Seattle vs. Paris

Seattle and Paris are two very different cities. Seattle is, in fact, just over twice the size of Paris in terms of area. But Paris has 1.6 million more people packed inside its borders. If Seattle had that kind of population density, it would mean 4,684,558 people would live in the Emerald City.

Let’s look at the numbers:

Stats Seattle Paris
Population 652,405 2,273,305
Land area (square miles) 83.87 40.7
Pop. density (people per square mile) 7,779 55,855

And here’s a cool representation, overlaying the outline of the Seattle city limits over Paris:


All of this is from this cool site:

Of course, numbers are only the beginning of the differences between the two cities. I can think of all sorts of ways the cities differ: how the streets are laid out… the architecture… the Paris Metro (a subway) vs. Seattle Metro (busses)… cathedrals, art museums, and big river (Paris) vs. stadiums, marinas, and a large university campus (Seattle)… the Eiffel Tower vs. the Space Needle… and on and on and on. But we won’t really know how living in Paris is different from living in Seattle until we get there and start living. Which is the whole point.


Step Two: a place to stay

The next step after getting the girls into school was to find a place to live. The main criteria: someplace near the school, hopefully close enough for the girls to walk. While we’re there we’ll be getting around on the Metro and the busses. I have zero interest in driving… have you seen the traffic around the Arc de Triomphe? Well, in case you haven’t, here’s a look:


Yeah, that doesn’t look fun at all. So, no car. Which is fine—the Paris Metro is great. Still, ideally we’d find a place to live that’s pretty close to the school. And we have, just a couple blocks away on Rue Raynouard.

We walked much of the neighborhood when we visited the school to get an idea of what the streets are like. Rue Raynouard is fairly quiet, but just a block away from Rue de Passy, which has more shops. A fifteen minute walk leads to the Marmottan museum which features a boatload of Monets. Even closer is the Trocadero and a great weekly market just beyond.

Here’s a look inside the apartment:


The place is fully furnished, and yes, that’s some sort of gramophone thing (although I have no idea if it works). It also doesn’t have a dishwasher, so the girls will be getting used to a new set of chores!

Picking a school

Going to school in Paris sounds great, but which school? Public? Private? French? English? British (yes, we considered one of those)? We decided even before we toured any of them that French public school was not the way to go. While Evelyn is taking French at school now, Carolyn hasn’t had any. So a school that had classes taught in English while including French language learning was the way to go for us.

Last November we toured three schools: the American School, a short distance out of town in a sleepy suburb west of Paris; a British school on the south side of the city; and the International School of Paris, located in the the 16th arrondissement, right across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower. It’s housed in three buildings on a quiet street named Rue Beethoven (how great is that?). You can guess which one we all agreed was the best–the International School of Paris (ISP).

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We all were impressed by their studios for art and drama. And the girls liked the idea of smaller class sizes (each grade consisting of 60-80 students). I liked the idea that the girls will probably be able to walk to school and not have to worry about the Metro every day.

While we were there, we saw some of the students from the ISP enjoying lunch in the gardens between the school and the Trocadero (the plaza across the river from the Tower). Of course we had to get a photo of the Tower as well.


Admitted to the International School

Today a much anticipated email came: Evelyn and Carolyn have been accepted to the International School of Paris for the school year beginning this fall. The application process involved filling out plenty of paperwork, getting multiple recommendations from the girls’ current schools, submitting essays from each of them (as well as one by me) along with school records, medical records, and copies of their passports. Yes, “bureaucracy” is a French word.

Both of the girls cheered when I gave them the news after school–cheers of both excitement and relief. Our plans really have been hinging on the girls getting accepted–I really couldn’t see myself homeschooling them in Paris! We can’t quite pack our bags yet, but this marks a significant step toward realizing our hope of living in Paris for a year. Next up: securing an apartment and then getting visas to be able to stay in France for a year. More paperwork!