An Expat Life : Jodie Hutchins
“I’m wearing a bright pink scarf” reads the text I receive as I walk to meet Jodie in front of the carrousel at métro Saint-Paul in the Marais. It’s early spring and the city is bustling with an optimism only the promise of warm weather can inspire. We’ve never met before and I am looking forward to hearing Jodie’s expat story. It’s the question we expats inevitably ask each other, “so what brought you to Paris?”
Jodie spots me first and I turn to seea darling brunette with a pink scarf and a radiant smile. We decide to make our way to a café to bathe in the remaining rays of sunshine, and have a glass of wine on the terrace. On the walk Jodie reveals to me what brought her to Paris over sixteen years ago and the answer was a fresh one, her best friend’s wedding! We often hear stories of moving to Paris for love, a needed life change, or for schooling, but rarely does friendship play such a role. Jodie explains that when her best friend got married she came for the wedding, went on the honeymoon and stayed for life. We’re laughing our way down the narrow streets of the Marais as she remembers her friend saying, “Come on, just stay” and her response, “Well, ok I guess I will..!”
After a couple of years of strolling into cafés with an “au revoir” and leaving with an enthusiastic “bonjour!” Jodie enrolled in the Sorbonne for French language classes and acquired the requisite French boyfriend to push her daily Français. The language isn’t the only the difficulty encountered while living abroad and Jodie and I have another good laugh discussing cultural differences between Americans and the French. Personal space and varying philosophies on politeness become bonding subjects for expats, the longer you stay here the more nuanced your observations become.
From here the conversation moves to Parisian apartments and city living with crazy opera singing neighbors (they’re everywhere!) I ask Jodie what she enjoys most about living and working in Paris and her response is a celebration of city’s most epicurean qualities.
“Paris is beautiful!…and so tempting. All of your pleasures are accepted…cheese, wine, cigarettes. The shops are sexy – whether it be the boulangerie, Colette or a thrift shop, everything is enticing, indulgent. Architecture, antiques, diamonds, cakes…Whatever you want, you can have it.”
Jodie describes herself as an indulgent person, happy to enjoy the pleasures of Paris and it really shows in her easygoing, joie de vivre demeanor. She also admits that, “Paris is in many ways, pretentious. Wearing sunglasses at night, trying not to be seen checking each other out on cafe corners. In some ways it’s the most pretentious city in the world, but I enjoy the game of it, it’s an amazing city for people watching.” I see exactly what she means and we remark about the organization of public spaces, where cafe chairs are oriented outwards creating a front row seat for the spectacle of the Paris street. We look out: The corner is crowded with young couples, elderly women and their dogs, nannies pushing strollers against all obstacles to get the children home for dinner. Shop doors are open to let in the spring air and the fragrance of tonight’s dessert drifts out of the café.
As a concierge and private tour guide, Jodie is a bit of a Paris expert and has some excellent shopping and dining advice. She is often asked for recommendations and books reservations regularly. She also sets a goal to try one new restaurant a week during the warm months of the year. She recently had a lovely meal at Caillebotte in the 9th arrondissement. The prix fixe for hors d’oeuvre and entrée was right on target and for dessert Jodie assures me there is a to-die-for lemon meringue tart. She also mentions a Russian patisserie, Le Café Pouchkine on the Place des Vosges with killer desserts, pretty as a picture. Can’t wait to try that! She also mentions that she went from being a vegetarian to loving the traditional French steak tartare, especially with the puréed potatoes from the Le Petit Marché, around the corner from chez elle.
Jodie lives right by the picturesque Place des Vosges and being so centralized she has some pretty great options as a runner. One of her favorites is the hour long run along the river to the Tuileries and back, but if she feels like something different the Luxembourg gardens are also an excellent running option. She even takes clients on runs from time to time, it’s another unique way to see the city and experience life as a local.
Jodie’s career allow for a diversified life away from a set routine. She comes highly recommended and has numerous return clients that she brings to everywhere from the devastatingly chic L’Eclaireur or Gabrielle Geppert vintage to the famous flea markets of Saint-Ouen and everything in between. You can’t put a price on the experience and opinion of a local, and I think in some ways expats can appreciate Paris in a manner that Parisians cannot. There’s a sense of being home and being on vacation all at the same time. Jodie still likes to play the tourist in Paris once in while too, forcing herself to see the city with fresh eyes, she’s in awe at discovering new things all the time.
I ask Jodie to describe her perfect day in Paris and she paints a charming scene of cozy coffee at home in the morning, some time to wander her beloved city, and then a picnic with friends. She has some awesome ideas for picnic food that may just revolutionize your summer. For instance, the classic French picnic fare would be quiche, pâté, bread, cheese and wine…but what if you added spicy ginger shrimp and chicken saté to the menu like Jodie does? It’s making you hungry just thinking about it, isn’t it? She also suggests champagne, smoked trout and fresh berries or watermelon. I want to go to her picnic, it sounds refreshing.
And then, Jodie is refreshing. She’s full of new ideas and lives the oft-admired Paris lifestyle, participating in the rich diversity of experiences this city has to offer. Jodie has partnered up with us here at Savoir Faire Paris and is helping us expand. We are so excited to be working with such a wonderful person! Her naturally warm personality and extensive knowledge of Paris make her a superb reference for visiter’s and locals alike. Her charm and contagious laugh make her pretty great company and Paris is lucky she stuck around.
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