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Life in Paris Sucks Dirt

My housekeeper and I are the same age and we’re both immigrants. She was keeping house at the rental apartment in the 17th arrondissement into which we moved in September of 1994 and has stuck with me ever since.

One reason could be that the apartment is cleaned before she arrives. My daughter says it’s bordering on ‘nuts’ — but it certainly instills loyalty and there’s something about the continuity of having a comrade in cleanliness after the same heart of sparkling surfaces. When “Le Provençal” came into our lives (my little rental apartment on rue Charlot, /parlerparis/apartments/rentals/provencal.html), she took it on as if it were her own and gets jealous when another housekeeper comes to clean when she can’t fit it into her busy schedule.

A few weeks ago, she showed me that one part of the vacuum cleaner had broken, but suggested first that we switch the one in the Provençal apartment for the one at home because it was a better, stronger machine. We made the switch easily enough and I dug through the file to find the receipts from “Darty,” the appliance store which offers one and two-year warranties on everything they sell, and to which over the years I have become completely “fidèle” (loyal).

Simple enough, the young man at the Darty “Après Vente” desk (after purchase service) at the Place de la République store happily took in the broken parts to be replaced free of charge and within two weeks, there was a “texto” message on my cell phone that the new parts had arrived. I made a short trip to Darty with proof of the order to have new parts in hand.

Proudly I presented them to the housekeeper to which she giggled when the parts didn’t fit the others. There was no way to make them work. We scratched our heads, calculated the additional time to trek back to Darty, and then loaded up the bag with the new parts plus the old parts they didn’t fit.

Luckily, the same young man was at the desk when I arrived. He shook his head, too, in disbelief and sent them all back to the supplier to ensure I had all the right parts and that they will all work this time around. Count them…this was trip number three to Darty.

Within a week, another texto message arrived to say the new parts were waiting for me and on this fourth trip to Darty, the same young man assisted me. We shook our heads, laughed together and I went on my way with a Darty bag in hand filled with all new parts for the vacuum cleaner, which you realize by now has been out of commission and the dust and dirt is unhap

pily building up in my usually dust-free apartment.

When the housekeeper arrived and tested the new parts, it was incredulous. Again, nothing would fit together no matter how hard we tried. Now, it’s getting serious. Time is lost. Dirt is building. There is no end in sight to the saga of the vacuum cleaner. We become dejected.

Once again, I trekked to Darty with bag in hand and even more of the original parts to prove that nothing would fit. “Oh la la,” he exclaims! And in an effort to rectify the matter once and for all, he opened a new box and handed me all the parts that go with it, took the rest of the old parts to send in as proof of the exchange, for hopefully the last time. “En plus” (in addition), together we went down the escalator to the “aspirateur” department (vacuum cleaner department) to verify that it was the correct Rowenta brand red-cased model.

Hmm, yes, the one at Le Provençal is definitely that one, but the one at home?…I think it’s orange, not red. Uh oh! My hear sank to my feet. Could I have confused them all along?

One visit to Le Provençal provided the answer. There were now two sets of parts for the Rowenta brand, and NONE, not even one of the parts that previously worked for the orange-cased Proline brand was left– they had all inadvertently been disposed of by Darty’s efficient Après Vente Service!

Trip number six to Darty with bag of extra parts in hand, I felt it only right to return them and beg forgiveness for the stupid mistake and then to ask to purchase new accessories for the Proline at my expense. The young gentleman with whom I had shared the experience, disappointedly wasn’t there to enjoy the ‘joke’ together. The others at the desk, to which I tried in vain to explain in my not-so-perfect-French, laughed it off and said, “Keep the parts for the next time you might need them!”

Down the escalator I went to the vacuum cleaner department. The wait was long before the salesperson was available to assist me. “No, we don’t carry the parts here,” she explained and “furthermore, the parts will cost you at least twice the price of a new vacuum cleaner!”

Guess what I did? You guessed right. Home I went with a new vacuum cleaner and the second set of parts. Luckily Darty isn’t too far away and my arms are getting stronger all the time from the physical exercise of carrying the ‘suckers’ up and down the three flights of stairs at both apartments.

Moral of the story? 1. Buy all your appliances at Darty. 2. Keep your receipts in a safe place so you can find them up to two years later or longer. 3. Buy the same brand and model of all appliances if you have more than one apartment to equip. 3. Pay attention to what you’re doing.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

P.S. Darty is a must-know for all new apartment owners and can be found in locations all over Paris and online at I haven’t yet tried the new “Dartybox” Internet/Phone/Television service, but if the service is as good…it’s worth a try.


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