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Talent Stories Interview - Laura-Isabella Noujaim

Talent Stories Interview - Laura-Isabella Noujaim - Credit@HanaLeVan2 - Petite Forêt

In a continuity to our Talent Stories series, today’s story unfolds the captivating experience of a woman who, fuelled by love and ambition, embarked on a life-altering journey from Germany to the heart of France - the vibrant and historic Paris Region.

This interview is not just about relocation but a profound exploration of adapting to a new culture, forging a career in an unfamiliar landscape, and creating a community in a city renowned for its allure and diversity. This narrative offers a glimpse into Laura-Isabella’s life in the Region, revealing the nuances of settling in a new place, the joys of entrepreneurship, and the essence of building a home away from home. Let's explore her story and uncover the fascinating details of her journey of how she started her business and built an international community for expats like herself.

Tell us about your arrival in Paris Region

After living for 3.5 years in a long-distance relationship with my partner, who later became my husband, I finally decided to join him in a big international city due to his job. At that time, I lived and worked in real estate in my hometown in Germany, which was not a viable career option for my husband. So, I initially moved because of love 10 years ago.

Where did you choose to live and why?

We first settled in Levallois-Perret, a very close and family-friendly suburb of Paris. My husband had grown up in La Défense and went to school in Levallois-Perret, so this was a part of Paris Region he knew very well. Later, we moved to the 16th arrondissement in Paris after finding an apartment to buy there. What I appreciate the most is that I am close to the metro, which brings you straight into the center of Paris, so I feel very well connected. We are also close to the Bois de Boulogne, which is a very large park in the west of Paris. So, of course, while Paris can be hectic, we can always reach a huge park/forest-like area within 15 minutes on foot, where you can do sports, go to playgrounds with the children, etc.

Tell us about your current job & what do you enjoy the most about working in Paris Region?

I founded Petite Forêt in the 8th arrondissement in Paris, close to Parc Monceau. It's a family-friendly café with a small playground and two spacious rooms where we offer a wide variety of workshops for children and mothers. I established Petite Forêt because I perceived Paris, especially for expat moms, as not being very child-friendly, and I wanted to change that. Today, after 2.5 years, our clientele is a mix of international and French families. From the beginning, parents have been happy and have returned. No one is bothered if a baby is crying or a toddler is running around. Many international moms have connected at Petite Forêt, building a whole new community through our network.

What do you enjoy the most about working in Paris Region?

Firstly, I take pleasure in knowing that I've improved the quality of life for many mothers. I also appreciate the short distance to work. With more and more bike lanes available, you can now cycle safely through Paris. It takes me approximately 5 minutes by bike or a 20-minute walk, especially since I was pregnant recently.

What, according to you, are the perks of living in Paris Region?

French culture, incredible cuisine, a robust healthcare system, and a well-developed transportation infrastructure are some of the aspects that make living here appealing. You can easily commute to work using public transport or a bicycle. Within Paris Region, the city of Paris is smaller than many people expect, so you can cover a lot on foot as well.

What advice you would give to a newcomer to make the most of Paris Region?

It helped me a lot to join English-speaking communities because you can get great tips from like-minded individuals who have been in the same situation as you. Through this, I found all my girlfriends and formed my own tribe. It also helped me make friends, which greatly improved my quality of life. One of these communities worth mentioning is Message Paris, an association that has been amazing. It is a community of English-speaking families in Paris. When you become a member (for a very low yearly membership fee), you can see who organizes a baby café in your area. This has significantly helped me build my network of friends and moms I can rely on. As they say in an African proverb, 'It takes a village' to raise a child, and I had to build my village here, with Message playing a significant role in this. Today, we organize weekly 'Bumps to Babies' (international parent meet-ups) in Petite Forêt to facilitate connections with like-minded individuals.

What was a “good surprise" when you got here?

Paris is full of expats who are happy to help you settle in. Additionally, in every arrondissement in Paris, and in each city of the Region, there are 'Maisons des Associations' (houses of associations) which bring together organizations with the mission of promoting local community life. They offer excellent workshops and contribute significantly to the well-being of their residents.

Laura-Isabella's story is a vivid testament to the transformative power of love, ambition, and community. Her journey from Germany to the bustling heart of Paris Region is more than a tale of relocation; it's a profound narrative of cultural adaptation, entrepreneurial spirit, and community building.

Interested in discovering more about moving to Paris Region? The Settle In guide by Choose Paris Region is a valuable tool for new arrivals and prospective expats. It contains crucial details about securing housing, enrolling in international schools, and signing up for healthcare services. Furthermore, this guide offers advice on how to fully experience and appreciate all that the Region has to offer!

Check more Talent Stories like this one by clicking here.

Choose Paris Experts

Olivier Allegret

Head of Client Solutions