The Reality of Funemployment in Paris
What comes after the first 5 chirpy weeks
Every week through my funemployment, I publish a blog post as part of my self-guided learning program. Last week, I wrote about how to find quiet in new York, highlighting some of my favorite places and experiences in the chaotic city.
Leaving a full-time job in New York, as it turns out, opens many doors. With my husband’s fully remote gig— all of a sudden — we no longer needed our apartment in Park Slope. So at the end of June as I said goodbye to my coworkers, we also bit farewell to the city, put everything we own into a 7'x9' storage, and started a new, nomadic chapter of our life.
Since our friends are getting married in Finland at the end of the month, we planned to spend August in Europe after a month in Montana, starting in Paris and slowly making our way to Helsinki.
Little did I know at the time that I would experience the reality of funemployment in Paris.
Before we booked the Bohemian flat in the quaint 11th arrondissement, I was warned by my French husband that Paris in August was going to be different than what I was expecting. He said that most Parisians leave the city for the beach and many restaurants in town are closed for the entire month.
But I wasn’t deterred. I naively thought that at least a few famed restaurants would remain open since the number of tourists in Paris actually peaks in August. Plus, it’s Paris, and I love quiet.
But the truth quickly sank in as we drove into the city. Looking out of the car windows, the beloved Parisian balconies are empty of flowers and plants. The rows of gray roller shutters and vacation notices on the storefronts make the city feel deserted and a tad eerie.
The neighborhood market has only two vendors, and every single restaurant on our list is closed until end of the month. Though museums don’t take as extensive of a break as restaurants, the lack of air conditioning has made some visits less awe-inspiring amidst the heatwave.
So I’m forced to experience Paris like a local this month — staying in during the day, and going out at dusk. Instead of window-shopping and visiting the museums, I spend the warmest chunk of the day inside the flat, writing and learning how to use Instagram to build a brand.
When the sun is about to set, I pick up un café and sip it by the canal while people-watching. In the evenings, we roam in empty streets and dine in the only restaurant in the neighborhood that’s open. One of the two food vendors in the market sells saucisson from Spain, and he lets us taste everything and sends us off with shots of sangria.
A few days in, I’m slowly starting to appreciate Paris in August — the most bare-boned essence of the city of light. To make the best out of it, one has to be able to bear the silence and the lack of rosy features. One has to be willing to travel for what’s desired, and be clear about priorities.
To make the best out of it, one has to be able to bear the silence and the lack of rosy features. One has to be willing to travel for what’s desired, and be clear about priorities.
And I suppose the reality of funemployment is not too far from that. After the honeymoon period has passed, my relationship with funemployment is slowly settling into a routine, made up of meditation, writing and exploring the outdoors.
As coffee dates on “what are you going to do during the break?” become less frequent, the empty Google calendar confronts my integrity to follow my body-led learning program through. And I’m challenged to bring intention to the my days so time doesn’t slip away meaninglessly.
Without the storefronts and flowery balconies, the plain and pure Paris in August is like a mirror, reflecting back to me what it’s like to live with limited choices. The quiet streets echo the question: How are you going to make the best out of it?
Paris in August is like a mirror, reflecting back to me what it’s like to live with limited choices. The quiet streets echo the question: How are you going to make the best out of it?