For the first part of May, like last year, I’m happily ensconced with three cousins in the remote but fully Parisian 15ème arrondissement. We have a métro stop a few minutes away so you might think that this is like any other quartier. But it turns out that almost anywhere we actually want to go (apart from Montrouge on May 1) takes about an hour, typically around ten stops north on line 12 and another ten or so stops east on another line. Our location is noted on the key map below, in the south-west corner of Paris, just outside the box labelled “Main map.”

This is the key to the Rough Guide map I used with Andy on our 2008 trip. I was thrilled then when we went off the map! But this year and last, for a week or two, I’m actually living off the map.

In the 2ème, where I will be moving on Friday, getting where you want to go typically takes half an hour or less, even on foot. On the other hand, I have still not seen a single tourist in the 15ème, which will certainly not be true for the rest of my stay.

Playing house is always one of the fun aspects of my long stays here, but the experience is on steroids when there are four of us. Buying and cooking food, cleaning up, washing and drying clothes, suiting up to go somewhere, etc. all reflect the complex energies and preferences of three generations and two genders.

We’ve had some excellent outings, which I will describe in future posts, but these two factors combine to make it rather easy to spend a day or two puttering around home and the immediate neighborhood, as we did last Thursday and Friday.

It was rainy on Thursday, so our big trip was a ten minute walk to give Aya a ride on a manège (merry-go-round). I had supposed that she would be laughing and waving at us as she went by but as it happened she was completely absorbed in the experience.

On Friday our big project was hosting a dinner party for Ali and the family of one of his colleagues at American University of Paris. With six adults and two children this was the biggest dinner party I’ve co-hosted in all my Paris trips. It was, if I say so myself, something of a triumph.

There was an embarrassing moment: Our lived-in apartment has a massive linen chest which I assumed would include six napkins. I easily found four of one type and two of another. But I was bemused when Lisa pointed out that two of them were actually small pillowcases. I swore her to secrecy and carefully put them at Lisa’s and my places, hoping that nobody else would ever know. Somehow the places got changed, however, so in the middle of dinner one of our guests exclaimed, “Why, this is actually a pillow case!” A slightly flawed triumph, but a triumph nevertheless.