When I arrived, fresh off the boat, in France, I was blessed that my husband's bachelor pad was so well placed. If you were walking down the Champs-Elysees you turned left at the corner of the Swatch store. At the end of the street you turn right and voilà! Home Sweet Home.
The building had a digicode system to ensure safe entry in the evenings. The code was changed on a regular basis since people occasionally gave it out to delivery men, the pizza guy, friends etc.
The entrance hall was mirrored and everything had a golden glint to it. The right hand wall was mirrored from floor to ceiling. On the left was the apartment of the "gardienne" the Portuguese lady who was our superintendent. I would say she was my first friend. Each day I would say "bonjour" and stutter some gargling noises until she would smile and hand me my mail. One day I actually learned how to ask for it using real words!! Yay me!
We had an elevator, but if you've ever been to Paris, you'll find that it's well worth taking the stairs. The elevators are usually small (one to two people comfortably) and they sound like they're hoisted up by elves. Bink, bang, clang, thud, bump, silence
Our building was meant to be a hotel so it was really no surprise to find that the apartment was . . . . a hotel room!! I later found out that we were fortunate in that we could close off the entrance/bathroom/4 door closet area because a lot of the studio apartments on offer in the city were just one big room, no separation. My husband had built a screened off Ikea kitchenette in one corner and we managed to fit a sofa bed, drop-side table, closet and desk in there. On one wall were shelves set high up on the wall. At the far end was the only source of natural light - a big sliding glass door that led out to our balcony. Ok, now I say balcony but imagine a bistro table and two chairs. Person one would sit down. Slide the table close then person two could sit down . . . .don't yell "Fire!"
What was ironic was that across the street from us was this beautiful Haussmanian building with an apartment that spanned FOUR double windows. Every week I would watch Conchita (that's what I named their cleaning lady) wash the windows and vacuum. As a matter of fact, I only ever saw Conchita in that pristine apartment. . . .
From our balcony, though, you could take in movie-style Paris! The early morning deliveries, the bakery smells, the bustling restaurant on the corner, the flashy cars coming off the "Champs", the occasional mugging . . . .the city that never sleeps. Ca c'est Paris!