I’m staying in a room in an apartment in Marseille. After looking and looking on the web for hotels in the city center and seeing astronomical prices for a room, I bumped into a website airbnb.
This American website offers rooms in people’s homes all over the world. And this is how I found Catherine, a French woman who rents out a spare room in her apartment. After a long approval process from airbnb, I passed and rented the room. Airbnb wants to make sure that both the renter (that would be me) and the owner are not axe murderer.
Caherine’s apartment is a 10 minute walk from Le Vieux Port, the tourist center of town. To me, that was the most important thing. I have a lovely room and share the bathroom with Catherine. Somehow I’ve gotten to use her kitchen and I make my own breakfast and cups of tea.
But I also gets Catherine’s local knowledge of the city. Though I came here with a specific purpose – to find bits of my childhood – she also suggested must-see places. I’ve met her friend and a downstairs neighbor. I get to see a slice of Marseille life.
I’ll get to rate her lodging but I’ll get rated as well. Did I behave properly for this service?
She lives in an old building on the 4th floor. European count the ground floor as zero, so it’s really the 5th floor in American terms. And you guessed it – no elevator. So I walk up and down the stairs at least twice a day – once when I go out for the day and once when I go out for dinner. But hey, I wanted to see French city life. I knew this when I booked the room. Take it or leave and I’m so glad I took it.
If you’re curious about airbnb.com, check out the room rentals in Asheville or in your hometown. I was amazed at the number of rooms being offered.
French homes and especially apartments are small by American standards. That’s why people socialize in cafes so much. Catherine has a lovely kitchen, a living room and two bedrooms. She has a combination washer/dryer in the bathroom, one appliance that does both. I wonder how it works. Her balcony also has a drying rack.
In the spirit of research, I checked out a French Starbucks. They serve the same size coffee as the US, unlike everywhere else where you finish a coffee in two sips. But no decaf.