I think the thing that I most love about where I’m currently living is the access to the quick getaway. Never in my life have I ever had the opportunity to say “Let me just duck to Paris for the weekend.” So, when a friend said she was visiting Paris, well, I think you can guess what my answer was.
My Eurostar tickets were around GBP160 return, and thankfully, my friend found me a wonderful Parisian apartment to stay in. Their owners had ducked off to the French Alps to visit their summer home. (Love this ducking-here, ducking-there business.) It was a real treat to see an example of 1930s apartments that existed behind shuttered windows and balconies. It’s a lot bigger than initially meets the eye, with 14 ft ceilings that seemed to go on forever. I found the rooms all to be quite large, and I suppose with such high ceilings, you can always find space by going upwards.
One interesting bit of trivia my friend told me is that these apartments (usually) all came with a basement (for storage) but also a room for the maid. If you look up at the apartment blocks, these are the uppermost rooms that have windows in the lead-lined roofs. There’s usually a back staircase connecting the apartments with the maid rooms.
The apartment was surprisingly noisy, especially since I had left the windows open for some fresh air. I could motor cycles zooming down the street, early morning dumpster trucks going about its business, and people walking their dogs. I didn’t sleep so well in the first night. But the second night was much better and I hardly noticed the noise.
Like I said, I’d been to Paris before, so I’d seen many of the touristy sights on offer. This trip, I really wanted to see Versailles. I had missed Marie Antoinette’s Petit Trianon the previous time, and I did want to see the outrageously fabulous gardens on offer at Versailles. Or maybe it was to prove wrong a thought I had the first time I went to Versailles, which was “to enjoy it and drink it all in because you’re never going to see this again.”
The rest of the time planned was free and easy to do … whatever, and to enjoy Paris not as a tourist, but as a traveller who’s familiar with the place. How lucky I am to have reached this point.