Paris not always the city of light
It is 10pm. The building is in darkness as, looking forward to a hot shower and comfy bed, we stand at the wroughtiron front door of our Paris accommodation, punching in the entry code by phone light. Once inside the apartment block we grope for the hall light marked “lumiere”, which we soon discover blinks out if not given another jab.
The lift being smaller than a tiny linen press, it is necessary to make several trips to get ourselves and our luggage to the apartment, all the while running back and forth to activate “lumiere”. Once at the top, it is time to grope around under the carpet for the key. Being on hands and knees at the top of six flights of circular staircase in the middle of the night when the light goes out tends to sharpen the senses. The key is found and inserted in the lock, but the door proves stubbornly resistant to all our pleas for “entree”, so I take the lift to the ground floor in search of the concierge. I rap loudly on her door with, “Bonsoir, Madame”. Nothing.
Meantime, the spouse persists and gets the door to cooperate. That isn’t the end of it, however, oh non. It is now time to read the manual on how to operate the apartment. Midnight is fast approaching, the witching hour when all right-thinking brains are in power-saving mode. So the half dozen or so instructions we need to follow to get the gas hot water system operating defeat us. A short tantrum, a night’s sleep, a new dawn and a hot shower later, we step out into the optimistic morn in search of the obligatory coffee and croissants.
On the way out I notice the “concierge’s” door I banged on last night is the door to the garbage bins. No matter, the sun is shining, Paris beckons. A short walk finds us in a recommended bakery. Determined to use my schoolgirl French, the Parisians lined up behind me are delighted to hear me ask the woman behind the counter, “Parlez-vous Francais?” as she appears to me obviously not of French origin. In perfect English she replies that of course she speaks French but also English (if that is of any help, Madame). All assembled crack up at my expense, but I’m delighted to be part of the moment. Send your 400-word contribution to Follow the Reader: firstname.lastname@example.org. Columnists will receive a beautifully boxed set of a dozen 2ml vials of woody, floral and spicy scents from international fragrance house Amouage; $110. More: libertineparfumerie.com.au.