Sunday, April 7, 2013

Starting in a New Neighbourhood

Friday was a big moving day for me.  My friend left at 6:00 a.m. for Canada and I was to meet the elusive property manager at 11:00 a.m. My feelings about the second apartment have been coloured by my dealings with rental agency, owner in Italy and property manager who doesn't answer e-mails. I have already paid a substantial agency fee, damage deposit and half the rent so there is no turning back.

When I was planning this trip, I wanted to experience different neighbourhoods rather than to return to my beloved rue St. Jacques apartment.  My father was very sick and I did not listen to my inner warning voice. There are many charming apartments for rent in Paris if you can pay the equivalent of $100 CDN a night. You should not be required to pay an agency fee just to find a flat.  You will need to pay a deposit of course but do not pay a lot of money to anyone until you have seen the property. Trust your instincts. I like to correspond with the owner to get a feel for things.  Other teachers as landlords seem to work well for me.
Some flowers will help.

The dust is due to the ongoing work in the hallway

On Friday, I left the apartment in Montmartre, carried my belongings to the street and waited for my taxi. Upon arrival at rue Cherche-Midi, my new street, I entered my two codes and opened the doors. The hallway was thick with dust. With heavy heart and a sense of foreboding, I hauled my belongings up the stairs ( 3 flights). There are no signs on the doors but I ring the bell of 2 Gauche as I have been instructed. Nobody answers. I check the name on the mailbox downstairs to verify that I am in the right floor. I sit down on the dusty stair and I wait. The property manager appears 45 minutes late and in a fluster.

The apartment is basic but unloved. The owners, in Italy, must be using this as an investment but there are no nice touches.  There is no welcoming book of instructions and suggestions for experiencing the neighbourhood. There is no soap in the bathroom.  The sofa bed is broken and the manager said that the toilet had leaked before into the boutique downstairs. She has seen the owner once in ten years and believes that the agency rips renters off with it's 30% finder's fee. I would agree.  The dust is the result of ongoing painting of the hallway so every time I go out, a poor French painter must move his ladder.
I like to use lavender at home.

I will try to love this apartment. It has a great location in the 6th arrondissement near the Bon Marché.  It is next door to Poilâne, the most famous bakery in France. Poilâne has a little café where you can get breakfast or wonderful open-faced sandwiches  at lunch. The Jardins du Luxembourg, St. Sulpice, St. Germaine are all nearby. Today, I am going to the organic market on rue Raspail. This was the neighbourhood of Simone de Beauvoir, one of my French icons. Je vais profiter de l'expérience.
Café au lait
Du pain et des croissants chez Poilâne

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