Lately, I’ve been bonding with my Paris bloggers community. So much so, that I am hosting a Paris bloggers cocktail party at my apartment this Friday with Laurie Pike, editor extraordinaire, of The Paris Blog.It will be interesting to meet the faces and bodies behind the voices of the other Paris blogs.
One of the other ways that I’ve been connecting with the Paris blogging community is doing an article exchange with some of them.
My first one is with one of my favorite blogs, Rue Rude, a witty and intelligent blog about everyday life in Paris, written by Sedulia Scott. Even though our blogs are very different, I came up with a topic that would give us common ground: the experience of living in our neighborhoods.
Enjoy and please logon on to www.ruerude.com to read my article.
Class War in Paris
My Paris is very different from Richard’s. He lives in my favorite part of the city, the Marais, an area full of beautiful old stone buildings with interior courtyards and gardens. On the other side of Place de la Bastille were the hoi polloi of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, which is still an artisans’ area, so the fortress of the Bastille was built to protect the aristos of the Marais. Like so many tourists, I was disappointed when I came to Paris and discovered that the fortress was torn down long ago.
I live in the sixteenth arrondissement, which is a byword among French speakers worldwide for stuck-up, coincé, rich, boring, ladies in fur coats, and businessmen with skinny shoulders going to their glass offices in pinstriped suits and loden coats.
The sixteenth really is a bit like that. Women shop at the farmers’ market in their fur coats (you never know whom you might run into!), with their little dogs in tow, and you never see a man in shorts even on the hottest summer days. There are lots of children dressed in navy blue knit hoods the second it gets below about 60 degrees, and everyone seems to carry the same purse. A taxi driver told me he could always tell when someone from the sixteenth got in his cab because instead of saying “Bonjour, Monsieur,” she will say, “Chauffeur….”
When you get to know Paris better, you realize that the real snobs are not in the sixteenth, which is full of foreigners, elderly widows living in fear of burglary with their dusty antiques and minuscule elevators, and large families with children living on the ground floor because that’s all they can afford (a lot of the best schools in the city are here). The old money and power in Paris is in the seventh, the aristocrats’ and billionaires’ quarter, and the media people prefer to live in grand but funky apartments in the heart of town. Richard’s neighborhood, the Marais, is mostly single people. The sixteenth is familial, and the southern part of it, Auteuil, is a quiet place reminiscent of Paris in the fifties, where there are no tourists, and a celebrity can still have a house with a garden and be left alone on the street.
It annoys me when people make assumptions about me based on my address. I don’t like noise or getting home at the crack of dawn. I have children and don’t go out a lot. Why is it somehow wrong to want to live in a safe leafy neighborhood with good schools, and neighbors who don’t play loud music at four in the morning?
I didn’t grow up in a well-off or stuffy family, and if my family can afford to live in the sixteenth now, it is from years of hard work, intelligence, dedication, long hours, and of course good luck—mostly the very good luck of living in a wealthy country in peacetime. Good luck shared by the people who made different choices in their lives and who say with scorn in their voices, “Oh God, you live in the sixteeeeeenth?”