Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Paris: Through the Eyes of Margot, a Young Parisian Lawyer
One of the goals that I set for myself as a blogger last year was to learn more about some of the other people who live in Paris. To resurrect the series, "Touching a Different Part of the Elephant", I'm very pleased to introduce you to Margot, a 26 year old native of Paris. With the exception of brief periods when she lived in Senegal as a child, traveled in Asia and Australia for a year and studied at King's College in London, Margot has spent her entire life in the City of Light. She's a real Parisienne.
Margot and I met after I snapped some photos of her sipping champagne at the launch party for Guerlain's new eau de toilette. Curious as to why I was taking pictures of the other guests, she introduced herself and made the mistake of mentioning that she's an international patent lawyer. As I had been wondering about the legalities of posting photos of strangers online, I rather shamelessly jumped on the opportunity to get some free legal advice. Thank goodness that she didn't say that she was a gynecologist!
In spite of my pushy behavior, Margot kindly agreed to an interview and suggested that we meet at Telescope, one of the hottest new cafes in town. It's so trendy that we even spotted chef Gregory Marchand of Frenchie restaurant chatting with the owner while ordering a cup of coffee to go. Turning my attention from the activity at the counter, I asked Margot the question that has long puzzled women around the world.
Mary Kay: How do Parisians always manage to look so stylish? What's your secret - is it in your genes?
Margot: (laughing) I don't know. Maybe it's true that it's in our DNA. But I guess it's that Parisians wear classic clothes, items that are elegant but not too flashy. I don't like when there are big labels on something, like Gucci or Louis Vuitton. Purses and shoes are probably the most important part of my wardrobe. I would rather save money for a year to buy one really stylish purse than three less fashionable ones.
Mary Kay: As an American expat, there are certain things that I miss in Paris. What did you miss the most while living in England?
Margot: I missed my friends and family, of course, but I mainly missed French food, especially my mom's cooking. My family always gets together on Sunday for a long lunch, usually we'll sit at the table for three hours. We talk about what happened during the week and my mom always makes amazing pastries and tartes. I also missed the wine. We have really great wine in France. My favorites are from Bordeaux and St. Emilion, but I also like Gigondas from the southern Rhone region and Pouilly-Fumé from the Loire Valley.
Mary Kay: Before we moved to Paris, I had the mistaken idea that French people don't work very hard because we always hear about the 35 hour work week and long vacations. What's a typical day like for you.
Margot: The 35 hour work week doesn't apply to everyone. People like me, who are lawyers, doctors or engineers, usually work much longer hours. Many of my friends work until 11:00 pm every night. I'm lucky, I only work until about 8:00 pm. Since I start at 9:00, I work about 50 hours a week. When I leave the office, I usually go to a restaurant for dinner, a friend's place or to a bar for a drink. I try to do something with my friends every second day. When I'm too tired, I stay at home to watch a movie or read a book.
Mary Kay: Your weekends must be really important to you. Describe your ideal Saturday.
Margot: I'd start the day at a little café called Le Loir Dans La Théière. Do you know it? They have a really good brunch. Then I would do a bit of shopping in the Marais. For lunch, I would go to one of the restaurants at the Place du Marché St-Honoré, maybe Cuisine et Confidence, Little Georgette or the burger restaurant, but I can't remember its name. Afterwards, I would definitely go to the Grand Palais. They have the best exhibitions but you have to buy your ticket in advance. A friend of mine went to see the Hopper exhibition at 4:30 in the morning and said that the line was still really long. For an apéritif, Chez Prune is a good place to go on the Canal St-Martin. Since I don't like clubs, I would probably go to Workshop, a new restaurant/bar with an exhibition space on the ground floor and dancing downstairs, with my friends.
Mary Kay: Lots of people would love to travel to Paris, what's your dream destination?
Margot: I've already been there, but I would like to go back to India to visit Udaipur and Varanasi. I'm fascinated by the people and the culture. If I had more time, I would meditate and do yoga.
Mary Kay: Is there a part of Paris where you don't like to go?
Margot: Yes, the Champs-Élysées. My friends and I never go shopping there!
Tune in tomorrow for Margot's "10 Golden Rules for being a Parisienne" and her favorite French movies, music and iPhone apps.