Suzana Jovanovic, former international Cuisine student at FERRANDI Paris shares her Parisian experience
Did you ever imagine you would end up living and studying in Paris?
Neither did I - that was all just a dream for me. But here I am, breathing in the fashionable air for 10 months now and I want to share my experiences with you.
I must admit that Paris is inspiring and enriching.
I had been to France and Paris many times before, but always as a tourist. To be a tourist and to live the Parisian life are two completely different things. As a tourist, with limited time, I focused on things and events which I had seen many times on social networks. But as an immigrant, my perspective on Paris drastically changed.
But let's start from the beginning...
For me, Paris represents more than just beautiful architecture, because you can find that in any big city.
Paris is a way of life.
Since I am passionate about cooking, I wanted to learn from the best. I thought about various options for how I could do that, but only one option for the country and the city remained – France and Paris.
When I started researching prestigious culinary schools in France and asked French people about it, they all mentioned FERRANDI. In the end, it proved to be true. That is how I ended up on the ‘Intensive Professional Program in French Cuisine at FERRANDI.
At the end of the program, I realised that this name can open any door, even those I could never have imagined.
What was my main concern?
Since the moment I got my big ‘YES’ from the school, I started the preparation. Visa, apartment, insurance, SIM card, transport, bank account.
At the beginning I worried about how I would manage, but in the end everything worked itself out in the best way possible. FERRANDI helped me a lot with everything. But, if you are more adventurous than me, you can do it all yourself.
Then I landed at Charles de Gaulle airport. This is where my new adventure started.
The first thoughts were ‘This will be my home for the next 10 months.’
I repeated this sentence the whole time I was sitting in a taxi, which drove me to my new apartment. Watching through the window the top of the basilica Sacré Coeur and Montmartre in the distance, I dreamed about the next 10 months of my life in Paris.
A new chapter of my gastronomic life begins, and there is nowhere better or more beautiful than FERRANDI and Paris.
I experienced Paris the best by walking. This was not so exhausting given that Paris is flat. And it is the only way you can become a part of the city forever.
For me, Paris has the best underground network in the world. In a maximum of 25 minutes you can get to any part of the city. A monthly ticket was 75 euros, students have a discount of course, but I had the option of buying 10 tickets for about 17 euros. This is good if you use the metro only occasionally. You can buy tickets at every metro station.
If you are not a fan of metros or buses, and you want to live the Paris lifestyle entirely, then scooters and bicycles are very Parisian. Even horses!
Do you like driving fast? Me, not so much, but I enjoyed that. Paris is a central point from which all roads start. I travelled cheaply by planning ahead with the help of oui sncf.
What I like about Paris
1. Markets. If you like culinary arts, then a fresh market will be on the top of your list as well. I was worried whether I would have one in my neighbourhood. But in general every place has its own market, smaller or bigger, more or less famous. The more famous the market, the higher the prices, but I certainly visited them too, from time to time. Besides rich markets, there are those more rich in contents. My market wasn’t open every day, only Saturday. On Sundays I went to another one which was located a few hundred meters away. What I was amazed by was the speed with which a market appears and disappears from my neighbourhood. Such diversity in vegetables and their colours, seafood, meat. I even saw products I had never seen before. This definitely influenced my culinary inspiration. I could experiment and prepare food for myself even better than in some restaurants. The important thing is to follow the season and buy from the producers, because it is the only way to get the right quality and flavour.
2. Paris is like a world culinary center. Besides the richness of products, markets, spices…it is fantastic also in the offer of equipment which I could buy for my culinary excursions. That is why I became almost part of the inventory in the following places (Mora, A. Simon, La Bovida, E.Dehillerin), where, as a FERRANDI student, I could buy some things with a discount.
3. Beautiful parks where I could do my favourite activity – jogging. This is something I gave to my body and spirit whenever I had the chance. One of the most beautiful parks was the one in my neighbourhood - Jardin de Luxembourg.
4. Do I even have to mention the best shopping destination in the world? 😊 Galeries Lafayette and its neighbourhood, Les Halles, boulevard St Germain and the surroundings... all together with the Champs Elysees… these were my main shopping areas.
What I don’t like about Paris
The only thing that bothers me and that I struggle to understand is the desire to urinate on the streets and the unpleasant smell spreading around the corners. You also need to keep your eyes open in order not to step into dog feces.
What you need in Paris
Money is certainly one of the items, but where is it not? That is why I will skip it this time.
The second most important thing of all is knowledge of the language.
Knowing French is a MUST. I had many difficult moments in the south of France because I did not know French well enough. In Paris, it was a bit better, because, in certain places, people could speak English and to solve some minor issues it was totally okay. But for something more and a higher social standing, as well as an internship, knowing French is the key to success.
So, start learning French as soon as you decide to move to France. B2 level will open many doors to you, and you will leave the loneliness behind.
How I spent the most of my time in Paris
I spent working days at school in lessons which were full of various contents, and hanging out with my newfound friends from around the world. Getting to know many different cultures and perspectives is priceless. We all learned from one another and became bigger and better citizens of the world.
Weekends were reserved for getting to know Paris. I visited markets, not only for food, but also for antiques and flowers.
I went to different bookstores (Shakespeare Book Store and Librairie Gourmande) in the search for inspiration and new discoveries.
And while every woman goes shopping, I found my two favourite shops with dishes and where I could go and forget the passing of time.
I dreamed while roaming the spices section of Galerie Lafayette Gourmet and La Grande Epicerie de Paris. I was no less amazed by my newfound small grocery store (épicerie) with articles from different parts of the world.
One of my favorite streets in Paris is Rue Mouffetard in the 5th arrondissement. I liked to walk the cobblestones which reminded me of the city I come from. I enjoyed the crowds, noises of the vendors of vegetables and fruit, all the little stores located there. I enjoyed the wines, cheeses, seafood. This is the Paris I love, the one I saw so many times in the movies.
I found a more modern atmosphere at the Bastille square, where you can find an equal number of tourists and Parisians.
Paris amazed me with each new step, new boulevards, facades (134 rue Mouffetard and 29 avenue Rapp), mysterious passages, small streets, cultural content, and neighborhoods such as Le Marais and Quartier Latin with the best falafel in Paris.
Nobody remains indifferent to the beauty of Pantheon or Palais Garnier, but I was equally astonished by the oldest buildings in Paris, which I encountered accidentally (13 rue François Miron, 3 rue Volta).
The real and inevitable oasis, no matter the season, is the Seine. I used to start the walk somewhere around Notre Dame cathedral and reach the Eiffel tower, taking hundreds of photos of the Louvre and my favourite bridges, Pont Neuf and Pont Alexandre III.
And so, from day to day, hanging out with my friends, singing and laughing, I enjoyed Paris to the fullest.
I know that no matter how much I want to be a real Parisian it will not happen, because my return to Belgrade is approaching.
I am leaving full of impressions, flavours, colours and smells. I will bring with me thousands of moments locked in photographs, but also the ones deep in my heart which will certainly make me shed a tear at my departure.
The most valuable thing on this life journey are my friends to whom I promised to return.
I know I will come back. Even when they move away, Paris will always be there to welcome me.
Cheers the French way, and enjoy your opportunity to be part of this city.