An Honest and Hilarious Memoir of What it’s Really Like to Live and Work in Paris
Paris, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down by Rosecrans Baldwin is a comic account of observing Paris, France from the eyes of a true Francophile. Ever since he was little, Baldwin always dreamed of living in the café-drinking and croissant-eating city of romance.
Although he barely spoke French, he instantly seized the opportunity to leave New York City with his wife when an advertising agency in Paris offered him a job in 2007.
Baldwin takes his readers on an eighteen-month journey through Paris, describing everyday life and discovering that the region in fact differs from his expectations. The old romantic facade of Paris embraced by Hemingway and later Julia Child has faded in the French culture and has remerged with modernization and globalization. Baldwin paints a picture of the real up–to-date Paris, with its McDonalds-eating office workers, crowded metros, terrible coffee, and bistros owned by Australians.
Although his preconceived notion of Paris is discouraged, Baldwin maintains his American optimism with a sense of wit throughout his stay in the city. He provides an entertaining and honest look with his experience at work, dinner parties, and other daily activities immersed in the French life.
Excerpt from chapter 19:
Send in the Clouds
“You know, this is not an easy city if you are not rich,” Francoise said, chastising me. She said I needed to learn to be more sympathetic –people should make sacrifices to improve society’s lot, and let us not forget, she said, the Christmas spirit.
Of course, Francoise was right: Paris wasn’t easy without money. Paris wasn’t easy in the firs place. People were always cutting lines at the epicerie. And for every good-looking girl, there were a hundred old Frenchwomen shouting at people on the bus.
But modern forces had long ago shoveled out the poor beyond le peripherique, the highway that surrounded Paris like a moat, beyond which were les banlieues, “the suburbs.” Around Paris, the banlieues ranged from poor to rich, but its poor towns made the “suburbs” a far more sinister term in the public imagination than America’s bland commuting towns.
The suburbs to the north and east of Paris were its anguished Bronx tenements. If you read the newspapers or listened to Sarkozy, they were bleak zones of neglect, full of immifrant scum, where society’s ills reproduced on the city’s doormat… Sarkozy tending not to mention, in my opinion, that central, decadent Paris was dead as fluff, and it took immigrants to give a city life, never mind friction –some tread as Apris tried to move its bulk forward into the
The bigger world so valued by Julie, my colleague who’d endorsed Sarkozy’s policies over lunch, was a lot more likely to sleep five to a room in Clichy-sous-Bois than in a studio overlooking Montparnasse.
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