A Map of the Apartment Hunt

I really love Google’s My Maps feature and putting this together was therapeutic.

Someday, we will sit on our sunny 5th floor balcony overlooking the Jardin du Luxembourg and laugh at the apartment indignities we went through when we first got to Paris. For now, I’ll seek consolation in croissant au buerre breakfasts and the bottle of Monbazillac I picked up at the wine fair we went to yesterday.

This markers show apartments seen (or attempted) and are colour-coded green, yellow, or red according to how well we could imagine living there.

TIP: To enable “Street View”, click the View Larger Map link underneath, and drag the personicon icon  from the upper left corner to where you want to view.

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Pretty pictures: Parc des Buttes Chaumont

Unlike some other European capitals like London, Paris has a real dearth of green space. Note the ratio of green to beige on the map below.

So the parc des Buttes Chaumont (which is very near the apartment shown in my previous post) is a real treat. Not only because it’s a bit of green that softens Paris’ limestone jungle, but also because it’s an ‘English-style’ park which for me means it’s a normal park. (To the French, a normal park is symmetrical, laid out with geometrical precision and has all greenery trimmed & pruned to within an inch of its life. Grass is to be admired, not sat upon.)

Apartment Hunting in Paris: Pollyannas Needed

I have not posted anything lately, or even emailed many people, because whenever I’m in front of a computer I’m either combing rental search results, or suffering from sudden & acute despair brought on by the former. Trust me, you don’t want to hear what I have to say during these moments.

We do have a relocation agent, but the areas we like are not her speciality. She’s used to working with expats who like the space, leafiness, whiteness, and proximity to the office offered by the 16th & 17th arrondissements. And since most expats only stay a year or two, there’s lots of turnover. But aside from the leafiness (we do like trees), these neighbourhoods are not our cup of tea. And even if they were, everything from yoghurt to dry cleaning to restaurants are priced for executive salaries.

Which means we are then competing with scores of 30 & 40something Parisian couples–and the more boho expats–for 2 bdrm appartments in more “colourful” neighbourhoods. Neighbourhoods where our agent doesn’t have contacts. Contacts who enable you to see the apartment before the 20-person group visit the following week. Searching on my own is even worse: ads will appear in my inbox, and 5 minutes later I’ll phone the number to hear that the voicemail box is full. 

I’ve seen 14 apartments, and 2 were nice enough that we submitted our dossier, but then withdrew it after investigating the neighbourhood. Our latest “application” is for a great little place in our favourite quartier. The catch: although advertised as unfurnished, the landlord now insists it includes a huge couch & double bed. We already have our own huge couch plus a queen bed, and both are already en route. We have agreed to his other conditions but I fear this will be the sticking point. No one has any extra space here, not even landlords.

Today I saw a place in the 19th, one of places I found on my own. Although the view out the living room is not pretty, the apartment is spacious, only 200 m from the parc des Buttes Chaumont, and around the corner from a village-like area of small stores and pretty squares. Our agent would consider this place far too shabby for expat habitation. But i was almost ready to submit our dossier – if not for the bathroom. The kitchen would be a challenge, but at least it didn’t give me claustrophobia like that bathroom did.

But now that I revisit the photos and think about the closets and that park…am I being too picky?