Thursday morning I took the fast train (TGV, train à grande vitesse) from Bordeaux. Overall it was stunningly easier than flying: the train station is in the center city, you just have to get there five or ten minutes before departure, there’s no security, there are no issues about liquids or sharp objects and you can move around the train if you want.
I did encounter a moment of confusion that you might benefit from knowing about: I waited at the main level for the track number to appear on the arrivals screen, then went down to the appropriate platform. I knew from my ticket that I was in carriage 20 but I wasn’t sure which direction the train was coming from (trains generally run on the left side in France even though you drive on the right) or how long it would be so I wasn’t sure where to wait. It turned out that I had missed a screen on the platform which showed the composition of the train. It’s important to check this since the carriages were not in numerical order! Once I found it I understood the letters along the platform — after you found your carriage you could see what letter to wait near. Even after I got that sorted there was a moment of confusion because the carriage numbers are on tiny LCD screens by each door, one of which was broken. Due to all this I was one of the last to enter my carriage. Seats are reserved but the easily accessible luggage racks were already filled. Happily, another passenger helped me hoist my huge suitcase onto the rack above our heads. The train took about 3-1/2 hours but I gather that improvements are in the works that would cut that to around 2 hours!
My 2016 apartment was very much as expected, with just a few variations:
- On the minus side there’s no drier even though the listing explicitly said there would be one. Also, the drying rack is risibly small; the smallest of any apartment I’ve rented, including those with driers. I’m deciding how hard to press this issue. [Update: The washer has a strong spin cycle and everything dries quickly on the rack (and with fewer wrinkles), so I didn’t press this and I may not even look for a drier in future years.]
- On the plus side there’s a microwave oven even though it wasn’t in the listing. This is nice since last year I bought one, and I didn’t want to have to do that again.
- I had hoped that a table I could see between the kitchen and dining area would serve as a desk and in fact it’s perfect.
- I had realized that there was something funny about the back window since it was partially blocked in all the pictures. In fact it opens on a pleasant enough urban space — and gets afternoon sun! — but the problem is that there’s a flat roof going right up to the window sill, making it way too easy for someone to step in.
Fortunately there’s a honking metal security screen but unfortunately you have to close it before you go to sleep, certainly if you have the window open and probably best in any case.
- Everything else about the apartment is absolutely up to snuff, and there have been lots of pleasant little surprises, since this was clearly furnished as the owners’ pied-à-terre, not just for rental. For example, the listing showed a blank wall in the bedroom…
…where there are now three cool Keith Haring prints. (The owners are apparently a straight couple, but they have taste!)
- The apartment came with an espresso (expresso in French) coffeemaker. It’s fine for a quick little cup but I bought a regular coffeemaker (just 19.99 euros at Darty!) for my morning coffee. 2019 2019 Update: I now use a Nespresso machine at home and was perfectly happy with them in my last two 2019 Paris apartments.
I knew the neighborhood already, so its mild drawbacks came as no surprise. Rue d’Aboukir is dominated by wholesale clothing and fabric stores, as was the area on the other side of rue Montorgueil that I lived in last year. The ambiance is uninspiring but harmless.
The street is pretty busy in the daytime. Normally this is fine but there can be a honking traffic jam if a delivery truck stops up traffic on the narrow street. The area is quiet at night. This is good for sleeping, although I sometimes miss the happy buzz from the cafés of rue Montorgueil. All that excitement is, however, just a few blocks away!
As always, it’s fun to buy the consumables I need for my stay. I don’t know exactly why a task that would be a chore in Boston is a thrill in Paris, but so it is. At the start of every petit séjour it’s all about the future!
It was rainy when I arrived. I just got necessities and crashed, after a nice bento box at a nearby restaurant, Foodi.
The next day I did my serious shopping, laundry, organizing, etc. Then Jared W. came over for an apéro, but that’s another story…