And so we return once more to the saga of my arrival à Paris, one Airbnb and two hotels down, and three Airbnbs – and five weeks – to go. Good grief, I feel worn out just thinking about it again.
I had enjoyed something of a respite after the ‘Experience’ that was hotel no. 2 – returning to England for a wedding had meant several nights spent in relative luxury. There was breakfast. And I didn’t feel the need to wash my hands if I brushed one against a wall. It was bliss.
The journey back to France was somewhat less blissful. I don’t know if you’ve ever taken a coach from London to Paris, but I would not recommend it unless you are very hard up for cash and really need to make the trip. Sadly, both applied here. Moving country is expensive.
Anyway, despite very nearly getting left behind at the Eurotunnel port by an exceptionally grumpy bus driver, I eventually made it back to Paris late on the Sunday night, where my fellow passengers and I disembarked, stiff-limbed and sleepy, into some kind of dingy hillside bus bunker.
Said bunker was located right in the middle of this strange large-ish park in Bercy, which can be found towards the outer rim of the city in the 12th Arrondissement – should you want to go see for yourself. I wouldn’t recommend it particularly, except for one feature on the edge of the park, which actually proved to be something of a saving grace for me. If you read my earlier post You’ve Got To Love A Good Cliché, you might remember my visit to the Cinémathèque Française, where I watched an Italian film with French subtitles. No? Never mind. Fortunately, I most certainly did remember the trip – and I also remembered the slightly obscure and not-at-all-well-signposted walk from the park to the metro. Much better I’d gotten slightly lost that first time when evening was only just settling in and I had both arms available for any self-defence that could (but didn’t) prove necessary, than the later occasion, when night had well and truly fallen and I was drowning in luggage.
Not that it was entirely plain sailing. The bus depot was the opposite side of the park to the Cinémathèque– and the metro – so I had the joy of navigating my way through the various mud-tracks and cobblestone paths that seemed to zigzag all over the flipping place, trying my very hardest to look purposeful and invulnerable whilst powering along with my oversized suitcase bumping about behind me through the stones and the dirt and the leaves. Top tip: doubling back on yourself and changing direction multiple times probably isn’t the best way to achieve “purposeful and invulnerable”. But what can you do.
Despite a few navigational hiccups, I made it to the metro (undoubtedly much quicker than I would have done as a first-timer in the area) and from there it was a relatively smooth journey to the station at Ville d’Avray, the very quiet and out-of-the-way suburb where Airbnb No. 2 was located. A few more wrong turns later (I should really download a better map app) I arrived, punched in the gate code, and dragged my suitcase (and my exhausted self, by this point) into a complex of small apartment blocks.
Letting myself into the right building, I was greeted by a tiny smiling woman with bright, floaty clothes and perfectly-curled hair, bound up in a ribbon. I liked her immediately. She led me through a series of corridors with the sort of yellow-ish tiled flooring you might expect in a Spanish holiday apartment, and came to a stop in front of a wooden door in a hallway full of identical wooden doors.
All I can say is that it was a damn good job I would not be sharing THIS apartment with the owner and/or any friends of said owner – and not just because I was hoping to actually sleep at this place. (See I Didn’t Want To Sleep Anyway (Airbnb No. 1) for context…)
The apartment – and I use this term in the loosest sense of the word – was approximately the size of a large-ish bathroom. Appropriate, since next to the sofa bed, was a sink and then a shower. Adjacent was the fridge, built into a tiny cupboard unit with two hot plates and a sink, and then there was a minute half-(end)table across the room – and that was it. It had to be: the sofa, when extended into a bed, filled the entire room.
One wall was entirely mirrors, which had created the deceptive impression on the website that the room was approximately double its actual size. Which would have made it the size of an average single bedroom, I suppose. But, despite the size (or notable lack thereof), I was happy to be there and this would actually turn out to be my favourite of the six stop-gap living arrangements I had during my Quest For The Perfect Apartment. It was immaculately clean and tidy, and there was something very cosy about the whole set-up. I’m not sure I could have done it for long, but for a week, it was grand. Not in the least because I didn’t have to share with hideously noisy strangers.
Although having to stumbling out of the studette into a pitch black corridor and blindly attempt to unlock the toilet room with a tiny little key (on a bunch of several) in the middle of the night? Not ideal.