I’m not gonna lie–when we first stepped into our Paris apartment that would be our home for the next four months, I panicked. Of course, I had been awake for two days, I was hot and sweaty, thirsty, and starving to death. And then we had a FOUR HOUR check in where an agent came and noted every single thing wrong with the apartment and took approximately 1 billion pictures. I mean, it’s good that we will not be held accountable for any previous issues and imperfections. The building is 100 years old, after all. But by the time he left I was pretty much a basket case. After getting some food and some rest, I was in a more reasonable place.
Every time I have moved I have a “sticker shock” moment. Seeing a house you bought empty for the first time has a way of doing that to you! It was similar with this apartment. I was horrified at how hot and stuffy it was, and I really, really love my current home and this was not it. I mean, it is ¼ the size of my home in Idaho (pretty roomy by Parisian standards though!). The dishwasher, washing machine, and fridge are also less than half the size of what I am used to. The kitchen is equipped pretty well for a furnished rental, but as a foodie and someone who enjoys cooking, my personal equipment has been collected over thirty years and is very nice.
But we have been here for several days now and we are settling in. The apartment has huge, gorgeous windows in every room, and surprisingly, even when it is 80 degrees outside, we get a lovely cool cross breeze that cools everything off quickly and we have been comfortable (being from Idaho, we are not used to hot temperature very much!). Luckily, we missed the horrid heatwave they were having here and are heading into fall. We also decided to take a portion of our grocery/household budget and get a few things that we know we would leave behind, but would make our stay a lot more comfortable, like new pillows (so picky about this), a few laundry baskets, etc. Once we unpacked, we noticed that it immediately started feeling more like home. Ellie even brought a plushie and a blanket to personalize her space. What a good move! There is a large glass board for writing that is also magnetic and Ellie has already attached a postcard and added “pastries” to all of our grocery lists. Ha! Little touches make a big difference!
Our budget is tight, so we won’t be eating out frequently, and when we do, it will be more casual street food because we are out and about doing activities (and starving) rather than participating in fine dining. And that’s ok! We can pick up fresh bread as often as we like (very affordable), and many things are just so delicious just from the grocery store. But cooking in the apartment is a bit of an adjustment. I have to totally rethink how we approach this. At home, in true “mormon” style, I have a large food storage. Since we like to cook I have tons of spices for all sorts of ethnic cooking. Here I have salt and pepper so far (plus the fresh herbs we found). Our fridge is not big enough to hold 2 weeks of food. At home I only shop every 2-3 weeks. Here it will need to be every 3-4 days, and I have to figure out what to cook with the equipment on hand and within our budget. So far, so good! The outdoor markets have the most amazing produce and are very affordable–much cheaper than at home!
There are markets all over Paris and the produce quality is amazing! One stand at the market had more types of olives I have ever seen!
So far, I managed a few pasta dishes, roasted vegetables with bread, and have planned lentil soup and a couscous main dish salad. I hope I can keep this up and that my creative juices don’t sizzle!
Our apartment, after I got over the initial adjustment, is really quite perfect. We are in a residential area where typical Parisian families live–meaning, many beautiful apartments buildings (and some that are more “functional” in appearance). No single family dwellings in sight. Our building is beautiful, with a tiny winding staircase leading up to the 5th floor, and the tiniest elevator you’ve ever seen, with a beautiful wrought iron door. There is so much light in the apartment, and having the toilet room separate (typical here) and NOT in the same room as the shower, tub, and sink, increases the livability of having several people share one space. And there is a TON of storage. It’s so clever. More storage than I have ever seen! All down the hall there are open and closed cabinets, and even though the kitchen is so small the amount of storage is impressive! That means it is easy to keep things uncluttered, which is a must in a smaller space. We hear the kids playing upstairs just a bit, but our ceilings are very tall so it is only endearing and not a nuisance. Our apartment faces interior courtyards so it is surprisingly quiet, too!
What is really a different and lovely experience, especially coming from the Western US and rural area to boot, is the novelty and convenience of city living. Bryce did such a great job securing an apartment in an ideal location. Within a 5 minute walk there are three grocery stores, a pharmacy, three bakeries, a flower shop, a fruit shop (yes, and entire store that only carries fresh fruit), and a number of cafes and other types of restaurants. The metro station and bus station are also just meters away, and the metro line or bus takes us right to the Louvre, church, Pompidou, Latin Quarter, etc. The real icing on the cake is that we are less than a ten minute walk to one of the largest parks in Paris: the Bois de Vincennes. This park is three miles across and has ponds, a lake, a marionette theater, tons of benches in the shade, a zoo, a buddhist shrine, just to name a few! We have only explored one tiny area of it so far, and I will post those pics later!
Well, I’m off to restock on a few groceries and pick up our daily baguette. We’re still getting settled, but hope to be exploring soon!