Our apartment overlooks a quiet, secluded courtyard, separated from the street by another set of apartments served by the same large, green door. It is so quiet that, once through the door, it’s nearly impossible to tell that you’re still in the heart of a bustling city. Courtyards are commonplace among Paris apartments – isolated sanctuaries that, often times, are only ever seen by those living behind the outer door.
The courtyard at 60 rue de Dunkerque is simple, lined with gray cobblestone and home to a picnic table and an albeit sizeable tree. It’s simple, but I like it. I like being able to enjoy the crowded, noisy streets and then, by means of a heavy door and a stone wall, be able to escape back again into the quiet. Urban living is more sustainable this way, I think. You don’t grow weary of the hustle and bustle. You take the tiny elevator to the second floor (or take the stairs if you want to work off your lunch), unlock your triple-bolted apartment door, and slip inside your space – all the while treading lightly on the old wooden floor so as to not disturb your elderly neighbor below with too much creaking and moaning.
You can read a book, watch the evening news, have dinner with your husband, go to sleep with your windows open. Then, when the sun rises (or when your jet-lagged body finally decides to awaken), you’re craving Paris again.