It’s almost the end of my first week on Rue Ordener. So far we’ve had a day with no running water, a wedding and a visit from two fire engines. I’d call that a roaring success for week 1 in terms of entertainment. 153 is never dull.
I’ve discovered a new local brasserie, Le Reinitas on the bustling Rue du Poteau, just off Rue Ordener. It has a view of a fruit shop, a fishmonger and several stalls. Today was the first morning in six days that I was able to order my coffee uninterrupted by the waiter switching into English to speed up the process. I’m usually treated to a sympathetic expression that belies the reality of being a waiter in Paris i.e. “I don’t have all day.” There I was congratulating myself that I had been clear enough to be understood and quick enough to merit more questions in French afterwards when a petite, well dressed, elderly, blonde woman clutching a fresh baguette approached me with a smile.
I smiled back, overcoming what has been an almost paralysing shyness to speak. “Ah. C’est bon.” she smiled, raising her eyes towards the cloudless turquoise sky. “Oui.” I nodded in agreement. With that she squatted in front of me, gave her nether regions a jolly good scratch and went on her way. No one batted an eyelid as they continued imbibing their early morning coffee. Like I said, 153 is never dull.
Summiting the burgundy massif
I’m starting to get used to the security at 153. At the main blue door there is a key code. Once entered, a low buzz announces that the door is open. Through the hallway and across the courtyard there is another door requiring a key fob. Then there are 5 flights of stairs. Luckily, I only have to make it up 4 but my lack of stamina when summiting that burgundy massif has led me to join the local gym. It’s a stone’s throw away on Rue de Cloys behind the apartment which is just as well because this morning after an hour there, with a face that matched the stair runner, I could barely walk.
It was that same blue door that a notice was pinned to informing us that there was no water on the street for most of Friday. My heart sank as we walked along the road met by identical notices lined up on each and every door. Three workmen in white overalls marched purposefully, side by side, down the street looking suspiciously like the protagonists from Ghostbusters. Something was going on in the sewers of Montmartre, so we did what we had to, told ourselves we were heading out for bottled water and went to Le Reinitas for wine instead.
The Sacre Coeur at night
Despite those stairs, the 34C heatwave and absence of air conditioning, 153 already feels like home. That first night the balcony windows were wide open. We watched the light fade and the sun slowly set over the rooftops of Montmartre, the Sacre Coeur illuminated in the distance against an ultrmarine sky. A single star hovered over the Basilica dome. Lights went on one by one in the flats surrounding the street. Voices from the cafes below resonated upwards, evaporating into the night. The sound of somebody, somewhere on Rue Ordener playing jazz on a trumpet drifted on the warm evening breeze. It was the perfect welcome to the neighbourhood of 153 Rue Ordener, Montmartre.