • mara February 29, 2012 at 3:56 am - Reply

      What?! This sounds amazing. THANKS for the offer – – we will definitely consider this! (Coincidentally, we are actually going to Brazil this summer – not to live, but to visit!)

  22. Punky J February 29, 2012 at 8:52 am - Reply

    Oh my goodness. Where in Brazil? That is so exciting! You guys are going to have THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE. It's truly such a beautiful country. And some of the most vibrant and fun people you will ever meet. My mom's whole side of the family lives there, so I have been blessed with having spent a lot of time over there. And having a house there as well, which is super great! Anyway, we should definitely chat 🙂

  23. Lizzi February 29, 2012 at 11:51 pm - Reply

    The thing about Paris, about France, is that when we decided to go there for a vacation I don't know if I could have had higher expectations. And every single one of those expectations was far, far surpassed by the reality. 🙂 Oh boy. Paris!

  24. Angela March 1, 2012 at 2:59 am - Reply

    I loved this post Mara! It brought back such wonderful memories of our summer in Paris. I remember being so homesick the first day we arrived and I knew no one and then I met the other girl from Arizona and I felt so much better. I remember trudging up our 7 flights of stairs many times a day which was a good thing since we hit up our favorite patisserie so often. I also have fond memories of hanging our heads out the little dormer windows and watching the lights to the Eiffel Tower turn off and we would say good night and hit the hay in our miniscule rooms. Such special memories!

    • mara March 2, 2012 at 2:37 am - Reply

      ANGELA! I thought of you so much while writing this post! Reading this just made me smile. Oh, what great memories we have! I'll never forget it. (How about those old-fashioned metal keys we used to get in & our of our building, or all those other super cool girls we met, or our outing to Versailles, or practicing French throughout the city.) Thanks for your friendship then & now. xoxo

  25. Brooke March 6, 2012 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    Americans tend to have a romantic view of living abroad, like you will be on vacation every single day. We moved to Munich, Germany 18 months ago and the transition was painful! Contrary to what EVERYONE said, we weren't closer; my husband and I had some of our worst fights during that first 6 months. Also contrary to popular belief "EVERYONE does not speak ENGLISH! There is change on every front–language is the most obvious and difficult, but culture, standards, laws, community expectations, and friendliness (or lack thereof) can leave one feeling frustrated, alone and homesick. I remember my first trip to the grocery store standing in front of the cheese cooler, tears welling up in my eyes because there were 100 types of cheese and not one I recognized. I then moved onto the deli counter and realized not only did I not know what to say in German, but I had no idea how much a kilogram weighed (2.2 lbs) so I didn't know how much to buy.

    Thankfully, we've moved into the happy zone, but it took months to find that place. There is not doubt we are benefitting from this experience, we are traveling a ton and my daughters are growing in ways they might not in the USA, but it's not all a walk in the park, stroll along the Seine, or lunch on a sidewalk cafe. I am attaching a link to one of my most frustrating days early on, feel free to read.

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