A French Life: An American in Paris – and the pursuit of success & happiness abroad

Written by on September 3, 2012 in Expats in France

Meet Lindsey Kent, an American in Paris.

Lindsey is a photographer from Denver, Colorado and owner of Pictours Paris which specializes in photographing people in Paris, on holiday, on honeymoon or those who just want something special to remind them of their time in the City of Lights. Lindsey has immersed herself into her Paris lifestyle, discovering “secret” places to take photos off the beaten track but with a real Parisian edge; she loves to shop at Sandro in the Marais district or hop on her bike and get lost in the streets of the city.

We persuaded Lindsey to take time out of her busy life and tell us how she came to be in Paris working as a photographer:

“Wherever you go, go with all of your heart.” Confucius

I guess I can give credit for the “idea” of a life in France to my husband, Justin. When I first met him in 2007, he had expressed interest in living in Paris at some point in his life. Luckily enough, his mother is French thus Justin has US and French citizenship. The idea of living in France sounded romantic and adventurous – but it was surely just a fantasy of his, right? I had never really thought about living abroad…

Fast-forward a few years and, welp, we’re planning our wedding and planning for a new life in Paris! Justin was pursuing a career in the culinary world, so where else better to start than in Paris?!

Our summer 2011 wedding was an amazing celebration and a fabulous sendoff for us: eight weeks later we landed in Paris!

We were set up to rent a family friend’s great apartment at a fantastic price, Justin had an interview lined up at one of Paris’s best 3 star Michelin restaurants, and I was motivated to find a new career calling. If I’m moving half way across the world, why would I want to just do the same thing I had done in the states? My husband was pursuing his passion for cooking, so I wanted to pursue a passion and live out my dreams as well!

Our arrival in Paris came with a whirlwind of language barriers and societal differences – Justin is conversationally fluent in French, but just navigating our way round Paris  was a challenge at first. Where the heck do we find nice bath towels? How do we set up a bank account? Wait – floor one is actually floor two? Lots of little things to make us laugh and feel very out of place!

We spent a nice couple of weeks with Justin’s family in northern France, and then he jumped straight into work in the kitchen of L’Arpège. I was left to fend for myself, which more or less included grocery shopping, laundry, walking the dog, and starting French lessons at Alliance Francaise.

House chores quickly became a bore, so when I wasn’t in French class, I spent most days on foot exploring Paris – with my camera and often times our yorkie, Oliver. I’ve never spent so much alone time in a city I didn’t know. But I really liked it, actually. I dreaded most human interactions for fear of having to attempt any sort of French, so wandering the streets was a good option!

About a month after arriving, my friends Jill and Dave came to Paris on a leg of their European honeymoon. Justin was hard at work, so I spent the week “touring” them around Paris and instinctively taking photos of them all along the way. One afternoon, while sipping rose wine at a cafe, the three of us started talking about how nice it’s been for them to have me tag along as their tour guide/photographer. Maybe this could be a business: take Paris visitors on a private tour through Paris and take portraits of them all along the way? If Jill and Dave appreciated it – I knew there would be other people that would too. So the idea for my own business, Pictours Paris, was born. All of a sudden I knew: this is my calling. This is what I’m supposed to DO in Paris!

The winter was cold and grey, but starting Pictours Paris kept my head in the clouds and I couldn’t wait to launch the business come springtime. In many ways I think it has been this business venture that has helped me feel like I have a purpose to being here in France. It isn’t easy having little to no social circle, it’s a constant struggle to communicate on even the simplest of levels, and I’m just so far away from home. But my husband and my business are really my two greatest motivators for making a life in France really work for us!

We’re approaching our one year “Paris anniversary,” and I’m so excited to see what year two and beyond will bring. As I enter into my second year in Paris, I’m taking my business to new levels and planning to do bridal and wedding photography. [Ed’s note: We’ve seen the bridal shoot Lindsey did recently and it was fantastic]. We said we’d give it at least a year, and wow, that year has flown by! Sometimes I still feel very much like a tourist in the City of Lights, but as the months go by that feeling is slowly dissipating.

One of our most memorable “ah-hah” moments since living in Paris was when Justin and I decided to stay up all night and watch the sun rise over the city. We had a very late/early breakfast at Pied de Cochon and then headed to Trocadero square. Trocadero is swarming with tourists 365 days of the year, but at this time of day, it was vacant. Justin and I sat quietly in the middle of the square and watched the sun rise as night became day over the Eiffel Tower. It was a moment I’ll never forget. As the sun came up and the birds started singing, we danced across Trocadero square and all I could think was Wow, THIS is our home now. And I wouldn’t have it any other way…

You can contact Lindsey and book a photo shoot at www.pictoursparis.com

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