Goodnight, Eiffel Tower: Hilary in France Part 1!

Every place has it’s own little quirks that define a it in one’s mind, whether it’s a favorite shop to walk by or people you see walking around everyday. In the few days I’ve been here, I already see, hear, and smell a hundred little things everyday that paint a portrait of the character of this small part of Paris. It’s all part of the process of settling in.

The view out my window near sunset.

Even sitting near the open window of my apartment, it’s astounding how much geographical character flows across my senses.

The apartment itself is small, but quite adequate. It’s worth mentioning that the door locks work a little differently here than you might expect. After inserting the key, it takes  2 1/4 clockwise revolutions to open the door and the reverse to lock it (2 1/4 counterclockwise turns, that is).

The kitchenette has a sink, a small fridge, and microwave, a stove, and some dishes/flatware/pots and pans. The stove is a bit tricky too. You have to twist a knob on the left or right, and twist the center knob to actually activate the burner. The center knob also acts as a timer that turns off the heat when the knob twists itself back to the starting position again. The circuit breakers for the apartment are in a box opposite the kitchenette, which could come in handy if you need it.

The bathroom includes a water heater that only runs at night (which means that there’s a finite hot water supply each day). The toilet invariably takes at least two flushes, but it has a cascading flush that’s fun to watch. The shower is extremely tiny. I’m not a large person, but it takes some considerable effort to get in and out – and to take a shower without accidentally whacking one of the doors too hard with my shoulder while turning around to shampoo.
The main area has a bed made of two foam mattresses that have been shoved together, and comes with sheets, a very flat pillow (bring your own if you value your neck), and a blanket. There’s also a little closet with a tower-style fan inside. The rest, you can see for yourself.

There’s nearly always traffic noise and sirens outside, except during the wee hours of the night when it’s actually pretty quiet. But there’s also a church down the street that rings its bells every so often. The sidewalks in town are mostly full of pigeons, but seagulls soar through the skies and squawk outside my window.

There’s a black kitty that sometimes perches on the ledge across the way. My second night here, I was sitting at my computer when I noticed its fuzzy silhouette, backlit by the city lights. It came back two days later in the morning and sat still long enough for me to snap a couple of pictures. What a cutie!I also have a view of the Paris Viaduct (aka, Viaduc des Arts) from here. People walk, jog, and push strollers up and down it all day long. I’ve gotten in the habit of leaning on my window sill and watching the pedestrians go by when I need a break.The area around the school was obviously meant to cater to tourists. There’s a McDonald’s on the corner, a Starbuck’s in the other direction, and stores like Nike and Office Depot in between. But there are also a innumerable local shops, patisseries, boulangeries, etc. – probably because actual French people live here too. I’m hoping to find a place to stereotypically sit at a little rod iron table and people-watch while I do something else cliched like writing screenplay outlines. Or, I might just study. We’ll see.There are always tourists wandering around or sitting at restaurants/cafes. Most appear to be British, American, or French from outside of Paris. I haven’t figured out how to blend in yet, and I imagine that carrying around a backpack is really not helping, but I’ll get there eventually. I’ve already figured out not to wear white socks, but I think I might have to buy one or two items of clothing and a bag eventually. The storekeepers nearly always greet visitors with “Bonjour!” and I always reply in-kind, as is expected. One thing I’ve noticed that I really like is that the clerks don’t come wandering up to ask me if I need help every few minutes, or follow me around the store like American shopkeepers are often wont to do. It makes for a much more pleasant shopping, or browsing, experience.

The weather can turn on a dime in Paris, during the late summer at least. I wake up to a different sky each day and go to bed beneath a different sky every night.

View through my window at night. Can you spot the Eiffel Tower?

I always wanted to live in an apartment with a view of the Eiffel Tower. I was even thinking about it a little on the flight over. A couple of nights in, I suddenly realized that I do (the top of it, anyway). It’s practically hidden during the day, if you don’t already know where to look, but it’s lit up at night and even sparkles for a while starting around 10pm. I can’t see the moon from my window, but I like to look at the tower every night as kind of a mental ‘pinch’ – just to remind myself that I really am here.
Goodnight, Eiffel Tower. Bonsoir.


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