Saturday, December 26, 2009

Visit to Paris 2

The next day we got to work on the details of the apartment.  The most important business was meeting our architect, Monsieur P.  In fact his role in the project is more a combination of the roles of architect and contractor in the building jobs I have experienced in the US.  He drew up the plans like one would expect from an architect, but he is also our main contact person for the job, the person we sat down with to pick out the tiles and the flooring and the handles on the cabinets, things that on previous jobs we had done with the contractor. 

We had never met Monsieur P.  When we asked Sandy to describe him, her reply was that he, “looked like us.”  When we met him at the apartment I guess I could see what she meant.  Monsieur P. could easily be a professor.  He is about my age, taller than me, blue eyes, graying hair cut a little long.  He was wearing a corduroy sports coat over a vest that looked like it must have been designed for architects, covered with pockets for pens and tape measures.

We stood in the bedroom going over a few things that needed to be decided while we were there.  One big question was about placement of the toilet.  Like most French apartments, ours was constructed with a salle d’eau, a bathroom that is just that, a room with a sink and a bath/shower, but no toilet.  Then there is a little room with a toilet, in our case it’s the first door when you walk into the apartment.  The two rooms back into each other, so we had the possibility of taking down the wall between them and creating an American-style  bathroom.  It would be that much bigger, and to me anyway, the idea of having to walk out in the hallway to go to the bathroom after I take a shower seems a little strange.  On the other hand, if two couple were ever staying in the apartment, I guess it would be convenient to have a toilet available while someone else was showering, and of course this configuration is more authentically French.

Well, whatever you replied to that poll, it doesn’t matter, because Monsieur P. was very firm about it.  If we want to rent the apartment to more than one couple at a time, we simply have to have a separate toilet.  I guess he is right as a practical matter, but really it’s one of those cultural things.  Toilets in the bathroom just seem strange to French people.  I am holding out, by the way, for one of the few American comforts that I actually care about:  a fixed shower head, attached to the wall, as opposed to one of those hand-held things that wind up spraying water from one end of the bathroom to the other, and never actually stay in the little holders that are supposed to hold it while you do something else, like actually wash yourself.  We’ll see if I get my way on that one.

We had emailed Monsieur P. that we would like to take him to lunch, so around 1:00 or so we headed out with him, Sandy and Philippe to find someplace to eat.  right around the corner we found a cafe called Cafe Le Pierrot and randomly walked in.  It was one of those amazing experiences you only have in France.  The place was full, and CAM and I were the only Americans in there.


It is still decorated in the original  Art Deco style, tiffany lamps, brass and glass.  And as though it were nothing at all, everyone sat down to an enormous lunch.  The special of the day was pork ribs in sauce “barbecue,” Philippe had that, M. P.  had an enormous, mostly raw steak hache.  CAM had skate wing in caper sauce, the most I have seen her eat for lunch in about five years.  I had a wonderful omelette paysan, layered with sliced potatoes, gruyere cheese and ham.  The men all had beers first, Sandy had wine, all this in the middle of a work day.  It took about two hours, but we still had a lot to do.  So when lunch was over, we said goodbye to Sandy and Moulan (who had come to the restaurant, of course).  Monsieur P. had a meeting for an hour or so, so we went with Philippe to look at convertible couches at Maison Convertible.  

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