Levallois-Perret’s town hall

As we were staying in a friend’s apartment for our trip to France, we found ourselves in the Parisian suburbs. Levallois-Perret, to be exact. This mini-city was big enough that it didn’t feel like an extension of the capital, yet it was small enough that each return was a welcome retreat from the busy streets of Paris.

It was here that we did laundry, went to the internet cafe, and were basically on a first-name basis with the Monop’ grocery guys. Small-town French livin’, woo-hoo! Now if only we could speak the local language…

Our metro stop, Louise Michel

Upon roaming the streets, it became obvious that a few local characters stood out, namely Maurice Ravel and Gustave Eiffel. Ravel composed his famous Boléro orchestral piece in the neighborhood, and a few local businesses have adopted the title themselves. Then, the Eiffel company had its factory in the community, and the pieces of the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower were actually built there. Both men are buried in the Levallois-Perret cemetery; interestingly, all of those buried face the same direction save for Eiffel, who is pointed toward his famous tower.

Tasting our way through one of the many boulangeries

The town hall

Assembling breakfast in our adopted apartment

One of the many parks where we breakfast-ed

Each morning we bought pastries each morning from varying boulangeries and ate them alfresco in parks our around the town hall.

The count joined in, of course

Getting friendly with the locals

In our short week in Levallois, we managed to meet a handful of local characters. There was the friendly baker who always wore a broad smile and endearingly old-fashioned chef attire. There was the rotisserie vendor who spoke a mix of four languages as he sold us chicken and cajoled Riley to become a cowboy. Last but not least, there was the fluffy cat who lived inside a key-cutting store and would greet visitors at his kitty-door.

Washing clothes at the laverie

Making dinner in the Levallois apartment

Out of all of the experiences in the neighborhood, I will perhaps remember those nights in the apartment most. It was then when the four of us, tired from a day stuffed with sight-seeing, would unwind over dinner and reflect on the day. We had many conversations which marveled at the differences between the US and France, Madrid and Paris, big cities and small towns. As different as life in Levallois was, relaxing in this tiny apartment made us imagine what it would be like to live in Paris.

The skyline view from the sixth-floor apartment

Have you ever stayed in a place where you lived like a local? What did it teach you about the place you were visiting?