Frequently Asked Questions

Julia Willard, Julie Willard, Paris, France, Falling Off Bicycles

Where are you from?

I am from Kansas City, MISSOURI, USA. I stress the Missouri for a reason only a Kansas Citian would understand.

Where have you lived?

Here’s the list… Missouri, Kansas, Ohio, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Dijon, Paris, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Barendrecht

Where do you live now?

For years this has been an unanswerable question, however I am now settled in Paris, France.

Why did you move to France?

The first day I stepped foot in France, I was in love with pretty much everything about the country. You can read all about it in the book I co-authored, My Paris Story: Living, Loving, and Leaping without a net in the City of Light. I studied abroad during university in Dijon, then moved to Paris in 2006 for work. I moved back in 2007 to do my MBA in Paris.

My first preference for a home has always been France.

Why did you move to the Netherlands?

I moved to the Netherlands to be with a Dutchman. We had a wonderful year living in the center of Amsterdam that solidified my love for the city and photographing it. We later lived in other parts of the Netherlands.

What languages do you speak?

I speak English and French, as well as elementary Dutch and Italian, plus notions of Spanish.

What made you get into photography?

When I was studying in both Dijon and Paris, I would share photographs of my daily life and adventures through Snapfish (remember that??). I received so much positive feedback about my photos and so much encouragement to sell them that I decided to go for it! Special thanks to those early encouragers. 💖

If I hadn’t studied in France – the most beautiful and inspirational place I’ve ever been – I’m not sure I would have ever started with photography in any serious capacity.

I saw a photo of yours on Instagram that I’d like to purchase. How can I do that?

I would be honored to have a piece of my collection in your home! Please visit the Falling Off Bicycles website and/or the Falling Off Bicycles etsy shop for purchases. Image content is not necessarily identical on the sites, but most images posted on Instagram are indeed available for sale.

Where did you come up with the name Falling Off Bicycles?

I like whimsical things. Amsterdam has a reputation that has softened thanks to social media but not that long ago was all about sex and drugs. It was such a special surprise (at first) for me when I would walk or ride around the City and find a charming scene of a leaning bike in front of a beautiful 17th Century building. I came to love everything about the “bike lifestyle” and embraced it fully. (There was something terribly romantic about going on a date with my man ‘op de fiets’!) 

Eventually I found that most of my photos were either of bicycles or had bicycles in them. I clearly had a thing for bicycles. After deciding to share my photos via a homemade website, I made a list at one of my favorite cafés in Amsterdam, Villa Zeezicht, of possible names for the site. Among them was Falling Off Bicycles. At first I thought it was silly. Then I realized how it encapsulates so much of what I love about bicycles: forward movement, balance, fresh air, close interaction with others, and the pure childlike joy we feel when we ride. The name also serves as a beautiful metaphor for life: When you fall off, you must get back on. The whole idea is explained beautifully in a book I found since naming the brand, Einstein & the Art of Mindful Cycling.

Do you travel alone?

I travel alone often most of the time, but not always. In some ways it’s my preference while in others, it feels a bit of a bummer sometimes because it’s always nicer to share special moments in beautiful places with someone else. I also often travel with friends and loved ones.

Either way, it’s important to know who you can and can’t easily travel with. Sometimes people you adore are not a good fit as travel companions, and I find it’s better to be up front early on about trip expectations so it’s easier to bring up if the trip is not meeting your expectations.

What do you recommend for people looking to move to France or NL?

This is far too involved to answer in a few sentences here, but I would definitely say just go for it! I will always be that person encouraging others to follow their dreams, live on their own terms, and take the big leap. I’m an Aries, after all.

My more practical answer is: Do your homework. Know why you want to move, get an idea of what to expect, anticipate frustration and culture shock, and make a list of everything you need to do to complete the visum application. Take it step by step and listen to the Universe no matter the speed it’s all going.

Where do you stay in Paris?

I usually stay for a long time, so I rent a long-term apartment. Because I know the city so well, I make a sort-of game of it and try to find a completely new neighborhood or arrondissement to stay in. My favorite arrondissements to live in are the 17th and 19th.

Where do you stay in Amsterdam?

Within the grachtengordel (canal ring). I was spoiled when we lived in Amsterdam because we were in an old brick cloister on the Singel overlooking the canal (built around 1425!), then we were right in the heart of Leidseplein. I’d choose a water view any day.

Question not answered here?