Name: Anna Lebedeva
Current location: Paris
City you were born in or raised: Kaliningrad (ex. Koenigsberg), Russia
Please tell us more about your blog, Paris With Me: At first, I started my Instagram, sharing pictures of Paris. The funny thing is that I only started it a year and a half ago while I’ve already been living in Paris for almost five years. My idea at first was to share the beauty of the city. Even though there are a lot of accounts already doing the same thing, however, every person in the world is different and I wanted to share Parisian cityscapes from my point of view.
I’ve been spending my time strolling through my favorite areas, drinking coffee with friends, but from now on, I’ve been doing it with my camera. Once the number of pictures became big, I decided use them further and I started a blog. Paris With Me is my visual diary and a city guide. There are so many things I want to share about Paris and France so my main blog goal for the new year is to finally bring it to a new level with a schedule for publications, more collaborations with other local/travel/lifestyle bloggers and of course, even more helpful information for Parisians, tourists and expatriates living in Paris.
What do you do for a living apart from your blog? I work in a fashion agency specialized in a commercial development of high-end and luxury French brands toward Russia and East-European countries. Basically, we find and put in touch brands and fashion stores so they can start a collaboration.
When and why did you move to Paris from Russia? Back in Russia, besides my marketing program in university, I was also studying French language and culture and I became truly passionate about it. When I was about to finish my university studies, I dreamt about travel or to live abroad for some time. As I was already speaking French, I decided to move to France.
How is Parisian life different from that of Russian life? What do you miss about living in Russia? It feels completely different but especially because of me: I became a different person in Paris. I became a grown-up, found a job and figured out all that expatriate sh*t you have to face if you are a foreigner. In Russia, I was a kid, living with parents and without any important decisions to make by myself. But, of course, there is a huge difference between the two countries: culture, mentalities and life-goals are different.
I miss my family the most—it is hard to live far away from your parents. In Paris, I also miss the sea as I was raised in a city only 30-minutes drive from the Baltic sea. I feel happy around the water.
What were the reasons that you fell in love with Paris and made you want to stay? That was pretty easy! I still think that Paris is the most beautiful city in the world (I know that sounds cheesy but that is true!!!). Paris is the city of love, of light, of a great beauty in everything: from the architecture to the desserts in a pastry shop. French people live and work to enjoy their life, and they do it so well. I am so happy that five years ago I made that decision to stay—Paris changed me, made me more sensitive for beauty, for creativity, for the pretty little things that make your everyday life brighter.
What are the biggest surprises, pros, and cons of living in Paris? Probably the biggest surprise is the fact that besides being a romantic capital of beauty and love, Paris is a huge megapolis, with lots of stress and hurry that comes from a life in a big city. Full subway trains in the morning, constant strikes (French are famous for that), pollution and stress are common in Paris. But that’s a common thing for each big city—what is not common is that in Paris, no matter what, you are always surrounded by beauty.
How did you find a job living in Paris? Any tips for others out there who want to make the move? I started as an intern, after six months they asked me to stay and I stayed! For those who are looking for a job in Paris or in France, my best advice would be to learn French. If you are not a successful artist or a free-lance entrepreneur with a huge portfolio, the French language is the most important thing to learn.
Do you see yourself living in Paris forever or will you move onto a new city and adventure? Maybe not in Paris, but definitely in France. I really love the country, I love the lifestyle, the language, the aesthetic in every aspect of life. So, if not in Paris, I would probably like to move to the South-East of France, near the ocean.
Tell us about your love of photography. When did you first pick up a camera and when did it become a passion? I do not call myself a professional as my love for photography happened recently. When I started my Instagram, I was shooting exclusively on my phone. The iPhone was practical, it doesn’t take much space and I can have it with me everywhere. Then a year ago, my boyfriend gave me for my birthday my first camera, a light and compact Olympus. Once I had my camera with changeable lenses and much more functionalities, my love for photography became a passion. Now I spent 80% of my free time with my camera: strolling the streets of Paris, or another city in search of a hidden urban treasures. I am not a professional; I rely on my feelings and never think too long before taking a photograph.
Three quick photography tips?
- Wipe your phone camera before taking a photograph (to avoid the bleary effect).
- Better a dark photo than overexposed. You can always edit and lighten up your dark photos; overexposed photos are lost.
- If you are taking a picture of pretty coffee art in a crowded cafe and everybody is looking weirdly at you, just don’t mind it and keep doing what you do. You should never feel ashamed of something that you are really passionate about!
What do you enjoy shooting the most and why? My favorites are food (particularly desserts, pastries and coffee) and architecture. I just love the way the food looks: I adore the talent of chefs to create something beautiful and tasty at the same time. I love the French food aesthetics!
Also I love to shoot architecture and street situations: we can feel the spirit of a city through its buildings and through the way the cafés, bakeries and flower shops are dressed.
Apart from Paris, what’s your other favorite European city and why? I like Prague for its medieval mystical atmosphere, Lisbon for warm and sunny weather, relaxed lifestyle and smiling people. I also like Lyon, the second (or third?) biggest city in France. Lyon has all the advantages of a big city but at the same time, it is relaxed, not that stressed like Paris.
What’s your favorite French word? Merde (shit in French) sounds really great!
Have you picked up any French style and beauty tricks? Definitely yes! From French, I picked for myself the philosophy of loving and accepting myself as I am, to be more relaxed and natural about the way I look. I also learned to dress and use make-up for myself first and not for others, because the most important thing about personal style is to feel confident about yourself.
My style is French casual, I think. I wear coats instead of parkas, I like dark blue, grey and black (the only colorful detail would be my glitter Happy socks!), cropped jeans and long sleeve-dresses.
In everyday life, I vote for comfort and wear Nike and Acne jeans. For occasions, I like Iro blouses and dresses. I love & Other Stories products for minimal design and the possibility to recycle beauty products and clothes. My recent crush is Burberry lipstick and Bare Minerals BB cream.