English Girl Living in Paris - Expat Interview With Emma

Published: 26 Feb at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,France
Emma, a English girl in her mid-twenties, living in Paris, makes it her personal mission to put her finger in and keep abreast of all the best restaurants, wine bars and cocktail establishments in the city. She also hosts an English-speaking supper club and wine tasting evenings in her apartment on a monthly basis, through her blog, Burnt Cream (see listing here). It's the French way of life that particularly appealed to her; the care that goes into making a good baguette, quality of fresh local produce and the fact that one hour is not long enough for lunch.

Meet Emma - British Expat in France
Meet Emma - British Expat in France

Here's the interview with Emma...


Where are you originally from?
I'm from the UK, from deep down south, in the rural Sussex countryside.

In which country and city are you living now?
Now living in the 18th arrondissement of Paris (France.)

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I moved out here in January 2011 and I have no idea how long I'm planning on staying. At least for a couple more years, I reckon.

Why did you move and what do you do?
I was harbouring a sense of adventure and a deep discomfort with life in London. That's why I moved. I was lucky enough to have been a student (at ESCP Europe) because it made the transition so much easier. I had enough time while studying to do things like find a place to live, open a bank account before having to find a job. I now work in the Wine and Spirits industry, importing, promoting, and generally consuming anything that's tasty and drinkable.

On the way home from work
On the way home from work
Did you bring family with you?
Nope, my family all live in the UK.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
For me it wasn't that difficult. Yes, there are the obvious things - but the UK and France are not all that different when you boil it down to the bare bones.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
Twitter was the best way I found to meet like-minded people, mainly expats admittedly, My work is almost completely carried out in French, so I have a nice balance between speaking French in the day and English in the evenings.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Without a doubt, it's my market street. Just off the main road is a pedestrianised street with a large indoor market, with absolutely everything you would possibly need: two fishmongers, three butchers, four fruit and vegetable sellers and countless specialist deli counters. Opposite, you have three caf├ęs, a boulangerie, a florist, a wine bar, a couple of other and there's always something going on to sit and watch.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
Paris still manages to thrill me, even after two years. Seeing the Eiffel Tower sparkle will send butterflies to my stomach. Walking around the Marais early on a Sunday morning before the world has woken up, likewise.

A Burnt Wine event
A Burnt Wine event
How does the cost of living compare to home?
Err, between Paris and London - it's probably about the same really. If anything, Paris is probably a little cheaper. I'm able to live far closer to the centre of the city in Paris than I would be able to for similar money in London

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
The constant attention I get on the street from men. I've been cat-called, whistled at, had people get out of their cars or off their motorbikes to stop and chat me up. I've been followed home, chased home - you name it, it's probably happened. It sucks.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Things will take at least twice as long to get done as you expect. Plan ahead.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Being sexually targetted by my boss. He maintains it was a cultural difference. I disagreed and subsequently left the company. Learning to adapt to what are for me very outdated opinions and principles has been the most challenging aspect so far.

On a blogging expedition
On a blogging expedition
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Learn to say bonjour to everyone. Meeting your neighbour in the stairwell - bonjour! Everytime you go into a shop - bonjour! After a while, it becomes automatic but it's important to make an effort in the beginning.
  2. Be prepared for hard knocks but also to be constantly thrilled, excited and seduced at every street corner. I swear my mood swings are more intense now that I'm living in Paris.
  3. Get yourself on Twitter, join MeetUp and go along to events that interest you. You need to be rather more proactive building friendships than you probably think.
  4. Make friends with the waiter in your local cafe, with your boulanger too, and the florist. They'll become your new family for the first few months.
  5. Oh and remember that everything closes on Sunday afternoons and Mondays!


Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I write largely about the restaurant, food and wine scene. I've had enough of the talked-about places in Paris (of which there are many) - I try to find real food, true food, served in generous portions and with a smile. I've also recently started hosting my own supper club twice a month, called "Burnt Food", where anybody can come, spend an evening in my apartment and hopefully enjoy themselves. It's a great way if you've just moved to Paris to meet new people, people who have been living in Paris for some time and who can answer your questions and give advice.

Deciding which bottle to have
Deciding which bottle to have
How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Through my blog. There's a contact page and I'm always more than happy to get emails, asking for advice, recommendations and of course, if you'd like to come to one of the "Burnt" events.

Emma blogs at http://www.burnt-cream.com which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Burnt Cream has an ExpatsBlog.com listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Emma, please also drop her a quick comment below.
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Comments » There are 4 comments

Kathleen Smith wrote 1 year ago:

Loved this interview! It was refreshing to hear from a young, single woman about starting and establishing her life as an expat. It reminds me of me years and years ago-though I started out in Jamaica and Emma is more honest about the reality of working in another culture than I was in my younger days. I love Emmma's positive outlook. She is realistic, honest and seems motivated with a sense of fun as she develops who she is, with a unique mission in life. Well done to both writer and Emma. I will definitely start reading her blog! Thanks for a great interview.

Sophie wrote 7 months ago:

Hi there, I'm a 27 year old English girl moving to Paris (with very basic French language skills). Need to be moved in in a few weeks and don't know anyone there. Would be amazing if you know anyone with spare room etc? P.S loved the article. Sophie

Emma wrote 7 months ago:

Hi Sophie, actually, I might just have something for you. Send me an email through the blog (the link should work if you click on my name.) :)

Chris wrote 3 months ago:

hi I' m french and i live at 10 minutes to Champs Elysee.I hope to visit London to the second times.But in that travel, i prefer discover another town that London and live in the people house. If you have some advices and address ,or need to discuss, you can email me! Thanks chris

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