|Coming soon to 57 Rue des Faures, Bordeaux|
Shari is an expat hailing from Boston and has come here with the goal of conquering the Bordeaux beer world. With the inauguration of the Bordeaux Beer Shop in a few weeks (an epic date in history rivaling the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to Henry II in 1152) I felt it was high time to steal an expat interview from her before she gets stuck in to the new business. But first some background on the concept…
Shari draws her extensive beer knowledge from experience with microbreweries and craft beers both in Massachusetts and San Francisco as well as rich career in restaurants, hotels, retail and account management. The shop aims to fuse the concept of the craft beer stores in the US with the French-style ‘cave à vin’ by complementing an immense variety of international artisan beers (over 200 planned) with expert tasting advice on beer/food pairing etc. They will have a large variety of glassware as well as other beer paraphernalia and host regular tasting sessions/special events. The Facebook site will also have regular offers and competitions so keep your eyes peeled!
Over to the interviewee…
Where are you originally from?
Peabody, Massachusetts. There’s a mall there.
Where are you living at the moment?
Bordeaux just offcenter.
How long have you lived in the region?
Why did you move to France and why did you choose Bordeaux?
I first moved to France in 2009 after meeting my now husband. I was in the outremer, in Guadeloupe French West Indies. We came to Bordeaux because islands get really small really fast, and opportunities are limited. The ocean however, is something I really miss!
What do you wish you knew before moving here?
That’s a loaded question. It could easily turn into ‘would I have come if I had known that…’. I wish I knew how much I liked to have a job. I couldn’t work in the beginning, and it was horribly boring and isolating. I wish I knew that I didn’t have to become French to fit in in France. And most of all, I wish I knew how to speak French before I came! Would have been helpful. But all that’s sorted out now, so if I can help other folks who arrive and feel lost as I did, I’m open to that.
Did you find it easy finding accommodation when you first moved here?
I did, but I’m not alone, so I know that helps a lot. That being said, we searched for a month solid all day every day agencies were open or independent owners would take our calls, before finding an apartment that was good for us. We split up to visit a maximum of apartments in minimum time divide and conquer.
What do you do for a living?
I am just starting on a new career adventure actually. This September (fingers crossed for good timing) we will open Bordeaux Beer Shop at 57 Rue des Faures, right off Place Saint Michel. The shop will be full of craft beers from all over and wherever we can get them. I love good beer. I was looking for more of it in Bordeaux, and decided to create what I was looking for. Wish me luck and come by the store!
Was it easy finding work?
No! If I ever hear the words, “Mais vous n’avez pas une diplome francaise, Madame” again I might have a breakdown. It still makes me break out in hives.
Has it been easy meeting people?
Yes! I like people. I’ll talk to anyone, which may or may not be a good thing….
Did you already know French?
I did not speak French in 2009 when I moved to Guadeloupe. By the time I got to Bordeaux last year I spoke well enough to handle most situations. I’m still learning and making mistakes but I feel at ease with it.
How do you find the cost of living/lifestyle in Bordeaux?
It’s all relative. In Guadeloupe we paid a lot more for bread, yogurt and stuff like that, but seven euros for a bottle of rhum made on the island. In Bordeaux we (refuse to) pay seven euros fifty for a tipunch, which is like one ounce of the same rhum. For housing, you can definitely get more for your money in Guadeloupe. That being said, you’ve got fewer things available such as activities surrounding art and culture, while in Bordeaux we’ve got a ton of that. As for lifestyle, in the city I go everywhere on my bike or on foot, which was really not possible in Guadeloupe because I’m not a glutton for punishment. (read: it’s HOT in Guadeloupe!) In the city we have ski not too far away by car which obviously we do not have in Guadeloupe, but in Guadeloupe we have watersking, jet ski, wakeboard, surf, snorkel..There are great things about any place we could live, and things we don’t like as much. In the end it’s just a matter of choosing the place where you get mostly what you need and a lot of what you want.
What’s the best thing to do in Bordeaux on a summers day?
Buy great beer at Bordeaux Beer Shop and bring it with your picnic to the grassy area on the quai. People watch, enjoy, see the Mirroir, walk through les places in centreville…or go out to La Teste or down to Hossegor for surfing, well I guess that’s not really Bordeaux anymore but it’s in the surrounding area.
What’s the best thing to do in Bordeaux on a rainy day?
Buy great beer…just kidding…it’s a pretty city in the rain. Go out and do something ‘in’, bowling, movie, or, buy great beers at Bordeaux Beer Shop and go home and snuggle up while drinking them! I know. I’m shameless. You have to admit though, it is a good idea non?
What are the positives of living here?
The city is a manageable size. Not too big, not overwhelming. You can live here without a car. You can fly to many places for not that much money. You can take the train places. You can blablacar.com places….
There is a nice mix of people here different languages, nationalities, etc. There’s history and there is progress. There is of course, great wine available at your local Carrefour for under five euros. There is ski not far, there is a world class surf spot within two hours away (Hossegor). Art, music, a dj school, university life, bars dedicated to Belgian beers, lots of different types of food options…what’s not to like? Oh and city bike rentals. And a circus school. And dogs are allowed on public transportation. And there are low cost community garden plots available in Parc Bechade, and possibly in other places.
What are the negatives of living here?
Not a lot of private outdoor space. I miss having a yard and a food garden. Housing is slightly pricey and often ‘charmant’ which can mean many things.
Are you involved with any groups / associations / teams, etc?
I’m in the Association BordeauxUSA. I try to get to ‘Ater work in English’ which I found on Meetup.com I think I believe it is run by one Irish girl and one French girl and they put on a great night. Laid back happy hour in English for anyone who wants to come speak English. I love that night. I need to go more. Great atmosphere I recommend it highly.
Do you have a business / website / blog?
Any closing comments?
You should come by the store to say hello, that’s where I’ll be most of the time!
I can be reached if anyone wants to know anything about the shop at firstname.lastname@example.org
I speak American but most English speakers understand me anyway. You should not panic if you hear a Boston accent.