We arrived in Paris on a day filled with sunshine and anticipation, tinged with a little anxiety. We were staying in a studio apartment owned by Andre and when I had emailed him asking for directions on how to find his apartment, this is the email he sent:
At your arrival at Charles de Gaulle airport at about 12 am, you have buses in front of the airport ” ROISSY BUS ” live broadcasting for Paris City. terminus OPERA. You stay stop having drunk OPERA and call me téléphone…
He assured me he would come to pick us up, but from where exactly and “drunk opera”? I was a little perplexed, so I asked my cousin Susannah what she thought. She is cool, calm and extremely sensible and after some thought and a look at our guide book explained that we were to catch the bus to “Opera” from the airport and wait there and he would pick us up after we told him we had arrived. Well he managed to find us, after we managed to find a public phone and a phone card and I was accosted by three groups of gypsies assuring me I had dropped a ring. If you have ever been to Opera, you will be as amazed as me that we managed this.
Andre is a kind, thoughtful man and he took us to the studio apartment and showed us around. His English is better than our French and we managed quite well. It is a light, airy apartment that is on the fifth floor, filled with sunlight coming through the large windows. Small but comfortable and recently renovated. Our lounges become our bed – they are comfortable as either.
this is looking up to our apartment – right near the top, with the plants out the front – we have all three windows and can leave them open even when we are out.
We are located in the 18th arrondissement right on the edge of Montmartre and off the touristy path. There is a park close by and plenty of shops – we can buy fruit, boulangerie – fresh baguette and pastries, macaroons, fish, cheese and flowers – they all have their own specialty shops and there are many cafes all within about five minutes walk. There is a hospital around the corner so we feel right at home with the sounds of sirens at all hours of the day and night. We can look out our windows and watch the local life – the parking of cars, the locals carrying shopping bags filled with fresh bread and flowers and listen to the sounds of barking dogs, motor cycles and french children playing.
I have to admit, I have lost all sense of direction – no idea where north or south is, let alone how to get to anything – I even have trouble following a map but Keith has been amazing. Normally, he gets in the car and I say “Keith, do you know where you are going?” and he responds “no, I have absolutely no idea” while driving. Here, he seems to have taken these narrow winding streets that go in random directions in his stride and we manage to get to our destination – we would be going around in circles if I was directing.
Montmartre is located on a steep hill with the Sacre-Coeur sitting on its top. Andre had given us instructions on how to walk to the top of the hill by avoiding the steps, so we set off to explore. It was a glorious evening and the light was beautiful. I had thought my mountain climbing was at an end, but I was wrong – to go anywhere in Montmartre, you are either walking up or down and there are numerous staircases.