Sunday, March 02, 2008

Storming the Bastille

For 24 hours now, I've been living in my apartment.

Instead of being crammed into a 10 square meter room, I've got a separate bedroom, a bathroom, and - praise the culinary gods - a kitchen!

Allow me to give you a tour.

Climbing to the third floor (2nd floor in European parlance) of an unassuming building in the 11th Arrondisement, you open the doors to this small but tasteful living room. Personally, I dig the fireplace (even though I don't think I'm allowed to use it), and the fact that is has a futon, meaning I can have guests!

The bedroom is surprisingly larger than it looked in the rental agency's pictures, with yet another decorative fireplace. In the other half of the room (not shown) is a desk, a window out on to the building's courtyard (not much of a view, sadly), and a big ol' closet.

The kitchen isn't a gourmet's dream... in fact, it's more like an Ikeaphile's dream. But it's got just about everything I'd need, including a cool 4-burner stove that not only has an oven, but beneath the oven a built-in... dishwasher!? Crazy. The crockery and cutlery kind of suck, but hey, it's a temporary rental. I can always buy my own.

Note the baguette on the counter. Yes, I just bought that, nice and fresh! The miniature below-the-counter European fridge is small, but not inadequate. My only complaint is that I have to squat down on my knees to get anything. Not unlike dealing with the French government.

But as much as I love finally having a kitchen (eliminating the need to spend $84 on dinner every time I get hungry at night) the real piéce de résistance is the bathroom. You have to understand something about me. There are two parts of the house that really, truly matter to me. The kitchen and the bathroom. I need both cleanliness and style in the places where I create my food, and where I ultimately get rid of it. So needless to say, I'm pretty happy with these designer digs:

Awww, yeah. Curved corner bath tub, one of those cool washbasins, and surprisingly cool pink decor throughout. All I'm missing now are my bitchez & Kristal wife and dog.

The neighborhood is pretty damn cool, too. Despite its newfound hipster (ugh) leanings a bit northwest around Oberkampf, the 11th maintains a working-class budget but boasts plenty of style. Perhaps not in the look of the neighborhood - there are a handful of crazies and drunks that make it somewhat reminiscent of San Francisco - but at what's behind the facade. The atmosphere at the local businesses tends to be less tourist and more local. Less chi-chi and more affordable.

There's a halal butcher shop just downstairs. An awesome bakery at the nearby corner. A huge supermarket should I choose to do my shopping around 9:30pm. A great fishmonger. And if I head south to the more rowdy part of the Bastille neighborhood, about 2,465 bars, a couple of which have been longtime Parisian favorites of mine. Oh, and there are no less than two Absinthe bars within 2 blocks of me in either direction on my street.

Ok, so I'm too poor to go bar-hopping every night. And hell, I'm getting older and I'm more responsible. But it's great to know that all this is just a stone's throw away.

Speaking of which, it's happy hour at the local goth/metal/industrial bar. That's got my name all over it. See ya!

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