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Paris – more than just The Eiffel Tower and The Louvre

Love is – in most instances –in the air when you visit Paris or the “City of Love”. With its rich history, Paris remains a top destination for people celebrating love. Keeping with our theme of love this February, we called South African singer and songwriter Vuyo Mahashe to find out what it’s like living in Paris.

How long have you been living in Paris?

I have lived here for two years.

How is your French coming along?

I am learning the language. It’s very difficult.

What do you do there?

I work on original music and perform my own music to audiences in Paris. I am releasing my single Señorita on 19 January 2024. Music is powerful and it brings people together and I want to use it to bring cultures together. France and South Africa. Not many South Africans are taught the French language and not many French are taught Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho and other incredible South African languages. I think music could be the beginning of bridging this gap.

What do you love about French culture?

I love many things about French culture. I love their love for their own culture and people. I love the food here. It is so well produced in France, and you always know what you are eating is good. I love their beautiful sense of design in fashion, and architecture and the contribution they have made to lifestyle and living. Some of the world’s top fashion maisons (houses) are in Paris. It is the leader of luxury and fashion.

What do you find most challenging?

Just like anyone who moves to a new country, I would have to say it’s the language. I think this is general with everyone who did not grow up speaking the language, but it has been the best experience learning French and being able daily to navigate my life and meet incredible people along the way. It is something I encourage everyone to learn a new language and get yourself out of your comfort zone.

What is the first thing to consider when emigrating to Paris?

Paris is more than just the Eiffel Tower and The Louvre. It is a functioning heritage and technological city that is one of the world’s most visited destinations, and it has so much more to offer than the usual places you see in the media.

Take time to explore. It’s also very expensive so start saving. Also, remember that it is another country with different cultures and ways of doing things. Be willing to adapt and be willing to learn new things and relearn and take time to reevaluate things that you thought you already knew to make room for new information. French culture is glorious and amazing in its essence, and it is such a beautiful thing to get the opportunity to experience it and live here.

What do you miss about SA?

The flavour of the food, the vibes and the tenacity of the people. I miss the people’s ability to see the positive in chaos. The beautiful beaches and the beautiful diverse languages you hear daily are also what I miss.

What do you do when you miss home?

I enjoy writing and I am always writing songs and lyrics. This brings me the sense that I am closer to home and familiarity. So, it distracts me when I miss South Africa. I write music that is inspired by home, and I create art that always reminds me of my South African roots.

Besides work, I call my sister and talk to her, and we catch up and laugh and talk about loadshedding! And I have a good circle of friends who are South African here in Paris and we all have fun together and celebrate our own beautiful culture here.

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