After having made the huge, scary, glorious decision to quit my plum entertainment job of 14 years to move to Paris, all I could picture was drinking rosé in fabulous cafes in St. Germain and strolling with my soon-to-be-named French lover along the Seine. It was going to be all storybook romance and Parisian perfection, right? What could possibly go wrong?
Finding an Apartment
The first big task on moving to Paris was finding an apartment. I felt like a Parisian kid in a confiserie as I set out to look through all the online listings. I was picturing my new, highbrow, literary friends meeting in my salon and debating whether Anna Karenina was due society’s scorn or the victim of a double standard. And then there would be the lavish, multi-course creations that would appear out of my kitchen and people would say, are you sure she’s not French-trained or a descendant of Julia Child?
As I dug into the apartment search further and started to learn the meter to square feet conversion, a rosé hangover started to kick in. How was I supposed to entertain the French literati in a space the size of a parking spot? Would my culinary creations have to come from a hot plate in my Betty Crocker play kitchen? Oh, no, this wouldn’t do. I decided an in-person visit would be best because I was sure there were some things that weren’t translating on the web page.
While I looked at thousands of apartments online, I was able to see exactly two in person. I was told that they do such an excellent job with their pictures and descriptions that there should be no need to see anything in person. I will say, if I ever need to sell an outhouse in the back woods of a swamp, I’d hire one of these rental groups to make it read like a genuine, rustic cabin with ocean views.
In addition to being mighty with the pen, they also must have scored some sort of spy cameras with anti-dark, anti-it’s-really-not-that-small lenses. The first apartment I saw looked like a little dungeon, and I was sure someone was chained up under the floor boards. At least I had an honest agent who told me after we entered the dreary cellar that yeah, I don’t like this one because it’s really dark. Perhaps this small note could have been conveyed during one of our 18 e-mail exchanges, instead of after a 12-hour flight.
When I walked into the other place, I stood mouth open for about 5 minutes before being able to speak. All I could think was how do they DO that with their camera. I could spin around and touch all sides of the apartment. While lying in bed, I could wash my face or make toast. I couldn’t breathe in this place, let alone entertain a thought.
My last, and really only, hope was a friend of a friend’s acquaintance’s neighbor (basically one step away from being random stranger I met on the street, but I too was going to be on the street if I didn’t find a place in my final 24 hours of apartment shopping in Paris).
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To find out whether Kelly finally finds her dream apartment, check back here for the next chapter in this series. Written by Kelly Page for the HiP Paris Blog.Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.