PARIS, the City of Lights, can inspire and thrill, as well as make people do the craziest of things at the drop of a hat.
And Maria Anton is one such person, as she was inspired to write a book about her adventures in buying a small flat that all started during a mobile phone conversation whilst in the toilet.
"I was in Paris visiting my daughter, Nikki, walking around the shops when I just had to go to the toilet, so we dived into a small bar and I rushed off to the smallest room," Maria said.
"And my biggest fear came true as I discovered it was one of those toilets which you have to stand over, and whilst in there my mobile phone rang and I was running out of hands.
"On the other end was my husband Dennis who was saying we should look to buy a flat in Paris now that we'd retired."
After finishing in the toilet, Maria returned to her daughter to explain that her father said something about buying a place in Paris although she'd told him it was a silly idea.
Unsurprisingly Nikki thought it was a great idea as she was looking for a roof over her head in Paris, offering to keep an eye on it and be there if any work was required.
"We only had a certain amount of cash after retiring from teaching so we approached our property search as if it was a job, I would be up early in the morning with my daughter and we'd be off hunting down properties," Maria said.
"We looked at a variety of places and finally we found a flat that seemed ideal, it was a beautiful sunny day and it just seemed right. But when we moved in that was when we encountered some real problems.
"Bare wires were hanging from the ceiling and the water boiler stopped working ten minutes after we moved in, the toilet wouldn't stop flushing, and as you might have gathered, water is a bit of a theme running through the book."
Water then began running through the flat.
"I got a call from Nikki asking if I wanted the good news or the bad news. Well it turned out that a water pipe had burst and so the flat was soaked, it had even rained through onto the squatters in the flat below.
"But Nikki said the good news was that the insurance would cover it all and that I'd have a new flat once the work was complete."
Maria has always had an affinity with France, her father who she never knew was French, and once worked as a nanny in France as well as been a teacher in Canada where she gained her language skills.
Now that the flat is ship-shape it has enabled Maria to write her book, titled Going In Seine, to both tell the tale of her property hunt but also to get across the appeal of the French way of life.
"I remember when I went to France during the school holidays I'd always get a real buzz of excitement and I still get that now," Maria said.
"When I speak French it sometimes feels like I'm in a play and Dennis has found aspects that appeal to him as well, for example he learned many of the metro stops and now we jump off at a stop to see what there is to discover.
"Sometimes it can be a bit of a disaster and we won't find anything, but other times you'll find something beautiful, like a secret garden. Although one garden we stopped at, which we thought was a secret, was not so much as there was a big sign overhead that we'd missed."
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