In Part 1 of this Black Paris Profile™, former investment relations and corporate communications executive Yolanda Robins talked about how she came to move to Paris and reinvented herself as a real estate professional. She gives advice on what to expect if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur in Paris. In Part 2, she talks about the lifestyle she enjoys there.
Yolanda was single and in her late 30s when she moved to Paris. As she began navigating the dating scene, she found that being American was an advantage and had little trouble finding companionship. She eventually married a non-French person who decided after a time that he did not want to stay in France. They parted ways as friends and Yolanda found herself "back on the market."
Once again, she did not find it difficult to date. But she did find it difficult to find people that shared her principles and values. She is currently dating an anthropologist and curator at a Paris museum, whom she describes as "an amazing intellectual French person." She met him online through a profile that she uploaded in English and French.
My godson, who is 24 years old and a teacher in the U.S., said, “Put your profile online.” I did and I got tons and tons of responses.
Yolanda's boyfriend speaks English, Spanish, and French. Because she continues to work on her French language skills, she and her boyfriend speak French together. Yolanda feels that when you spend a lot of time with someone in a personal relationship and you're also trying to learn a language, it behooves you to "make that personal time in the language that you're trying to learn. That’s where you're going to make the most progress."
Yolanda currently lives in an apartment in the Marais. This district (located between Bastille and République) is not only convenient for work, but also beneficial from the standpoint of her health. She loves being able to walk or take her bike anywhere since she spends a lot of time with clients who are either purchasing or renovating properties.
While she favors the Marais personally, Yolanda does not try to persuade her clients to purchase property there. She says there are "really no bad neighborhoods" in Paris and allows her clients to decide which area is best for them. Whether they want to come to Paris two or three times a year, be close to tourist destinations, or retire here, they can find everything they need in the quartier they select. This includes green grocers, bakeries and pastry shops, and restaurants.
Speaking of which...
Yolanda and her boyfriend cook in and eat out in roughly equal proportions. They eat French, North African, and vegetarian food throughout the city. So whether it's in the Marais, the 19th arrondissement, or the Latin Quarter, there is always the conundrum of where to eat. Yolanda feels comfortable eating out frequently because she can have very light meals, despite starting dinner as late as 9:00 or 9:30 PM.
When they cook at home, Yolanda and her beau enjoy an embarrassment of riches with regard to the number of open-air markets available to them. For her, shopping for the ingredients to be prepared for their evening meal is part of the attraction of being in Paris.
Another attraction is the beauty of the city that Yolanda experiences while jogging, especially during the early morning hours:
The way the sun hits the façade of the Louvre ... it's absolutely lovely to be to see the rich textures, the history in the quietness of the city ... I'm still in amazement that this is now my home.
© Discover Paris!
Yolanda loves the numerous museums that are located in Paris. Her favorites are the Orangerie (which houses Monet's Water Lilies) and the Rodin Museum. The Rodin holds a very special place for her because there's also a Rodin Museum in her hometown of Philadelphia. Indeed, Philly has some very interesting French influences, including the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which is is patterned after the Champs Elysées. Her last home in Philadelphia was on a street where Joseph Bonaparte sought refuge when he left France.
Yet another thing that Yolanda loves about living in the French capital is the ease with which you can travel to other destinations. For business, she has clients who ask for her assistance in purchasing properties in Normandy, Brittany, Provence, and Toulouse. For leisure, she enjoys its proximity to all regions of France as well as countries such as Spain, Italy, Turkey, and the U.K. She is particularly enamored of the Eurostar rail service that whisks Paris travelers to the heart of London in a mere 2.5 hours.
After being in Paris for almost 12 years, Yolanda is undertaking the process of becoming a French citizen. While she takes advantage of a number of groups and social events where she can interface with Americans and is proud of her American heritage, she is also proud to be able to integrate into Parisian and French society without sacrificing that identity. She is ready to embrace the duality of being an American and a Parisian in France.
Becoming a naturalized French citizen is important to Yolanda because she wants to have the right to vote:
... since I had the right to vote at 18 years of age, I have always done so and being in a country where I have invested my time, effort, and emotion for over a decade and to not have the opportunity to hear to have my voice heard from an electoral standpoint is something that was lacking. That's why I'm becoming a French citizen.
For people who want to relocate to Paris for a change in lifestyle, Yolanda has the following advice:
Do your homework. Living here is quite different than visiting ... come [visit] and be prepared to stay for an extended period of time so you can really get a sense of what it would be like to live here.
You don't have to be in the center of Paris to enjoy Paris. There are some neighborhoods that are absolutely lovely and will give you a sense of what it would be like to live here and not have to be in the center of it all. There are beautiful places in the 20th and beautiful places in the 15th ...
Administratively, it's challenging. So all of these things should be considered before you make the move to relocate. But it can be done.
Entrée to Black Paris!™ is a Discover Paris! blog.
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