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Everything But the Kitchen Sink

Judy and Gary are Aussies who a few years ago lucked into buying a studio apartment they once rented at the corner of rue Simon Le Franc and rue du Temple in the 4th arrondissement. The entrance to the building on rue Simon Le Franc appears to be the narrowest building in all of Paris, as the building is no wider than the door itself. Deceivingly, that’s just a narrow path leading you to the main building at the corner with windows on both streets.

Their 17th-century studio is airy with high ceilings, exposed beams, one large window, an American style open kitchen and is decorated with industrial antiques they painstakingly sought out and treasure. It stays rented well while they’re on the other side of the world in their Melbourne home.

Being the “smart cookies” they are, they managed to recently purchase the studio apartment next door which has an entrance on the same “palier” (landing) as theirs. With luck, the “copropriété” (homeowners association) will allow them to purchase the landing and enclose the two apartments behind one entrance. Meanwhile, the new studio is undergoing massive renovation.

It’s a strange configuration…entering a hall that houses an L-shaped bathroom, one main room with a large window leading onto a small terrace (perfect for “barbies”) and a long galley kitchen with a window, that is of course, over the narrow entry path that deceives us all into thinking the building is the narrowest in all of Paris.

They started the renovation almost the very day they signed the “Acte de Vente” (sales deed). Fortunately, their apartments are a stone’s throw from the famous Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville (BHV) department store on rue de Rivoli opposite the Hôtel de Ville about which we joke regularly…”If the BHV doesn’t have it, it doesn’t exist.”

Yesterday, Gary was laughing so hard, he could barely tell me what had tickled their funny bones so badly, so I asked him to put it in words we could all enjoy. Here it is…the story titled: “Everything But the Kitchen Sink”…

Judy and I went to the trusted BHV department store to check out a kitchen sink for the new apartment renovation. We wandered around in the basement and got lost in the aisles in the usual manner. After circling around a few times, we knew we needed help.
Where did they keep kitchen sinks amid all of that other incredulous paraphernalia? After finding an assistant who could speak a “skerrick” of broken English, we were told that kitchen sinks were now “terminé.” They were no longer an item on stock for BHV.
Oh dear, we said…well, okay, it wasn’t quite in those words. Judy and I came out of there mumbling under our breaths. What’s going on?, we regurgitated once again. With that, Judy found an opening. A smile bounced across her cheeks as she looked me in the face and said, “Yeah, BHV has got everything but the kitchen sink.”
I had no alternative

but to crack up on the spot. There we were, standing on the corner of rue de Rivoli and rue du Temple, our heads in our hands trying to curb our hysterics, with passers-by giving us the eye as though we had just eaten a truck-load of those, you know, cookie things that make you go a bit “troppo.” It took us a good minute to gather our sanity and head home with thoughts of a new strategy. We know kitchen sinks don’t grow on trees; they sure as hell can’t be found at the institution called the BHV that stocks everything but the kitchen sink.

C’est la vie!
Judy and Gary, Melbourne and Paris

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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P.S. Friday morning I’m headed to the Vive La France French Property Exhibition in London…January 19-21, 2007, with over 175 exhibitors: estate agents, builders, developers, architects plus financial and legal advice. Stay tuned for Monday’s report of all I find there or subscribe today to French Property Insider…where we report on the French real estate market every single Thursday. Click here now to learn more: /frenchproperty/insider

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