Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Our View
 Over Thanksgiving, my husband and I took a much needed escape to Paris. We've been many times before and done all the tourist sites and colorful neighborhoods. This was our chance to chill out in a wonderful apartment on the Rive Gauche and be Parisien  for ten days.

Our apartment was perfect--very French with a view of Notre Dame out the kitchen window and six restaurants within fifty yards of the apartment. We could walk wherever we wanted to go, eat out or cook in, sleep late or get up early, and enjoy our favorite neighborhoods and destinations with no pressure to see or do anything because we "should." It was a wonderfully relaxing, energizing break during which I made some observations, none very profound.
Romance-Free Bookstore

    • There are no romance novels in Shakespeare & Company. There are thousands of English language books on almost every subject. Harlan Cobin, John Grisham and Lee Child made the cut. Nora didn't.                                                                                       
    • Hot water heaters run at night. It's a good idea to get a shower before noon if you want hot water.
Steve in our living room
  • It's generally a Bad Hair City. That doesn't mean my hair was impossible like it is in Houston in summer. Very few people in Paris put much effort into their coifs so the bar is pretty low. This is good news because:
  • The electricity goes out frequently for short periods which requires the resetting of lots of critical systems including the hot water heater timer and the internet connection. These periods inevitable coincided with me getting in the shower.

Our Apartment Over Atelier Maitre Albert Restaurant
  • The goofy, overzealous American tourists that embarrass us in restaurants and cafes are usually treated with kindness and good humor by the wait staff. Sure, this is because they generally tip very well in a country where tipping is seldom more that a euro or so. Still, the Americans are welcomed where other Europeans and Asians (both poor or non-tippers we were told) are merely tolerated.
  • Trucks pick up glass bottles for recycling several times a week at about 6:30 a.m. Restaurants recycle A LOT of bottles. We were above one restaurant and across a narrow alley from three others. The crash of breaking glass is rather startling, especially that first morning. Other trash is picked up a couple times a week.  Luckily we live on a noisy street in Houston and were able to go right back to sleep.
  • The neighborhood shopkeepers smile a lot and try to be helpful. Buying from the boucherie, poissonerie, chartucherie, bonlangerie, and wine merchant is much more fun than going to a grocery store. But beware the fromagerie...those women can be mean!



Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Oh, Lark! The view from your apartment in Paris is breathtaking. Jeez Louise, you got to drink in Notre Dame from your kitchen window! The interior of the apartment is fabulous, too. Those beams, the fireplace, that man!

I'm glad you and Steve had a chance to relax and recharge. Um, about those, goofy, overzealous Americans in restaurants: I fell into that category back in April, and c'est vrai, I was treated with kindness and good humor.

Sorry to hear the women who sell cheese can be mean. Perhaps they're blue. Or overripe. Or can't get the smell of old socks out of their clothes.

I'd love to read more posts like this. Non-profound observations are my favorite kind.

Sarah Andre said...

Sounds blissful! Nothing better than being a part of the city and its people (staying in an apt, shopping in markets for food) rather than a tourist.

I lived like that in Tuscany: quirky electricity, hot water issues, and hunting season- so we were woken at 6am to rifle shots RIGHT outside our window! And yes, like you, we got used to it after that first morning where we dove for cover.

As fun as it was to live 'like Italians' I was glad to get back to the conveniences of America. Reliable hot water and electricity, grocery stores the size of amusement parks and toilets that flush efficiently.

Hardly anyone used the still-dial-up internet (although they all had cell phones/Bluetooth long before us) and they all paid their bills by standing in line for hours at the bank instead of writing checks or setting up an automatic debit system.

As charming as it was to live in such a friendly, romantic place I realized I take a lot of basics for granted. I always tell people I'd live there in a heartbeat but realistically? The first time I had to stand in a bank line for an hour to pay my electric bill I'd be looking up return flights on my smartphone!

Glad you had such a marvelous time and just as glad to have you back!

Lark Howard said...

I'll give you the link to the apartment rental site for your next trip, Pat. If you want your observations superficial, I'm definitely your girl!

Lark Howard said...

I may have overemphasized the quirks of the apartment, Sarah. To be fair, once I figured out the woman who gave us the keys had told us to log into the wrong wifi and got us on the right one, it worked perfectly for all our devices.

And you couldn't ask for more spectacular grocery stores than the Bon Marche food store or the brand new Monoprix supermarket market across the street from Deyrolle. I think Paris is firmly in the 21st century.

Tuscany has probably progressed since you were there, but the countryside is always a bit behind the major cities.

Louise Behiel said...

As Pat said, Jeez Louise. I am so jealous. Paris has never been on the top of my to visit list but you're moving it up there Lark. sounds luscious.