2 May 2020

Aloft in Montmartre


Yesterday's muguets.

- Happy Fête du Travail weekend -

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During le confinement, and with recent downpours, these days our lush courtyard has taken on the feel of a miniature rain forest. The usual species of birds chirping away each morning have been joined by a chorus of new voices, voices I imagined native only to the Arizona desert. High on our checklist when shopping for an apartment in Paris - besides hardwood floors, high ceilings, tall windows, fireplace (and, I insisted, a gas stove) - was “quiet courtyard with trees.” As long as we had that, we felt, we could work with almost any architecture and, if necessary, renovate. For years we’d lived in an apartment in the Marais district that faced onto a street, and though it was on a higher floor, had reinforced windows and loads of caractère, we soon understood why, in the world of Paris real estate, “coté cour" comes with a price.

Montmartre was our first choice. In truth, nowhere else would do. We'd had a place on the busy Abbesses side of the hill, a gloriously quiet rental. No one would guess that cafés, restaurants and small shops lay beyond the threshold of our street door. This experience, along with the all-sacred calme yearned for by Parisians that I'd known living in a garden flat in frenetic central London, had spoiled me.

Today our small city apartment, transformed into a loft in an historic building on the west side of the butte, overlooks a leafy courtyard. Not a single sound from a single car, motorcycle, trash truck or late-night reveler wafts up - nor does pollution waft in. No screaming sirens, no honking buses. We still marvel that we stumbled into such tranquility and that, amazingly, just outside, the bustle of the street goes on, but we'd never know it. BPJ

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Adapted from my talk:

Buying a Paris apartment: Pros and (possible) Cons

 

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