Life at Rue de Bizerte

A view of Paris rooftops from the studio window

A view of Paris rooftops from the studio window

Today marks the end of my first month in Paris, and it’s hard to believe a third of the sojourn is behind me. On Monday I’ll change apartments to an entirely different part of the city.

These past few weeks I’ve been on Rue de Bizerte in Paris’ 17th arrondissement near the Batignolles neighborhood.

My studio is only a few blocks from the bustling Place de Clichy, which writer David Burke calls the “Times Square of Paris,” but I’d say that’s an exaggeration. While a busy circle, Place de Clichy isn’t so neon as that. The Pigalle neighborhood a bit farther east–home of the Moulin Rouge and countless flashy sex shops–is much more like Times Square, albeit circa late 1980s.

Just off Place de Clichy is Brasserie Wepler, a cafe frequented by Henry Miller. Another spot nearby, the former Cafe Guerbois, was the artistic hub of Edouard Manet and his entourage, including Emile Zola, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and others. Sadly the Guerbois no longer exists. Its former spot is now a shoe store and its neighborhood art more street graffiti than Impressionism.


A view of Place de Clichy from inside Brasserie Wepler

Nothing makes you feel more like an actual resident than coming home to an apartment rather than a hotel. It’s been four years since I last lived alone, and I’ve missed the autonomy. I love banging around this kitchenette, literally making lots of noise–the clatter of hard plastic plates and the thump as the cabinet closes, clanging utensils, the clink of mugs, the noise of my private culinary party.

The kitchenette is part of the main room, which totals less than 200 square feet. Good thing I'm adaptable to small spaces.

The kitchenette is part of the main room, which totals less than 200 square feet. Good thing I’m adaptable to small spaces.

Being on the fifth floor and facing west, this studio is gloriously sunny by day, a feature so necessary to my sense of well-being. Natural light is wonderful for one’s mood, except when putting on makeup. Putting on makeup in natural light is an effort in futility. Putting on makeup in natural light is to face one’s mortality every single morning. But knowing my next apartment is on the ground floor, I won’t let this diminish my gratitude for how much sunlight I have now.

For comic relief, I have a young neighbor across the hall. He’s an aspiring musician, judging from the afternoon acoustic guitar practice, and likes to sing in the shower. Specifically, he likes to wail along with heavy metal, a short sample of which you can listen to here.

The only downside to this studio has been a lack of Internet access, though it’s forced me to explore lots of WiFi cafes around town. Still, I think DSL in my next endroit will make life so much more convenient.