Why subscribe to An American Who Fled Paris?
Because you are interested in reading about a middle-aged woman flailing through a great life reset in the French countryside.
I’m Alexandra Marshall, an American journalist. From 2006 til a couple years ago, I lived in Paris doing fashion and travel and food journalism for Magazines You Must Know: WSJ., Travel + Leisure, Departures, Vogue, W, the New York Times, Air Mail. Et cetera. Paris was fine for a while, but it was getting nastier and hangrier by the day. Not too long after Emily showed up, I finally made plans to get the fuck out.
In 2021, I moved to a village of 175 people in a region of Lower Normandy called Le Perche. One day it might become the Hudson Valley or Sonoma, but for now, there are like three decent restaurants within a 75 mile radius and no single men with all their teeth. (Tons of married ones without them, though, as I’d soon discover on the dating apps.)
This radical move wasn’t entirely my choice. My live-in partner and I broke up. (He’s a 50+ French man; three guesses as to why. No? Here’s a hint: she was 35, and had a facial piercing.) Thanks to a couple bad work years, I was condemned to a future tiny apartment in a glum neighborhood, so, fully in shock, I decided I should up and move two hours west into the middle of a forest where I only knew two part-timers. Le Perche seemed like a nicer place to piece my obliterated self back together. I guess?
When I got out here to the sticks, it was weird, and I had to make a whole new set of friends, learn countrified customs, renovate a crumbling house, wander aimlessly through forests and figure out how to make a wood pellet heating system not set itself on fire. (I failed that one.) And then it started to work itself out, and now I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Much of the material that I’ll be posting here is related to that bonkers but ultimately fortuitous life decision. Plus a few local headlines—Le Perche newspaper has 1,600 Twitter followers on a good day. There’s nowhere better to go for the front page news on who won this year’s blood sausage competition. Sometimes I will mansplain the funnier side of French politics to you too.
If you want Peter Mayle, God bless him, this will not be that. I have not (so far) fallen into the brawny arms of a lumberjack who will finally pound the urban ennui out of me either. But I will tell you all about what it is like to make a new life in a place where there are more cows than people. One bonus is the cheese is really excellent.
A lot of the people I have come to know and love here were originally from somewhere else. I wonder if there isn’t something about the place that pulls people to it who need it. TBD.
This platform is an ongoing experiment, which is its crazy brilliance. I’ll do my damndest to post every Friday, and I’d be thrilled if you want to join me.
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