As I step out the door of the apartment this morning, the cold air in the stairwell hits me like a slap in the face.
'How did we just survive that?' I murmur to Monsieur
'Oh, we're survivors' he quips.
This week hasn't been much of a week to remember, but things are starting to iron themselves out little by little. So where did I leave this? - after the 'great move' (which I survived), there was the 'great flu' (which I also survived), followed by the 'great cold snap' (see opening sentence). After missing the electricity guy on Thursday, we had no choice but to wait until Monday for the connection. However, as we were both sick to death of sleeping on an inadequate mattress on the grotty floor of our old apartment, we decided to brave the chilliness and sleep at the apartment over the weekend, to be back in a real bed was worth it for the sake of our bones, and it would only be for 2 nights. During the day we busied ourselves with other chores in warmer spots.
Finally it's power day and we're in business, lighting flickers, hot water gushes, appliances whirr and buzz. But heat does not radiate. The apartment is looking its warmest but remains stony cold and clammy. Monsieur thinks its down to something we forgot to turn or press, but gas, pipes and radiators are not rocket science, and eventually it becomes clear that we've turned and connected everything we were meant to - we're going to have to call someone in.
(One more night)
Wake up to the view of a blanket of SNOW covering the roads, cars and, from our new lofty perch,lots of rooftops. Despite being magical, novel (for me) and totally unexpected, this doesn't do much to warm things up.
Anyway, later that night the gas guy comes, pokes around for 18 seconds:
'yup, it's that thing, it's sticking, I can have the parts for you tomorrow, fix it in 15 minutes aaaaaaaand, that's gunna cost you 587 euros' (yeah, you heard me). That includes 130 euros for the 18 seconds of prodding and 25 euros for 'deplacement' (what? no extra charge for climbing excess stairs?)
(One more night)
6pm gas guy not there
7pm gas guy not there
(phonecall, he'll be there soon, don't worry!)
8pm gas guy not there
9pm gas guy not there
ok, he does finally show up, after the longest 4 freaking hours of my life, pipes gurgle, and within 20 minutes those big metal radiators start pumping out their lovely lovely heat. I can finally take my oversized coat off and crawl gradually out of my sleeping bag (I really can't overstate how COLD it was in the apartment).
As a postscript though, that hideous sum I quoted up there is actually the owner's responsibility to pay, we made sure to get a lowdown on reponsibility vis-à-vis owners, tenants and gasheaters.
So other, pleasanter things! A visit to the Musee d'Orsay, Finally! I did this with an Australian (actually German but moved to Australia)friend from Darwin who has spent the last 3 weeks braving the cold in London, Paris and Berlin. Which is why I'd put time aside especially (to explain how I could find the time to do this in the middle of all this chaos). I also needed a break from it all.
The Orsay museum was once an old train station, built in 1900 and the terminus for the Paris-Orleans line. The interior, with it's giant gilt clock, and domed ceiling supported by columns, calls to mind celluloid images of the glamourous 1920's; of steam trains and women in fitted suits with matching luggage and jaunty caps. Anyway, whimsical flights of fancy aside, his building is now a museum devoted to impressionist art - sculptures, paintings and photographs, even furniture (a bit of stuff by Hector Guimard, the guy who designed the art nouveau metro entrances that Paris is famous for). I particularly enjoyed the pieces by Seurat (the founder and only great practitioner of neoimpressionism)and Redon, but my favourite piece had to be the big polar bear sculpture by Francois Pompon.
So my last bit of fun stuff was the film Sideways. Although I had read the rantings of a disgruntled waiter whose restaurant kept running out of pinot noir since the release of this film and associated mutterings about its yuppie popularity, sorry waiter guy but I really liked it. But then I don't model my behaviour on what I see on the big screen either. The characters were well played, real, flawed, it was funny and sad, and a good Sunday evening watch. I was also warm so that probably added to my enjoyment significantly.
Looks like it might snow again...