Travel

Fast Times in an Illegal Parisian Artist Commune

Looking back on all the decisions I made in Europe I would never encourage any young woman traveling solo to do what I did. It was reckless and had it not been for the prayers of my family and loved ones I’m not sure I would have made it back home alive. Thankfully, I’m alive and well, here to tell the story today. In my previous post you learned about how I lost $800 in Europe, now I’ll tell you about the time I slept in an illegal artist commune.


Don’t know what an artist commune is? Remember Moulin Rouge when the penniless writer slept in a 4×4 room (cue the dramatics) a floor below that eccentric group of artists and bohemians. That is an artist commune. An eclectic, vibrant, booming mecca for creative and passionate people. Showers are optional and everything is communal: from lovers to toothbrushes to art supplies. 

How this invite to a shared space came to be one of my very limited options in Paris is embarrassing. Well for starters, I’m careless and lost money before my trip even began and I hadn’t thoughtfully or adultly prepared for lodging.

At the time I was dating a very adorable French man and he swore to me that I could lay my head in his place while I stayed in France. Unfortunately, when the Rose-colored glasses of our passionate New York affair cracked, I found myself homeless. 

NEVER EVER EVER make plans to stay with a man you only met a month ago in a foreign country. Before my trip I took the necessary precautions of course by giving my parents his address and verifying his identity via a quick Google search, but that didn’t prepare me for his attitude change once I got to Europe. 

Which led me to a slightly drunken proposition by a chubby yet charismatic womanizer in a Parisian bar. It was late and my suitcase and I were sitting with a ice-melted, watered down cranberry and vodka looking more than a little pathetic. My French ex-lover was across the bar talking to strangers taking slight empathic glances over at me. Despite the both of us realizing we weren’t a match made in Tinder heaven (yes we met on Tinder) we decided it was best to stick it out for as long as we could stand each other. 

My French ex-lover had pals with closets as masquerading as apartments in Paris but I wasn’t allowed to sleepover (girls have cooties, I guess). With little cash and being past the hour of booking a hostel I contemplated the creepy offered of my mustachioed bar mate.

We share a bed. The few of us. You could come for the night.

*side eye emoji* We? Share a bed? Me? What in the actual f-. Beggars can’t be choosers and My French ex-lover knew this fat pirate by association, so how dangerous could it be?

When fat pirate’s band of merry artistic men and I got to commune I realized I had made a grave mistake. My judgment must have been impaired by booze and poverty because there was no way I would agree to this normally. I am normal straightlaced (slight exaggeration) so maybe I was feeling risky in a foreign country. Who knows?

 I was curious to see if a slew of men had in fact, shared sleeping space. Much to my amusement, they did. 

“I’m definitely not sleeping there,” I scoffed. “I’ll sleep there.” I pointed to a mash up of a curbside sofa and a drawing table. Essentially it was a plan with pillows but you get the point. My chubby mustache friend was none-too-pleased but I didn’t care. 

The commune was all splattered paint and discarded drawings. The path to artistic expression left its mark on every inch of this illegally occupied loft space. A paint brush here, some unfinished sculpture there. This was something I had only seen in movies and now I was going to sleep here with a few strangers and a one half stranger/ex-lover person. 

I could just hear my mother praying from way across the pond. 

The night wasn’t half bad. I hadn’t gotten raped, so that’s a plus. I had a stiff arm from the less than comfy excuse for a sofa. When I woke up there was a tuna fish sandwich and some chocolate chip cookies waiting by my head.

“Thought you might be hungry,” confessed my French ex-lover. I was touched. The sandwich wasn’t fantastic but with each bite I wondered if he wanted to get back together. 

He didn’t. Like at all. I’ll save that story for another post. 

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