Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Are you gay?

Are you? Well good for you. Frankly, who isn't these days?

We missed Gay Pride in Paris this year (700,000 people, the biggest street event of the year!) but it did strike me that the new apartment happens to be right in the pinkest, proudest, gayest epicentre of all things homosexualist. Liza Minelli even has a flat on our street! (erm, this is not true).

We'll be telling you a lot more about the area's numerous gay establishments in further posts. First stop? 20 seconds from our front door is the nightclub and restaurant Les Bains Douches. Claude Challe (now of the Buddha Bar) first made his mark here. David Guetta ran it for a long time, before starting to make lowest common denominator house/techno. It's now run by one the guys who used to look after the (now decidedly pikey) Queen club on the Champs Elysées, and is consequently almost exclusively gay.
On the official site I see that there are currently a whole host of nights sporting large-torsoed men and deliberate spelling mistakes (why do they do that?) such as Mecx or S'plash. Hernan Cattaneo is playing on Friday 11th July (free vodka and Red Bull until 1am!). They also have a night that I'd like to try out (back on in September I think) called Yes Sir I Can Boogie. It's for bears and I'm a sucker for a beard. I'm also intrigued by their Electro, Soul & Jazz dinner on a Friday...

By the way, the building itself is grand, and used to be a public bathhouse.
I think they still have a small swimming pool in the basement...

Imagine clubbing there and only having a 20-second walk to get back home and fall into bed. Yes!

Bathroom starting to look like a bathroom

The step has been laid...
...the dividing wall between the kitchen and the bathroom has been started (the rest will be glass)...
...and there are signs of a shower...After meeting with the workers and the architect last Friday, I thought we had most of the kinks ironed out before leaving on holiday, but yesterday I had to go down there again to answer little questions about how corners would be finished off, how tiles would be aligned, how big drawers would be...

It took 1½ hours!
And there are still a million things to decide!
And the money's running out!
Argghhh!

No wonder I found my brain lying in a bucket afterwards...
(worry not. It's a sponge)

Driving r-e-a-l slow

Would you believe that our street has a 15 kilometre speed limit? That's, er, just over 9 miles an hour.

We don't get much traffic down there, but do you reckon that the Parisian drivers respect the limit? Or that the police enforce it? Nah... Nice thought though.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Passage de l'Ancre

For a central location, the area around the apartment has more than its share of charm. Turn right out of the front door and right again, and in 30 seconds you are here at "Anchor Passage"...
It's a leafy haven of quirky shops that leads onto the rue de Turbigo (if you fancy a cool walk, you could even continue over Boulevard de Sébastopol and take Passage du Bourg l'Abbé which then leads into the wonderful Passage du Grand Cerf).
In there you'll find an umbrella and cane repair shop, a workshop for kids, a PR company, a showroom for shop dummies (!) and the rather great Atelier de Fréd, a cooking workshop that we'll be telling you about more in depth another time.

The history of the place goes something like this...

In the past it has been called Passage de l'Ancre-Royal and Passage de l'Ancre-Nationale, and used to link up with the rue du Bourg-l'Abbé before the latter was shortened when the boulevard de Sébastopol was created. The maritime nature of the name undoubtedly comes from an inn called Au Grand Saint Pierre that was founded there by Nicolas Sauvage. In 1637 created the first public carriages (forefathers of today's taxis) called fiacres. It is likely that part of the fleet was used by the Royal Marines. During the Rafle du Vél' d'Hiv ( a Nazi round-up of Jews that you can learn more about here) in 1942, most of the inhabitants of the passage were deported to concentration camps. After falling into a state of disrepair, the passage was renovated in 1998. (source)
The Passage is well worth exploring, and you can check out a few more photos of it in our Flickr gallery here.

How high is a step? How high is a shower?

The bathroom is starting to shape up, and problems of getting everything on the same level are making my brain hurt.
There's going to be a step up from the kitchen to the bathroom, but the tiles haven't been laid yet, and it's tiring to try and work out whether they will be on the same level as the shower, or even whether they should be on the same level as the shower; as it it has rounded edges, the joint around the edge will look strange.

In the end, it looks like there will be a slight step up for the shower, for two reasons.

1. The shower tray has to be at a certain height as the drainage pipe exit is quite high, and you have to have a certain degree of tilt between the shower and the drain.
2. The alternative would be to make the step between the kitchen around 20cm, whereas the average for a step is more like 16cm, and I don't want people tumbling out of the bathroom into the kitchen and onto the opposite wall!

As for the rest of the apartment, there's been a first coat of paint, with a second due in the next few days. It's starting to look like - gasp! - somewhere you could live!

Friday, 4 July 2008

Coming on strong

Told you things were coming along well. Bit worried about all the stuff tha has to be ordered in advance (bathroom stuff, lights, fridge, etc. etc. but I'm confident it will all sort itself out (gulp).

Here's a quick film to show you where everything's at right now.