Have you ever thought about living in Paris? If the answer is yes or if you’re just curious about how’s life in the cosmopolitan city, don’t miss this interview.

Living in Paris as Belgian

  • Basic information: I’m Aube Vandingenen and I am 20 years old. I am from Belgium and I am a student (psychology) and a professional fencer. I’ve been living in Paris Since I was 17 but I still visit my family in Belgium a lot.

Why did you choose Paris?

It is your typical story. I had finished secondary school in Belgium one year early and I didn’t want to go to university right away. I had a long conversation with my dad about taking a ‘gap year’ to focus on my sport (fencing) and… he agreed. We started looking around and the club that was run by one of the best coaches in the world turned out to be based Paris. I went to Paris for one week to find out if I liked it and I fell in love with the city and with the way trained. So I moved there when I was 17 years old, this is my third year living in Paris.

Procedures of living in Paris: resident ID

As for the resident ID, I don’t have it. Because I was 17 when I moved to Paris and I thought I was only going to stay for one year, so my official adress is still in Belgium. It is a lot easier that way, I can still use the great Belgian health care system and I still go home a lot so I can do it this way.

Disadvantages of living in Paris: Find an apartament

Finding a place in Paris is the worst thing ever when you’re not French. First of all, they only speak French, that wasn’t a problem for me but for a lot of people it is. But the worst part is, every time I found a nice appartement I went into the office and I couldn’t rent it because my dad didn’t have revenue in France. Eventhough he had one in Belgium. Nobody wanted to help us, until I was super lucky and found an office that had already worked with athletes from other countries and they helped find a nice appartement.

What is like to live in Paris: Any so called “cultural schock”?

Oh yes, sometimes it is like the French still live in the Middle Ages. The technology that they have is so old and not functional at all. Let me give you an example, two years ago I had to go and declare my taxes, for the first time. So I looked up when it was open and it was only 3 days a week from 10 AM till 12 AM. So I had to skip training. One person explained how I had to do everything and so I went back home and did it. Two days later I go back and another person tells me I did everything wrong and gives another pieceepaper. I had this 3 (!!) times. In Belgium we simply do this online.

Nothing is online, you can’t book anything online, you have to call. They all still pay with cheques. It is very weird for someone who comes from Belgium.

Where to look for a job in Paris?

I would check online, you can find several sites like Pole Emploi but also just in your neigboorhood. If you want to work in a cafe for example, I would ask people around.

Is Paris an expensive city to live in?

The price of appartments in Paris is very high but also different depending on the district. If you want a very small flat (between 10-20 square meter) in the center of Paris you will pay approximately 500-700 euro I think. As soon as you want a room with a separate bedroom it goes up to 1000-3000 euro. If you want to rent a place in Paris I would recommend to go and check it out yourself (I mean visit the place) because believe me, there are a lot of shitty flats. Also the further you go from the center, the cheaper it is. I live 20 minutes from the center and my roommate and I pay 1000 euro for a two bedroom flat so that is not too expensive.

Cost of living in Paris

Again it depends where you are located in Paris. The center of Paris is much more expensive because you only have small supermarkets. I would recommend going to a big one and than I would say for one person you are good with 50 euro. The food in restaurants is kind of cheap in my opinion. Almost every restaurant has ‘a menu of the day’ and if you take that one you pay in between 10-15 euro, also tapwater is free! The most expensive thing in Paris restaurants is drinks.

Pros and cons of living in Paris

Pros: I love living so close to a big city, you can find really calm places in Paris but also places where there’s a lot is going on. You have the mix and that’s perfect. The best part of living in Paris are the baguettes. Believe me, it is the best thing in the world, if I could I would eat them all day every day. The other thing I love in Paris is the diversity, you have so many people from all over the world, so many cultures, and that also means, good food from all over the world!

Cons: What I don’t like about Paris is the traffic, but I think that goes for every big city. Besides that, I don’t like the lack of technology.

What do you miss the most about your country?

My family and friends. That’s an easy one. Even though I am very happy in Paris, I miss them a lot. And of course I miss fries, good Belgian fries, because no, fries are not French 😉

How is the quality of life in Paris?

The quality of life in Paris is like in every big city. For a lot of people it is very good but for a lot of people it is very hard too.

Recommendations about Paris

  • Do you plan to stay there for a long time? I think so yes, at least I hope so. I will definitely stay for as long as my coach and his club will be there.
  • Would you recommend this city to live? I would absolutelly recommend living in Paris. Of course, you should wait to move here untile he whole pandemic is over because now there is not a lot to do.
  • Would you recommend the experience of living a season abroad? Anyway, it was the best decision of my life.
  • And for those that would like to move there, do you have any particular advice? Learn French. Moving to France without knowing some French is like moving to America without any word of English.

Projects and destinations

  • Last but not least, could you tell us what will be your next project/destination? I wish I could tell you. I don’t really know. Maybe I will go to Dubai in May but that will be for a fencing competition so I will be in quarantine the whole time. If you want to know my next destination, I would recommend you to follow my instagram!

In short, if you’re looking to move in one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, don’t hesitate to choose this cosmopolitan city to live in.

For those who want to know first the city as tourist I’ll recommend a “FREE WALKING TOUR”.

Interview conducted in April 2021 with @traveling.aube

Belgian in Paris

If you want to know what is like to live in another city of France, check out this post about Lille.

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