French House Hunting 05

Over the last 6 weeks, I have spent my time scouring real estate websites, searching for the right property. Something that will be able to bring in money and will also keep me satisfied. With all of the options available online for looking at real estate, these are the few that I have been using most: SeLoger, France Property Shop, A Vendre A Louer, Logic-Immo, Century21, Green-Acres, & Legget. All of the hotels and bed & breakfasts that I have seen are too far away from a train station for convenience to Paris and other large cities. The properties that I have seen with a commercial space need too much renovation work to make them habitable and/or profitable. The single apartments I have seen in Paris are either too small, in bad neighborhoods or have other disadvantages.

For the entire month of November I am staying in an apartment that was built 3 years before the French Revolution. The apartment is located on the 5th floor of this old building, but it does have a lift. It is convienently located in the 7th arrondissement, just 100 feet away from the Musée Rodin, and 2 blocks from Les Invalides. The apartment has 11 separate rooms all with doors, I love how compartmentalized it is. This apartment is the quintessential Parisian apartment. The woman who owns it is a retired Latin college professor, and the walls are adored with old posters from plays, musicals, operas…it’s amazing here. Again, I have to remind myself that I will be unable to find an apartment like this to buy and that I should just enjoy the month I have while staying here. But it’s so pretty and I want it!

On Saturday afternoon I went to see a studio apartment in Paris’ Latin Quarter, the 5th arrondissement. The apartment in located in a beautiful building overlooking the Square Paul-Painleve, between the Sorbonne and The Musee de Cluny. This is a great, central location with tons of restaurants, bistrots, boutiques and coffee shops. Right outside of the front door is a wonderful old bookstore. One of the best parts of this location is that the Pantheon is just a couple blocks away. The apartment is a 1 room studio of 5 meters squared…so not large. It has a shower, a stove, a fridge and a sink. There is also a small bench/bed area. The toilet is shared in the hallway with other tenants on that floor, but it was incredibly clean. This would not be a place where I would host people, this place would be specifically for me to focus on writing and nothing else. This apartment is on the top floor and to get to the top floor you have to take the back staircase, which is incredibly narrow and winding. I was getting dizzy walking up the stairs, and pictured how easily it would be for me to fall to my death if I had 1 too many drinks out with friends and attempted to climb this staircase. I asked the agent, Marion, and she told me that the apartment has only been on the market for two weeks and have already been viewed 10 times. She had one person who put in an offer, but backed out because he found a larger place. Because of the proximity to the Sorbonne, this apartment will sell fast. Pictures are below. Unfortunately, it is just too small for me to live in. I like to host people for dinner, drinks, game nights, etc, and this place would not be right for my lifestyle.

Some of the apartments that I have seen in Paris have been larger, however they have also been in bad neighborhoods. One apartment located in the 18th arrondissement was 18 meters squared, had a separate bathroom and kitchen and a large living/bedroom. It was on the 5th floor of the building with an elevator. Once you walked outside the front door however, there were about 10 homeless Syrian and African families huddled in to doorways, sleeping on makeshift mattresses and covered in dirty blankets. Although I am sorry for the struggles that these families are having to go through, I don’t need to be reminded of it every time I walk home. Another apartment was in the 13th arrondissement, but there were no metro stations nearby and no grocery stores anywhere. As much as I love to walk, I don’t want to have to walk an extra 25 to 30 minutes back to the grocery store, in case I forgot to buy bread.

My friends who all live and own their own places in Paris tell me that it can take anywhere between 2-5 months to find an apartment that I’ll be happy with. I might have picked the worst time to come to France however, because the holiday season is already upon us. The day after Halloween the Christmas lights were already strung up across the streets. The windows in the major stores, BHV and at the Galeries Lafayette are already showing the holiday themes. The French don’t celebrate a hypocritical holiday like Thanksgiving, so Halloween is the starting gun for the Winter festivities. This is also the worst time to look for a place to buy, as many of the current owners of the places for sale will be busy and/or away and that means a limited time of showings and availability. Many French people prefer to wait until after the holidays are gone to sell their properties. That means that, once December is here, I will have nothing to do but go to Christmas markets, enjoy the multiple parties, and festivals, and just wander around Paris and France enjoying the special time of year. This time of year is special to so many people, and my family always enjoys the time we al spend together. Only one year, while I was away at college was I unable to spend the holidays with my family, and it really broke my heart. They were sweet and sent me a few reminders and keepsakes such as my stocking, and a few ornaments to hang in my apartment, but it still wasn’t the same. I will be flying back to Texas in December and driving up with my dad to Colorado where all of my siblings will be to celebrate the holiday.

This puts a deadline on me, if I do not find a place in the next month, I will have to go back home and then come back to France and start my search over. If I can find something before I leave, I will be able to sign the necessary paperwork and then when I come back will be able to move directly in to the new place. So that is where I am with my search. Looking desperately every day and night, with a few trips scheduled in between to museums, galleries, cemeteries, monuments, etc etc etc. I would also like to thank all of the readers of my blog who have sent me suggestions on different places that they have heard of that are for sale. I really appreciate your tips and knowledge, even with me looking at 30 different sites, there is always something I overlook and it is a great comfort having you send me those overlooked places. Keep them coming.

Love always,
Pursuing in Paris

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