When you've gone through all the steps (like making a budget, finding an apartment, dealing with all those feelings and figuring out where to live) I hope you can breathe a little bit easier and finally start to look forward to your moving date! So when you've booked your plane ticket and the date is getting closer and closer you can start to figure out what to do when your feet finally hits Parisian ground for the first time.
Getting cosy in your apartment One of the most important things to me was to make "my" apartment a place where I wanted to be, where I felt safe and at home when I first arrived. I think this is a good tip if you're afraid of feeling lonely or getting homesick. It's much easier to be comfortable and feel at home in your new place if you make it your own. For me this meant unpacking all of my things so that I could see a part of me in the apartment. I also brought photos that reminded me of my loved ones and my little pug — another great tip to make you feel at home.
I really need to feel that the apartment is a cosy and warm place for me to be. Perhaps it's just me but I really like that feeling! Beautiful candles (which you can find both here, here and here), fresh flowers and a stocked fridge and pantry are all things that gives me that cosy/homey feeling. A little stack of my favourite magazines, scented candles in the bathroom and the bed made up with my own sheets are also things that make me feel more at home. Doesn't that sound lovely?
Finding your favourite... To make you feel even more at home I would suggest leaving the apartment to find your new neighbourhood gems! I love to try out/visit all the local boulangeries, cheese shops, wine shops, butchers, cafés and restaurants just to find my favourites. It can take a while of course but it’s always nice to see what you have to choose from.
When I arrive I’m going to buy a baguette from all the boulangeries close by to see which one I like the most, and voila, there’s my morning stop! Although just because one boulangerie has the best baguette doesn't mean that they have the best pastries, so there you have something to keep you busy. Eating my way through the local boulangeries was one of my favourite occupations while in Paris haha. Other things to try as well are the boulangerie's croissants, tarte aux framboises, crumble and gateau au chocolat! Mmm…
Another thing to look for is that café or that restaurant that you always can go to if you're too tired or lazy to cook. Where you can sit and read a book for hours or simply have a quick bite before going out. In my previous neighbourhood, Île Saint Louis, this place was called Café St Regis for me. Here I could always have a bit to eat, a glass of wine in the evening or a tasty little dessert.
Your grocery store Another thing that can be quite good to look up is which grocery store is closest to you. Which store is going to be your go-to grocery store for bigger purchases, and which one will be your go-to grocery store when you get the munchies during the evening? A few bigger chains that you'll probably see around Paris are: Franprix, Monoprix, G20 and Carrefour. The bigger stores with these names, like one of the huge Monoprix stores for example, can be good if you want to go and make bigger purchases, while the smaller Monoprix stores (often called Monop') is better for smaller purchases. Haha, yes, I know, a lot of names to keep track of. Monoprix also offers home delivery (thank god for that when you don't have an elevator) and I'm sure a few other stores does as well.
Then there's also the smaller stores, often without a specific name, called épiceries. These are often located quite convenient but they are quite expensive compared to the bigger stores. Let me just say that I probably spent a small fortune at my local épicerie… Just because of comfort.
If you're really lucky you'll have la Grande Épicerie or the Galeries Lafayette Gourmet close by… Or well, perhaps I should say "unlucky" since all your money probably will be spent here in that case. These two food stores are simply amazing and I could spend hours and hours in wither of them.
Where's the closest... Well ok, now when you've found all the fun stuff it's time to find the more practical stuff… Like where's the closest post office, pharmacy, bank, métro and bus station? Of course you can do this over time but it can always be good to know. The post office was surprisingly easy (by French standards) to communicate with and every time I received or sent a package it went smoothly. A bank or an ATM could also be a good thing to find close by, you never know when you'll be needing it.
A pharmacy could also be a good idea to look up. I ended up going there almost every week for small purchases that I had forgotten about when packing my bags so I was very happy to find one next door. Here you'll also find a bunch of beauty products and hair care (yes, it's really a little gold mine) which means that you don't have to look up a separate store for that.
I also think you should look up the bus and métro stations closest to you. Otherwise it can take you half your stay to figure out that you could have taken a bus just a few meters away from your door instead of changing métro stations three times… The Parisan métro maps are really easy to understand and so are the bus maps (once you get a hang of it). On this site you can plan your trip in advance which works really great and here you can have a look at the bus map and the métro map.