Get it while it's hot (and still free, at least momentarily) - the latest Bonjour Paris article has been posted, entitled "Making Amis".
When you’re on your own in Paris, it’s important to make the effort to get out of your shell (or at least get out of your apartment or hotel) and make some new friends. If you’ve relocated here with a spouse, partner or children, you’ve brought your most important relationships with you; you’ve got a social “security blanket”, someone familiar to ease the strangeness of your new life as an ex-pat.
But when you’re traveling solo, you have two choices. One, you can become a hermit and hole up indoors, rarely venturing out except to get supplies and maybe a cat or two for companionship, in which case you risk becoming the notorious “crazy cat person” of your neighborhood. Or two, you can go out into the world, open to meeting whomever happens to show up in your life. I’m opting for the latter, and not just because I’m not really a “cat person”.
My particular personality type is a cross between extrovert and introvert. I do need some time on my own, out of the hustle and bustle, where I can think, be creative and recharge my batteries. But when I’m out, I love good conversation and to be around fun and interesting people. I love finding out about people, and what makes them tick. In fact, to me, the world is just one big sociology experiment.
But I’m also new to city living and that creates some added anxiety for me. Before now, I’ve only ever lived in a more rural or suburban area where you had a car to get you safely from point A to point B. Now, I have to adapt to the rigors of public transportation and learn to be more aware of my surroundings, especially if I’m planning to ever leave the apartment after dark. It often feels easier to just stay in and content myself with watching Absolutely Fabulous on BBCPrime, so sometimes I have to force myself to go out and be around people.
Realizing that it might not be that easy to make friends with the French when I’m not fluent (yet) in the language, I decided that my best bet for making some new social connections quickly would be to look for where the English-speaking ex-pats were hanging out. Whether American, British, Australian, or Canadian, I knew they were “out there”, but where, oh where to find them?
Meetup.com to the rescue! This is a great networking resource no matter where you happen to be in the world. Meetup is a site where people with common interests can connect. You can locate Meetup groups near you by searching on your location, or you can search by topic. Register (it’s free), post your profile and sign up for as many groups as you like. When you sign up for a group, you are notified of scheduled events (often cocktails, lunches, picnics, or whatever the group’s leader organizes) as well as of any on-line discussions that might be happening. Most groups meet once a month provided there is sufficient interest from the members.
I started by checking out all the ex-pat Meetup groups in Paris, and found over twenty to choose from! Some are specific to a nationality but they’re usually more than happy to have “outsiders” join it, like the Paris Expat Aussie Meetup Group, with whom I’ll be attending a cocktail hour tonight.
There are also hybrid groups such as the International Events & Activities group, where I attended a fun little soirée for the launch of the Beaujolais Nouveau, held at a brasserie in the 6th near Métro Odéon. There, I met an American, a Hungarian, several Canadians, an Aussie (who invited me to the Aussie Meetup this week), and even a few French people. I even exchanged cards with some of them so we can make plans to “meet up” again in the near future.
I’ve got Meetup.com events blocked out on my calendar, at least one a week, from now through the holidays, and I can see this is going to be a great starting point for me to create a social life. But that’s not the only way to meet people in Paris, and here are some others that show promise:
• Friends of friends. Chances are, someone you know knows someone else living in Paris. Ask for an introduction and when you get here, follow through with it.
• Fellow bloggers. For over a year and a half before I came here, I’ve been writing and publishing my own blog (www.TheBoldSoul.com) about my desire to live in Paris. I’ve also been actively reading a number of the blogs written by others living in Paris and have even managed to start up some long-distance friendships with some of them. Now that I’m here, I’ll get to meet them in person!
• On-line dating. For singles, eventually you’re going to want to meet someone who might be MORE than a friend, right? Well, you might want to give some of the on-line dating sites a try. A few I’ve been perusing include EHarmony.com and Meetic.fr.
• Going to places you like and events that interest you. Paris is a cultural playground for adults. Whether your interests are sports, museums, movies or concerts, there is literally something for everyone here. Get out and do things you like, and you might run into some other singles doing the same thing.
It’s not always easy forcing yourself to go out alone, especially for some women. But again, consider the alternative: stuck in your apartment, bored out of your mind, rarely seeing the light of day in the City of Lights. The only way NOT to be alone in Paris is to go OUT in Paris.
So if you’re in Paris and on your own, make the effort and GO OUT. You might even see me at a Meetup drinks party or the Louvre. If you do, be sure and say “Bonjour!”