Tuesday, April 19, 2011

First Observations as a Resident

A crudely photographed sunset taken from the
window of my Isle Saint-Louis apartment.
Bonjour my friends,

It has been a long and hard journey to return to Paris, but worth every sacrifice along the way.  I'm back, baby!  I’ve been repatriated to the city that I have come to love so much.  I’ve completely emptied out my suitcases (for the first time in 2 years), filled the refrigerator with crème de camembert, pate and Chablis, and set out my French books for study. 

Yes, my French is still quite terrible.  Between learning more French and filling out loads more paperwork for banks, apartments, drivers licences and a host of other things, I will be very busy at becoming a full-time resident.  In the mean time, my eyes have been wide open enjoying the sights that I’ve missed and making new observations from things that I continue to learn about this amazing city.

Please enjoy my fresh observations as a first time resident of Paris:
  1. Everything in Paris is the same and different from when I left.  New shops have sprung up where old ones have gone away.  I struggle to remember what the old ones were.  Unlike other cities I’ve seen lately, there are few spots that remain vacant for long.

  2. If there were such a thing as a national coffee machine, then in France it would be the Nespresso machine.  In Paris the release of a new variety of Nespresso machine was heralded with the same pomp and ceremony as the unveiling of a national monument.  Of course, I bought one.  I’ve long been a fan of Nespresso and in Paris; there is a Nespresso store on the Champs Elysee … so I can take a short ride on the metro to fetch my capsules.  Nom!

  3. The island that I live on called Isle Saint-Louis has more ice cream parlours per capita than people.  Traffic has to slow for cars to get around the people getting around the long queues for delicious flavoured ice cream.

  4. A generic indoor parking spot in Paris will sell for just under 50,000 Euros.  If you’ve failed to impress someone with your car, you might get a second chance to amaze them by showing off your shiny new parking spot.

  5. A French bank account is needed for a great many things in Paris, particularly the acquisition of a cell phone contract that doesn’t amount to statutory rape (by Swedish definitions). When you first apply to get your shiny new bank account, banks will want to see your:  a) passport, b) apartment lease, and c) letter from your previous Canadian or US bank (not all banks).  With luck, these three things will get you a shiny chipped debit card that works all over the world, but especially well in Europe.

  6. I don’t know if it’s because I’m living on an island, but I haven’t seen any vampires since I left the Charles de Gaulle airport (where many vampires are permanently employed).  It must be that they don’t like water, but I’m really going to have to look into this to be sure.  Another possibility is that the proximity of Notre Dame Cathedral upsets them.

    A dinner-cruise boat sails past my apartment,
    set squarely between me and watching vampires.

  7. My sister came to visit with her baby, my neice Baby Cait… and I learned a lot about what it might be like to be wheelchair bound in Paris.  In a word… ‘suckful’.  Paris is just not very baby-stroller friendly.  Firstly, the average Parisian apartment has several flights of horribly windy stairs and secondly, so does almost every Parisian attraction.  To mention a few, the Arc de Triomphe is a stairs only ordeal (nearly 300 steps up, and nearly 300 steps down).  So is Notre Dame.  Versailles will not permit strollers in the castle, but will permit almost anything on wheels in the gardens.  The Eiffel Tower is tricky, but possible; the smaller the stroller/wheelchair the better your experience will be.

  8. The farmers’ market in the Bastille area is amazing. It operates during the day on Wednesdays and Sundays if I translated correctly and features not only veggies, but fish, meat, and various other arts, crafts and even pots and pans.  Most vegetables seem to go for about one Euro per kilo and the quality is outstanding.  Oh, I wish I knew how to cook!

    One of many stands at the farmers market in Bastille.
  9. I imagine that every place in the world has its residents that boast about their sunsets.  I was not expecting this, but I’ve seen some spectacular ones in Paris.  Somehow it doesn’t seem fair that a city that already has so much can also have such beautiful sunsets.

  10. For reasons I can’t exactly explain, renting an unfurnished apartment looks like it will be more difficult than renting a furnished apartment.  The law permits agencies to demand a guarantor (someone to pay the rent) for an unfurnished apartment.  I hope this law doesn’t cramp my grand designs.
Well as you can see, I'm glad to be back.  Many thanks for my Parisian friends who have helped and welcomed me home and warmest wishes to those I miss so dearly around the world.

Your most grateful of friends,

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  1. What a wonderful post. I'm so happy that you've found your home at last! :D

  2. I love your post! Very funny. Maybe I will make it to Paris to live but alas,I've been reading and it seems the chances are very slim to make the move from the US. I don't give up easy tho! LOL

  3. “… release of a new variety of Nespresso machine was heralded with the same pomp and ceremony as the unveiling of a national monument.” Yes, that is really enviable how French do this. However all these not biodegradable capsules embarrassed me! That would be interesting to know how French deal with this sophisticated question.

  4. The Nespresso store will recycle your used capsules. They advertise this in their store.