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This American traveled to Paris 20 years ago and settled permanently

This American traveled to Paris 20 years ago and settled permanently

(CNN) – –Growing up in California, Melissa Reagan envisioned moving to New York, getting a job in finance, and experiencing “big city life.”

But after enrolling in a semester in Vienna, Austria, and finishing her studies in France in 1999, Melissa Regan “coincidentally” found herself living permanently in another big city, Paris.

“It was my destiny to go here,” Reagan tells CNN Travel. “But I can’t say it was planned.”

A life-changing semester

Although he visited the French capital twice in his youth, France was not necessarily one of Reagan’s favorite destinations.

However, during that “life-changing” semester in the south of France, he gained an appreciation for French culture that “opened my eyes in a way that changed my life.”

“In America, especially at that time, you’d meet somebody for coffee and they’d be there, but they wouldn’t look at you,” he says. “Because they’re thinking about their next date or their next commitment.

“And in France, you’d go have a coffee and it was like the world stopped for hours.”

Upon returning to the United States, Reagan enrolled in an international MBA program that would allow him to spend an entire year in France.

After he graduated, Reagan was offered an internship at a Paris-based company in 2022, giving him the opportunity to live in the French capital.

“I thought it was amazing,” he says. “It would be foolish to let this opportunity slip away.”

Adjusting to life in Paris, Regan was drawn to its vibrant culture, particularly the city’s restaurants and museums, and “how much fun you can have” there.

He says he originally hoped to live and work in a European city for a year or two.

However, when Reagan fell in love with a Frenchman named Julien, whom she married in 2007, her fate was seemingly sealed.

“I’ve already been in Paris for three years,” he adds. “So I was definitely enjoying my life. At the time, I had a group of friends.

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“So I never met him, and that changed everything. But he became an important part of my desire not to return to America.

Quality of life

The businesswoman with her husband Julian and their children Theodore and Jefferson. (Courtesy of Melissa Reagan)

She and her husband had two sons, Theodore and Jefferson.

Regan was impressed with the care she received during childbirth, and explained that new mothers in the country typically stay in the hospital for a few days.

She is blessed to be able to raise her children in France because of the “fantastic quality of life,” and even though she works “very hard,” she eats dinner with her family every night.

“We have school holidays every six weeks,” he explains. “So every six weeks, children are out of school for two or three weeks.

“At that point, it’s culturally acceptable for you to take a vacation. It’s normal.”

She explains that she feels her children are safer in France than in America because “we don’t have the same problems with guns.”

“From the age of 10 or 11, [los niños] They start going to school alone,” Regan says. “And it’s just a cultural norm.

“So as parents of relatively young children, the quality of life is much better.”

Although Paris is rated as one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in, Reagan has found France to be very affordable for his family.

He says this is, at least in part, the case for the French health system, which offers universal coverage to all legal residents.

“There’s the social system, and then there’s private healthcare provided by corporations,” he says. “So you don’t have the same amount of stress.”

Reagan recently spent about five weeks in the U.S. and admitted he was surprised by how much prices had risen.

International city

“I was very surprised by the rise in food prices, for example due to inflation,” he says. “Here [en París] “We have increased prices due to inflation, but not that dramatically.”

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Although Regan has lived in Paris for more than two decades, she admits it took her a long time to feel fully present in the city.

“I would say it took me two years to really love my current life,” she says. “It took me eight years to feel like this was my home.

“Right now I can’t imagine anywhere else I’d want to live my life.”

Over the years, Regan has seen Paris undergo many changes and feels the city has become “more international” with “more foreigners”.

“Twenty years ago, if you didn’t speak French, you would have a hard time living here,” he says. “Now that has changed.”

Although he took a few months of intensive French courses before coming to France, Reagan admits that it took him a while to feel like a relatively competent French speaker.

She remembers how she struggled at large parties because she was the only one who spoke English.

But he hopes that will not be the case now that there are many people who speak other languages ​​in the town.

“I think it’s gotten a lot easier [reubicarse en París]”, he says.

Reagan initially came to France on a student visa, before obtaining a work visa. After marrying a French citizen, she is entitled to a French residence permit or Carte de Sejour which is renewed every 10 years.

He is currently eligible for French citizenship, but the process has not yet begun.

“It’s a big administrative task,” he explains. “I feel like every year I have another priority.”

Regan now runs a real estate firm based in Paris, providing real estate services to international clients.

“I’m proud that we’re really helping people,” he says, adding that many newcomers struggle with the “slow administrative process” in France and need “advice to identify which neighborhoods are safe and suitable for foreigners.” .”

He advises those interested in moving to Paris to do as much research as possible before arriving and to have the necessary documents ready in advance.

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The Emily effect?

“I have a lot of faith that things will work out the way they want them to,” Reagan says. (Courtesy of Melissa Reagan)

“Emily in Paris,” the Netflix series about an American marketing executive who moves to Paris for a new job, has put the city back in the spotlight in recent years, and many fans of the show are flocking to the French capital to try it out. To recreate some of the depicted experiences.

Regan notes that the program may have helped attract newcomers, insisting that “Paris is always at the top of the list.”

“I was a young woman in my twenties 25 years ago, and my dream was to come before ‘Emily in Paris,'” she says.

“So I think it might have opened it up to a wider audience that didn’t necessarily have to travel internationally before.”

Reagan travels back to America frequently to see her family and says she relishes the opportunity to dress more casually, as it’s a bit frustrating in Paris to spend your day “getting out of bed in sweats and wearing a hat.”

“It’s definitely a little more formal here,” she says, adding that most of her Parisian friends get their hair and nails done before they go on vacation, while she does “the opposite” when she returns to America.

“I take off my nail polish. I don’t wear makeup. “It’s a little more relaxing.”

Although he still has strong ties to America, Reagan can’t imagine coming back and feels he’s done where he should be.

“I definitely see where I’m at,” he says. “I have a lot of faith that things will work out the way they always do.

“The last 25 years have been wild. It’s been incredible, with ups and downs…I’m personally very blessed.”

When asked if she now considers herself a Parisian, Reagan says she’s not sure if she can “declare it for herself,” but feels she’s a Parisian “by adoption.”