Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Moving Like A Parisian (via the metro)

Bobby and I have completed what I imagine to be two out of the three biggest hurdles of living in Paris: finding an apartment and moving to an apartment. The third hurdle? The language, but we are working on that.

Last Thursday night Bobby and I signed 30 pages of paperwork to move in to our new apartment. What was in those 30 pages we are not quite sure, but if the building's owner wants our first born, they'll have to get in line behind Sallie Mae. On Friday, we did a walk-through with the building's owner, a wonderful older woman names Madame Casano. For some reason, Bobby is unable to remember her name; he refers to her as Madame Casanova or Madame Cassoulet. After the walk-through (which included more paperwork that noted everything in the furnished apartment, including two ugly statues and a hideous single bed), we determined the quickest, easiest, and least number of stairs Metro route for our move. True, we could have spent 40 euros to pay for a taxi to take all of our luggage from on previous apartment in the 11th arrondisement to the new place in the 17th arrondisement in one trip, but Bobby and I have been living a student's life for over 6 years now, and we are cheap! We instead decided to make three round trips via the metro.

A little lecture on wheel-chair (and heavy luggage) accessibility in Paris: it does not exist. I can think of only one metro stop that has an elevator (Cité, the metro stop that drops you off at the foot of Notre Dame). If you are lucky, your metro stop has escalators. If you are slightly less fortunate, there is an elevator that only goes up. More often than not, there are just a lot of stairs.

Unfortunately for us, the route we took offers neither an elevator nor escalators. From the apartment in the 11th, we took the Parmentier stop on line 3, transferred at Saint Lazare to line 13, and exited at La Fourche. The old apartment is on the 3rd stage (the French don't consider the 1st floor a stage, so the 3rd stage is actually the 4th floor), with 56 stair steps in between. From metro to metro, there are 162 stair steps. Our new apartment is on the 6th stage, but luckily for us, there is an elevator. Each trip we took included at least two very full suitcases, weighing a minimum of 50 pounds each. Phew!

On Friday, we made one trip. After arriving at the new apartment, we measured walls and took an inventory of what we would need to buy. First and foremost was a bed. The apartment came with a tiny single bed. Bobby and I love each other very much, but a bed that size will ruin any marriage. We headed back to the old apartment and looked online for Ikea furniture (remember, we have the cheap student mentality). We were hoping to get a bed and possibly a futon delivered, but it would take 10 days to arrive! No way we were sleeping on a single bed for 10 days. Luckily for us, the Ikea website stated you could rent a truck from them if you came into the store and bought large items. Though neither of us has any desire to drive in Paris, this seemed like the best idea. So on Saturday morning, we made another trip to the new apartment, then headed into the suburbs via metro, train, and bus to Ikea.

Before we even walked through the store, we went to the truck rental center at Ikea only to discover that we needed a ridiculous amount of proof of identity to rent a truck. Along with the standard driver's license, identification, and credit card, we also needed proof of residency in Paris. They wanted us to bring our entire rental contract! This 30-page document is not something we keep in our pockets, so we thought, "Great, we're screwed." Mais non (but no)! As long as we purchased our items before 3:30, we could pay 59 euros and have it all delivered to the apartment building that very day. What a deal! So we rushed through the store and picked out a bed frame, mattress, and other knickknacks and made it in time to have them delivered that day.

Like I said above, the Ikea delivery people deliver your furniture to the apartment building. Not to your apartment, but to the front door of the building. Another lecture: Parisian apartment buildings are very old and often do not have an elevator. We are very fortunate to live in an old building that installed one. However, the Parisian elevators are not American sized. They are very, very, very small. Two people fit comfortably in our elevator, which makes it quite spacious by Parisian standards. A bed frame and mattress do not fit. Poor Bobby carried up the frame and mattress up to our 6th stage apartment! Needless to say, we were done moving for the day.

On Sunday, we went to the apartment and assembled our new Ikea bed. This required: assembling the frame, assembling two separate slat-frame-thingys, and unwrapping our mattress. We also re-assembled the single bed, which we are using as a couch/guest bed in the sejour (living room) until we buy a futon later on.

On Monday (a public holiday in France), we finally completely moved out of the old apartment. We swept, mopped, dusted, scrubbed, and laundered, then made the final trip to our new home. We spent the rest of the day re-arranging furniture and making the place feel like 'home'. Now thoroughly sore, we are enjoying our new bed and exploring the neighborhood. Time for visitors!

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