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Life in Rural France

Living the French Dream….The Good, The Bad, and The Hilarious

A bridge over a river in Paris - Pont Neuf

Living the Parisian Lifestyle | From Puerto Rica to Paris

As Francophiles I think most of us have dreamt about living a Parisian Lifestyle at some point. The effortlessly chic people, the cafe culture and of course all that wonderful architecture.

The City of Lights is the stuff dreams are made of. But what’s the reality like? Is it all coffee and croissants? Or is it just like any other city.

Most of the people we interview here on Life in Rural France are located in South West France. Often they’re living a more rural life. Paris couldn’t be more opposite from that.

So let’s have some fun and see what life in Paris is really like. Charlotte of Emerald Coast Beauty is living out her childhood fantasy of living in Paris. And today we’re getting the back story on it’s really like and how it all came about.

Charlotte I’m intrigued, you’re a Puerto Rican living in Paris who also happens to travel the world for work. How did you end up in Paris? What drew you to living in the city of lights?

It all started when I was 7 years old and I watched the movie “Funny Face” (with Audrey Hepburn). I immediately realised that Paris is where I needed to be. I wrote a long list in pink marker (that I still have) titled “Things to do before I die” (yes I was a very dramatic 7 year old). Number 1 on the list was “Move to Paris”.

I ended up being accepted to an exchange program where I got to live with a family here in Paris. I attended school for one year – this is when I was 15.

After I graduated college and finished my masters degree in Clinical Psychology, I realised I didn’t want to be a therapist and instead went back to school to study Fashion Merchandising.

Long story short, I ended up working as a runway show producer for almost 7 years. Because of that job I was in Paris twice a year for Fashion Week. I always knew I’d end up here, it was just a matter of time.

Tell me more about living life as a Parisian. Is it as endlessly chic as we imagine?

Eiffel Tower in Paris by the river

Yes and no. Yes because I live in the 15th Arrs, which means that I get to see the Eiffel Tower every day dropping off my daughter at school, getting groceries or out for a run. There it is!

My daughter gets excited every time she sees it too, and I know how she feels.

But it’s not always so chic. You’re always looking out for dog poop on the sidewalk (people don’t clean up after their dogs). And having to send endless documents to the Mairie or struggling with French on a daily basis.

However, I’m surrounded by beauty every day. I enjoy every errand, every grocery trip and every ride I take on the metro.

There are endless exhibits, museums, concerts and places to see. To me, it’s a dream.

And what about raising a family in Paris? What challenges have you faced?

I would say that my biggest challenge is understanding what resources there are for children in France. I’m also working really hard to get to an A2 level in French so I can communicate better with my daughter’s teachers and be a stronger advocate for her.

Other than that, I think that Paris is an amazing place for children. There are so many open spaces, playgrounds and parks to visit. They are all clean and well cared for as well.

My daughter enjoys taking the train and we’ve taken her to various kids cafes, museums, and exhibits. She enjoys visiting the public library as well.

Related content: The Complete Guide to Living in France

Let’s talk about your business, Emerald Coast France. How did you get started and what exactly does your business do?

Products sitting on stones

Before I can get into talking about Emerald Coast, I have to explain a bit of my professional background. I’ve worked in retail operations for almost 12 years now and for the past 3 years have worked as a Fractional COO (Chief Operating Officer).

I mostly work for eCommerce companies and I always work remotely. About a year ago, I was sent to Ireland by a former client to form a partnership with a local sea moss / kelp farmer for a new product launch. I was living in Dublin and was making almost weekly trips to the Connemara Coast in Galway (West part of Ireland) to meet with farmers and discuss a potential partnership.

In the end, my former client decided to not move forward with the product launch due to the cost of transportation from Ireland to the United States. However, I fell in love with the coast, the sea, the family owned farming business. And of course, Irish Sea Moss.

I personally use the face mask once a week and take Irish Sea Moss capsules as a supplement. We’ll be launching this product soon!

Currently, Emerald Coast is sold exclusively via Etsy and we offer two products: a 100% organic face mask and a face and body balm. The face mask only has one ingredient: Irish Sea Moss (Chondrus Crispus) and the face and body balm has seven.

We are currently doing market research on a lip balm and could potentially be selling this product by summer.

Tell us more about how you use the Irish Sea Moss

Products in tubs sat next to each other

The only ingredient we use for the Face Mask is Irish Sea Moss. It is ground into a fine powder and you mix it with alkaline water in a small bowl at home.

The face and body balm contains only 7 ingredients: shea butter, grape seed oil, calendula petals, coconut oil, beeswax, geranium and Irish Sea Moss.

You can expect a soft natural scent and super soft skin wherever you apply it. Irish Sea moss is also an excellent promoter of collagen production, so you can expect to see some added bounciness if used on the face.

You source your materials locally here in France and they’re ​​made from recycled paper and cardboard. Is this something that was really important to you and how was the process of sourcing these locally?

Having studied Supply Chain and Logistics during business school and also working in fashion and retail, I am acutely aware of the waste that goes into manufacturing, shipping, and materials. I know its impossible to be 0% wasteful without spending a lot of money, but I think its important to be mindful and make more environmentally conscious choices.

When you receive an order from Emerald Coast every single piece of material is made from recycled material and can be recycled again. From the padding and the box to the tape and the instruction card.

Our glass jars are made from recycled glass that is found on the beaches of Galway and is melted to create our jars. Once you are done with your product, you can recycle it wherever glass is recycled or re-use it.

I know someone that keeps her rings in it. And I use it to keep spices I buy bagged at the shop.

You worked with Allison of Your France Formation, to get all your ducks in a row for moving to France, what were some of the stumbling blocks you found along the way with the move and what were the benefits of working with a relocation expert like Allison?

Allison and her team are incredibly knowledgeable and that is the number 1 reason to work with them. As a mother who works full time AND also runs a small business time was important. I didn’t have time to research the best visas or what the process would be like or what paperwork I would need to submit.

On top of that, I am not fluent in French so it would have added another layer of difficulty to the process. Working with Allison, I knew I had the best chance of getting a visa to live in France that was right for me and my family.

Listen to my Podcast interview with Allison right here >>>

What do you love most about life in France?

People sat on the street at a Cafe in Paris drinking coffee

I love the sense of fraternity amongst neighbours. I know there is a stereotype about French people (or Parisians) being rude, but it’s not true. I’ve been coming here for over 20 years and now that I’m living here I can say it’s been the complete opposite for me.

I’ve never been treated with as much respect as I get here. I never feel “othered” or “singled out” and the people in my community have really made an effort to get to know me and my family. They’ve made us feel welcome.

When I say community I mean my neighbours. I actually know and chat with my neighbours, our concierge, the teachers at my daughters school, other parents. Even the grocer and the front of house staff at our local bakery.

People here worry about each other and look after each other. I feel safe, and at ease.

But also: bread, cheese, wine. Yum.

If you had to pick a region other than Paris where would you live?

Probably the South, between Nice and Cap D’Agde. I’ve been to both cities and really enjoyed it. I went at the start of summer many years ago and the weather was delicious and the food was spectacular. I also just enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere as well as the beach.

Finally, what’s the best piece of advice you could give others looking to move to France?

  1. Save more money than you think you need to.
  2. Lower your expectations in regards to how long you think something should take (packages, deliveries, shopping, paperwork).
  3. No, you don’t know enough French. Get an actual workbook to study or take a class.
  4. I know people say this a lot but saying “Bonjour” “Merci” and “Au Revoir” goes WAY farther than you think.
  5. Please be polite and considerate.
  6. Paper is king here. Get a printer, buy a cheque book, carry cash.

If you’d like to know more about Emerald Coast Beauty you can see Charlotte’s range on Etsy >>>

You can also follow her on Instagram >>>



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