Monday, July 18, 2011

Bienvenue a Paris

Everything was going just swimmingly.  Flight was fine, and we were very proud of how we navigated Charles de Gaulle with 6 pieces of luggage, the pack n play, two strollers, four carry-ons, the carseat, and the baby.  Got to the apartment just fine, discovering that the place is even lovelier in person than in the photos we had seen. Amazing natural light, gorgeous and extremely Parisian balcony, etc.  Went through the apartment with the landlady, which felt like it took forever (probably due to the lack of sleep and the fact that I had no idea what Mr. Oil and she were saying), and then finally, gloriously, we were alone in our beautiful Paris apartment.

And then. Mr. Oil was bringing the luggage in from the hallway and I went to help him. All of a sudden I heard a "click" behind me, and realized that we were now locked out of our beautiful Paris apartment - with the baby inside.  Worst parenting moment ever!  And its not like he was napping - oh no, he started screaming at the top of his lungs.  I wasn't even wearing shoes.

With no cell phones, and one of us with no shoes, we were freaking out. Mr. Oil ran outside the building to find someone to ask for help. I started ringing doorbells on other floors, and finally found someone at home on the 2nd floor (we live on the 5th floor).  Our kind (oh, and very Parisian - will get to that in a minute) neighbors called a locksmith who said he could arrive between 20 minutes and 1 hour.  Meanwhile, Mr. Oil had stumbled upon the ultimate Paris emergency resource - les pompiers.

Les pompiers are firefighters. Well, that is at least how Mr. Oil is translating it.  All I know is that within about two minutes, five tall, burly, and strangely good-looking pompiers arrived, in their pompier uniform (black polo shirt, tucked into fairly close-fitting black pants, in turn tucked into tall black boots), and begin taking turns kicking the door with those tall black boots until they dislodged the door enough to jimmy the lock.  Mr. Oil of course freaked out even more when he realized their plan was to break down the door, and tried to explain that since they were firefighters, shouldn't they have a ladder, and the balcony doors are open, so couldn't they just climb in instead of destroying the door?  But no, it appears that is not how les pompiers operate.

The neighbors had followed the sound of the banging, and came inside to make sure le bebe was alright.  At which point the husband said, "Bienvenue a Paris!".  And while we are dreading telling the landlady that within an hour of arriving, we had ruined the front door, at least when we leave we will always have a piece of Paris - a new front door on the 5th floor of 78 Boulevard Malesherbes.  (To those who might worry - the door still locks).

Oh, right, the neighbors.  First of all, their apartment makes our apartment look like...well, look a lot less nice.  I think they combined two apartments into one, since their kitchen alone was about the size of our entire living room.  Fully decked out with utterly to-die-for everything, and a very French rustic farm-style dining room table (correction - the dining room table alone was basically the size of our living room).  Given that it was a quiet Sunday when the French generally just hang out at home (because, by the way, NOTHING is open on Sundays), the man was of course impeccably dressed in a button-down shirt with a sweater, nice jeans, and real shoes (eg., not slippers, flip-flops, or sneakers).  The wife, who was of course amazingly thin, was wearing some sort of slouchy jeans rolled up at the bottom, and a slouchy (yet cool-looking) t-shirt - if I had worn this outfit, I would have looked like a slob. She looked amazing.  Their son had one of the best lines of the day - "Quelle problem!" Yes, Alissandro, it is quite a problem when you lock your six-month-old inside your apartment with no key, no phone, and minimal French.

However, all's well that ends well. While I of course believe (somewhat) that Baby Oil is traumatized and does not want to be left alone because he thinks we will abandon him again, we actually recovered, went for a walk, found a baguette, and later had dinner at Rimal, a Lebanese restaurant just up the street. (Shout out to Josh R - Mr. Oil went for the lebneh in your honor - delicious!) 

It is still strange to think that we live here now.  More on that in the days to come, I'm sure.

3 comments:

  1. Friend of a friend sent me to your blog. I've been doing this expat thing for a while, but never had the pleasure of locking myself out first thing. What a nightmare!

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  2. Wait, there are magical firefighters who appear out of nowhere to rescue babies in Paris? Dream! Miss you guys. I think you should choose a fun nickname for Michael and Max on the blog like how the SportsGuy calls his wife the SportsGal.

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  3. That is a great and scary story! And not a bad way to break the ice with the neighbors either...I love your description of them. I know exactly what you mean about how the French women can pull off looking elegant and fashionable, while if I wore the same thing, people would be concerned about me. Please post photos of the apartment!!!

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