Oh, Paris. Ernest Hemingway once said, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Well, I’m a twentysomething woman who “lived” in Paris for about seven days, but I feel I can relate. It’s just that wonderful, and the city truly leaves a remarkable impression on one’s soul.
Sean and I were in Paris last week for his cousin Tori’s wedding. Kitty, Tori’s beautiful, now-wife, planned a picture-perfect Parisian wedding from Vancouver.
Kitty, Tori, Sean, and I shared an apartment we found on airbnb.com with five of Tori and Kitty’s friends from BC. The apartment is located just off Rue Diderot, about a five-minute walk from the Gare de Lyon Métro and RER station. We were nine people in a three-bedroom apartment, which might sound doable until I mention the single toilet. When the ad said “two-bath”, it meant it quite literally — two bathtubs and two sinks, but only one toilet. Needless to say, some waiting in line was required, but all in all, we did just fine. Living in a Parisian apartment for any amount of time makes up for any inconveniences.
Sean and I had both visited Paris in the past — in 2006 and 2005, respectively. I was lucky enough to stay with my mom and dad’s dear friends in their incredible apartment on the Left Bank (with views of Notre Dame, the courthouse, and the Louvre) for a few days when I was living in Spain. Robbie and Andy showed me around Paris in a way that few tourists get to experience. Rather than wait in lines for the typical tourist attractions, I got a tour of the city through the eyes of locals — bakeries in the Marais, walks along the Seine, hidden farmers markets, restaurants off the beaten track, and espresso among students from the Sorbonne. Eight and a half years ago I promised myself that one day I’d be back — and that that’s when I’d do all the touristy stuff. Of course I saw the Eiffel Tower, and marvelled at it from below; and I walked through the plaza of the Louvre to see the famous pyramids, but on this trip, I went all out to see it all. A future post will have all those details too!
Our neighborhood was very French, in that there were no tourists around (one of the major benefits of renting an apartment instead of staying in a hotel; price is another one). Just across Diderot we found a farmers market that was open every day except Monday. (We found that Parisian establishments have weird hours — some places are closed on Mondays; some on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; some on Saturdays; some on Sundays.) There was also an accompanying mini-flea market with old dishes, picture frames, lamps, and other odds and ends. Just past the market was an indoor warehouse-type market with a gourmet beer store, a butcher, a cheese shop, and a wine shop. Just beyond that were bakeries on every corner, more specialty shops (like Portuguese and Italian imports, an organic store, and more meat, cheese, and wine stores). Being hungry at any time of day is no problem in Paris. Even with weird hours, there’s usually something open. One can grab a sandwich or quiche or baguette or curry lentil salad with smoked salmon or quinoa salad or…oh my gosh I miss that city.
We loved living among Parisians because it made our stay seem all the more authentic. A note about stereotypes: Parisians simply are NOT rude, and Parisians DO always have a full baguette in their hands.
“Living” in Paris will certainly stick with us for a lifetime, and for that we are terribly grateful!