Air dates: Thursday, December 5 11:30 p.m. ET Friday, December 6 2:30 a.m. ET
Following in her mother's footsteps, a college graduate has fallen in love with the rich history and art in Paris. Now, both mom and daughter are on the hunt for a small piece of the city they can call their own and fulfill both their dreams of calling Paris home.
Today is the big day when the strikes take place, even though I had a prelude to it yesterday when my train to Paris from Nice was cancelled. The strikes wreak havoc with just about everyone since we are so dependent on being mobile — here in France, even more on public transportation than our cars. Even with a car, it disrupts the ability to get from Point A to Point B battling the increased traffic on the roads.
Unions representing rail workers, city public transport employees, truckers, teachers, airline ground crew, air traffic controllers and postal workers are all involved. The strike starts today, but could go on till the end of the year if their demands aren't satisfied. In 1995, a full country-wide transportation strike in November to December crippled the entire country for a solid three weeks, during a time when it was freezing cold. It ended up literally crippling me, too, as I walked 1.5 hours to and from the WICE offices near Montparnasse to run their French-English conversation group a few times a week. (You don't want to know the havoc it wreaked on my feet from which I am still suffering.)
According to an updated report in The Local, 90 percent of trains have been cancelled today, 20 percent of flights, 11 Paris Métro lines and numerous cancellations on buses, trams and the RER. I suppose I was lucky to get on the train back to Paris yesterday and as expected, it was a full house, or should I say "car."
One thing for sure is that I'll happily be affected less than most people living in central Paris and central Nice. I can easily walk to most parts of the city within 30 minutes or so. The joke I make to our clients considering living outside of center is that when there is too much travel time, "you don't go home to change your shoes." The point is that either you end up staying very near your enclave or you leave home once and stay out for as long a time as possible to avoid too many trips back and forth. And what if you do really need to change your shoes? You're not doing it. Or, you're not going out as often. And your friends are certainly not "dropping by" like they might if you lived more centrally, in any city.
Sure, living in the heart of the city is more expensive than on the outskirts. That's the reason it is more expensive — it's more desirable and therefore property prices are higher. My feeling is that it's worth the price to make life more convenient and fun by having access to it all. Even in the homes I visited in Provence over the weekend (read about it at adrianleeds.com/parler-nice/). While the big luxurious farm houses are awfully sexy and appealing, with their big pools, expansive gardens and complete privacy, without a car, you are stranded...simple as that. But, if you're in a village house, you have the village and all its amenities, friends nearby to meet up with easily (on foot) and usually some sort of public transport such as a bus or train that will take you to other towns.
When our clients, who are buying a village house in Venasque, first came to see us, this was our big discussion: what kind of country home would suit them best? Couples and families can enjoy a single-family home better than singles living alone, that's for sure, but did they want to be so isolated? No, was the answer. Hence, we set out to find them a house in a village with charm and activities. This way, they can have all the basics within steps of home, but get in a car to visit other nearby enclaves at their whim. In Provence, the sightseeing between the villages is so beautiful, and the roads in such good condition, that the driving is pleasant and stressfree. They won't NEED to get in their car for every little thing, but they will WANT to get in it — that's a big difference in attitude.
In a 2014 article in The Local, "Paris is pointless if you live in the suburbs," they pitted two people against one another — one person rooting for the burbs and another rooting for central living. Josh, siding up for central Paris is the side I take, too.
He said, "Sure, it seems nice at first. You trade in the sixth-floor walk up apartment and its luxurious 20 metres of living space for a whole house at the same price," etc., etc. "But the discontent starts with a two-hour bus/train/metro ride or brisk walk to get to work. It’s a trip so long you need to bring snacks, reading material and water."
And with the strikes taking place today, where would you be? Wishing you were walking up six floors to 20 square meters...that's where!
Granted, there is another side to the story, but from my point of view, the arguments don't hold much water. Like, "In the suburbs you’ll be able to have a chat with your friendly neighbor — yes, friendly — without having to shut out the sounds and sights of their bedroom antics that kept you up all night."
Sorry, but just because you're in the burbs doesn't mean your neighbors are friendly! Or that your Parisian neighbors are not. Sure, fresh air is nice, and having space for your dog to run around (without stepping in the poo) is better than walking him at midnight...but really?
The bottom line is where do you see yourself? Me, I like to be dead center, where there is life, lots of things to do, lots of people to meet up with, lots of amenities at my toes without stepping on the pedal to make that happen, and paying the price is worth it...in my book.
P.S. "Le Matisse," my bit of heaven in Nice is lonely for a guest between now and the next time I go to Nice mid January. My guests must be friends of Parler Paris, Paris Nice or French Property Insider. If you are interested in visiting Nice and want a great place to call home, email us!
December's Après-Midi: December 10, 2019
Ella Dyer, Author
"Nice in Nice: Is a Lifetime Enough?"
Author of Nice in Nice: The day-to-day musings of a middle-aged housewife living "part-time" in the South of France, Ella Dyer is fond of saying "A lifetime in Nice is never enough!"
Over the past 35 years, Ella’s varied career path has taken her from working at the Playboy Mansion to earning an MBA from The International University of Monaco. She and her husband of nearly 30 years, Jody, found their apartment in Nice long ago and before the introduction of the Euro...
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