We’re staying in a writer’s flat a stone’s throw from Sacre Coeur. It’s a part of Paris that is a bit unfamiliar to me, so just going for a walk will always uncover surprises.
In fact the flat itself has a couple of surprises, with a few cunning storage spaces. It takes me a day to locate the hairdryer, and another day to realise we hadn’t properly plugged in the wifi. Unfortunately we never seem to find where the spare toilet paper is stored and we have to go out and get some (a hairdryer I can live without as I discovered in Florence, but I do need loo paper!). There are books in English to read- I read about 3 in the week we are here, and we refer to the flat as Barbara’s place. She is like the absent relative who has let us stay in her place, with strict instructions regarding the kitchen bench (always wipe up as it’s not properly sealed) and the bathroom (don’t sit on the see of the bath as it’s fragile. Oh and an insurance assessor will be coming g around to look at water damage on the ceiling from an upstairs flat).
I have an afternoon nap the day after we arrive from Florence, still recovering from a cold. Mr BG took the kids out for a walk up to Sacre Coeur and to the carousel at the foot of the church. The afternoon crush of tourists to see Sacre Coeur is amazing- we have an inkling of this as the tour buses drop them off just around the corner from our square.
Subsequent strolls reveal even more surprises- another carousel and the Abbesses Metro station with full Art Nouveau trims and just around the corner from that, a vintage fashion shop! I buy a jacket for 15 euro, mainly to keep warm, but it still looks quite nice. On Friday afternoon, we are able to buy dinner from the market which appears in our square, a roast chicken and beautiful potatoes.
We find the best time to stroll is morning, when the rubbish collectors are hard at work clearing up the previous day’s rubbish. Sacre Coeur looks quite peaceful, even with Korean evangelists singing and speaking in tongues on its steps.
The best thing about our location is the playground just outside our front door. We play there every day, with lots of seating for parents to keep an eye on children. The kids, despite language barriers, make friends and play quite happily with the locals. We learn the French for ‘push (poussez!) and that French dads are the same as other dads when they’re dragged to the playground. ‘Allez papa!’ cries a little boy as he drsgs his reluctant dad to the roundabout to push him and the other children. He does so for a couple of minutes before beating a hasty retreat to the comfort of his bench.