The airport shuttle takes us through the ugly edges of Paris, where every noise wall and overpass is covered with graffiti. There are big box stores, a huge blue Ikea, shiny offices, and lots and lots of large blocks of shabby-looking housing. It’s one of the ugliest urban edges I’ve seen.We share our shuttle with two other couples, one of which is dropped off at an expensive but non-descript modern hotel in an uninteresting part of the city. I’m glad we aren’t staying there.
However, as we continue on into the heart of Paris – passing rail yards and industrial areas and a rather permanent-looking tent encampment that is clearly home to the homeless – I start to worry about my own hotel choice. Is all of Paris this bleak and dreary? What if it isn’t safe to walk at night? What if the hotel itself is awful? What if all of Paris is drab and run-down and dirty?
Not far past the tents things start looking up. We begin to travel down formal boulevards lined with intriguing shops and pleasant-looking restaurants. Soon we turn down narrow streets of refined old buildings, many sprouting intricate iron balconies overflowing with flowers. THIS is where I want to stay!
The shuttle driver points out our hotel. It is right here.
For five days this pleasant street will be our home.
We even have a tiny balcony, high up in the mansard roof, from which I can admire “my” street.
I think I’m going to like it here.
Next post: Notre-Dame de Paris