l’ appart

It’s been a week of moving, settling in and adjusting to Parisian culture.

My apartment is just as I remembered it, a little worn on the surface, but solid architectural bones.  It’s a tiny place, about 30 square meters made up of a salon (living room) and a bedroom.  My kitchen is really a kitchenette that opens into the living space.  As Paris apartments go, I actually feel it’s spacious.









It took no time to move my two suitcases into the apartment.  I was given a quick orientation and overview of the space, signed some forms (written in French) and then it was mine.  In retrospect, I should have asked a few more questions, but sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know.

I spent the rest of move-in day cleaning and organizing.  I pulled out everything in every cabinet and closet.   I was convinced my organization skills would yield more closet space.  I’m not sure it created more space for my belongings, but I certainly found the flaws in my lovely apartment.

Scary cracks in the walls, leaky radiators, a defunct water heater, missing lightbulbs, dead electric outlets, a dysfunctional window all greeted me.  Did the person prior to me live with all of this?  Oh, the joys of moving!

Fortunately, my leasing (brokerage) company has been responsive to my inquiries and concerns.  While I wish some of these issues had been addressed before my entry date, the company provided a very typical  French response: Ce n’est pas notre faute. Nous ne savions pas. (It’s not our fault.  We did not know.)  The American in me was simmering with frustration, but I sort of laughed at the French response.  I felt culturally indoctrinated.

I’m learning to live in a city and in an apartment building. It’s a give and take relationship.   I had forgotten the dance after many years of suburban home ownership.  The beautiful wooden circular stairs with century-old wrought iron railings are, well, noisy.  They creak and clump with each step and create an echo chamber should someone speak.

The street outside is more lively than I had first noticed.  It’s particularly lively between the hours of midnight and 2am.  I’m sort of frustrated and fascinated.  So far, Sundays and Mondays are my best nights for sleep.  It gets dicey as the week progresses.  I did hear a ridiculous racket on Monday night and looked out the window.  It was the trash truck picking up garbage.  Of course, trash removal occurs at 10:30 in the evening.  Of course, it does.

The process of getting settled will continue.  I have done more research on mobile phones and banking in France than I care to admit.  None of the solutions offered are ideal.  I am figuring out how to make the best of it.  What works for me today, may not work as well a few months from now – a wholly different mentality or tactic than I would take in the United States.

For all the quirks and inconveniences, I am happy with my decision to move and the great potential in the year ahead.  I am slowly decompressing from work and have enjoyed some new connections in Paris.  The city continues to reveal itself to me…I hope it always will.

*The title of this post is homage to David Lebovitz’s fantastic book, L’appart, where he describes the trials of making his home in Paris.  I am in the middle of reading it as I write.  It gives me a strange level of comfort.

2018-01-14T10:06:10+00:00January 14th, 2018|Categories: Featured, La Ville, Mon Quartier, Uncategorized|Tags: , |25 Comments


  1. Anne Peterman Morosky January 14, 2018 at 11:54 am - Reply

    Hi Gretchen!! Your apartment sounds lovely despite the flaws you’ve noted! You sound good too. It’s definitely an adventure! I hope the days continue to treat you well and you continue to settle in to your ‘new’ home. Thinking of you everyday and love reading your posts! – Anne

    • Gretchen January 14, 2018 at 3:20 pm - Reply

      Thanks Anne! It is an adventure – I have to keep a positive attitude, right? And when I can’t there is always wine!

  2. Becky January 14, 2018 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    Salut Gretchen!
    Life starts at the end of your comfort zone; a phrase I use often with my hesitant students when they are afraid of being awkward and uncomfortable. You have embraced this attitude full force and I am excited to see all the life it brings you.

    • Gretchen January 14, 2018 at 3:23 pm - Reply

      Becky, you are kind. That is good advice – talking about being uncomfortable, I have yet to really try to use any French. Everyone seems so willing to switch to English (and so gracious about it). I really need to step up my game.

  3. Rosalie Waerig January 14, 2018 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    Some of the flaws you describe sound a lot like the “dorm room” shortcomings that ultimately enabled us to have the most treasured experiences and memories of our lives. I would need the best Hearo ear plugs my Euros could buy.

    • Gretchen January 14, 2018 at 3:25 pm - Reply

      Ear plugs have been my savior!!

  4. Paige January 14, 2018 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    Love, love, love your blog!!! Everything looks wonderful. So glad you are settling in. The apartment looks great. Looking forward to your next installment 🙂

    • Gretchen January 14, 2018 at 3:27 pm - Reply

      Hi Paige! Thank you for the compliments. Don’t forget to check your WhatsApp. I miss talking with you!! I hope all is well on your end. xoxo.

  5. Penny January 14, 2018 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    Se la vie!?! Be flexible!!

    • Gretchen January 14, 2018 at 3:28 pm - Reply

      I’m trying, Miss Penny. I am trying!! xoxo.

  6. Antoinette January 14, 2018 at 1:21 pm - Reply

    It will all work out. My apartment in Italy was so old. The owner wouldn’t let us replace the mini fridge that must have been 20 years old. You learn to make due. It still holds some of the best memories of my life. I still yearn for my big open windows in my bedroom and the excitement of the street below! Have fun and travel. I wish I traveled more. ❤️

    • Gretchen January 14, 2018 at 3:31 pm - Reply

      Yes, thank you my friend. You definitely understand! I think I am through the worst of it (I hope I am). You will travel – it’s a part of you, but right now, you are doing far more important things with those little ones. Miss you, always. xoxoxo.

  7. Jen January 14, 2018 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    Love your attitude about the apartment and your new life in Paris! It all seems exciting to me. Be well!

    • Gretchen January 14, 2018 at 3:34 pm - Reply

      Jen, you need to be here drinking wine or a St. Germain cocktail with me! And, perhaps visiting a chateau or two…looking forward to July.

  8. Leslie January 14, 2018 at 3:14 pm - Reply

    The apartment looks perfect! It will be no time before you don’t even hear the trash truck and voices in the stairwell….you just have a heightened sense of awareness now….I am living all of your pictures!

    • Gretchen January 14, 2018 at 3:38 pm - Reply

      Thanks Leslie! I hope that is true. I am slowly getting more rest at night – I have started mandatory ear plugs on Thurs, Fri and Saturdays. It does wonders! Enjoy the pictures, I’ll keep taking them – I have no issue being labeled a tourist from that respect. This is such a beautiful city…I can’t help myself. Go EAGLES!!

  9. Schwei January 14, 2018 at 8:18 pm - Reply

    You totally got this! Just sayin’! When in doubt – just jump on in 😉

    • Gretchen January 15, 2018 at 8:44 am - Reply

      Schwei! I think you are right. Happy new year, friend!

  10. deb speese January 14, 2018 at 11:22 pm - Reply

    Thank you for providing the wonderful visuals. I look forward to living vicariously through your wonderful experience.

    • Gretchen January 15, 2018 at 8:47 am - Reply

      Hi Deb, Thank you for the comments! I loved David Lebovitz’s book – I’m headed to a book signing he will have in February. So fun! Look forward to seeing you in March. Gretchen

  11. Kristin Dudley January 15, 2018 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    Hey Gretchen — T-Mobile is actually available abroad without having to set anything up. It’s unlimited for data and texting however you do pay a nominal fee for calls… Highly suggest looking into that. xoxo -KDud

    • Gretchen January 15, 2018 at 12:53 pm - Reply

      Thanks so much Kristin!

  12. Karen January 16, 2018 at 1:42 am - Reply

    Gretchen, I love the apartment and the red kitchenette. Great to see that you are settled in and getting used to the Parisian life! ❤️❤️❤️

    • Gretchen January 16, 2018 at 9:27 am - Reply

      Thanks Karen! I’ll tell you, it’s a lot of rain over here. It would be nice to have some of that LA sunshine! I hope you are well.

  13. Julie Cohen January 16, 2018 at 12:55 pm - Reply

    Looks fantastic, Gretchen…cracks and all! 🙂

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