Saying goodbye to a loved one is seldom easy, especially if it’s unlikely that you’ll see them again. That’s how I feel about the Batignolles area of Paris.
I left Rue Legendre behind on Monday fully in the knowledge that I probably won’t go back again for a long while.
I came to know the area well in 2004 when my friend Michael first moved there. Back then, he was relatively junior at work and embarking on a new post in the French capital.
A one-bedroom flat in the area was just about all he could afford. Batignolles wasn’t rough but it was decidedly shabby. The bustling market on Rue de Lévis was its only saving grace.
Ten years on and the area has changed remarkably. Gone are the closed-up ironmongers and tired-looking launderettes. In their place stand smart delicatessens and brightly coloured baby clothes shops.
Take the Place de Docteur Félix Lobligeois (pictured), for example. Back then, despite the imposing church that stands in its centre, it was an overlooked square leading to the Square des Batignolles park. Now it is home to numerous chic restaurants.
The local demographics have changed too. Young upwardly mobile couples with children have taken over the neighbourhood from the working-class families that used to dominate.
Michael’s career has gone from strength to strength too. Ironically, perhaps, the changing population is behind his decision to move on. He was happy to avoid the older housewives with their shopping trollies as he navigated the area’s narrow streets, but he’s drawn the line at yummy mummies and their prams.
He’s off to the northern part of the Marais, near the Temple or Arts et Métiers métro stations. With him goes my accommodation. So, hello third arrondissement, goodbye 17th.