THE SUBURBS OF PARIS AND OTHER TAILS
I am not really one of the people that makes a whole research of the places they go to.
I just go see it for myself and come to my own conclusions of the place.
Paris was no exception.
It is not a surprise that everyone wants to live in the heart of Paris, or at the very least, in one of the Arrondissements, but the truth is that living in the suburbs is much cheaper and, against all odds, more peaceful.
As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t do much planning before moving here.
I met some people and asked around how they found a place for rent that wasn’t as big as a rabbit cage, and they recommended me to look on the many groups available on Facebook. You can pretty much type where you’re from and then ‘’in Paris’’, et voilá. For example, I found my lovely place in a group called Latinos en París, and it so happens to be a place in La Courneuve, the suburbs on the NorthEast.
It is probably a good idea to look for a place to live in the suburbs because the rent isn’t so high, and the rooms are more spacious than trying to fit all your life in a tiny studio closer to Paris. I think it is an ideal place to live for people that enjoy being surrounded by different cultures. Here you have everything you need: supermarkets, affordable and pretty decent restaurants (don’t be expecting anything fancy though), bakeries, clothing stores… you name it. Even very exotic goods from countries like India, Bangladesh, China and countries in Africa, among others. However, the best thing about living here is the Farmer’s Market. Buy everything you need to cook, fresh and at a very good price. You’re going to hear people shouting ‘’ONE EURO’’ at you plenty of times, and if you have a more vegetarian diet, it’s THE perfect place to shop from. It happens on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays from sometime in the morning (not sure if it starts at 8:00) until 14:00.
This area is quite big and there are plenty of things to see, like art galleries and parks. My favourite park of all the gorgeous parks in Paris, is in La Courneuve. It is called Parc Départemental Georges Valbon and it is huge. It has a small lake, plenty of space for picnics and to practice sports, etc. There are festivals going on here as well, and various activities if you care to find out for yourself because people are not so good at advertising them.
Check out La Courneuve
Fact: La Courneuve is on the 93 department and at the beginning of the Metro line 7.
Metro line 7 is basically one of THE longest Metro lines in Paris. It is very convenient for me since it doesn’t take me longer than 10 minutes to get to my university, but if you live here, you must know that wherever else you want to go is probably going to take you from 30-50 min (BY Metro) to reach. Specially if you want to go out partying, it is a long way back home! It is also not the prettiest nor cleanest lines available. However, it is quite complete, and you can always reach many places without having to switch metros. So that’s a plus! And! Paris is constantly on strikes and so public transportation is the first to suffer the consequences; however, over the year that I’ve lived here, I have never experienced important delays while using line 7.
There are also plenty of busses around here in case there is a problem with the Metro, and the Tram T1 goes though here as well. Isn’t that great? Also, if you want to reach the Charles de Gaulle Airport, it is convenient to live here because you can take the RER B, and since it’s closer, the ride isn’t long and most of the time you can find a place to sit. Downside is if you have to go to Orly Airport… this is self-explanatory.
There are many tails going on about the life in the suburbs. I’ve heard plenty of times that my area is like a ‘’hot spot’’ for danger. I’ve been living here by myself and hardly ever felt unsafe. Of course, I am speaking as a Latin woman (keep in mind that probably what is known as‘’dangerous neighbourhood’’ around Paris doesn’t compare to what how dangerous a neighbourhood in South America really is), so you learn a few things to keep you from ever being in a troublesome situation. For example: I never ever walk on the main road because aside form being very dirty, it is very crowded, and I’ve seen people drinking more there than in any other areas, therefore I found an alternative way to get home, that maybe isn’t as fast, but is much cleaner, prettier and of course safer. Also, don’t exit the metro where you see people are drinking outside of… that’s never a great idea, specially if you’re a girl and you’re alone.
Okay, okay… I am making it seems scarier than it is (not scary at all). Bottom line is that it is a very peaceful place where you rarely hear any ambulances, and all those stories of it being dangerous are much exaggerated. This coming from a girl that likes to be out at night a lot and must go back home alone in the middle of the night and on high heels. Just always watch out for yourself and everything will go fine.
All and all, I give the place a thumbs up! I think it is an acceptable area outside of Paris, that has more good things than bad. Don’t let people who are way too impressionable keep you from coming here, because they probably don’t know the place themselves.
I’m looking forward to two more years of discovering this place.
Over and out.
María Helena Calderón
Fashion Design Student at IFA PARIS.