It was end of June when I went for my first trip to Paris. Leaving Croatia at the Zagreb airport on unusually cold June morning meant few things. Occasion was business but it included so much more. Paris loved me. That’s all. Zagreb makes my heart warm like a Dalmatian sun, but because of the greater variety of culture and flamboyant lifestyle Paris keeps me energised and excited. Although, after each boosting journey I’m overly satisfied to come back to Zagreb where I switch to the boost of my vitamin C skin booster and go back to everyday activities. I just enjoy the calmness and easiness of the semi-hectic urban life that makes Zagreb so special. But on that morning, I was tumbling head over heels up the stairs of the Air France airbus 319.
After an hour and a half of the plane drive, accompanied with wine and Game of Thrones finales, excitement about Paris collapsed by arriving at very confusing Charles De Gaulle airport followed up by UBER language barrier difficulties that made me a bit worried about english proficiency of the capital. After a half an hour of a word pantomimes that turned in a board game I entered an uberPOOL. Things got really exciting again since on my surprise through the small talk with a fellow passenger Jelena I discovered she is Croatian just like I am.
Oh well this is a good sign.
Instantly I got warm welcome to the city of love, sex, fashion, lights, pastries, wine, champagne, etc. Whatever you’d like to connect to the city of Paris, because all of the above suits it amazingly well! My excitement wasn’t dropping due to an extremely nice and polite UBER driver who despite the language barrier kept finding ways to interact throughout the UBER ride and my Croatian homie who was spitting up her sleeve all the Paris must sees mixing it up with the latest adventures from her latest trip to NYC, she was returning from. The other half of UBER ride to the city centre I got carried away by the beauty of the French suburbs and on my drivers advice I heard by his voice over translator app zoned out listening iPod. (Yes, I still own an iPod. And I’ll never stop.) The email from a landlord drove me outside of my zen zone immediately. “Teo, I called you but couldn’t reach through. I have one meeting I can’t postpone. I will send another colleague from the agency. Call her when you get there, she is blonde and really fancy you will see her exiting the metro on the opposite side of the street. Au revoir, Alan”
I arrived to my fancy looking Parisian 6th arrondissement as a homeless. The building lobby was locked by a pin and all I could see through the Louis XV residential architecture glass door was mysterious Muslim lady wearing new collection Chanel eyeglasses that made the vale of mystery around her head smoking heavily. She didn’t understood a word of English. Oh well.. I started a conversation just out of politeness with a note of anxiety -“Je parle francois un peu. Je suis Teo. Ca va?” -“Mon nom est Maria! Je suis femme de ménage et concierge, pourquoi êtes-vous assis sur votre sac? Tu devrais rentrer!”
At the beginner level of my French I only understood my name is Maria.
You should have pay more attantion at French classes you took last winter, Teo.
I ended up sitting on my big red suitcase in the lobby of the building greeting my future neighbours with my poor French, until the wheels of it didn’t collapse ending up with me on back laughing out of charming misery. About 45 min later fancy Cathy came. She introduce me to the mysterious lady who happened to be concierge and let me inside of my new one room apartment on the top of the building with an amazing view on Pantheon and Eiffel Tower which was a decent substitute for living on the 7th floor with no elevator. (French architects, Louis XV, my butt is saying thank you! It got Kardashian hard in no time.)
As soon as I managed to get all four suitcases on charming 7th floor apartment, making myself at home, the night has come and with night dinner reservations. Earlier that very unusually cold morning I made a dinner reservations with my old Parisian friend Sophie at La Rotonde. La Rotonde was love on first sight! The inspirational old spot for clique like Pablo Picasso and Amedeo Modigliani. During this creative era, the founder called Libion allowed starving artists to sit in his café for hours. If an artist couldn’t pay their bill, Libion would often accept a drawing, holding it until the artist could pay. As such, there were times when the café’s walls were filled with a collection of artworks, that today would make the curators of the world’s greatest museums scream out of envy. Soft streetlights over Montparnasse accompanied by amusing La Rotonde waiters singing Celine Dion and greeting the Parisian creme de la creme while you are tasting very bests of French cuisine is what makes this place magical today. From the appetisers to the desserts, everything has a buttery note that you just keep postponing to melt in your mouth because of how good it is. You wouldn’t go wrong with anything! Needless to say I went to La Rotonde at least once a week. Now when I think about it, maybe it was butter the one merit for Kardashian ass effect. Or combination of both. Probably.
Later on we took warm night walk through Montparnasse over to Notre-Dame-des-Champ with Sophia talking to me about habits of each arrondissement and the fancy nature of 6th where besides the senate and Sorbonne university most of the Parisian celebrity and people who want to be away from the eye of public live. To keep the majority of people out of the 6th they mostly just raised all prices in the shops, bars and restaurants surrounding it.
You got to the 6th as a homeless and now you are getting into posh society. At least your zip code does. Nice move Teo.
Did I mention how I quit smoking before going to Paris? Well that evening I stoped procrastinating and smoked one while having a glass of wine looking up Paris rooftops.. C’est la vie.