“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” — Clifton Fadiman
Almost a year ago, we rented our Paris apartment, and since then, I’ve scrolled through the online pictures a hundred times. Today, we discovered what Rue de la Montagne de Ste. Genevieve is really like.
Homey, homely, cozy, and a little shabby, its decor is a mishmash. A marble faux fireplace features a vase of faded silk roses in its center, and an antiquey mirror hangs above. Two Ikea chairs and a slipcovered loveseat, a new flat screen TV on a scarred drop leaf table, a bookcase filled with tchotchkes and cast-off books, a lamp with a pink floral ceramic base, and a tiny desk fill the living space. Our feet may be dangle off the end of the bed, but the sheets are crisp and clean. The kitchen’s two burners, microwave and fridge will suffice. The bathroom, bedecked in pink and blue floral tile, will keep us clean. Still, on HGTV, home shoppers would say that “the place needs work” and “it has potential.”
Right now I’m sitting on the loveseat. The windows are open and sunlight is streaming in, along with the conversations of French people walking by, or sitting at the restaurant across the street. A woman is laughing; a child is telling his Papa about his day.
No, we’re not in an upscale hotel with a hushed lobby and a concierge at our beck and call. There may be days when I’ll be wishing for the amenities of a four star hotel. But right now, the bells of St. Ettienne du Mond Church are chiming right outside our window. Two bottles of wine we purchased at a local shop are waiting to be enjoyed with two pizza slices we’re heating up for dinner, bought at a boulangerie a couple of blocks away. Today we had salad and bruschetta at a quiet sidewalk cafe around the corner, walked for miles around the arondissement. We passed a school at dismissal time, and watched parents meet their kids at the gate for the walk home. There were our grandkids’ counterparts, toting overloaded backpacks and jabbering with their pals. We spotted lots of places that warrant a second look after our jet lag wears off.
Let the adventure begin…. Just let me sleep first.