This year’s Paris visit was very good, but also very different from my previous petits séjours.
The family parts of my visit were deeply rewarding. While I’ve spent time with family members on previous long stays — principally cousins Lisa, BJ and Brian — this was the first time, since my much shorter 2008 trip with my nephew Andy, that I’ve actually stayed in Paris with family: for eleven days at the start of the trip with cousins Jackie, Lisa and Aya, and almost a week at the end of May with Andy. I also had meals and an outing with Brian and his wife Sheila, as well as, after they left, an apéro with their (now our) friends Rick and Cheryl. It was the first time in my adult life I’ve shared a household with my cousins, apart from a short visit to Boston by Lisa and Aya a couple of years ago, and the first time that I’ve helped look after a four-year-old. Andy’s visit was very nostalgic for both of us, since it was the first trip we’ve taken together since our eleven-day trip to Paris ten years ago, when he was fifteen. He proved to be an avid flâneur and art enthusiast as well as a fan of planes, trains, space flight and gadgets. As I analyzed in my post Where is the Journey?, I realized this year that time with family and friends can itself be a satisfying “journey” whether or not physical travel is involved.
This was also the first time that none of my gay friends was scheduled to stay with me, although Stan and Q did crash for a couple of nights (as an “expected surprise”) and I took a three-day trip to Strasbourg with Zhizhong. Apart from my always-reliable friends Zhizhong and Elliot, the gay friends I have made here in prior years were either away or busy. The only time I set foot in a gay bar was one Sunday afternoon at Rosa Bonheur, and I only met two guys through social networking apps. The half dozen dinners I had with Theseus were enjoyable enough, but I realized from the start that he offered no possibility of an enduring friendship so in a larger sense it was a waste of time. The upshot was that this was by far the least gay of my long Paris stays. This was due in large part to my mood, but also to some extent because I was happily busy with family for much of my stay. Not, on balance, a drawback, but certainly a difference.
The apartments were excellent, apart from the problem with hot water in the shower of my second place (and the quickly-fixed gas leak). The second apartment’s rooftop location might have made it an oven in hot weather but every night during my stay was cool enough for sleep, and the superb cross-ventilation brought the cool air inside. The first apartment was in the remote 15ème, which proved surprisingly comfortable but a somewhat daunting 45-minute métro ride into the center; I was happy from that perspective to move to the central 2ème. Both apartments were rented through Airbnb, which avoided brokerage fees although it added smaller cleaning and overhead fees. As I noted before the trip, unregistered Airbnb’s are under legal attack, so it may become harder, and more expensive, to rent short-term in Paris.
Weather overall was just ok. There were some beautiful days but there were thunderstorms almost every afternoon and on the whole it was unusually cool. My conclusion is that there are no definite patterns to spring weather in Paris, except that I still consider June the safest month.
I averaged seven miles of walking per day — about twice my average at home — as usual for my Paris stays. I neither gained nor lost weight, also typical. I didn’t swim or go to the gym this year, partially because walking seems to maintain my fitness but also due to simple laziness. I was also somewhat deterred by how busy the many Parisian pools often seem to be. Another year I would hope to find an accessible pool that I could use at some quieter time of day.
In all my visits I’ve never once taken a class! This is primarily due to laziness, but also a desire to keep my time open for taking advantage of opportunities as they arise. Another year I hope I can motivate myself to take a cooking course and/or a French course.
After I realized all the cool stuff I was missing in the latter part of June I seriously considered extending my stay to the end of the month. I eventually decided to stick with my June 11 departure date because of attractions in Boston and the fact that I felt ready to head home. But another year I will try to include all of June in my stay, whether the overall visit is six or eight weeks. My previous pattern of the first two weeks of May somewhere else in Europe followed by six weeks in Paris still appeals.
As usual, I had good meals, saw a lot of stimulating art, and enjoyed exploring the endlessly interesting nooks and crannies of the city. Blogging every few days took quite a lot of time but continues to be a key facet of my petits séjours in Paris.
The dollar had weakened dramatically over the past two years, so this was a considerably more expensive trip than in 2016. My personal finances continue to be strong enough, however, that I really don’t care.
I would certainly consider another long stay in Paris, although I would also be open to trying the pattern in another city, or returning to Tokyo.