Farewell to a French Apartment

Collage bourgeois buildings

The above collage is a selection of lovely bourgeois buildings in the Musicians quarter of Nice, where we used to live.  It is called the Musicians quarter because the streets are named after musicians.  (Our old apartment was in the building in the top left corner.)

We are now in our new apartment and getting all settled in.  I have just been thinking about how much easier this “settling in” has been compared to the last one.

6 years ago we decided that we would like a place to get away from the sometimes unpleasant weather of England, so we bought an apartment in sunny Nice, France.  Jeff spoke no French and mine was pretty bad, so we definitely didn’t want a “fixer-upper”.  Dealing with builders in French was the last thing we wanted to do.  We wanted “move-in” condition.

We found an apartment in the “bourgeois” style (built in the 1920s) with high ceilings, decorative cornices, original wood floors and a modern new kitchen and bathroom.  It was perfect; it had the character of the old with the convenience of the new.

But as soon as we moved in we had plumbing problems – major ones.  We found out that the man who had remodelled the apartment, before we bought it, had done just about everything wrong. Our second day there, we caused water damage to the three apartments below us.

With my limited French I had to immediately start dealing with plumbers, neighbours, and the syndic (management company).  It was a rude welcome to France.  But as they say, every cloud has a silver lining.  For us that was getting to meet our neighbours who, fortunately, turned out to be wonderfully kind people and became our friends.

It took quite a while, but we finally got everything fixed and we spent many happy years in that apartment.  But now we have moved on and I wrote a little verse to say goodbye.

new English neighbours umbrella

“Au revoir” to a French Apartment

We bought the apartment six years ago,
An aging bourgeois beauty
With a brand new facelift on show.

Her charm was utterly beguiling,
But she soon revealed
What cosmetic surgery had been hiding.

Her aged drains were blocked and leaking,
Water poured down on three floors
Of our new neighbours – all French speaking.

But her incontinence had a bright side too,
We met our lovely neighbours
And my French plumbing vocabulary grew.

We nursed her back into good repair,
For years she was our home away,
Now we pass her into others’ care

…And hope she won’t welcome them in the same way.

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Margo Lestz
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