January 30, 2011

A Hopeful Week in Paris - Part 2

Fromagerie Laurent Dubois

Have you ever had what seems like a golden opportunity literally fall into your lap?
Then in the end, for one reason or another, you have to say 'no thanks' and walk away from that opportunity?

Well, if you haven't, I can tell you that it kind of sucks.


At the end of November I was ready to make a huge life/career change.

All of the French cheese tasting I've done over the last few years led me to an exciting job opportunity in Paris. I took the train up at the end of November, had an interview and was hired on the spot by a very well known and award winning French fromager. 

I was ecstatic to say the least.
So in mid December I happily went off to Paris to do a week long trial period at one of his shops and to rent an apartment.

Then, as I explained in an earlier post, reality reared its ugly head.


une noisette & croissant

I really thought that everything would work out. In the past I've moved to big cities, found jobs and rented apartments in a week's time. All it took was a lot of hustling around and signing on the dotted line. No big deal.

Maybe I was too optimistic. Maybe I was too naive?
The truth is, it was really disappointing.


That isn't to say that the week didn't have its high points.

I had a blast in the caves d'affinage underneath the shop, unwrapping and helping to prepare dozens and dozens of Vacherin Mont d'Or that would be sold during the upcoming holidays.
I spent an hour methodically brushing cheese mites off the rinds of enormous wheels of maturing Tomme de Savoie and Tome des Bauges.
I helped to make kilos of Périgord black truffle infused beurre salé and spent part of an afternoon slathering fresh Corsican ewe's milk cheese with a mélange of piment d'Espelette and balsamic vinegar to create a very special fromage de brebis.

I helped clients make up cheese boards to serve to their guests and offered samples to children who already had a sophisticated enough palate to know that they preferred the rich, 40 month old Comté to the younger, fruitier, 22 month old Comté.

My co-workers were young, entertaining and passionate about French cheese, and the responsable du magasin et cave d'affinage was one of the nicest people I've ever met.

Brie de Melun

Fromagerie Laurent Dubois

When I wasn't up to my ears in fromage I had the chance to see some old friends and meet some new ones.

Friday Night Drinks with Sarah and husband Gui, Kyliemac (Katia called in sick, darn her!), Sam and boyfriend C and Jenny was a welcome break from the métro-boulot-dodo routine.

At the end of a 10 hour work day on Saturday I spent the evening relaxing with a glass of white wine, good conversation and a home cooked meal with David, which was exactly what I needed.

Camille and Nick suggested lunch at Happy Nouilles on Sunday. The three of us enjoyed big bowls of hand made Asian noodles that were to die for!

And a final lunch at a charming little salon de thé in the Marais with Jenny before the train home on Monday

Green Doors


The week was an experience I'll never forget.
Cold, cold weather, packed Metros, cheese!, Paris all dolled up and decorated for Christmas, unexpected snow, croissants for breakfast six days in a row, walking across the Ile de la Cité past a magically lit up Notre-Dame to have drinks, wandering the Marais at 1:30am after a late dinner, discovering new neighborhoods of Paris and seeing la Tour Eiffel every day from the Metro.

I have to be philosophical about the whole thing.
It really was an honor to be hired by such a prestigious fromager and proves that my skills are more marketable in France than I realized.
Also, I got to spend an entire week surrounded by and talking about French cheese, one of my favorite things!

So for now, I'll continue to look for that next opportunity. I know it will come along. Pin It


Jennifer K said...

That really is too bad. At least you had some fun. A meal cooked by David sounds wonderful! I'm sure an even better opportunity will turn up.

spacedlaw said...

Now that I know what you had been too, it feels even more unfair that you could not stay.

Mardi Michels said...

A meal cooked by David Lebovitz? It kinda sorta, almost make up for the disappointment... But not really. I can only imagine how frustrated you must have felt but I am a firm believer in things happening for a reason and there must be something better coming down the pipeline. I am shocked at how difficult it was to rent an apartment, given what great candidates you must be compared to some people. Sigh. Plus ça change... Bon courage - onwards and upwards!

Sweet Freak said...

It will. It will, it will! I was reading this post hoping there was a payoff to the earlier one - that things were, one month later, indeed working out and you were moving to Paris. Not just yet... but with your talent, your optimism and the fact that you're still waxing poetic about that week and the possibility... oui, it's only a matter of time!

Unknown said...

I like to think that all of these kinds of things happen for a reason- it's the way to stay optimistic when a seemingly perfect opportunity presents itself and doesn't work out in the end. The next opportunity to come your way will be the right one and you'll look back at this with relief that you didn't make the wrong choice!

Diane said...

I remember reading your previous post and all the problems re finding accommodation. Very disappointing for you but for all that it sounds like you had a good week and your photos are stunning. Diane

Anonymous said...

I saw an apartment on Craigslist this morning that would have been ideal for you! It just made me think that while it didn't work out this time, I'm sure there's a parisian apartment and fromagerie in your future!

Amanda said...

I am so sorry that great opportunity didn't work out!
Maybe something else better will come your way.

Michel said...

I am very sorry that things didn't work out for you on this job and move now! Despite the big disappointment at the end, you had a week that many would die to replicate but few will experience.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Hello Loulou .. I have never been in a situation like that , but I am sure it must suck :-(

Your French Cheese tasting led you to an opportunity of a life time.. On the spot hire by Top French Fromager .. I can imagine you were ecstatic :-)

I have read your other post :-( ..

But you were given the chance to experience something else .. a week with lovely people and seeing beyond the shop front.

AND meeting up with old friends and new.. meal cooked by David L.. Noodles with friends in the Marais.. I love the look of the soup.. and more.

I am sure your golden opportunity will come along .

Jennifer said...

I tried to make the most of the week. It was an amazing opportunity and I really learned a lot.

Thank you.
The timing just wasn't right. It will be one day though. I'm optimistic.

He did share some of his precious Triscuits with me, so it did kind of make up for it...

If we had had an unlimited budget we could have easily rented an apartment through an agency that rents to foreigners. But our budget was severely limited so were couldn't.
Thanks for the support.

Jennifer said...

Thanks! I like your enthusiasm!
Yes, I'm keeping my eyes and ears open for the next opportunity. It will come along.

I believe that as well.
(It still kind of bums me out that we're not there right now however)
One day...

Glad you like the photos. One thing about Paris - she is a beautiful subject!

Jennifer said...

I still get announces from pap.fr and look on Craigslist and FUSAC every week.
Hopefully we'll get there before you leave so we can spend more time together.

I'm sorry that it didn't work out this time too. The next one will be better!

Thank you.
The week was an amazing learning experience and I'm so glad that I had that opportunity.

Thank you for your sweet comment. Having friends to see and being in Paris made the disappointment a bit easier. And that soup definitely helped! :)

Alison said...

I know good and better things are in store for you!

Gee Backhouse said...

One of the things I most love about this is that you've tried! You've gone the distance, explored the avenues and made your decisions. So many of us only wish...but you've sought out and tasted the opportunity! Bravo! Gee x

Jennifer said...

I don't want anyone to think that I'm not incredibly happy with my life as it is now. :)
It was just such a fabulous opportunity and it was hard that it didn't work out.

Thank you! Having friends like you who are so supportive, even though it would have meant us moving away from you, is so appreciated! xo

Mathilde said...

Poor Jennifer, this must have been terrible to give up this dream for now.
But now, you may understand parisisans who choose to leave this silly city to settle down in the South of France or else where in the world.
To me, the only way to really enjoy Paris when living there - not as a tourist - is to be whether a young student with no money but with a heartful of hope and joy or a very rich and successful lawyer/doctor or anything that gets you LOADS of money so you can live anywhere you like in the city with a view and more than 2 rooms!
Cheer up! You are lucky enough to be able to come and visit PAris once in awhile, you GET the most of the city this way, believe me!!

Holly Bruns said...

I'm not one of those 'everything happens for a reason' people, but I do believe that everything we do preps us for what's to come.

The Beaver said...


Now you know what you can do and what you are "worth" in the employment field in Paris. The next opportunity may well surprise you . Good luck Girl :-)

Jennifer said...

You have a very good point...
And I understand why you are tired of living in Paris, especially after a year in Ko Samui.
But I still hold out hope that one day I will live in Paris. Even if it is only for 1 year.

I am definitely more prepared after that busy week! :)

Thank you!

Ken Broadhurst said...

Jennifer, maybe the way to start out in Paris is with a sublet. Then you'd have time to look for a place you could lease yourself. See this site.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for the link.
Actually I already knew about it and did contact a few people who had apartments in our price range but none of them wanted to rent to us because of the dogs.

Ma What's 4 dinner said...

If I died today and St Peter let me into those pearly gates...I think he'd be opening the door of that cheese shop!!! OH WOW!!!!

New to your site. Love it here already. Can't wait to poke around some more.

Lots of yummy love,
Alex aka Ma What's For Dinner

Ann said...

Oh, I am SO sorry this didn't work out. And I know how it feels to "almost" move to Paris -- it's happened to me. I didn't handle it as gracefully as you, though. (I wept big, fat tears, convinced Paris would never be a part of my life.)

But you know what? A few years passed, things changed, I made it here after all. And I truly believe that Fate will bring you here, too. I know it!

Jennifer said...

Welcome and thanks for commenting!
That Fromagerie was a heavenly place, that's for sure.

Interesting! I didn't know that you had an unsuccessful first attempt to move to Paris. So happy to hear that it worked out for you in the end!
And it will for us too. I'm confident. :)

heihare said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading that post! I almost felt as though I was there! I live in NYC and had a situation that at first, seemed like an ideal business opportunity but, proved otherwise! It really put a damper on my holidays this year. The highlight was my beautiful Christmas tree! Over time, I realizer how truly lucky I was and how where one door closes, a window opens. I love that you saw the true beauty of the experience!

Jennifer said...

Thank you for your nice comment!
Sorry to hear that you had a difficult time over Christmas but it sounds like things have gotten better for you.
Glad you enjoyed the post.

Jilly said...

Oh dear, am really sorry to read that this didn't work out. It's so corny I know but I believe when you get a setback like this it's because something better is waiting. You are right to keep searching. A new opportunity will come along. Just don't give up and I know you won't.

Loved the photographs that illustrated your last two posts but then I always love your photos!

Bon chance!

diana said...

I read both of the posts, sitting here and just making some sort of noise - a cross between a grunt and a soothing "there, there" kind of noise. You are putting a brave face on it, and you are right to do so. Some things just feel like shoving fromage against the tide.

I would like to tell you that there are reasons for these kinds of things, which I am sure there are. I would like to tell you that things will work out as the should, which I am sure they will. More than anything, I would like to remind you, in general, how brave you are. Because I know that for a fact as well.

Keep the chin up. Up, up, up.

Jennifer said...

Thank you for the kind words of encouragement. I appreciate all of the supportive comments I've received!
The timing of this just wasn't right, I know something better will come along.

Your comment really gave me a boost. Thank you.
The chin is up and will stay that way, I promise! :)

Karin B (Looking for Ballast) said...

Oh darn! I just read Part One and Part Two, and man. We almost had you here! Shucks!

Reading these stories makes me realize why it is why Paul and I struggle so to make it in this city, though. It often seems that people paint such a rosy picture of life in Paris and forget to mention how flippin' expensive it is to be here! And just how unavailable affordable space really is.

But I am with Amy/Sweet Freak -- I bet that it is only a matter of time, if Paris is something you really want. Sometimes I think that these "almost" opportunities -- the ones that are good, but not 100% right -- are the precursor to something bigger and better. Sometimes these chances are the "test" to check out how much we want or don't want something, and a gauge of what price we are willing to pay to have them (or not have them, as the case may be).

And wow. A meal prepared by DL! Impressed am I! Yeah! Who needs to actually LIVE in Paris when you can get hosted like that! :) I'd just come and visit more, and often!

Jennifer said...

Next time I'm in Paris I would love to meet up for a coffee or a drink. Sound good?

Yes, Paris is expensive! And I no longer have the desire to work my butt off just to pay rent and never have enough left over to enjoy the city. It is too high a price to pay.
We'll see what happens. We've also thought about moving somewhere up north that would be closer to Paris and offer a bit more culture than where we currently live.
If we lived in a place where we could get into the city in an hour or so on the train from time to time then I would be very happy!