Celebrating one year in Paris - with leaky pipes and a plumber!

February 26, 2011 - The movers unload our belongings in Paris.

Thursday evening, March 1, 2012: Pleased to be home after our trip to Geneva, I go to the kitchen to prepare a celebratory dinner to commemorate our one year anniversary of living in Paris and am stunned when my socks are immediately drenched with cold water. Frantically looking at the flooded floor and wondering what has happened in our absence, I spy the culprit – the ancient water valve that I had turned off prior to my departure on Monday. Hearing an ominous drip, drip, drip…I rip off my socks, wriggle out of my tight jeans (darn all that hot chocolate!), grab a pile of towels and start cleaning up the mess. In between cursing antiquated French plumbing, wondering how much water has seeped into our neighbor's apartment downstairs and wishing that I had gone to the grocery store instead of Stephane, I remind myself how thankful I am to live in Paris even if it means crawling around on my hands and knees mopping up bucket after bucket of water.

Flashback to January 31, 2011: It's early Monday morning. Phone in hand, I'm standing in front of a TGV at the train station in Lausanne, Switzerland waiting for Stephane to send me a one word text message: "abort" if the apartment that I'm traveling to Paris to see has already been taken or "proceed" if he was able to schedule an appointment with the real estate agency and our relocation agent. As the conductor signals that the train is ready to depart, I quickly call Stephane and ask if he has any news. He doesn't so I take my chances and hop on the train telling myself that the worst thing that can happen is that I'll spend the afternoon wandering the streets of Paris.

Fortunately, all of the stars align and Stephane calls to say that I can visit the apartment at 1:00 p.m. I see it, like it, and make our relocation agent's day by telling her that we'll take it if the owner accepts our application. Our agent is pleased that she won't have to spend days taking me from apartment to apartment and I'm happy to have found a home in Paris.


Thursday evening, March 1, 2012: Stephane returns from his trip to the grocery store. He twists the valve, curses the French for covering up the pipes in the kitchen and breaks a small hole in the wall to tighten the bolt. Interestingly enough, the dripping stops but it also cuts off our entire water supply. I use Perrier to brush my teeth before we go to bed wondering when we'll be able to take a shower and flush the toilets again.

Friday morning, March 2, 2012: The plumber arrives, albeit late, and curses in English to ensure that I understand the severity of the situation. It's lunchtime and he has to switch off the water for the entire building. My neighbors won't be pleased. He fixes the leaky valve and says "See you soon" when he leaves. I wonder if it's an omen of things to come and tweet about my experience.

MK: Felt like hugging plumber when he finally arrived this morning. Flooded kitchen followed by no water - c'est la vie à Paris!

And was surprised to get an immediate response from Tatiana de Rosnay, the author of Sarah's Key and The House I Loved.

TdR: @OutInParisBlog was he cute ? :)
MK: @tatianaderosnay He looked like knight in shining armor. ;) The words, "leak is fixed & water is back on" do wonders for a woman's heart!
TdR: @OutInParisBlog sounds like a French Heathcliffe!
MK: @tatianaderosnay French - most definitely. He laughed when I asked if he works on weekends! Heathcliffe - no.

And another response from Anne, Just Another American in Paris:

@OutInParisBlog you haven't really lived in Paris until you've had a leaky pipe or water coming from the apartment above.

That explains it. The leaky pipe was Paris' way of welcoming us home and helping us celebrate our one year anniversary. Merci, Paris!

Wondering why the movers are bringing our things through the balcony door of our fifth floor apartment? Take a look at the pictures in this post.

Our apartment sure didn't look like home on February 26, 2011!

Comments

  1. nice looking apartment though, lookslike it is worth the bother and a french heathcliffe like looking plumber "en plus"? can a girl ask for more?

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    1. It's true - the apartment is worth the bother. I just hope that we don't have any more leaky pipes for awhile.

      The plumber was just an ordinary looking guy but it was the thought of having the problem repaired that made him look so appealing. Kind of like beer goggles!

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  2. Ha ha! reminds me of when we called the plumber to a leaky shower, when we stayed a month in Paris. He arrived on a motorbike, and shook his long curls out from under the helmet and was very easy on the eye! Looked and acted more like an artist than a plumber!... but then again maybe Parisien plumbers ARE artists , dealing with all that ancient plumbing!

    Lovely apartment. Congratulations on your year.

    Lovefrom bolton

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    1. Our plumber and all of his tools arrived on a motorcycle, too! I'm used to plumbers dashing out to their trucks to get a wrench or a washer, but this one carried everything that he needed in his backpack and pockets. His jacket must have weighed a ton.

      What bad luck to have to deal with a plumber during your vacation!

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  3. Good story. Good read. And good year in Paris. As a renter, do you pay the plumber or does the landlord assume the costs? I rent my apartment here and a couple of years ago there was a leak in the wall to the apartment below but nothing in my apartment. I had to remove an entire wall of books for the repair, which was work enough; but I was almost distraught when they started tearing through the old plaster and lathe work, revealing the absolute intrigue of layers in the wall--wooden slats, chicken wire, plaster, open space, pipes and who knows what else. They sure don't build them like that anymore. It's also one of the reasons I don't really hear my neighbors.

    Anyway, happy anniversary.
    And how about that moving truck--what are those red plastic bins containing?

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    1. Yikes! That sounds as if you had quite the plumbing problem. The stuffing in your walls is what we have in our house that's 100+ years old in Annapolis. I'm always amazed to see what's in walls when we do any type of repair. And we've had our share of leaks there, too! It's almost unavoidable with old buildings.

      The owner should pay for the plumber, at least that's what I'm assuming. Once we receive the bill from the plumber, we're going to send it to him and await his response. Everything always takes so long here - we're still waiting for some awnings that were supposed to have been installed last year and for some blinds to be fixed. Nonetheless, we seem fairly lucky with our owner. I've heard that some of them are awful.

      The red plastic bins contained all of our dishes and breakable items. Our moving company was Swiss - we've used them quite a few times - and instead of using boxes and lots of paper, they use crates with foam inside. They set the dishes on the thick foam and close the boxes. It's fast and doesn't produce all of the waste associated with wrapping everything in paper.

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  4. Wow, it's already been a year. I remember when I first started reading your blog around May of last year and you were a Paris new comer. I enjoyed reading your stories from your fresh point of view because it kept me from becoming jaded.

    Now that you've made it a year, I regret to tell you that you are no longer a newbie to these parts! Welcome to the club! : )

    Happy Anniversary, MK!

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    1. Thanks, Ella - it feels good to be a part of the club! I've been trying to come up with a catchy sounding name to replace "newbie" but the only thing that I've come up with so far is "resident". I'm open to suggestions!

      Our blogs are going to turn one at about the same time. I'm already starting to think about what I'm going to do to celebrate. Any idea where you take your blog for its first birthday in Paris? ;)

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  5. Happy anniversary! Glad you got your pipes sorted

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  6. I was tempted to laugh as this trauma is all in the past, but suppressed the urge. Glad all's fixed now Mary Kay. Congratulations on your year in Paris and thanks for all the fantastic tales of life there. Looking forward to many more !

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    1. No need to have suppressed the urge to laugh - I felt like laughing at the absurdity of the entire situation. It was unbelievable. I just hope that our downstairs neighbors don't have any water damage because they're currently away on vacation.

      I'm traveling to Boston today - needless to say, you'll be in my thoughts as I explore the city. I had a wonderful time walking the Freedom Trail with you in October. I may follow your example and visit the Kennedy Library this time.

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    2. Safe trip. I too have great memories of that day when we walked the second half of the FT . And you have reminded me that I have a couple more Boston videos to make, including a quick mention of the Kennedy Library.

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    3. I look forward to seeing your other Boston videos! Let me know if you want me to take any photos to supplement the film footage that you shot in October.

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  7. Oh la la! Sorry to hear about a busted water pipe, but I'm glad French Heathcliffe came to the rescue and your one year anniversary didn't go unnoticed.

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    1. My one year anniversary definitely didn't go unnoticed - I wonder what Paris has in store for our second one!

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  8. Happy anniversary. Glad to hear your leak is fixed and I hope the neighbours have forgiven you!
    I have a handsome plumber working in the gite at the moment. My husband! Renovating two ancient properties has turned him into a very competent jack of all trades!

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    1. See, that's how rumors get started. My plumber wasn't handsome, I just felt like hugging him because I was so happy to see the man who could fix our problem.

      It's great to have a handy husband! Stephane usually does all of our repairs but I draw the line at plumbing. Plus, there was no way that he could repair this leak.

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  9. Oh man. What a bummer to come home to especially since you were about to turn around and leave again... I'd be cursing big time too... Crossing my fingers that I don't ever have to deal with that as Sir L would not be able to even twist a bolt to make it stop temporarily! I hope it all got taken care of and will be good as new when you return from Boston!

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    1. Just in case you ever have to deal with leaky pipes, we asked our gardienne for a list of reliable plumbers. It seems like there are quite a few bad ones in Paris (as there are anywhere else) so you may want to get their names in advance. Things like this always seem to happen when you least expect it. And here's hoping that everything is alright in our absence. I would hate to deal with another leak when I get back from Boston!

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  10. Dear MK; I just left a long, long comment - except that when I clicked to post it, the server stopped working and when it did again, my comment was gone.... for good! I'm so fed up right now and tired of the tackiness of our power line! I feel like some light swearing :/

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    1. Oh, Kiki - I'm so sorry! Go ahead and swear. I know exactly how frustrating it is to type a long comment and then have it evaporate into thin air. Having an erratic power supply is as much a part of life in France as sketchy plumbing! ;)

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  11. Things like that happen, no matter how much we don’t want them to. What matters most is that the plumber did his job and fixed your plumbing issues once and for all. Anyway, you’re so lucky to have gone to different countries and places! :)

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    1. Well, I don't know if our plumbing issues are fixed once and for all - we live in a fairly old building! ;) But I do feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to travel and live in different countries. It's the best way to understand other cultures and people.

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  13. Hi there - am having a plumbing problem myself in Paris and am worried about finding a good, honest plumber, having heard a lot of rip-off plumber stories. Could you provide your guy's contact info?

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  14. Yikes! What a way to get back to your life after your Geneva trip. I can just imagine how hard it was to deal with your flooded floor. Good thing, though, the plumber was able to fix that.

    Don Bennett @ Athens Plumbing

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