When I started this website a little over a year ago, I intended to blog. The bad news is, I didn’t. The good news is, I got super busy with lots of great design work – and a bunch of incredible travel. In the last year or so I’ve been fortunate enough to work on several great kitchen & bathroom renovations, helping a bunch of clients move into new homes which meant helping pick all the materials for those spaces plus furniture, lighting, paint etc… On the personal side, I’ve also traveled to Shanghai, Seoul, Tokyo, Antigua (Guatemala), Colorado, Tulum (Mexico), Singapore and Tioman Island (Malaysia). I even helped a young family buy their first home. I kept up with short social media bursts on Facebook and (finally!) on Instagram. Plus I gut renovated another full bathroom in my own house. So the last year was too busy to blog….which is a very good problem to have!
I’m here blogging today because work just came to a screeching halt – I have just started on a new adventure – in Paris! Mark, my partner, who also loves languages and travel, amazingly arranged to work out of his company’s Paris office for the summer. Being self employed, I am able to join him for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And my daughter Ally is smartly along for the ride. She will take a class at Science Po next month and then stay for her junior fall semester abroad in Paris. So she gets to stay until December!
After nearly a year of preparation for this adventure (studying French, renting out our house, finding housing here, etc. etc.) we arrived on Saturday. My “To Do” list leading up to this trip was so long and detailed that the actual travel, in comparison, was over in the blink of an eye. We made our connection, our luggage not only arrived but was the first off the plane, and the taxi to the apartment was driven by a friendly (oui!) Frenchman who decided to be our tour guide too – pointing out sites along the way.
We have a 3 BR/2 Bath Airbnb apartment for June & July, perfectly situated in the 7th arrondissement. The 3rd floor apartment, in St. Germain des Prés on Rue du Bac, is about a 5 minute walk from the Musee D’Orsay and the Seine. C’est fantastique!
We got the lay of the land from our new landlady Nathalie. It turns out we are living in her actual apartment and she moved out to stay with relatives. Thus, the closets and cupboards are all full of her stuff. Even the small fridge has its two drawers full of her food. Not so fantastique, but we figured out where to squeeze our belongings and got settled. The apartment has a sprawling quirky layout, gorgeous chevron laid wood floors, four fireplaces, and intricate ceiling medallions all combined with odd paint color combos and a hodge-podge mix of furniture. Ikea meets antiques and pale pink meets primary red and sunflower yellow.
Large floor to ceiling windows & shutters open up wide to let in light and air. We overlook a charming stone courtyard with a single, gorgeous, perfect tree at the center.
The old Parisian rooftops surround us, with a trés petite elevator (big enough for one person and one suitcase) retrofit into the building’s curving wood staircase. Across the street, literally, is a Monoprix supermarché, perfectly positioned so we can easily adapt to the tiny kitchen/tiny fridge requirement of doing almost daily grocery shopping.
Sunday morning after a deep wonderful sleep, I awoke early to birds chirping and the sun shining. Who would expect all the birds? We were amazed with how quiet and peaceful the morning was in our building despite our being in the heart of Paris! With perfect blue skies and temps in the 70s, Mark and I ventured out for a walk along the Seine and landed at the L’Tour Eiffel. The paved side of the left bank was full of joggers. On the way home we picked up fresh cherries at a fruit stand and hit our local boulangerie for a fluffy eggy brioche and some kind of miniature baguette studded with chocolate chips. Enjoyed in our new dining room with tea & coffee, we were off to a good start!
This morning, Monday, was a bit of a different story. First, insomnia hit from 3-5 am. Then Mark had to report to his first day of work. The forecast is for rain all week and the skies today are gray. But the harshest reality came outside our window at precisely 7:30 am. The peace and quiet we marveled at yesterday? Well, I couldn’t even hear the birds today for all the construction noise……hammering, drilling, sawing, banging, scraping and other assorted loud noises came from just outside our window. Across the alley from our bedroom, scaffolding I hardly noticed yesterday is being used by two men loudly speaking French as they repair the exterior of the opposite building. Below, with green spray paint marking the path of a gas line, a second crew of men was pounding at the pavers to access the lines. Obviously with all the stone surfaces, the echo factor is enormous. Over in her room, a mosquito bit Ally all night long (no screens on those gorgeous windows). Our perfect strawberries, bought 36 hours ago, were mostly rotted when we attempted to top our yogurt. And thus, just like that, our little bubble of paradise just got hit by a reality check. As they say, c’est la vie!
Stick with me on this blog to hear more about our time in Paris and hopefully my design discoveries and Parisian pleasures found along the way!