I’m leaving for Paris in a few hours on another petit séjour! Six weeks this year, the first ten days with my cousin Lisa and her daughter Aya in the 15ème and the rest on rue Poissonnière — just a few blocks above my beloved rue Montorgueil — in the 2ème. I’ll be in Paris until June 11.
This will be the most family-oriented of all my long stays. After Lisa and Aya leave my cousin Brian and his wife Sheila will be in Paris the following week, and my nephew Andy will be staying with me for the last week in May. Other friends will also be passing through, and possibly crashing with me, so it won’t be too solitary a visit. Not to mention Parisian friends such as Zhizhong, who has proposed a long weekend road trip in early May.
This year for the first time I’m using Airbnb instead of Paris brokers, such as Paris Attitude. I’ve had good luck with Airbnb elsewhere, including for six weeks in Tokyo last year. It’s a treat to avoid the punishing broker’s fee, and infinitely more convenient to pay by credit card rather than having to bring cash for both rent (converted to euros) and deposit. The real issue is the legal challenge that the City of Paris is making against illegal short-term rentals, whether through brokers or Airbnb. This has been a lurking issue since I started my long stays, but has now become focused in a lawsuit that could force Airbnb to remove 2/3 of its Paris listings. That reduction in supply could push short-term rents through the roof. Will this be my Last Tango in Paris?
I’ve written before about the Sweet Sorrow of leaving Paris at the end of one of my long stays, but in fact there’s a similar feeling as I prepare to leave home for such a long time. Tearing myself away from familiar routines has been a purpose of these trips since the beginning. Paris has increasingly become a home away from home, so the element of daring (always somewhat spurious) has largely evaporated. But the interruption in my Boston/Cambridge life is the same. I’ll be back in just a few weeks, inshallah, but winding things up and saying farewells is nevertheless slightly tinged with sadness. As I get older the resonance with a final departure — to a hospital or hospice from which I may or will not return — becomes stronger. This isn’t a problem, however. Rather it’s the flip side of my enjoyment of my regular Boston life, which it’s one of the goals of the trip to remind me of. And this little twinge takes nothing from the thrill of heading back for another long stay in the City of Light.