February 24, 2012
After many horrendously unsuccessful attempts at trying to find my first pied-à-terre in Paris, I had one last shot before I would literally be living in the metro. My lead was a long one — a friend of a very distant acquaintance who could show me her place on the very last day of my Paris apartment search trip. On my way over, I practiced feigning excitement over the minimalistic lifestyle I seemed destined for, as moving back home couldn’t win out over my storybook fantasy of living in Paris, no matter how bleak my accommodations might be.
I walked into the courtyard and started the 50-stair climb to the apartment up a narrow, twisting wooden staircase that leaned to one side. I was sure that after drinking enough wine, I would hardly notice the sideways slant.
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January 10, 2012
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. Continue Reading »
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May 30, 2011
Miranda Bothe can make dreams come true — if, like us, your dream is to own a property in France, that is. Although the obstacles can seem daunting (for French and foreigners alike), Miranda shares with us here the story of how her own mother made it happen. If she can, so can we! -Geneviève
When my mom found herself suddenly single at 45, she nearly took a year away from her medical practice in Boston to move to Paris with my little sister. She wanted to sip coffees in the late morning sun and read French poetry and eat confit de canard for dinner and take French classes and learn Serge Gainsbourg songs on the guitar… Her dream revolved around a small top-floor apartment on the Ile Saint Louis with a tiny balcony overlooking the Seine – the kind of balcony you see in a Sempé drawing of Paris. Life got in the way and she never made that trip – we have often wondered how all of our lives would have been different if she had.
Almost anyone with a long love for Paris can tell you as much about the apartment they would live in as they can about the life they would lead if they could live here. Continue Reading »
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February 8, 2011
Michael Herrman, a successful American expat architect and veteran Parisian real estate savant, has helped more than one star-eyed owner convert their Paris pied-à-terre into a dream home. We’ve invited him to help educate us on the traps to sidestep on the way to purchasing your ideal Paris apartment, from the (apparently sometimes pajama-clad) hunt all the way through until you are “Home at Last”. In this installment: The Hunt.
Breakfast in a Saint Germain 2 bedroom apartment (St. Germain Luxe)
Buying a little piece of the City of Light is a rite of passage in and of itself. Before becoming the owner of a beautiful 19th century apartment in the heart of Paris with original oak floors and marble fireplaces, or converting a floor of maids’ rooms into a penthouse haven, you must first begin with an apartment hunt and all of its uniquely Parisian idiosyncrasies.
The first thing to understand is that like few other cities in the world, there is always intense competition to buy an apartment in Paris. At the worst of the recent financial crisis, Parisian real estate prices didn’t even make a small dip. The crisis actually increased the demand for apartments as people took their money out of bank accounts with nose-diving interest rates and invested in the ever-reliable Paris housing market. Another good thing to know is that the average cost of real estate in Paris is still below the average price in London, Rome and numerous other European cities, making Paris an even more attractive place to invest.
Saint Germain 2 bedroom apartment, with balcony and view of Notre Dame (Ecoles)
What this means for your apartment hunt is that good properties are sold within a few days and the best ones within just a few hours. Apartments advertised at 9:00am may have an offer accepted by lunchtime …
Once the hunt is on, the first obstacle is finding an honest, reliable real estate agent. Although this may hold true internationally, fanciful exaggerations are especially commonplace in Paris. After finding the perfect apartment, for example you might be worried about the fact that it is on the 7th floor with no elevator. Your agent may reassure you that an elevator is going to be installed next year, guaranteed. This, however, may have been in the works for over 10 years and it may be another 10 until it actually happens.
I once visited a former warehouse in the heart of the Marais being divided up and sold as enormous apartments. Continue Reading »
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August 28, 2009
After living for years in Paris, Bill O’Such and his wife Ineke relocated to the United States. In an effort to “keep one foot in France,” they bought and renovated a pied-à-terre which they rent to tourists when they can’t use it themselves. Below, Bill discusses the ins-and-outs of buying, renovating, and maintaining a home in France.
The living room of the Elzevir Apartment.
by Bill O’Such, Elzevir.net
While some websites might lead you to believe that buying an apartment in Paris is as easy as buying a good bottle of wine, the truth is: it’s a lot of work! Unless money is of no object, the process is incredibly hands-on and requires both creativity and perseverance. As I learned by buying and renovating my “Elzevir Apartment,” the process is challenging… but worth it. Continue Reading »
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