From the Vault
The Case of the Missing Mattress le Viager With A View Part X
“Viager with a View” — the ongoing ‘saga’ of the apartment destined to be called “La Paris Plage” — a “viager” that I purchased in September of 2007. You may want to read Parts I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII and IX before you read this chapter.
This is chapter 10 and (hopefully) the final chapter of “Le Viager with a View” — and all with a very happy ending.
The ninth chapter of “Le Viager with a View” was mid March (2010) when we expected the final details to be in place by mid April. Having expectations usually leads to disappointments, but this time there were also surprises. Considering all the hurdles jumped since the glimmer of hope started almost five years ago, nothing at this point surprises me.
Contractor Number Two (after the first one went ‘belly up’) became so busy on another “chantier” (construction project), that this project was getting ignored and pushed back. In a desperate effort to get the apartments ready for brave renters willing to take the chance on it being everything promised, I called in an old ‘stand by’ contractor who had done the work on “Le Provençal” and on whom I knew I could depend.
“Tony, you would have less than four weeks. Do you think you can finish the apartment?” I asked him. He looked around and said, “Oui.”
For the next three weeks, Tony and I shopped for materials together and discussed the details (for me it seemed like the 100th time). He started to take over where the others left off and diligently get the job done. I had forgotten what a good carpenter he was, how he paid so much attention to detail and how he really considered the practicality of each element. It was after the first week of him being
‘on-the-job’ that I felt a true sense of confidence that by May 16th, I’d be celebrating the completion of the apartments and the five-year saga.
The neighbor below, Madame B., whose ceiling had undergone trauma, was crying the blues regularly about the incessant noise from the construction having begun as long ago as August. She couldn’t do
much about the noise Monday through Friday during normal work hours (perfectly legal), but when the workers came on Saturday, she began to screech at us all again. To offer a ‘peace pipe,’ I left a bottle of good champagne on her doorstep with a letter of apology. That made her happy — at least for a brief period of time until the noise started up again.
The real crunch began at the end of week three, when everything had to come into place, like a complicated puzzle to put each important piece in place. Everyday I could count on another trip to either the BHV, Leroy Merlin or Darty with side trips to Pier Import and other housewares merchants and suppliers. I never stopped making lists of what needed to be purchased or done.
It was planned for this past Friday to install the furnishings, make the beds and be ready for occupancy. I intended on spending the weekend in the apartment to get to know it, test out all the appliances and make sure no detail had been overlooked. It was the moment I had been dreaming of all these years, with visions of relaxing on the terrace in the sun.
It was all coming together. The housekeeper and I spent a full day cleaning and installing all the supplies and equipment. The floors were cleaned and waxed, ready for the furnishings. As the bed
frames were being installed, one of the twin mattresses was posed against the wall in the hall. Tony asked, “Where is the other mattress?”
“What do you mean? It’s in the ‘cave’ (cellar).”
“No,” he said, “It’s not there.”
“What? How is that possible?” Can you imagine the look on my face? Where would a mattress go missing? Would I not be able to sleep in the apartment that night as planned? I had to look for myself.
Lo and behold, the cellar was empty, just as Tony said, except for a few odd items. And there we were with only one of the twin beds purchased from Ikea last October.
So, how does one lose a mattress? I can understand losing the feet for the beds, or even a mattress protector cover (also missing), but the mattress itself? A mattress is a little big for hiding under something, no?
In a panic, a call to Martine di Matteo put her on the immediate task of checking every mattress in a client’s new three bedroom apartment to ensure that it hadn’t landed among her many beds by mistake. No, unfortunately it hadn’t.
Then acall to visiting owners at Le Palace des Vosges proved fruitless when they checked the garages for the missing mattress. Where on earth was the mattress? No matter, one mattress on and one mattress missing, with one day left to finish the apartment put the never-ending hurdles already jumped to a whole new height.
That evening, back home with friends, realizing the hilarity of the situation, and laughing until we cried tears and strained our sides, was I able to remove the panic from the task. Again, Tony jumped to the rescue. The next morning, he picked me up bright and early in his car to trek to Ikea near the airport to purchase another mattress.
Ikea was already teeming with shoppers even before the store was officially open. Along the way, as we worked our way in a serpentine pattern through each department, we picked up a few extra
goodies, such as carpets, lounge chairs, fresh lavender plants and some extra power strips. The car was stuffed to capacity, particularly with the mattress and carpet, to the point where I was wedged up against the glass in the passenger seat, almost in a ball, praying we’d arrive safely.
By 1:30 p.m. we were back in Paris, unloading the car, reloading the elevator, installing all the new purchases and preparing for Corinne, the seamstress, to arrive with the draperies for the bathroom
and cushions for the chairs. It was the final task to perform.
Corinne, who has fashioned some of the most beautiful draperies and cushions for our clients, with the help of Tony, hung the Missoni designer fabric draperies in the bath along the rod designed fit snugly along with the shape of the curved wall and positioned the cushions on the chairs. While they were busy at work, Isabelle, my long-time manicurist who does home visits, came to refresh my badly beaten-up nails on the terrace. (Isabelle will be happy to do yours, too! Call Isabelle at “Isato,” 54 Rue Saintonge, 01.48.87.91.16 or 06.31.15.48.86.)
At that point, not only were my nails in perfect condition, but so were both apartments. It had all come together in spite of the multitude of obstacles and La Paris Plage and Le Parisol were done and ready for occupancy!
Saturday evening, when the rest of Paris was visiting museums as part of “La Nuit des Musées,” I was cooking dinner for a friend in the kitchen at La Paris Plage, popping open a cold bottle of rosé
wine and toasting the end of the five-year journey to the seaside town that now resides virtually on the 4th floor of a 17th-century building on rue de Saintonge. We weren’t missing anything.
After dinner, together we watched the 1972 French film “Le Viager” on a DVD purchased for guests and laughed endlessly. I slept like a baby that night on the new Ikea mattress, awoke to a day of sunshine and spent the afternoon on the terrace with friends, putting color on our cheeks and toasting the accomplishment.
As I write this, the first guests are settling in, and I’m back at my desk just a stone’s throw from La Paris Plage. Whew!
Adrian Leeds with Isabelle, manicurist extraordinaire on the terrace at La Paris Plage.
• Part I, Monday, September 10, 2007
• Part II, Monday, September 17, 2007
• Part III, Wednesday, September 19, 2007
• Part IV, Wednesday, July 2, 2008
• Part V, Wednesday, April 22, 2009
• Part VI, Monday, July 6, 2009
• Part VII, Thursday, September 24, 2009
• Part VIII, Monday, November 16, 2009
• Part IX, Monday, March 15, 2010
• Part X, Monday, May 17, 2010