I’m moving! Decisions are made, papers are signed, deposits have been withdrawn. Can you not hear me shouting from the rooftops? Ok, well, not really. But victory dances around the lab do count.
Of course I have really enjoyed living in my neighborhood for the past 10 months, and I will miss living here (more on that later), but it has come time to expand past my current 25 m2.
I was very lucky. I found my first apartment online. Right in the center of the city. It is one hundred meters from Centre Pompidou, a ten-minute walk to Notre Dame, and 15 minutes by foot to The Louvre. I am steps away from two main metro lines, and it is a direct shot from here to the airport. These are all great features if you are visiting Paris. This is the perfect home base. But for me living here day-to-day, wanting to fit in, become part of a neighborhood, feeling comfortable enough to try my very few French phrases and be recognized by the staff of my local boulangerie, tourist central was just not cutting it. Not to mention the party-happy neighbors whose latest hobbies include loudly practicing Rhianna’s entire oeuvre at 3 am.
It goes without saying that wherever you are in Paris there are tourists. It is somewhat ironic that I chose another tourist-heavy area for my new neighborhood – Montmartre. Although here it is the perspective that is different, if not necessarily the crowd. Two steps off the main drag (Rue des Abessess), I find myself walking down winding roads of small, crumbling cottages, silent except for my footsteps. The breathtaking views of the city unfold below – an endless sea of slate rooftops. Basilique Sacre Coeur – the crowning glory of Montmartre – leaves me breathless each time I glimpse the massive white dome (or this could be the 20 flights of stairs it takes to get there).
I also have found that, despite the tourists thronging to take pictures in front of Moulin Rouge or drink an espresso at Amelie’s café that this place, unlike my previous arrondissement, has held tightly to its warm, bohemian identity.
Plus, I’ve already attempted my pitiful French at the new local boulangerie. I got a crispy, hot baguette, a warm smile and a genuine bonne journée. I think I’m going to like it here.