Monday, August 27, 2012 9:00 AM EDT
OK, I think I may have figured it out.
I’ve already described how cottages don’t really turn my crank. I’m perfectly capable (perhaps a little too capable) of relaxing at home; I don’t need another house to kick back in. But even I have to admit that it is nice to get away sometimes, and that we all crave a change of scenery. And, yes, it is true that the obligations of home have a tendency to nag when you’re just laying about the house. This is where the pied-à-terre comes in.
As a drunk Orson Welles would say, Mwaaaaaa, the French! Is it really a surprise that the language that has a term for “favourite mistress” would have a term for a little getaway pad in a city? Literally “foot on the ground,” a pied-à-terre is typically the domain of the rich — like these delightful London swells who bought an apartment in Manhattan to use as a second home, only to later buy another apartment in the same building to serve as a pied-à-terre to the pied-à-terre. After all, sometimes you just have to get away from it all while you’re getting away from it all.
Chin up, all hope is not lost. There may be a way for us plebes to get our foot on the ground. A few years ago, a friend of mine from my Montreal university days found herself missing the city where we “studied.” (Is there a French term for that?) When word came of a student looking for a summer sublet, she and a group of friends decided to go in together and make the apartment their summer vacation home. Thanks to a big student population that vacates the city over the summer, and cheap rents to begin with, Montreal makes itself pretty appealing to those seeking a getaway spot. If you find yourself craving bagels and smoked meat, you know you’ve got a place waiting for you. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the place during the rest of the year.
As with anything vacation-related, there are potential associated headaches: travelling there; essentially going all-in on one location for your holiday options; working out schedules with fellow sublettors; and the pressure to go as often as possible to make it worthwhile. In other words: the same hassles you cottage people put up with.
But still! I may have to give this a whirl in a coming summer.