Spring 2011 – we’re back in Paris
As soon as we were back from our 2010 visit to Paris, we started planning for 2011. This time, it wouldn’t just be the two of us. Our son had graduated university and we decided that we would take him and his girlfriend as his graduation gift. Neither had been to Paris before.
Given that there would be four of us and we’d be staying for two weeks, we decided to rent an apartment, rather than stay in a hotel. In the end, we figured the cost would work out to be the same, we’d have more flexibility, and we’d feel more like we lived there. It would give us an excuse to go shopping at the markets and be able to have unhurried breakfasts, make our own lunches and just have a more comfortable place to hang out.
A tip if you’re looking for an apartment in Paris: there are dozens of apartment rental agencies and many individuals renting out spaces. There are also lots of scams (disappearing deposits) and horror stories. Pay a little extra for reliability. Go with the professionals. And think about where you want to be located. We knew we wanted to be close to everything – so in the first few arrondisements – and were prepared to pay for it.
After some researching, we settled on the Paris Perfect agency and chose their Notre Dame apartment. It’s two bedrooms, two storeys, tiny spiral staircase connecting the floors, a courtyard we could use, dishwasher, washer and dryer, flat screen tv and WiFi. It’s in the 5th arrondisement, the Latin Quarter, on a tiny quiet street, Rue de Bievre, about 50 feet from the Quai de la Tournelle with a direct view of the back of the Notre Dame. It was a “walk to everywhere” location.
After a few very straight forward emails back and forth, we paid our deposit, booked our airline tickets and counted the days.
Finally it was time to go. The whole trip went flawlessly. The overnight flight seemed short and there are few things as wonderful as landing in Paris on a sunny morning. Another tip if you’re going to Paris: the train from the airport is excellent and far less expensive than a taxi and much easier to deal with than one of the buses. In our case, it was perfect since one of the stops is the St Michel metro station. I knew that from that station (right in the heart of the Latin Quarter across the street from the Notre Dame!), we could walk to our apartment.
For me, it was one of those quietly happy moments to be walking with my wife, son and his girlfriend along the Seine on a spectacular spring morning to start two weeks in Paris. We were there about a half hour too early. I found the apartment and the cleaner was just finishing up. She said that our host was on her way to meet us, and if we just waited at the café around the corner, we could be in the apartment soon. Great suggestion. We were ready to start café life and an espresso would be ideal just about now.
We sat outside in the dappled Paris sunlight. The Seine just across the street. The Notre Dame to the left. Ille St. Louis over to the right. The city was ours. Life was perfect!
A note to those who have been reading along. For last year’s trip, I wrote it as a day to day diary. For this one, I’m going to do it by subject matter. I think you’ll like it. We had some very interesting times and saw plenty of Paris. I hope you enjoy the ride.