Meet the Neighbours

Our apartment building is relatively small, but there’s always lots of activity. We see the gardienne coming and going from her loge a few times a day. There are the lawyers who work on the third floor, with a constant stream of clients and couriers.

Our next door neighbours, the Polish Prince and Princess, use their apartment as a pied-a-terre. We see them occasionally when parliament is in session (he is a Senator) or when their grandchildren come on the weekends. Our exchanges are mostly polite “bonjour”’s.

One floor below us is Nathalie, who has three adorable children. We often see each other on the stairs on school day mornings, all running. She is delightful and cheerful and full of helpful advice.

Nathalie’s neighbour, directly below us, is another story. She once stomped up the stairs to tell us we were walking too loudly in the apartment. I looked down at my Birkenstocks, then over at her high heels and shrugged my shoulders. A few weeks later she taped a sign to our door that read “moins de bruit les matins!!!” (Less noise in the mornings!!!) We wish we could post a similar sign about her children’s piano playing, but we’re above that. Literally.

Above us, on the other hand, it’s a bit of a mystery. We are on the 5th floor, which is the top floor of most Haussmann apartments. On the 6th, there are tiny maids’ quarters called “chambres de bonne” (good rooms) with one tiny window. With the current real estate market in Paris, most of these have been sold off and converted into mini apartments. They can be quite charming (we stayed in one as an AirBnb for a month while while we looked for our current apartment).

The guy who lives in the chambre de bonne above us we have never met. But we do know quite a bit about him. For instance, he’s a little forgetful. When he takes off his pants every night before bed, his spare change from his pocket spills out onto the floor and rolls into the corners. Yup, every night. Then he turns on the TV to some French game show or other and falls asleep. He also loves to talk on the phone. Sometimes for 2 hours at a time, usually very early in the morning. He never lets his subject get a word in edgewise. Maybe he has a wayward son or daughter living one time zone over?

His musical tastes are another clue. Starting around 7 on Sunday mornings, he blasts Christian rock. But he must have the music on shuffle, as last Sunday (in April) he also played an instrumental version of Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. We’re guessing he’s Protestant.

We haven’t thrown a real party in our apartment yet, just a few dinner parties. But now that the weather is great, I’m sure we’ll be throwing open the windows to “faire la fête” (do a party) as they say here. Maybe we’ll invite the mystery man upstairs? I’ll wear my stilettos, hire some tap dancers and will look forward to the sign on our door the next morning.