For the past two months I’ve had the privilege to live and work in the Parisian suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt. The commune is basically everything you’d expect from Paris (sans Tour Eiffel) except with 112,000 people squeezed into its two and a half square miles – there’s beautiful architecture, stunning parks, and the bakeries are just to die for (it’s a crying shame that I’m gluten intolerant). My travel expenses are reimbursed, despite my brand new school being only a fifteen minute walk away, and the position comes with prêt à porter friends and roommates and an enormous free apartment to boot. There’s just one teeny tiny problem in this superficially perfect set up: Boulogne is the Chelsea of Paris… and I’m a broke foreigner.
On my road to work, paved with Zadig & Voltaire, I rub shoulders with businesswomen and collide with Coco and Yves on a daily basis. The post-night out attire of messy top knot + old Vans sets off judging glances at the English peasant, running late again and exerting far too much energy on the streets of bourgeois Boulogne, and even on my more stylish days I feel like an invisible intruder. My walks to work are spent gazing through shop windows at triple figure price tags ushering me on my way and leaving me wondering why the hell it takes two goddam months to give someone their first goddam pay cheque. While the other assistants in Paris and its surrounding académies received a wage advance to see them through till the despicably delayed payday, and the Erasmus students continue to live off their student loans and Erasmus grants, we graduates in Boulogne have been left mostly housebound with nothing but the promise of a “soirée” in our honour. Ta very much town council, but your pretentious party and gift of a Longchamp purse isn’t going to feed my broke ass, nor does it make up for your general neglect and disorganisation.
Nonetheless, the instant those euros drop, I’ll be in central Paris purchasing my very first Longchamp Pliage and heading over to Angelina for the world’s greatest hot chocolate. Parisian extravagance knows no bounds, and nor will I from payday.