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A Taste of France in New York City

I moved into the apartment on Barrow street the same afternoon of the closing, October 2nd. The old “Murphy” bed had been left in error by the previous owner, but afforded a temporary place to lay my head and aching body from the non-stop pace we have been keeping. Besides, it’s good to get to know a place before the renovation begins, so one can prepare for the idiosyncrasies that might crop up along the way.

The first Murphy bed I had was in a studio apartment in Knoxville, Tennessee in the early 70’s. William L. Murphy patented the bed in 1916 and started the first production of it in San Francisco under the name of the Murphy Wall Bed Company. Today, it will be removed and the apartment left empty, but, for the practical reasons it existed there in the first place, we have already ordered up a new Murphy bed system to replace it (from the Murphy Bed Center of New York at 20 West 23rd Street, Suite 2).

The closing was similar, yet different, from the signing of an “Acte de Vente” in France. Lawyers representing both buyer and seller were present, as was a representative of the managing agency and title company. The difference was that there was no procedure of reviewing the final deed word for word as we do in the Notaire’s office. Mostly, each party worked independently going through their papers, handing over documents to sign and asking for checks to be written. It took about one hour, and during that time there was conversation among the men about their lives with their wives (I thought this particularly endearing) and off we went with a HUGE pile of documents to call our own, not to mention a studio apartment in the West Village.

That evening, in lieu of opening a bottle of champagne (a gift from our real estate agents), we settled in on a friend’s couch with ta

ke-out food for dinner to watch the Vice-Presidential Debate. There is no need to make any comment about who out performed who, but there is no question from the amount of pro-Obama pins on the lapels of New Yorkers who they favor.

Early the next morning the sun poured in and I set out to test out Claude’s Patisserie just across the street on West 4th Street. Every Francophile New Yorker I know claims he has the best croissants in New York. Claude gave me a sour look as I entered and ordered up a coffee and croissant. There is a sign in the bakery that outlaws cell phones and because there are only three tables, the minimum expenditure per person to take one is $3.50. No doubt, Claude runs the bakery as if it were in France.

The taste test was very tasty indeed. Claude’s croissant is buttery, a little too crispy, but as delicious a croissant I can remember having Stateside. Yep, it melted in my mouth, but even better than the croissant, Claude’s coffee is only second to my favorite — Café du Monde in New Orleans. Erica visited it later that day and said that ‘grumpy’ Claude had warmed up to her when she spoke French to him. The éclair was equally as good.

I missed “La Nuit Blanche” this year, sadly, but to soothe the wounds, gathered a small group to hear Gay Marshall sing Edith Piaf songs — from her new CD titled “La Vie Amour” at the Metropolitan Room on West 22nd Street (number 34). It is an intimate venue that held a couple hundred people at comfortable tables. Gay Marshall is a talented singer/actress who wrote, produced and starred in a one-woman show in Paris (in English) for quite a long run. The show became more enjoyable each time seeing it (there were a few occasions). Then, suddenly she was missing from the Paris scene. Now I know why — she moved back to New York about two-and-a-half years ago, coincidently, one block from our new apartment — we might easily have bumped into her on the street!

Although I never saw Piaf live, Gay is a ‘sparrow’ of a woman with a powerful voice and electric personality that simply makes you smile and befriend her, as if you know her personally through her warm on-stage presence and attitude. The audience looked just like you and me — American Francophiles who eat up anything French and have heard Gay sing before or heard of her Franco-American show. There are two more performances — next weekend and weekend after, so if you have a chance to hear her, do. (Learn more at,

Yesterday afternoon, from the new apartment on a cell phone, French Property Insider subscribers conferenced called to learn more about the pros and cons of ownership of an apartment in Paris — in total or a fraction. After 30 minutes of technical problems, were finally able to connect and speak with about 10 readers who wanted to learn more, not only about fractional ownership, but about the potential to rent property for a profit. The audio transcript is available to all FPI subscribers who wish to listen to the Q and A at Conf_Oct_5_2008.mp3

After a whirlwind week in New York, playing the property game in America’s Big Apple, I head back to Paris just in time to welcome the attendees of the 22nd Living and Investing in France Real Estate Conference next weekend, October 11th and 12th.

Adrian Leeds

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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P.S. Invite your spouse, partner or friend to join you for the Living and Investing in France Real Estate Conference October 11-12, 2008 FREE!…you only have this week to register and take advantage of this special offer. For more information or to register, visit frenchpropertyconference/liveinfrance/LIF_Paris_2008/ or email Schuyler Hoffman, Conference Coordinator, at [email protected]

P.P.S. Join us for Après Midi Tuesday, October 14th at La Pierre du Marais and help celebrate my birthday! Visit for more information.


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