Studying abroad in France was one of the most significant chapters of my life. Being immersed in an unfamiliar culture surrounded by people who knew little to no English, food that was unlike anything at home, and having the opportunity to make friends from all around the world. When it comes to experiences like studying abroad, most people will talk about the highs or lows. What about the day-to-day stuff?
My classes during my study abroad didn’t take a lot of time out of my day. When I finished my classes for a given day, I would go to my local café. On the main street of the city that I was living in and south of my apartment was the café that I frequented, Comme à la Maison. The shop was run by this middle-aged French couple that knew no English but made good coffee and even better cakes and pastries. I remember the first time I walked in, I was preparing what I was going to say in French but still failed and had to repeat myself so that the wife could get an idea of what I wanted hahaha.
As time passed, I continued to go to Comme à la Maison, and I no longer needed to try and speak my order in French. The shop owners simply knew me as the exchange student that always ordered a cappuccino and couldn’t speak French. I wasn’t the best at learning French, and I was too nervous to try and get to know the shop owners, and that makes me a little sad to think back on it.
Comme à la Maison is a vibrant coffee shop in a city that felt very gray to me. It was one of the few places that I enjoyed going to during the day and be able to appreciate the culture around me. The shop owners were very polite, and even if we didn’t know each other by name or spoke the same language, we still shared that connection and appreciated each others’ presence.
Comme à la Maison became my go-to spot to do my studying for classes, chit chat with some of my friends, and to sit down and catch up on the journaling that I was doing at the time. Most days that I was there, I was making multiple orders to get my caffeine and pastry fix, mainly because I would be there for several hours.
A Lasting Impact
It’s crazy thinking back to the amount of time I had spent at Comme à la Maison. The shop and the owners became a haven for me (living abroad isn’t easy), and it’s only when I left France that I realized how much I appreciate Comme à la Maison. Their coffee wasn’t craft-coffee by any means but more French and Italian café style, but their pastries and cakes were amazing. I think Comme à la Maison’s mixture of vibrance, the shop owners’ hospitality, good wi-fi, and a getaway from the stress of living abroad is what left a lasting impact on me.