What I spend during a week in Paris

Back in June, Refinery29 asked me to keep a Money Diary, where “millennial women are asked how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period”. While the article didn’t end up getting published, I thought I’d share part of it here. Here’s what a Parisian week of spending looks like for me…

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Day 1

  • Started my morning with a matcha pastry from Aki Boulanger€3
  • Subsidized lunch at work consisted of salad, watermelon, and a mini baguette. Can’t get enough of those French baguettes. €2.58
  • Came home to dinner in the oven- thanks Ty! €6
  • Eurocup 2016 was on! Met up with friends, painted our faces, and cheered for France.
    [Total: €11.58]

Day 2

  • Breakfast at home. €1.50 
  • Our friend Bayo was in town from Beijing. He invited us to his friends’ wedding in a French castle. Split a gift for the bride and groom. €75
  • Found a quaint AirBnb for the night in the middle of the woods. €34
    [Total: €110.50]

Day 3

  • Enjoyed brunch with the wedding party then embarked on a long drive back to Paris. Floods, floods, floods.
  • Of course, all road-trips need a McDonald’s stop. Le Royale, s’il vous plaît. €4.10
    [Total: €4.10]

Day 4

  • Someone brought free croissants into work. Evil. 
  • Tried to redeem myself at lunch with fruit, yogurt, and a salad. €4.14 
  • Went running with Tyler at Jardin de Luxembourg, then cooked pasta. €5.36
    [Total: €9.50]

Day 5

  • Stopped by a nearby boulangerie with colleagues to picnic at the park. €6.10 
  • Our building’s gas went out so we couldn’t cook :( Ate some mediocre sushi after working out. €13.80
  • Enjoyed a nice evening stroll along the Seine.
    [Total: € 19.90]

Day 6

Day 7

And that was my semaine. Here’s the breakdown…

Total amount spent: €168.63

  • Food: €59.63
  • Home supplies: €0
  • Clothing: €0
  • Entertainment: €0
  • Transportation: €0
  • Other: €109

I would say the wedding event was out of the ordinary, so a more typical week would have been around €65.

Budgeting is an important aspect of my life here in Paris, especially after receiving a huge pay cut to move abroad. Back in the U.S., I never thought twice about shopping. To give you an idea, the salespeople at Nordstrom could recognize me by name. Our first month in Paris, Tyler caught me checking the price of bananas and knew I had changed.

Living on a budget forces me to spend more creatively and really cherish the things I choose to buy. I only shop for clothes if the weather calls for it or during les soldes (which happen twice a year). I put the rest into savings and travel.

If you’re looking to spend less, try documenting every penny (or centime) spent over a week and you’ll see where you can cut back. 

Applying to jobs in Paris

Q. How well did you know French before applying to work in Paris?

I took classes for 3 years in middle/high school, went to a few meet-ups, and practiced whenever my family from Tahiti was in town. I was far from conversational though, and knew I would have to find an English-speaking company in order to work abroad. Over the course of 2 years, I started with my own company (who had an engineering office in France) and also reached out to similar American companies located in the countries I wanted to live. If you’re interested in tech, most large companies also have European offices and are used to relocating American employees abroad (Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Amazon…) My high-level advice would be: be persistent and have patience.

I’ve also met many people who moved to France to work remotely, study, teach, au-pair, or do research. There are plenty of ways to get here without speaking French (though it’s never easy), but I really advise you to learn the language when you get here.

Here are some tips I’ve collected along the way to learn French better, and here are more details on how I landed a job in Paris. Good luck!

The importance of accountability 

Sunrise push-ups at Jardin des Plantes

I gained 10 pounds since moving to France this year (Freshman 15 -> French 15?). As much as I can blame the buttery croissants and odd work hours (night meetings with the US), it still doesn’t change the fact that I was getting out of shape. When forming goals for 2016, “exercise 3x/week” was one of my top ones. I was doing well for a couple of weeks, but soon my social calendar became full with dinners, happy hours, and meet-ups. It was easy to tell myself, “I’ll just run extra hard tomorrow” then end up skipping again.

After eating like a queen in Seattle and returning to Paris with some serious jetlag, we decided to take advantage of the time-change and started exercising every morning at 7:00 am. One month in, it’s still a struggle to wake up early (Tyler literally drags me out of bed some mornings), but I feel so much more productive throughout the day.

My watering hole

I’ve tried various behavior change methods in the past, including BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits program (which got me to floss my teeth every night!) However, nothing has been more effective towards achieving bigger goals than having human partners to keep me accountable. Every day, Tyler accompanies me to run, swim, or even do blogilates. I’m now up to 100 push-ups/week (while Tyler crushes me at 1000), when I could barely do 1 before.

For me, it’s not about calorie-counting (I’m way too lazy for that, plus it takes the fun out of food); it’s about how I feel about myself and my confidence in achieving what I set out to do.

One of my best friends in Seattle, Ashwini, also proposed we send each other weekly goals every Monday. This ranges from simpler tasks like “call my grandparents” to harder ones like “write a plan for my new side project”. Neglecting a task now results in letting myself down and letting my friend down. It’s a great motivator.

Find a goal-buddy and give it a try!

Le monde de Louis Vuitton

My friend Laureen and I spent our Saturday at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, an art and cultural museum near the Bois de Boulogne. The building was designed by Frank Gehry, who also built Seattle’s EMP Museum. The architecture was inspired by a sailboat’s sails in the wind (the colored checkered glass) surrounding an iceberg.

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Tarte fine au citron

Visitors can enjoy a nice patio drink or meal at Le Frank on the ground floor of the museum. The desserts were very tasty.

From the top of the foundation, you get a beautiful view of La Defense’s skyline and the other nearby children’s park, the Jardin d’Acclimatation.

In the case your visit inspires you to purchase an expensive handbag, there are even free shuttles from the museum to Louis Vuitton’s flagship store on the Champs-Élysées. If you buy a bag, they’ll engrave your initials for free. We joked that every purse belonged to Laureen, for her initials “LV” are already part of the original design ;)

Glass sails

Unfortunately, there aren’t any expos of Louis Vuitton at the foundation (aside from some neat fashion books at the gift shop). I was lucky to view “Volez, Voguez, Voyagez” at the Grand Palais when I first moved to Paris, where you could learn about the history of the famous LV suitcase and view a vintage collection. Here’s one of the displays:

LV expo at the Grand Palais earlier this year

 

My Guide to Seattle

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Love from Mount Rainier

I recently spent a week back in Seattle and made sure to stop by all my old spots. Friends in Paris always ask me for recommendations on the city, so here they are in one place. Aside from the typical attractions you’ll find on tourist sites, these are my absolute favorite things about Seattle, Washington.

Restaurants I always go back to

  1. Suika: Japanese tapas with watermelon-infused drinks
  2. Din Tai Fung: Xiaolongbaos and taro desserts
  3. The Walrus and the Carpenter: delicious oysters with great presentation (get there early!)

The coziest reading spots

  1. Storyville: comfy chairs, free chocolate cake, and curated playlists
  2. Ada’s Technical Bookshop: some of the most fascinating books you’ll find, along with home-baked goods
  3. Hotel Sorrento’s Silent Reading Party: seriously. strangers reading together by the fireplace and a live harpist
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Moore Cafe’s latte art is also superb

Cute Brunch Places

  1. The London Plane: my go-to brunch spot for visitors
  2. The Wandering Goose: nibble on strawberry jam biscuits while reading the author’s book of the same name
  3. Volunteer Park Cafe: a quaint spot surrounded by a wonderful park
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The London Plane

Classy bars you can actually dress up for

  1. Needle & Thread: beautiful speakeasy with 1920’s decor
  2. The Upstairs: fancy drinks in a cozy living room
  3. Frolik Kitchen & Cocktails: summer night cocktails on the roof

Romantic afternoon strolls

  1. Olympic Sculpture Park: a refreshing trail along the waterfront
  2. Seattle Arboretum: location of Tyler’s and my first date, as well as this photoshoot
  3. Queen Anne Farmer’s Market: this Thursday market has a small neighborhood feel, fresh produce, and gorgeous golden retrievers
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Winter blooms at the market

Hikes with beautiful views

  1. Lake Serene: slippery in the winter, but worth it for the view
  2. Snow Lake: jump into the freezing water on a hot summer day
  3. Rattlesnake Ledge: enjoy the sunrise alone at this usually crowded spot. note: no actual rattlesnakes; I checked.
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Picnking at Lake Serene

Breath-taking day trips

  1. Butchart Gardens: afternoon tea in the rose garden
  2. Skagit Tulip Festival: for two weeks out of the year, this valley is blooming with tulips
  3. Mount Rainier: wildflowers, snow, rivers… it’s even more beautiful close up
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The Butchart Gardens

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Skagit Valley

For a more detailed guide to Seattle which I fully endorse :), see my friend Joanna’s list. Enjoy!