Ode to 75008

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In my apartment I have several balconies, one located in my huge living
room, with sliding glass doors. My old living room was a third of this
size. During the day we are flooded with sunshine. I have enough room
here for several babies to crawl around, though I only have one for the
moment. In fact, my old apartment could fit inside this one, and I’d
still have plenty of space left.

 

Right
now as I sit at my computer dans ma salle de séjour, I can see La Tour
Eiffel. Saying that it is a beautiful site would not even begin to do
it justice. It’s 11.00 at night and they’ve turned on the lights over
there and it’s all aglow. Thousands of tiny white lights illuminating
my night.

 

Makes me miss Paris even more.

 

My
family and I have just recently moved out of Paris proper and into
Levallois Perret. 92300 is my new zip code. It used to be 75008. 92300
is less than five minutes away from 75008 by car, and only two metro
stations away. I can walk there. In the space of ten minutes I can be
seated inside or outside Café Monceau, which is located just across the
street from 75008, ordering up my favourite: Salade Royale,
si’l vous plait.

 

92300.
It looks like Paris here. It smells like Paris here. I can see Hotel
Concorde La Fayette and as I’ve said, the glowing Eiffel Tower from the
windows in my living room. But I am no longer IN Paris proper… and
it’s biting at me like an Alabama mosquito at dusk.

 

I’m
not the only one suffering from Parisian proper withdrawal. My husband
was living there (see, I have to say there and not here, one of the
problems) way before I came into town. But, you know, life changes and
you have the baby you’ve always wanted (and still want!) You look
desperately for a bigger apartment in your fabulous neighbourhood where
you’ve blissfully lived for five years. It’s located just down the
street from Parc Monceau and across the street from a great rue
piétonne. (Read my recent article. ) But you don’t find anything. So you decide: It’s all or nothing and you leave.

 

Then
you end up just a little bit outside of Paris, in a neighbourhood
that’s oh-so-chic. (I think every single woman in my apartment building
carries a Hermès bag, but I’m a Louis Vuitton girl, myself). 92300 is
so clean that you could maybe eat off the sidewalk (maybe). It’s a
calm, mostly residential area. The only crime you have to worry about
is a little old lady hitting you with her cane if you hog too much of
the sidewalk. The flowers at La Mairie are bright and beautiful (tulips
even) and all the waterfalls make my baby laugh when we sit outside on
the clean benches to look at them. So you’re thinking: Only two metro
stations away, minutes in the car, it will be fine.

 

And then it’s not.

 

One
thing my husband and I really hate saying to each other is “You want to
go into Paris?” We’ve decided to stop saying that, as it only increases
our pain. We even find excuses to revisit our old neighbourhood in
75008—still using the same tailor, the same dry cleaner, eating at the
same restaurants and shopping at “little” Monoprix when there’s one
right here down the street in 92300!

 

One
of my good friends, an American who hails from San Francisco, used to
live in Paris. Then she moved to Meaux and now she’s moving even
further away to Tours. I asked her: “How could you do this?” As if she
had just eaten the last piece of chocolate I bought from Lenôtre or
something. For some people, it perfectly suits them to be outside the
city limits. Not me. But then again, my Uncle Johnny always said I’d be
a city girl.

 

So I wonder, what is
it about Paris and being within Paris proper that is so alluring to
many? One article couldn’t describe it and if you’re reading this, then
you probably already know anyway! I dared complain to one of my friends
who lives in New York. She very quickly put things in perspective for
me.

 

“Are you serious? Are you (
censor neccessary! She is a New Yorker) serious? I have to take a
plane. You’re (censor) a measly five minutes away! Who cares! I’d give
my (bleep!) left arm—and right one, too—to live there and have your
place. Hey, you wanna trade?”

 

Okay,
so maybe I won’t complain anymore—at least, not to an American who’s
aching to live here. Okay, not to a New Yorker. So then I decided to
try it with one of my French friends, who lives in a great Parisian
neighbourhood herself.
Her response was even worse.

 

“Tu
habite en Levallois, pas Marne-La-Vallée. Levallois est deux minutes de
Paris, donc, pour moi, tu habites à Paris, quoi! En plus tu as un bel
appartement avec une vue magnifique. Attends…mais tu est folle ou pas.

 

Translation:

 

“You live in Levallois, not Marne-La-Vallée [located approximately 32 km or 18.6 miles from Paris].
 Levallois
is two minutes from Paris, therefore, for me, you live in Paris.
Besides that, you have a beautiful apartment with a magnificent view.
Wait…but are you crazy or what?”

 

Second translation—she really does think I’m insane.

 

The conversation continued.

 

My
French friend who lives in Paris: “What about all the calm in your new
neighbourhood, would you trade that to move back to Paris?”

 

Me: “I’d trade it.”

 

MFFWLIP: “What about not having to dodge every dog’s dinner in Paris?”

 

Me: “Trade it, trade it!”

 

MFFWLIP: “And your huge apartment”?

 

Me: “Trade it, trade it, trade it!”

 

MFFWLIP: “And your view of La Tour”?

 

Me: “Hmm….let me think about that one.”

 

MFFWLIP: “Voila! That’s what I thought.”

 

Okay,
so I’m finished complaining for good…or at least for now (I think.) So
92300 is not technically in Paris, but I’m there every day. I lived in
75008 for five years and I’ll do it again. (But I still asked my
husband if he wanted to move back right away, just in case. He said no,
so I guess we’re not packing up and moving out of this place just yet,
because I do not want to scotch up another box either!)

 

Another
reason why I can’t complain is because many Parisian lovers are a lot
further away than two metro stations. So I apologize if you feel that
I’ve no right to complain. I probably don’t and am wondering if I
should even dare put this in writing! (Sometimes I feel like a nut,
sometimes I don’t).

 

Bien sûr
this is all so very trivial. With everything that’s going on in the
world, I’m saying to myself over and over shame on you! Like I said,
sometimes I feel like a nut, sometimes I don’t. I know I’m lucky….

 

On
the other hand, I feel like I must write something down so that when
I’m 80 and I have grandchildren I’ll have something semi-interesting to
tell them. Maybe this will actually keep me out of a nursing home if my
kids think I’m interesting enough…my husband is on his own.

 

In
any case, I guess it’s all about perspective, and until you’ve lived in
75008 and walked down rue de Levis and visited Parc Monceau daily…Well,
it might be difficult for you to understand right away, but I hope one
day you have the chance to.

 

In the
meantime, I’m going to keep my eye on the Eiffel Tower, because it
really is just the most spectacular thing. I get ten minutes of these
dazzling lights every hour on the hour once it gets dark. I guess I’m
not doing too badly after all.

 

Besides, I can just go over to 75008 tomorrow.


A
true Southern Belle who grew up in Alabama, Priscilla Lalisse now lives
with her French husband and son in Paris–well,
almost–and provides the “Paris For Kids” section of our
Events column.

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