I thought I would digress from the history stuff and talk to you about our flat here in Paris. I think the best thing to say is that it is “bohemian.” No, we’re not staying in Montmartre with Picasso, Dali or Lautrec. Rather, we’re right on the Blvd. Saint-Germaine in the Odéon district on the Left Bank. When you get off the Odéon Métro, turn left and start walking (the opposite direction that Danton’s statue is pointing). We’re snuggled right in between two bistros. How’s that for picking the right spot?
For location, I don’t think you can beat it. The Left Bank is our favorite because we think there’s more “action” happening on the streets. There’s nothing scientific about it, just a feel. It’s definitely a younger crowd. I suppose that’s likely to be expected considering the University of Paris / Sorbonne are nearby. Besides, we don’t have to worry about that hoity-toity Right Bank. Our US$15 beers are just as good as their US$15 beers.
Our front windows actually look out onto the rue de Seine, a narrow side street. The street survives from the middle ages and extends all the way to the river. Our building was actually saved from Haussmann’s destruction. It’s old. But it does have a lift. We don’t use it since we’re on the first floor (that means second floor to all of us Americans). It wouldn’t matter any way. Only one person can fit into it.
Other than the fight last night at the bistro across the street, things are pretty quiet. Well actually, not when they come into the courtyard at 7am every other morning to empty the trash bins (our bedroom windows overlook the inner courtyard). How about last week when they decided to re-pave Blvd. St.-Germaine out front one evening (the whole night to be exact). We went to bed that night with the whole boulevard ripped up. The next morning we awoke to a brand new street complete with stripping. Dan had to sleep with his headphones on the entire night. Sandy reminded me about how we walked into the apartment one late afternoon and were gassed out with the varnish and paint fumes from the construction of the new retail center below the flat.
I guess I just feel like a bohemian in our flat. I should have brought the canvas and paints. I’m contemplating getting a beret (yes, some of the men still wear them). I’m getting very good with “Merci” and “Bonjour” – almost too good. I have the accent down to the point when I walk-in, they start speaking to me in French. That’s when the jig’s up. Actually, the jig’s up when they see me. For some reason I look like an American. I can’t understand it. I decided not to wear tennis shoes here this time because tennis shoes immediately triggered me as a tourist. So I went out and bought new shoes. Ones that I hoped would not make me look like a tourist. When we got into Paris, guess what the new look is for the locals? Yup, you guessed it – tennis shoes. I never knew or expected anyone to ever pay US$150 for a pair of Converse tennis shoes. Well, that price is for the high tops so I guess it’s worth it.
In all fairness, we’ve noticed some unusual things this trip. The city is very clean. The Parisians seem friendlier. Many of the Parisians speak English (and will actually admit it). I was beginning to get worried until one of shopkeepers came close to spitting on us. Then I knew I was back in the real Paris instead of a bizzaro (remember your Superman comics?) upside down world of Paris.
Regardless of which Paris shows up to greet Sandy and Stew, it’s a great city and one that I hope all of you get to visit at some point. Oh, and the noise from the subway below ends at 1:30am so we’re okay with that too.
Do we have a lot of stories? Of course we do. I’m looking forward to sharing these with you. Please continue to visit our blog.
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Copyright © 2013 Stew Ross