Holidays 2023, End of year plan

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As far as I’d planned before arriving in France

I’m in Paris for 5 nights, 3 concerts, a big and thrilling indulgence. All the concerts are at the Philharmonie de Paris, in its Grande Salle Pierre Boulez. I’d never been. It’s up in the 19th, La Villette, so I booked at St. Christopher’s Inn on the Canal de l’Ourcq. I thought I wouldn’t like to spoil the afterglow of an exquisite concert by heading down into the Metro. I’ve found that it is not that charming a walk through the dark park, the construction barriers at the north end of the canal, and the mostly dark and empty streets, so I have no reason to suggest anyone emulate my plan. Next time, I’d just choose a neighborhood I like. But the concerts have been a delight, the hostel is a clean and friendly place and very cheap, so no complaints, just no intention of a repeat.

I didn’t know where I’d go after Paris. Holidays aren’t a great time to ask for house viewings! I thought this would be a down time, a time out, and hoped to make it as economical as possible. If I could spend it in an area I’m considering, all the better, but the small towns I want to see have few accommodations, resulting in uncompetitive prices.

Ready for a new adventure: House / Pet sitting

I finally took the plunge and paid for membership on the TrustedHousesitters site. It’s really about pet-sitting, not just taking care of a house. Most sits are in the US or UK but there are some in France, some in Asia, and the company aims to be worldwide – it’s just slow in catching on. I had trouble getting my profile completed because of document upload issues. An old friend immediately gave me a reference, staff helped me get the last photo in place, and my profile went live. They say you may have to make a lot of applications before you get accepted for a sit. I was hopeful of success anyway because there are a lot of people who need pet-sitters so they can get away over the holidays. I put in two applications as soon as I got settled in a cybercafe (stolen laptop …) and by the time I got back to the hostel, I had replies, both considering me; and in short order one had confirmed with me. It was painful to let the other party know – I would love to have been there, too, with a sweet dog – but there was no reason to make a ready party wait.

I’m very pleased. I’ll have the company of three housecats for the holidays in an outer area of Toulouse. The sit is December 20-30, nicely covering the Christmas period, and as logistically it works better to show up early, they’re receiving me the morning of the 19th. Direct trains on the 20th are already sold out! As it is, I’m going overnight. It doubles the duration of the journey, which otherwise could be as quick as 4.5 hours, but it lets me avoid checking in somewhere for just a night (and waiting most of the day to be able to do that). I’ve got my little cables and locks ready to secure my bags on the train.

And I’m to be a houseguest outside Paris!

This weekend, a little gap in-between, I’ve been invited to be the houseguest of a woman I met last January, whom I spent a super day with. I’m thrilled to get a chance to develop this friendship and to meet some of her family. I’ll be south of Paris on one of the RER lines, and will be back into and later out of Paris Austerlitz on Monday.

As the pet sit ends December 30, I had to figure out what to do for New Year, and I found a bed at a downtown hostel in Toulouse, so no onward travel till January 3 when I will head to Montpellier. Downtown Toulouse should be plenty amusing for the New Year.

Restaurants vs home cooking

Aside from all other considerations, I’m looking forward to getting to cook again. For two weeks, I can eat my own healthy food. I’ve been very happy in Paris, enjoying a 13-euro stand-at-the-bar plat du jour lunch, including a glass of wine or beer, at The Sarah Bernhardt, just where I exit the Métro at Châtelet exit 17 (2 place du Châtelet in the 4th) on my way to the cyber cafe Milk (so convenient at 31 Bd de Sébastopol in the 1st). But it will be good to be off restaurant food a while.

I’ll tell you about my pet-sitting adventure when it’s over! Have you got a tale to tell? Write me in the “leave a reply” section below.

Meanwhile, happy holidays to all.

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  1. Kerry Byers

    No updates yet in the New Year? Hope all is well and you are mixing fun with house hunting/house sitting. All is quiet in Williamsburg….waiting for early Jonquils to pop. Green shoots abound all over town. Can’t wait to read what you’re up to. Kerry