Spring in Paris was a mirage this year. I had all my reservations, but Covid-19 had other ideas. Not only would it have been unsafe to travel, but France had locked down by the time I planned to travel, and my flight was cancelled.
Instead of another fabulous petit séjour I spent the spring mostly cooped up in my apartment, relieved by occasional Zooms with the folks I would have been spending time with in Paris. My self-pity was contemptible, in the context of a pandemic in which thousands were dying. The only aspect personal to me was the vulnerability of age; in other respects most everyone was having an experience at least as bad as my own. And even if I could have traveled there, the Paris I had enjoyed so many other springs had ceased to exist this year.
I’ve finally worked through the stages of grief, so here is a bittersweet post about what might have been.
From April 27 to May 10 I had planned to stay once again with my three cousins, Jackie, Lisa and Aya, in the same comfortable 15ème apartment, a few block from our great friend Ali, exactly like the two prior years.
I’m sure we would have gone on some terrific outings, like the day trip Jackie and I took last year to Provins.
One of our first guests would have been my great friend Zhizhong.
On May 1 my cousin Brian and his wife Sheila were scheduled to arrive in Paris, and we expected outings similar to those in prior years.
From May 10 to June 1 I had booked the same apartment on rue Montorgueil in the 1er arrondissement where I had stayed last year.
The owner had radically renovated in the intervening year, turning the kitchen into a third bedroom, and adding an en-suite bathroom to my preferred front bedroom. A minimal kitchen and the clothes washer had been moved to one end of the living/dining room. These changes were great for packing in a crowd but made it even more absurd for me to live there mostly alone, and I would also have missed the kitchen. But the location was unbeatable, it was very comfortable, and I liked the owner.
Just like last year, Sherard was scheduled to join me for a week at this apartment. I’m sure we would have once again walked ten miles a day, taken in a tsunami of art, had wonderful meals, and spotted untold numbers of Space Invaders! Helas!!
For the month of June I planned to return to Les Gobelins at the southern edge of the 5éme, which I enjoyed so much last year. The apartment Jared and I rented last year had many good features but it was a bit cramped and didn’t really lend itself to the dinner parties we had hoped to host. I was delighted, however, to find another two-bedroom place in the same block that was much more spacious, with a great kitchen and fabulous views, all for a lot less money!
I snapped up this place even though I hadn’t confirmed any June guests, on the well-tested theory that, “if you rent it, they will come.” But Covid-19 began rearing its ugly head just a few weeks later, and the rest is history.
AirBnb courteously and efficiently refunded every cent for the first apartment. The second apartment had been rented on a handshake with the terrific owner, who accepted my cancellation with good grace. The third apartment had been rented through a brokerage site, ParisAttitude.com. The owner graciously agreed to cancel and refund my deposit, but, true to its name, Paris Attitude only gave me a one-year voucher to recover its brokerage fee against another booking. I was pleased, however, to be out of pocket only a few hundred dollars after cancelling several thousand dollars of rentals.
I had booked my Air France flights, via Delta codeshare, using points from my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. Delta and Chase initially gave me a runaround, offering me only a voucher even though Air France had cancelled the flight. They caved eventually, however, and re-credited my points. I cashed out all my points and cancelled the Sapphire Reserve card, since who knows when I will be traveling again, or even going out to restaurants.
My trips to Paris have given me tremendous pleasure over the past decade. I hope it may be possible to resume them one of these days, but whether or not that comes to pass it’s a delight to be able to relive the trips through this blog. I hope it has (or will) enable you to enjoy my Springs in Paris as well.