• Rachel Ogilby

Musings During 24 hours in Paris

My husband Chris and I finally arrived in Paris after a 26 hour unexpected layover in Newark due to flooding and storms from Hurricane Ida! Without going into too much detail, we were up almost 24 hours (though Chris encouraged me to rest and attempt sleep multiple times throughout the night and next day) and were very sleep deprived once arriving in Paris. Our luggage is currently still in Newark (apparently it missed the memo to come with us!) but we should be getting it today.



Hopefully partly due to sleep deprivation, Chris and I both felt equally overwhelmed when we arrived. It would be a significant adjustment just getting used to living in a new city, let alone a new language, culture, monetary system, and time zone! We are so grateful to be here. A few musings over the last 24 hours:

  • Not everyone speaks English, but most do, and are willing to flip over to English if you ask

  • So far the French people have been very helpful and kind, offering to help us find things in supermarkets, welcoming us to Paris, orienting us to our apartment, etc.

  • Chris and I haven’t feel terribly out of place here once our luggage was ditched in the apartment

  • A lot of people smoke, of all ages! Thankfully only outside from what I can tell

  • French people tend not to look at you in the eye or greet you upon passing in the street – from what we’ve read so far, this is a sign of respect for your privacy

  • Being pregnant seems aligned with having a handicap regarding service – I was told while in line to check out at the grocery store that I was allowed to skip to the front since I am pregnant!

  • It seems way easier to find food items that are diet-specific, such as vegan or gluten-free. I easily discovered many gluten free bread and pasta options – something I would have had to seek out in the states (especially bread!). There were at least 5 gluten free bread options next to the typical French baguettes in one store. I’m not sure yet if this is a “big city” bonus or a European standard.

  • Each grocery store we’ve been in so far (Naturalia, Franprix, and another with an M name…) has impressive options for anything you could want. There’s eight different types of eggs, countless cheese and yogurt options, every type of milk you could want (cow, almond, rice, coconut, etc.)… it goes on!

  • Food is more expensive, but it seems as though you can shop around to find the best prices. We haven’t attempted buying produce at an open market yet but anticipate that being the best price for fresh fruits and vegetables. We plan to stick to a more basic diet as we figure out our budget and where to buy things for the best price. For now, it’s lots of beans, rice, eggs, oatmeal, and fruit and vegetables. “Snack” items like chips, juice, and other treats like that will have to wait!

  • It seems most stores do not have restrooms available for the public, but they are located around the city.

  • The apartments are compact but comfortable, and they make being compact easier by creating 2 for 1 appliances – for example, the microwave is also an oven, and the washing machine is also a dryer!

  • The windows open both from the side and the top – the top is useful because you can open it for fresh air even when it’s raining without risking water damage to the floor.

  • We explored one park yesterday and I was hit by relief – apparently, I had already been missing greenery and trees. The parks are wonderful! There was a small section with exercise equipment, another part of the park with ping pong tables (in use) and bocce ball (also in use), multiple swing sets and playgrounds, a small merry go round, a few monuments, and even a man-made stream with a few small waterfalls. The water sounded lovely and created a relaxing atmosphere. People sat all over the park, many with blankets on the ground, smoking and enjoying a beer or wine with a friend. Some simply sat on a bench reading while others picnicked with adult friends as their children played together. No music played – people just simply sat, talked, people-watched, or read. It felt like stepping out of the hustle and bustle of the city and stepping into a scene from a book!

Simply navigating the airport, our lost luggage, the taxi to the apartment, and getting into the apartment was mentally exhausting; I am so grateful for the few French lessons we (Chris, mainly) were able to squeeze in before traveling. I’m also very proud of us, as silly as it may sound, for completing small tasks like buying groceries. Walking through the streets in the tiny part of Paris we currently live in opened our eyes to how big an adjustment this new life will be – but also what an incredible opportunity we have.

We will learn so many new life skills by being here, such as learning to communicate with others, flexing when experiences aren’t what we expect, communicating with each other about things we’ve never had to before, building (and using) a budget in a new way, using new transportation systems, and immersing in a new culture. I’m especially grateful that we are here a few months before our baby arrives, as I can hardly imagine the new challenges and adventures that will create.

For now, Chris and I have a few more days to explore before he starts work. Today we plan to walk to the Arc de Triumph (about 30 minutes from us) and the Eiffel Tower (another 30 minutes). This morning I have great plans to google how to use the coffee machine and where public bathrooms are located along our route today (very important for a pregnant lady!).


Thank you for journeying along with us as we enter this new chapter of life.


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