Paris – 6/1/2018
We started Wednesday a little late and went to the grocery store (Monoprix) to get some food for the apartment, and then Kelly lead me to another tourist spot – Sacre Coeur. After a bit of a hike up, we made it to the Basilica, there is a stunning view of Paris from the top. Finished in 1914, Sacre Coeur is a huge church with a beautiful interior full of sculptures, mosaics, and stained glass windows. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside of the church, but below are some photos others have taken of the inside. We walked around the market and area surrounding the church for a bit before we started to make our way back to the apartment.
Once we were back at the apartment, Kelly started making dinner (chickpeas in tomato sauce with paprika and cayenne, with sides of rice and spinach) and Kelly got frustrated because the pots and pans in the apartment had no handles. After trying to cook by stirring food with one hand and holding the pan with the other (using a dish towel as an oven mit so as to not burn her hand), we realized that the apartment had detachable handles for the pots and pans – something neither of us had seen before. Space is so limited in Paris that no square meter of space is wasted, and taking the handles off the pots and pans allows them to be stacked much easier. Also, Kelly really likes the smell of the dish soap in the apartment – it is almond scented. After dinner and a bottle of wine, we did some laundry, relaxed, and went to bed to get ready for our next day – apartment hunting!
My employer works with a company that helps new employees find housing, and on Thursday, we met with our ‘realtor’, Jodie. We had been in contact for the last few weeks so that she knew our preferences for housing and so that she could get everything lined up for today. We met her at 9 am – not to look at houses, but to first help get our bank accounts set up. One interesting note – they don’t have credit cards in France, only debit cards. After our appointment at HSBC, we got coffee at a coffee shop near the Eiffel Tower while we waited for our first apartment viewing. Jodie has been living in France all her life and was very helpful in telling us all about the city and life in Paris – one example that I thought was interesting was at the coffee shop, we sat outside, and all the chairs were lined up in a row facing towards the street, instead of surrounding the small tables. Jodie informed us that the chairs are set up that way because Parisians like to “people watch”.
After some people watching, we went to view our first apartment. It was in a great location, right in the center of Paris (7th Arrondissement) with a view of Les Invalides, which was originally a hospital and retirement home for France’s soldiers in the 1700’s. Today it’s a military museum, but is also still a hospital and retirement home for veterans. It has a magnificent golden dome that was finished in 1708! Being that the location is good (walking distance to other monuments as well, including the Eiffel Tower), the apartment was pretty small and the price was pretty steep, but it still had a nice (but tiny!) kitchen.
After that, we saw a few apartments in the 15th Arrondissement which were cheaper, slightly larger, but still small. We got some lunch, then continued on our journey – one flat was dirty, another was decent but underwhelming. Towards the end of the day though, there were three apartments (our sixth, seventh, and eighth apartments we visited that day) we really liked. The first had plenty of room (for Paris), lots of storage, and a nice, new kitchen.
The second was also large, was decorated well, and had a great view (you could even seen the Eiffel Tower from the bathroom), but was also near the upper limit of our budget.
The last apartment was also big, and although it had less storage, had a nice kitchen overlooking a courtyard, and had wood doors with glass panes that opened up into the bedroom. After talking it over, Kelly and I decided that we liked the last three apartments, with our first preference being the very last apartment.
Since the housing market is very tight in Paris, it’s possible (probable!) that we won’t get our first pick, so we’ll keep you posted on which apartment we get. The suspense continues!
After a very long, but productive day with Jodie, we said our goodbyes and went back to our temporary apartment in Antony. I went out to the stores and picked up a bottle of wine and a fresh baguette for dinner and started eating the baguette on my walk home (while holding the bottle of wine in my other hand); probably the most “Parisian” thing I’ve done yet. Kelly and I had a great dinner, and we’re about to go to bed – tomorrow we are visiting some friends in Montpellier in southern France; it’ll be my first time on a real high speed train (as an “engineer” who grew up fascinated by trains, I’m very excited). I’ll try to get another post up after our weekend (maybe I’ll convince Kelly to write a post!). In the mean time, talk to everyone later!