Meet Cee! Stylish blogger and Vancouver-native from Coco & Vera. Recently, Cee took the plunge that many people dream of doing one day: she moved to Paris! Until I figure out a way to talk my husband into making the same move, I'll just have to live vicariously through her blog. I am lucky to count her as a "blogger friend" and have the chance to interview her. Below, you can read about her experiences in Paris and her tips for people planning a visit to the City of Lights or hoping to move there!
1. You recently moved to Paris, which I know many people dream of doing. Was it a dream come true for you or was it mainly for practical reasons?
It was definitely a dream come true, but there was a practical aspect as well. My husband and I both love Paris; we’ve spent a lot of time here together. We were always trying to think of ways that we could get to Paris more permanently, because a traditional work visa isn’t an option for Canadians. It wasn’t until my husband decide to go back to school to study cuisine that Paris not only became a realistic possibility but a natural choice – after all, there’s no better place to study cooking!
2. How are you liking it? Has your view of Paris changed since moving there?
I love it. I wake up every day needing caffeine, obviously, but also feeling incredibly lucky. With that said, my understanding of the city has deepened – I’ve had the chance to explore areas that are off the beaten path, to find places that aren’t listed in travel guides and to meet locals. Paris is idyllic in many ways, but it’s a city like any other, full of busy people with jobs, lives, families and deeply-rooted frustration with public transit system; I see that a lot more clearly now.
3. And of course, HAVE YOU BEEN TO FASHION WEEK???
Have I been invited? No. The pool of fashion bloggers in France is enormous and they’re almost all in line ahead of me to receive invitations. I did attend Fashion Night Out last fall, which was absolutely chaotic and crazy. And I have visited Fashion Week venues, just to see what people were wearing. But for me, the best part of Fashion Week was just getting to spend time with blogger friends who had come to Paris to soak up the atmosphere the same way I was!
4. Has your style evolved since moving there?
Absolutely. When I lived in Canada, I had a very high-stress job and I shopped a lot as a coping mechanism. In Paris I am much more relaxed, and that allows me to make better, more thoughtful choices when buying clothes. The local style has had an impact, too – the French dress simply. They feel no need to follow trends they dislike. I’ve always felt most comfortable in neutrals. Before I came to Paris, I had a nagging subconscious feeling that that made my style boring, but living in a culture of such confidence has allowed me to shake that off completely. These days, its rare for me to buy anything that isn’t black, gray, white, navy or brown – and for the first time ever, I absolutely love everything in my wardrobe.
5. What's your favorite thing about the city?
Can I say everything? I know I can’t, that’s a cop out. Narrowing it down to just one thing isn’t easy, but I think it has to be the architecture – the city is more like a museum exhibit than just a place to live. The attention-to-detail that went into planning every building, and at times, to fitting large new buildings into spaces where small old ones once stood, never ceased to amaze me.
6. What's your least favorite thing?
The cost of living. Paris is one of the most expensive cities in the world – it is a playground for those to whom money is no object, but it can occasionally be discouraging when you’re on a budget.
7. Do you have a favorite store that you don't have back home?
No – I have a list of them! The department stores here, like Le Bon Marche and Galeries Lafayette, are more like wonder emporiums. My neighbourhood is full of wonderful local shops like Shine, Abou d’Abi Bazar, Hod and Delphine Pariente. I love the simple, elegant silhouettes at Comptoir des Cotonniers; the quality basics at COS, a member of the H&M family; the surprise pop-up shops that Sezane opens occasionally (because although you can order their products online in North America, it’s not the same experience.) I could go on about this for three pages!
8. Lastly, many people dream of moving to a foreign country. What are some tips that might be useful to readers who are thinking of taking the plunge?
Life is short – take risks. It sounds pat, but the only things you really regret are the dreams you didn’t go after. But also, ask yourself if the risk is worth the reward. Moving to a foreign country is challenging; you will be leaving behind your family and friends, the comforting and familiar foods you’ve always eaten, and chances are you’ll have to communicate in a language that wasn’t your first on a daily basis. Even before we left Canada, I had to complete a visa application that was nearly a hundred pages long and had to be filed in triplicate. For me, it was worth it. Make sure it will be worth it for you.
Visit Coco & Vera for more from Cee!