Coucou and welcome to my blog! If you’re new here, hi, I’m Cam, an American expat English teacher in France. Here on my blog, I like to share my adventures traveling as well as my perspective and experience with French culture! Today I’m going to talk about the differences I’ve noticed between Paris (where I was a grad student last year) and Perpignan (a small city you’ve probably never heard of close to the Spanish border where I’m currently working as a lectrice d’anglais).
Paris may be the most beautiful city in the world, but its weather certainly isn’t as beautiful! Did you know it’s just as rainy as London? Winters are grey and chilly and it rarely snows. However, Fall and Spring are the best times to visit with their respective orange leaves and fresh flowers.
When I was looking up the weather in Perpignan, I found a map of France that showed that Perpignan had at least 1,000 more sunshine hours per year than Paris. I don’t mind cold weather, but I was happy to know I would be getting more sun because Paris winters can be a little depressing. However, when I arrived in August, I wasn’t a fan of the heat. Perpignan is also in the Mediterranean so there are lots of palm trees, warm weather (it’s December and it hasn’t reached freezing temperatures), and a funny little wind called the Tramontane which can get quite strong some days. Just because there is a lot of sun doesn’t mean it doesn’t rain! In fact, this fall there were heavy rains which then caused problems with the trains becuase some tracks were completely washed away by the floods! It also doesn’t snow here, but it’s not far from the Pyrenees mountains where I hope to go skiing in the new year!
I love Paris, affording to live there, especially as a student is not easy. Food, drinks, and housing are what I spent the majority of my money on. There are so many “trendy” restaurants, bars, and cafés in the city, plus there is a big “going out” culture there that sometimes you need to spend money to have fun, meet friends, and have social interaction. Don’t get me wrong though, Paris does have lots of free and affordable activities. If you are under 26/a student, you are eligible for discounts. There are lovely parks and monuments you can visit for free and on the first Sunday of every month you can get into museums for Free! Rent is probably the most expensive cost in Paris; for a room in a student foyer (kind of like a dorm) I was paying 615€/month.
It’s crazy the difference between the cost of living in Paris vs everywhere else in France. Now, I’m living in an apartment almost 3 times the size of my room in Paris and my rent is about 100€ cheaper! Food and drinks are not significantly cheaper here in the south, but they do seems more affordable (maybe 1-2€ cheaper for a pint of beer and 1€ cheaper for a café) and there aren’t as many “bobo” establishments.
As a metropolitan city, Paris is full of people from around the world from all walks of life. I enjoyed meeting international students as well as locals when ever I would mingle with my friends on nights out. There is also the stereotype that Parisians and rude, and well I’m not going to say that ALL Parisians are rude, I will admit that if you aren’t used to big city culture, people might seem cold. However, once you get used to it the Parisian savoir être, you’ll be able to navigate life there and even make some friends.
Perpignan is way smaller than Paris, so there are not as many people to meet. Most people who live here are from here originally and don’t necessarily need to make new friends. Most of my friends here are other teachers and language assistants (with whom I love hanging out with), but I haven’t met a lot of locals. Also a lot of the young adults here are university students and I work at the university so that’s a no-go. I think I’m just going to have to try and put myself out there more, maybe join a club or join a language class and meet people there. Another unique thing about Perpignan is that it is part of French Catalonia, so there is some unique cultural pride here. The street signs here are even in French and Catalan, the same language spoken in Barcelona.
One of my favorite things about Paris is the architecture. I do think that architecture should be functional and accessible ( something old Parisian architecture lacks), but I also highly value architecture that is beautiful. Big green parks, a monument always close by, grand boulevards, and charming streets, and lights reflecting on the Seine are what made me first become amoureuse with the city of love.
Palm trees and mountains. Those were some of the first things I noticed about Perpignan. I never thought I would be living in a warm climate (I’m pale-skinned and heat sensitive), but I’ve come to enjoy the calm mediterranean weather. Perpi’s architecture is not as pretty that of Paris, but it also is full of charming streets and colorful buildings. Being poorer than Paris, Perpi does have some parts that are not as pretty and need of renovation.
Thanks for reading and let me know what you like/dislike about where you live or have lived!
P.S. I started making Youtube videos about my experiences in France! Check out my channel here if you’d like to check it out. Also let me know if you would like me to talk about my experiences living in different regions of France (Franche-Comté, Île-de-France, and Languedoc-Roussillon) in a blog post or video!