FP and I followed the estate agent closely as she clonked up the wooden stairs in her chunky heels. Was that the fashion now? Chunky high heels? I looked down at my own scaffy flip-flops and realised that I was no longer able to afford to keep up with the fashion. I was a bohemian with ripped jeans and flip-flops now; destined to be warming tinned baked beans every night for dinner for the next few years. That's what happens when you get your first real job and decide to pay the majority of your measly income on rent just to live in Versailles.
I held tightly onto FP's hand as we climbed the steps, the lady in front of us making chit-chat in fast French that made my brain tumble. The stairs curved and spiralled their way up several levels but she stopped outside the main door on the second floor.
I held my breath as she pulled out the keys and jingled them in her hand, trying to find the right one to match the keyhole. The words, please be good, please be good, please be good, repeated themselves like a mantra inside my head. This was the last apartment we had scheduled to view. But I had a good feeling about this one.
"Normallement il y a un petit chat qui habite ici, donc on doit faire attention," she warned us as she stabbed the key into the lock, turned the door knob and peeped through the gap in the door.
Hmmm, a cat lives here? I'm taking that as a sign. If a cat lives here then it's cat-proof. No worrying about Ollie finding his way into holes in the walls or up fireplaces.
I squeezed FP's hand tightly. The door swung open wide and the cat was nowhere to be seen. The family who were living there at the time were en vacances. We stepped into a roomy hallway in a short corridor with parquet flooring and white walls. FP and I made our way cautiously along the corridor, as though we were uninvited guests, awkwardly wondering which of the many doors on offer to us to open first.
We warily went through the apartment, drinking everything in. There was a WC with a sink and a covered kitty litter tray with a cat poo peeping it's head out of the swing-door. Don't let that put you off, I said to myself.
Next there was the kitchen. Big, roomy, cupboards, hooray! I could already see myself in there stirring those baked beans in a big pot on the cooker.
The salle de bain was large too, and the woman who lived there had, for some unknown reason, put her fridge in there, next to the shower. She also had several pairs of underwear hanging out to dry but again, I didn't want to let the bordel put me off.
And then there were the two bedrooms. Glorious things they were. Big, with lots of room for a nice big bed and a wardrobe, something I was afraid I would have to live without. The first bedroom was for us. The second would be a chambre d'ami, a guest room, with enough space left over for an office in the corner. There was also...dun dun duuuuuun...un dressing! (For non-francophones un dressing is a room where you keep all your clothes and perhaps things to do with clothes like a dirty-wash basket, or a sewing machine. But a whole room to dedicate to your clothes and shoes and getting dressed up! An entire room!! It's the best invention ever!) (Should probably add that the dressing in our apartment couldn't really be classified as a room as it is more like a walk-in cupboard but it's still space solely dedicated to clothes and shoes and if the estate agent said it was un dressing then in my book it's un dressing.)
And then the living room. On the phone the estate agent had said the living room was small but compared to all the apartments we had seen this was big! It was bright, airy, clean (depsite all the clutter) and there was a set of beautiful french windows that opened out onto ...could it be? Yes! A balcony!
I was elated. I wanted to grab hold of the estate agent and tell her to give us the keys right then and we would just throw the crap belonging to the messy woman and her kid out of the balcony. But no, I restrained myself.
After we said goodbye to the estate agent outside, FP and I looked at each other and burst into laughter. Loud laughter. So loud that people walking by in the street stopped and looked at us with their eyebrows raised quizzicaly.
"I love it!" I squealed.
"Me too!" He squealed (but in a manly way).
"Avec le parking sous-sol et le cave et tout ça, on est vraiment tombé sur une vraie perle!" He was right; what with the underground parking space and the cellar that were included in this apartment, we really had found something rare.
There were only two problems; one was that there was no bath. But I could live with that. I don't much like sitting my bare bum on something that's been sat on by hundreds of naked strangers before me anyway. The other problem? We couldn't move in until the beginning of June.
But some things are just worth the wait, n'est ce pas?
*The picture is obviously not our apartment. It is La Cathédrale Saint Louis in Versailles.