October 12, 2011
Navigating the real estate scene in France can be tricky — even more so when you are unfamiliar with the labyrinthine bureaucracy and unusual quirks the French can be known for. Adrian Leeds, who specializes in helping Americans negotiate the market to secure their dream pied-à-terres in France, just recently ventured into the market in Nice. She shares a few anecdotes from her colorful experiences here. -Geneviève
Years ago I set my eye on the goal of purchasing a “pied-à-terre” in Nice for a long list of reasons:
1. Nice is nice. Let’s face it, it’s the Riviera, the Côte d’Azur, the land of the rich and famous with the blue Mediterranean Sea, balmy weather, palm trees and Italian flavor. What could be so bad?
2. Property in Nice and its environs is increasing in value on a steady basis. With an international airport and an active port, the blue coast is France’s second hotspot after Paris. This makes Nice, and just about all of the coast, an excellent real estate investment.
3. R and R…the moment one lands at Nice’s contemporary and easy airport, and you head toward Nice down the Promenade des Anglais under the swaying palms with the sea at your side, the stress just melts away. Traveling to Nice from Paris is fast and inexpensive, making weekend getaways about as easy as it gets — a perfect antidote to the cold, gray, rainy winters in Paris.
4. Rental potential of vacation apartments, particularly for the North American market, is ripe for business. While the British and Italians are well served by their own compatriots, Americans have been overlooked. Americans want and expect a higher standard of luxury and service than their European counterparts know how to provide. From a business perspective, Nice was looking awfully nice. Continue Reading »
Posted in Homes, Travel | 12 Comments »
May 20, 2011
Adrian Leeds is an experienced flathunter who has helped many dreamers find their perfect home in Paris. Over time, she has also become something of an expert in navigating residential building etiquette, but some quirks particular to Parisian neighbors continue to amuse her, 14 years later… -Geneviève
When you move into any new house or apartment in North America, you might expect the neighbours to drop by, introduce themselves, bring a small offering or just let you know that if you need anything, they’re there for you… Or you would do the same, just to introduce yourself to them. This is common practice, standard procedure and, in essence, what we hold to be the ‘right thing to do.’ That’s in North America.
If you do this when you move into your new house or apartment in France, particularly in Paris, you certainly should not expect the same treatment, nor would your new neighbours look kindly on such ‘friendly’ efforts. “Au Contraire.” This behaviour is considered aggressive and intrusive…at least it has been for quite a long time. For many traditionally-minded French,“étranger” = “danger” [foreigner = danger]. It seems, though, with the influx of foreigners actually settling in Paris, things are (luckily) starting to change and the neighbours are getting friendlier.
When I first moved to Paris, I heard a great story from an Italian friend living in the chic 7th district near La Tour Eiffel. She had a neighbour living on the same floor opposite her who never said more than “Bonjour Madame” for several years. One day they both entered the elevator at the same time and the neighbour, not wanting to seem presumptuous, actually asked, “Quel étage, Madame?” (“What floor?”), as if she had never seen her before. My friend was shocked! Continue Reading »
Posted in Homes, Parisian Living | 8 Comments »
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 »
Posted in Homes, Parisian Living | 4 Comments »
June 16, 2010
Rosa Jackson, the fabulous food writer and chef, is based in Nice where she conducts market tours and succulent Provençal cooking classes. She travels to Paris frequently (as one must) in order to keep up with the restaurant scene. Last year, she stayed at Haven in Paris’ very own Houdon flat. This lovely write-up ensued on her blog…
I have a vision of my perfect Paris apartment. It would be high up – stairs don’t scare me – with a small balcony and a sweeping view over the zinc rooftops, punctuated here and there with church spires and glimmering domes. There would be parquet floors, big windows on both sides (east and west, ideally) and a sunny kitchen that opens onto the living space. Oh, and it would have central heating.
When I first laid eyes on Erica Berman’s apartment just south of Abbesses Métro station, I felt slightly breathless. That might have had something to do with the five flights of stairs required to reach it, but it also came from the certainty that this was my dream apartment. I loved the antique table and mismatched chairs, I loved the contemporary paintings and well-tended plants, and I especially loved the vintage wooden pâtisserie sign above the kitchen, which Erica found at a market in Provence.
It’s no surprise that Erica’s flat should seem so effortlessly tasteful, given that she is the owner of the hippest apartment rental agency around: Haven in Paris. I first met Erica when she came to do one of my food tours in Nice, and I immediately realized that we had many things in common: our love of Paris, Provence and Italy (especially Liguria), our fondness for off-the-beaten track bed-and-breakfasts, and our insatiable curiosity about new Paris restaurants.
When I dropped by her Paris apartment before a meal at the nearby bistro Le Cul de Poule (here is a report on the Haven in Paris blog), she beckoned me onto the balcony for a glass of Italian wine. Erica has lived in Paris for 17 years and there is almost nothing she doesn’t know about the city, as proved by her frequently updated blog. We chatted about good and not-so-good meals she has had in the Pigalle and Montmartre area: her current favorites are Le Miroir (94 rue des Martyrs, 18th) and Guilo Guilo (8 rue Garreau, 18th), the second run by a renowned chef from Kyoto.
Continue Reading »
Posted in Homes, Parisian Living, Travel | 8 Comments »