|Arrondissements of Paris|
The river Seine cuts through the city and creates the Left Bank and the Right Bank. The districts are arranged around the river and spiral outwards like the pattern of a snail shell (see map). The first district was number 1 and so on. Each district has ‘quarters’ within them which characterise the neighbourhood. It’s hard to get a sense of what each district is like unless you’ve experienced the city for a little while. This was my dilemma when I was trying to find an apartment to live in over the internet whilst I back in Australia.
I eventually settled on the 17th district. Why the 17th? Well I was told it was lively, lots of theatres and restaurants, which was true as I was only around the corner from the Moulin Rouge, and it had a bohemian arthouse vibe. So I found a place just off Place de Clichy which is the hub of the 17th. Six days into my Parisian life I had the predictable conversation of where I was living, to which I was bluntly told I should move. Move! Why? “Place de Clichy is a terrible place”, they said, it’s where all the people from the ‘suburbs’ come into town and hang out. Ok, right!
First the tapping was intermittent, then it become regular until finally it was constant. I tried in vain to sleep. I wore ear plugs whilst also sleeping with a pillow over my head, but it didn’t matter what I did, the insistent tapping bore through all my soundproofing techniques. It became an unbearable form of water torture to the point that I was maybe getting 3 hours sleep a night. Remember also that this is amongst starting a new job and having my handbag stolen...I was quickly becoming strung out.
So once again in my life, I was faced with the desire to move across the river and find a new place in the more becoming Left Bank.
Surely my luck in this town had to turn. So in my third week of my Parisian lifestyle I was going to apartment inspections. Finally I stumbled across the perfect one! Newly renovated two room apartment with a full size kitchen that I would consider to be another room, never been leased before, with brand new appliances including a full-sized fridge (a rarity in Paris), oven, dishwasher, and front loader / tumble dryer combo. It is also in a classic Parisian stone building with typical French doors, and a decent courtyard, which the apartment is right next to. Gold! Yep, merci beaucoup, thanks very much, I’ll take it!
I love my new place. Whilst it’s sparsely furnished in terms of crockery, utensils and wardrobe space, I’m making an exciting trip with a friend (who is equally excited) to IKEA on the weekend. We’ve hired a mini Renault van called a Kangoo for the day so we call fit all of our flat packs in. My dad will confirm that I can proficiently assemble sturdy IKEA furniture which he was impressed with when he saw my kitchen buffet back in my Melbourne pad.
As for the similarities between Paris and Melbourne, there are surprisingly many. Like Paris, Melbourne is full of cafes, restaurants and bars. There is a huge culture of enjoying wine and good food, and hanging out in cool bars. Not unlike Melbourne where its bars and quality restaurants define it’s cosmopolitan character. Just like in Melbourne where I can sit and drink loads of coffee and watch the world go by, as my regular coffee buddies will tell you, I do just the same here in Paris.
Paris also has a love of arts, theatre, and history. Melbourne’s many theatres and art productions are similar in that respect, although perhaps less grand. Interestingly, Paris is separated by a river as I mentioned, as is Melbourne, and it too has trams as does Melbourne.
Paris is also a sporting city, just like Melbourne. Whilst it only has one major sporting stadium, Stade de France, built for the 1998 FIFA World Cup holding 80,000 people, it hosts a number of sporting events. Ruby is huge hear and they get a great attendance for the big matches, particularly for the Six Nation Championship. Paris also hosts the closing stage of the Tour de France which finishes down the Champs-Elysees, and like Melbourne, it hosts an international tennis event, that of the French Open at Roland Garros National Tennis Centre. And no city would be complete without a beautiful racecourse, whilst smaller in terms grand stands and surrounding areas, Paris has the famous Hippodrome de Longchamps racecourse where the country’s most famous race, and richest outside Japan, the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe is held each year.
Finally, Melbourne has been ranked in the top three of the World’s Most Liveable City index since 2002, whilst Paris is among the top ten cities in the world in which to live, according to a British review conducted last year.
Hopefully now I can settle peacefully into my new city. Although, I think I’m so very lucky to be able to experience both cities – they are the same, same, but different!