August 19th, 2008

camera's eye

UP ON THE ROOFTOPS

The company I work for is an international one, with offices in more than 20 countries. It also has a very diverse demographic, hiring people from all over the world to work in those offices. Though we are headquartered in Sweden, non-natives make up a significant portion of the employee list.

On the floor where I work, which comprises 3 different departments, there are 2 Germans, 5 Americans, 1 Canadian, 1 French, 1 Mexican, 1 Brit, 1 Malaysian, 1 Indian, 1 Dane and 1 Norwegian. That's a quarter of the total number of people on our floor alone. The Frenchwoman is actually based in France, but she's in Sweden once a month and because I work so closely with her, I often feel that she's more present than several of the people whom I see, but rarely interact with, every day.

We used to have another French national in our department, but he left the company just over a year ago for greener pastures in Amsterdam. He was a great character and fun to have around, always good for a laugh or juicy gossip. He livened things up in general. He still returns to Sweden once in awhile because he shares a summer cottage and a dog with a Swedish ex so every now and then we meet up.

One huge benefit to being friends with him was his offer of a place to stay in Paris any time we wanted (providing, of course, that it wasn't already occupied), as he also still owns an small apartment in the Latin Quarter, on the Left Bank. A couple of other friends of his, colleagues of ours, had previously taken advantage of his generosity, and when we finally decided on Paris for the first part of our vacation, the possibility of being able to use the apartment was definitely a bonus. I was thrilled when he said it was available and that absolutely! No question! We could stay there.

We drove to Paris, using a GPS system which Anders had installed on his mobile telephone, making navigation incredibly easy. It was also hilarious as the kids had discovered that you could change the voice which the driving instructions were issued with and pretty quickly they demanded that YODA be our guide. "In 500 meters, left you must turn, and then the motorway you must join," Yoda declared in his nasally voice. Yoda guided us right up to the little street outside the apartment building, which was blue-painted with curliqued black iron balconies. Though he never came right out and said it, having a navigation system handy is BETTER THAN HAVING THE FORCE BE WITH YOU.

We left the car in a parking garage a few blocks away and found our way through the foyer, past the first little elevator shaft, into a tiny open-air courtyard and past the service entrance of a little bistro, into another building with another tiny elevator shaft that had shiny dark wooden stairs rising in a spiral around it to the 5th floor, where the elevator ended, and we continued up one more flight to the top floor and our destination. It was a trim and stylishly appointed little apartment, with a sofabed in the living room, a brass double bed in the tiny bedroom, a beautifully tiled bathroom straight out of Paris Style and a little kitchen complete with a wine fridge. It was perfect.

But what I liked best was the view. You couldn't see the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame or, really, anything of Paris. We were so high up that the street and city sounds were airy and floating, as if they were filtered. Which they were: filtered through my love of living in a city again, if only for a few filled and dashing days.

Here is the view from the kitchen window. Somehow, there is something so quintessentially Parisian and peaceful about it.



It's actually a much more delightful photo when it's not so small, so click here for a larger version! And if you look veeerrry carefully, one of those little chimney pots might just sprout wings and fly away.