Life is a series
of interesting rendez-vous
in beautiful cafes.
Pinch me, baby.
Before we moved from Canada, Andrew and I agreed that we would live the first few months in St. Germain des Pres, our favorite part of Paris, surrounded by cafes and cinemas, next to the most beautiful garden, the Luxembourg. Then, once we had found out where the girls might go to school, we’d look for a more permanent place close to there. It all seemed to make sense then, in the dawn of our fresh arrival. But when the chosen school turned out to be over in the 16th, we blanched. The 16th? That was for the noveau riche, for old ladies with servants, for diplomats with drivers. We hedged. We looked at apartments in the 7th, we could walk over the bridge, right? We were desperate to keep close to our favorite cafes, our favorite twisting streets.
In the end, we’ve accepted our right bank fate. A friend who lives there patted our backs, and said, “Exile. It’s not all true what you hear.” As the day of St. Germain departure nears, we feverishly look on the map, find solace in swift metro routes, imagine new parks, try to convince ourselves that the 16th is not Siberia. “It’s only 20 minutes back here. We can come back over whenever we like” we nod in unison.
The quest for the right apartment became ever more vital.
I might win an Academy Award for my performance in “finding the fitting apartment.” As it is said that finding an apartment that checks off your requirements – perfect location, almost affordable, park nearby, available, and if you’re lucky, fully renovated – is considered impossible. But the ‘gods of the apartments’ (as seen in many paintings in the Louvre) shone their favor from on high, or Mt. Apartonomous, and the most unbelievable part of all, is the terrace. A terrace that spans the length of the living room with doors that open wide onto a lavish garden below. Or secret garden, you might say, as there’s no access, except one day a year when we all gather for the highly anticipated building garden party. But not to worry, we envision our terrace as the oasis the garden can be, or at least, we’ll plant some flowers in pots and flop down some butterfly chairs.
In other words, I found an apartment we all can love, with an amazing view and a terrace. Now, I see terraces everywhere. Once you start looking at specific things in Paris, you realize how much you never notice. For instance, this morning, since the sky was brilliantly blue, I decided to go visit all the parks in my arrondissement. So, around the corner to Square Roger Stephane, that no one seems to know about. It’s an oasis and the terraces looking onto this garden – fantastic. I continued to make an inventory of the terraces nearby: some shine with well pruned shrubs, some with lemon and orange trees, one with many palm trees, preferences tending toward the Mediterranean. You should see some of the terraces around the Luxembourg. One has a very large pine tree. Luckily, it is the top apartment as the tree is quite tall.
6th or 16th. What does it really matter? We’re all in unison here sitting in the cafes, on terraces… the Japanese magnolias blooming, flowers everywhere, and it was warm and sunny today with girls lunching on the grasses in Square Boucicaut. Maybe we’re all a bit loopy in Paris right now because it’s officially spring and even though the city was the most polluted city in the world last Wednesday, so bad that the metros are free and you can only drive if you have a certain numbered plate, still…Saturday night, we went to a friends house to celebrate the launch of Spring with Persian food in the company of expats, and the next day we took our dog to the Luxembourg as a treat for her birthday. A little shnouzer named Celeste wanted to play so they did their thing of fall back/punt right/roll over then with a wave, they wished Skye bon anniversaire. We skipped back home via rue Ferou where the gray stone walls are painted in elegant scrolling script. A few lucky ducks can spy this script of Rimbaud’s poem “Le Bateau Ivre” from their terraces.