We had to let go of our dream of a 2nd bedroom, but did we ever make up for it with the location. As of Dec 16th, we’ll be living in the 5th arrondissement, almost in the centre of the city.
It’s a rather scenic area: If you turn right upon leaving our building, walk a mere 50 m to the corner, cross the street, and then go down a few stairs, this is what you see (in warm weather):
The pic above shows the Pont (bridge) de l’Archeveque. Beyond it on the right is the backside of Notre-Dame Cathedral, on the Ile de la Cite where the original city was founded. Yup, we’re about 120 m up from the Seine. I am quite boggled by this fact, since it means we are actually closer to water than we were in Vancouver.
Of course, the location has a price beyond just the killer rent: no 2nd bedroom; a tired-looking apartment (but well-maintained); and biggest challenge, an irregularly-shaped kitchen equipped only with an old sink and one cupboard (the stove in the pic is not included):
But we’re looking on kitchen-outfitting as a great language lesson. And there were many other selling points besides location. It’s relatively spacious, about the same size as our Vancouver apartment. The bathroom has a tub, not just a shower stall. There is a hookup for both washing machine and dishwasher. The kitchen, despite the awkward wall, is fairly roomy – as is the living room (so we can still accommodate guests, they just won’t have as much privacy as we had hoped).
And of course, it’s got that charme de l’ancienne – crown mouldings, ceiling roses, wood parquet (admittedly very worn) and original marble fireplace with a peeling gilt mirror over top it. Fans of shabby chic would be in ecstasy.
Just as important was the neighbourhood. Nearby are all the traditional French food shops: boulangeries, poissonerie, frommagerie/cremerie, boucher, charcutier, patisserie, cave des vins, etc…as well as several supermarkets and our beloved Picard for when we’re feeling lazy. Also, there’s green space fairly close – the Jardin de Plantes, the Jardin du Luxembourg, and of course there are the quais of the Seine itself. OK, so the quais aren’t really green–they’re mostly stone–but there’s lots of space to picnic (when the weather gets warm. Most definitely not now.) And the view’s hard to beat.