Where to live in Paris?

We flirted briefly with hipness in ’05 when we lived on rue des Taillandiers in the Bastille, literally around the corner from the Bobo (Bourgeois Bohemian) hangouts on Rue de Charonne.

Well, to us it was hip although any Parisians under 35…maybe even under 40… would dismiss the ‘hood as extremely passe, even more so than Canal St Martin, and then enthuse instead over the bars around Abesses in the 18th arr (God knows what’s the In place nowadays). But even if no longer the bastion of the hyper cool, Bastille worked out well for us because it’s a hub for 3 metro lines, and you’re close enough to the Gare de Lyon that it is possible to get from apartment to seat on the TGV to Avignon in the space of 10 minutes, with only a few curt calls on the cell to spouse & an illicit flagging down of a rogue taxi.

Plus there is that magnificent Sunday marche! And just a short dash across busy Beaumarchais to the Place des Vosges to experience a decidedly swankier, and far more shopping-crazed, Paris. Oh, the window shopping along rue des Francs Bourgeois. And the Seine is only a couple of hundred of metres away, and to water-deprived west coasters that was a thing to cherish.

But, alas, the one downside is that it was 45 minutes’ commute to our office, waaaay over in the blandness of Levallois-Perret. Most expats lived in the 17th arr., but streetlife in the 17th arr is watching nannies push poussettes. For me, part of the beauty of the city is the time you can spend people-watching.

I guess the other downside of living in Bastille, was that if it was a non-marche day, then your food choices would be Shoppi, pizza or the traiteurs that lined Rue de la Rochette and sold greasy pseudo-Chinese food. Club food for the Brits and Aussies that littered the rue de Lappe.

So now we’re thinking the 3rd arr, near the Arts et Metiers or Republique metros, would be a good compromise. Still near the things we loved about Bastille, but one less transfer on the Metro.


Paris, here we come

We got the go-ahead for relocating to Paris in early 2008. Finally! This will be 20 years after my first visit during a high-school March break (where I met my first boyfriend), 15 years after my second visit as an daydreaming university student, and a mere 2 years after a tantalizing 3-month extended biz trip, meant to be 6 months but sadly cut short by an overlooked trifle called a work permit.

Since I’m in the throes of Wedding Planning for the next few months, I’ve reached my logistics threshold: I can’t stomach practical thoughts about moving and purchasing the innumerable items not included with a Parisian rental. Instead, I’m leapfrogging over all that to muse on where to take the inevitable visitors.

First thought: People call Paris a walking city, but it’s even better to roll through it. My friends are kinda fit types (I live in the Pacific Northwest) so they’ll dig the Parisian obsession with rollerblading.

My parents, on the hand, would probably setting for the calmer pace of cruising the city by bike with Fat Tire Bike Tours. I can attest to the comfort of these bikes: we bought two from the outfit in 2005, when they were clearing out old rental stock. They may be heavy, and the handlebar is so wide it is like steering with moose antlers, but you will not find a more comfortable bike for taking in landmarks without getting a neck cramp, not to mention being able to peddle effortlessly over potholes, curbs, and cobblestones.