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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Montmartre-heaven or hell? (Hell.)

On our first joint trip to Paris, me and my then-boyfriend-current spouse-future widow and me walked around in awe. I mean, it was Paris, and we were young(er) and desperately in love. We would walk under the bridges (that were, ipso facto, not so romantic after all because it smells strongly of beer urine under there), we kissed in ever street corner and park and graveyard and dreamed of moving there. The whole of Paris made us dream, and no place as much as Montmartre. 

The little alleys! The quaint cafés! The artistic bars! The breathtaking view from the stairs of Sacre-Coeur! We agreed- this is where we will move when we move to Paris. No matter what the cost. Even if we'll have to play in the metro to survive! It would be worth it, just to spend every day aimlessly wandering those streets.

Our first apartment in Montmartre turned out to be somewhat disheartening (see blog n:2 'How I became a starving artist'.) The second one was in the same apartment building, on rue Chappe, a street familiar from hundreds of Montmartre postcards. It was going to be more expensive, sighed the owner. But hey, no worries! It was going to be much, much bigger, again with state-of-the-art kitchen and great view. Great neighbors, too, he exclaimed. We decided to take the apartment nearing 800e per month. What we got was 23m2 along with a view on the 4m2 inner courtyard where garbage is collected, and facing directly our neighbor's living room, bed room and shower. He could see inside ours, too; well enough to tell us what a beautiful cat we had sleeping in our bed. He was the nice neighbor the owner had told us about.

The upstairs neighbor was, however, different. A young, hip aristocrat with the penthouse flat, a serious cocaine habit and a taste for parties, girls, techno music and expensive, large loudspeakers. No day job that I knew of, either, so the parties would go on until 5 A.M. almost every night. On the nights the youngster didn't party, he'd entertain his numerous lady-friends. Same routine with every single one of the poor girls. 

  1. Erykah Badu's 'In love with you' on full blast.
  2. Popping of champagne, chin chin.
  3. 'Je t'aime, tu sais.'
  4. Vertical rumba all night long with 'In love with you' on repeat.

One night, one of these girls surprised the lover-boy with another girl. He wouldn't open the door, and so there she was, banging away in the hallway, at 3 A.M. When he wouldn't open, she started banging on ours, asking if she could sleep at our place. She had come with her suitcase, and wanted to wait until morning to be able to let him know how much she loved him. We let the poor girl in. The next morning, she left without saying thanks. Like attracts like. Well, this aristo-brat-techno-gigolo wasn't all that bad. When he heard we were off to surf down where his family's castle has been for the last 400 years, he asked us to stop by. (When we did, he kindly permitted us to put our tent in his garden.)

Many things happened in our Montmartre apartment, sleeping not being one of them. But my man did ask me to marry him there, while brushing his teeth. 'So, you wanna marry me?' I was half asleep, we had just come home from a jam session. 'Mhmh', I replied. The next morning we bought cheap rings on rue St André des Arts, and were engaged.

We fell totally in love with the 7ème arrondissement the day we bought our rings. 'Hey, don't you think we should live here?' we gasped together. There was one downside - the rent cost. We figured it couldn't be worse than in Montmartre. And we were right. Two months later, we moved to rue de Lille, next to the Musée d'Orsay. 

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