In January 2011, I moved to Paris from the UK. I religiously documented my discoveries (both good and bad) on a blog known as Burnt Cream. It started out as Liberté, Egalité, Crème Brûlée – but that was just far too long… and I wanted to highlight that even something that sounds as fantastic as crème brûlée is literally just, when you understand French, “burnt cream.” I lapped up everything the city could offer with the enthusiasm of someone who has not yet been worn down by the daily grind of métro-boulot-dodo. I wrote from the perspective of an expat in France, with the local knowledge that can only come from pacing these streets until the soles of your shoes have worn thin. (Read more about me.)
Life in Paris is not all that it’s made out to be. It can be really difficult. We don’t tell you this because it’s not what you want to hear. The Parisian dream is what sells. It’s what brings in hundreds upon thousands of tourists every day. Living here as an expat is much harder. Here’s an example:
“You don’t know it yet, but you will have done something wrong. Your concierge scolds you for leaving the building without a scarf… the lady in the café too because you didn’t put your umbrella in the right place… the boulanger as well because you didn’t realise it would just so happen that he would be having his coffee break at 11am when you popped by to get your daily pain au chocolat…
Really, after just a few months, it’s enough to make you quite paranoid.”
Despite all this, there is a reason why we stay. Our “return on investment” if you like. It’s for the lifestyle: the food, the wine, the cheese, the bread, the salted butter… and for that fleeting moment as you cross over the river Seine when you get hit by the breath-taking beauty of this fine city. That makes it all worth it.
In the last few years, I started travelling more and more to Italy. Just when I had tasted just about every type of French cheese and wine, I discovered a whole new world to throw myself into.
The rural lifestyle in northern Italy appealed to me. I can live in a small village where everyone knows everyone and yet be close to major towns and historical cities. I live and work on a vineyard and I am followed everywhere by my faithful, four-legged sidekick.
I was never really settled in Paris, and I, like many of my generation, am priced out of the UK housing market. Here I have a home and shortly, I’ll have the kitchen of my dreams.
Take a virtual tour through the archives of my favourite restaurants, wine bars and cocktail speakeasies using the “Paris Pages” section at the top of this page.
For news of what I’m up to in Italy – restoring an old house, growing vegetables and cooking all sorts – please browse “La Dolce Vita.”