Emily in Paris

I have resisted watching Emily in Paris despite its popularity among fashion aficionados. In January 2019, long before the show emerged, I dropped everything to move to Paris and it was so challenging that the idea of watching such a show was repulsive.

When Emily arrives in Paris she already has a good job and someone is waiting for her with keys to a small but beautiful apartment with an amazing view in a charming area of the city.

By comparison, I arrived jobless, with limited savings and stayed with a friend of a friend for a week, before renting an AirBnB apartment for another week. After that, I lived with a couple who charged me a bit less for staying in a small office to rent the extra room to AirBnB.

It was a nightmare, with strangers coming in and out of the flat on a regular basis, sometimes late at night. And the amount of paper work to organise life in Paris was insane, French bureaucracy is unbelievable!

Two months after my arrival, I finally managed to find a 16 m2 studio with private shower and toilet for €900 per month on the top floor, not Emily’s style top floor but on the roof. For those unfamiliar with Parisian architecture, the roofs are made of metal and are excruciatingly hot during the summer. You do feel like a chicken in the oven…

The only similarity was that I was also on what was considered the servants area of the building. I was fortunate enough to have a lift to the 6th floor and only had to walk one set of stairs to the 7th floor, but got locked inside once and since then never used it again.

Yes, I was really fit and also love running. The studio was literally between the ancient and the modern Arc-de-Triomphe, close to the financial district and to an amazing fresh food market that Emily actually visits in one of the episodes.

I enjoy running surrounded by nature so would venture into the Bois de Boulogne, the nearby park, which has a lot of prostitution, suspicious vans and funny characters. It wasn’t something to be expected in such a central area of the city and you definitely don’t see any of this while watching Emily in Paris!

I would always run in the morning to be safe and did come across dog walkers and lively running events on a few occasions. Neuilly-sur-Seine is home to Chanel’s head office, and I have applied for countless jobs there throughout the year, without ever being selected for a job interview.

The whole purpose of moving to Paris was to find a proper job in fashion. In terms of style, I’m much closer to Paris than London and always wondered if I was actually in the right place… Not anymore! London is definitely where I feel most at home.

To support my living costs in Paris, I ended up working in luxury retail and selling mostly to Chinese customers so would spend the day talking English instead of French. Unlike Emily, I’m actually fluent in French, having a Diplôme de Hautes Études Françaises by L’Alliance Française, the equivalent to The British Council.

This didn’t amount to much, the only job interviews to roles more in accord with my skills and experience were for British and American companies. After a year of spending my days off job-hunting and working on my website, and missing London, I had to face defeat.

Contrary to what’s depicted in the show, Parisians are very polite, but if you forget your manners, they will be rude. Whenever you go to a café or shopping, before asking anything you should always say ‘Bonjour Monsieur’, or ‘Madame’ if you’re addressing a woman.

And at the end, you should express your gratitude in the same manner: ‘Merci Monsieur’ or ‘Madame’. They tend to marry and have children quite young in comparison to Londoners, but lovers are socially accepted, husbands and wives often turn a blind eye to affairs.

One has a sense that for French people is really easy to find a good job and this could be why they settle down much earlier in life. Financial security does have an impact. My luxury retail salary hardly covered my living expenses, so I couldn’t really enjoy Paris like Emily.

I did visit the Louis Vuitton Foundation and had a croissant at Café de Flore, where Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre used to hang out. (In the end, their open relationship proved to be disastrous, he left everything to a Russian spy…)

Overall, the general sense is that Parisians don’t like foreigners and are not so welcoming. But the food is absolutely delicious, with amazing bakeries and esplanades sprinkled across the city. When you go for a drink, there is always a great wine selection and some food to nibble on.

One thing is for sure, Paris is really beautiful and enchanting, an ideal location for a romantic weekend. I have now watched both seasons of Emily in Paris and can see why people love it so much.

Fashion is eye-catching, Emily even wears a red Christian Dior dress for a fashion show, and it’s related with social media marketing. Of course, her campaigns are always successful and followers just keep going up.

It’s light entertainment, everything looks good and it even features La Samaritaine, the latest luxury shopping destination refurbished by LVMH. All big cities have dark corners but popular shows only depict the most fashionable areas.

It’s all about taking us way from our current real-life dramas: the pandemic and its devastating consequences both moral and economic, the climate change emergency and the astonishing lack of care by governments debilitated by short-sighted political ambitions.

Would I move to Paris again? Yes, it’s better to try things out than to wonder what if… Life is too short! Please don’t let my negative experience deter you. Each of us has a different journey altogether, so you may find a home and be really happy there!