Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Guest Blogger: Amy Plum--My Paris


I was introduced to Amy Plum by our mutual Cataphile friend, Gilles at a ceremony for the man who saved the underground quarries of Paris. Needless to say Amy and I both had much in common - Gilles had helped us both with underground Paris research in our separate stories. I thought since Amy writes YA, is a writer and Mom in Paris it would be great to hear her take on living in Paris, writing and raising kids there. Enjoy!

When I first moved to Paris in the ‘90s I had no kids, a job I didn’t take seriously, and lots of partying to catch up on after an ultra-conservative upbringing in Alabama. I came. I stayed four years. I conquered. Then I ran off to London for grad school and New York to work in the art world, all the while dreaming of the day I might move back to Paris.

It was ten years before I moved back. And this time around, everything is different. I pass the bars I used to go to, holding my eleven year old’s hand and not mentioning the time I was so tipsy that I hailed a taxi to take me home…a block away.

No…this time I’m doing Paris as an adult. (As much as one can in Playful Paris.) It’s a different city when your decision of which neighborhood to live in is based on schools and after-school activities. I never noticed parks in my twenties, besides finding some green space to lay a blanket on and eat al fresco with a bottle or three of wine. Now you can drop me into any Parisian neighborhood, and I can tell you where the closest park is with a jungle gym and the location of the nearest bathrooms.

The other difference for me this time around is my work situation. In my twenties I worked in an office on the opposite side of Paris. I commuted by Metro during rush hour with stressed-out suited business people, then picked my way through the dog-poop riddled streets of the 16th arrondissement to get to work.

Now, as an author, I work where and when I want. I plan almost all of my and my kids’ activities (doctors, sports, music lessons) within walking distance. And the only time I come across crabby business people is, well…never. Of course, I have traded a stable paycheck for the insecurity of an artist’s life, but I am experiencing Paris in a fuller way than I ever have. I write in cafés, I write in a quiet corner of the Louvre, I write in magnificent libraries, and I meditate and find my stories walking the streets of the ancient city.

With half-French children in public school, I feel like I’m part of the city’s indigenous population, when as a single American in Paris I felt like an expat. With the book events I take part in (workshops in the bilingual schools, events at the American Library in Paris, judging English writing competitions, and hosting a monthly teen book club at Shakespeare & Company) I have found my place in the international social circles.

This time around, I feel part French (I have a passport to prove it!), part American, and—as usual—one hundred percent bibliophile. Paris is home…for good…and I can’t think of a place I’d rather live.

—Amy in for Cara


  1. I love your take on Paris "then and now" - and speaking as a fellow displaced American (Californian, now living in Tokyo) I completely understand how a place so far from the land of your birth can feel like home. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Thanks so much, Susan! Expats, unite! :)

  3. This sounds like a delightful life. Thanks for sharing!