Paris Expats Abroad: 10 Questions with Tom Blanc

Paris Expats Abroad: 10 Questions with Tom Blanc
Chatting with a Sorbonne finance student and competitive tennis player, who was thrice-recruited to be a model (declined each time), on why he moved to the Big Apple and what he misses about Paris When did you move to the U.S., and where do you live there? I moved to New York City in August 2015. Why did you move to New York, and what do you do there? I moved here to study at Lehman College-CUNY, so I could study finance, business, and economics there. Did you speak English before you moved there? Yes, I started studying it in school when I was 7 or 8. It was just basics, like “Hello, my name is Tom…”, and then I started studying it more seriously during middle school. Since I moved here, my English improved so much and it has become much easier to speak in English. Also, my French accent became less apparent. I saw some French tourists in New York the other day with a really strong French accent speaking English, the accent was too strong and like, “Um where is zee blah blah blah…” My accent is not like that anymore. What do you miss most about Paris? Food! I really miss baguettes. A TRUE baguette. There is no baguette like a French baguette. And here, they can’t even use the word “baguette,” because it’s just not the same. I also miss good wine that’s cheap – here, it’s much more expensive. And cheese too. I miss Camembert, blue, Comté, Roquefort, Brie, Reblochon. Many of them. The markets here are kind of tolerable, but not great. It’s pretty expensive, and I have difficulty finding things that are as cheap here as they were in Paris. What were some of your favorite places to go in Paris? Luxembourg Gardens. Read, walk, sit. The best days to go are in September, at the end of the summer. Because everyone is in the holiday mindset, but they are back to the city, so everyone is sharing their experiences. There’s something nice about people coming together in the gardens. And plus, by the fountain, people will bring their little electric boats, and it’s nice to look at. It’s one of the places in Paris I really love. Sometimes I overuse it, and spend too much time there. But I love it. What are some cultural differences you’ve observed between Americans and the French? Here, people are workaholics, which can be good. But it seems like that have a harder time having fun. I see a lot of people in their early 20s and 30s, and they’re just not enjoying life as much here. Do you miss your family in France when you’re here? I miss family. I know my family misses me, and they want me back. I miss them, but not as much as I miss the lifestyle in Paris. Most of my life was in Paris. Every day was crazy; every night, after school, I would go on night walks, meeting with friends, meeting at cafes, going to discos, and all that. I didn’t do it as much here as I would like. Firstly because I wasn’t as confident about my English, but mostly also because of my exams and studies, which took a lot of time. What are your favorite things to do in Paris? It’s not so much an activity, but a certain moment. I think the best thing is a moment – like after you’ve had a few drinks at the bar or cafe or club, and you’re happy, and you ride a city bike through Paris. And you ride together with whoever around you. You ride altogether on these empty avenues in Paris. It’s nice how empty it is. There’s hardly anyone at night, which is unlike New York. I miss that. What would you say to someone who is thinking of moving to La Ville  Lumière? Be prepared to be pretty organized. Be careful of hours; in Paris, the metro stops at 1am. On Sundays, shops are closed. At night, some shops closed at 6pm. Just be aware of that. There’s a certain time to eat, generally, 12pm – 2pm for lunch, 7pm – 9:30pm for dinner. You’re gonna pay a lot of taxes there. Forget about hard alcohol, because you’re gonna drink wine. It’s kind of cliche about the French and wine, but it’s true. Most French people will prefer having a glass of wine versus a vodka, because wine is typically French and better for a long night, because you can have a long night, and still be happy, but not too drunk. Prepare to meet some communists, and debate a lot of politics. There can be some heated political discussions, so be prepared to manage your emotions. What’s the best thing about the mode de vie in Paris? Definitely not the subway, because everyone on the subway tends to be sad or angry. The best thing about the Parisian way of life is having a coffee at a cafe and just enjoying the streets of Paris. It’s very easy to find charming places in Paris, too. Wherever you go in Paris, you find charming places. That’s pretty nice. It’s nice to have the feeling too of being a Parisian, and being sophisticated, and being part of the city.

Lead photo credit : Tom Blanc - Photo courtesy of Anne McCarthy

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Anne McCarthy is a contributing writer to BBC News, Teen Vogue, The Telegraph, Dance Magazine, and more. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Westminster and is the Editor in Chief of Fat Tire Tours’ travel blog. She lives in New York City.