Friday, April 16, 2010

Almost Done!

 resized_DSC_1687 We (CAM and I, and our kids MT and LT…. ET is off at college) were in Paris the first week of April.  Lots happened, mostly of the good or tragedy-narrowly-averted variety.  The trip started on a note of disappointment, of course, because this was supposed to be our triumphant first stay in the completed apartment, but due to the untimely death of Monsieur K., the contractor, it was not to be.  So we rented an apartment.  We wanted to find something in the neighborhood, so we would at least have the basic experience, but as it turned out pretty much everything in the immediate area was full, a good sign for future rentals.  The place that has the reputation as the best inexpensive hotel in the neighborhood, the Hotel du Tourisme, was booked up as well.  So we wound up somewhere we had never been…. in the towers along the Seine in the 15th, a “neighborhood” called Beaugrenelle.   This would not have been anyone’s first choice, but we were serious about staying nearby the apartment on Ouessant, it seemed like it might be something a little different, and maybe comfortable in its own way for the four of us.  And it was.  It was on the 21sr floor, with a truly spectacular view out over Paris, obviously the selling point for the whole thing.  The building itself was uninspiring and ugly, not even sleek and cool like one of the luxury towers in New York.  Instead, like many modern buildings in Paris, it had a certain Soviet concrete and cheap paint feel.  I suspect this is no accident, a lot of the modern buildings in Paris were built during France’s flirtation with Russia during the cold war.  I won’t dwell on the apartment itself, which was nothing special, and one of those unattractive situations where the owner lives there full-time and moves in with her boyfriend when she rents it out.  I find that kind of gross, like crashing on someone’s couch during a visit.  The frig was full of her food, the bathroom smelled like her, etc.  But it was basically fine, and a much-repeated ten minute walk from Ouessant.

resized_DSC_1722  Anyway, the best news of course is that the apartment is almost done.  We got in Friday morning, and moved into the apartment. (Not actually an easy step.  We arrived with four big cartons of stuff that CAM had accumulated to resized_DSC_1706furnish the apartment, everything from pots and pans to vacuum-compressed bedding.  We felt like an immigrant family in the airport.)  We walked straight over to Ouessant and it was bustling with painters and guys putting the finishing touches on the sliding doors that will separate the living room and the second bedroom.  resized_DSC_1716 The kitchen is basically done, as is the bathroom.  

Monsieur P., the architect, wasn’t around, so there wasn’t all that much to do there, and after a little while we headed out to lunch.  I had been dying to try the little creperie that is next-door to us, so we went there.  I don’t think LT took any pictures, and I don’t remember the name of it, but it is wonderful:  tiny, all French people in it, very nice crepes.  French crepes come in two kinds—sweet ones, made with white flour and filled with butter, sugar, Nutella or fruit, and savory ones, made with a little buckwheat flour, called sarazin (I think) in French.  Savory crepes come filled with just about anything, but often some combination of ham, egg and cheese.  I love the menus, which are long lists of every possible combination, ham, egg, cheese, ham and egg, cheese and egg, and so forth.  I like all three, generally called a “complete.”  They are  big, cooked on a big 12-inch iron, onto which the batter is poured and then spread around thinly with a little wooden mallet.  Then it is flipped with a little putty-knife shaped spatula, and filled.  In a good crepe, the cheese (gruyere, unless they specify otherwise) gets a little crispy around the edges; the egg is always sunnyside, and the ham is better than any ham you would ever get in the US.  Anyway, it is a wonderful little place, and there is another crepe place, in a different style, in a cafe on the other corner, this one a window on the side of the cafe with a man standing making crepes to go.  And we had yet a third crepe experience later in the trip, this one a little less enjoyable.  I’ll get to that one in a day or so.

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