I moved to Paris four years ago with my then-husband and teenage son. We hired a real estate agent to find us an apartment. He did all the work and talking, and got us installed into a palatial apartment within weeks. Easy-peasy.
Last year, post-divorce and after a plumbing crisis that rendered that spacious apartment undesirable, I was ready to move.
I was also ready for an amoureux, or lover.
Side note: Why am I calling him an amoureux? Because I’m 54 and the word boyfriend seems silly. Manfriend would be more appropriate, but it sounds weird. Partner? That’s a little too much commitment for this independent Texas cowgirl. I’m in France, so let’s go with amoureux.
The Searches Begin
I wasn’t confident about my marketability in apartments or dating.
Why for the apartment? In France, there’s no credit reporting, so you just have to lay all your cards on the table. You prepare a massive real estate dossier—ID, banking info, savings, job specifics, proof of current habitation, tax returns, domestic details, residency status. I had most of this in order, but the divorce, freelancer status, and COVID delays with my visa left some holes in my dossier. I was not an attractive tenant to-be.
I worried about my dateability as well. Would my shaky French suffice? Would guys be expecting somebody more petite? I have a kid and a tricky hip. I can’t dance. I’m in menopause.
Still, ever the American optimist, I assembled my best dossier and put my cutest photos on Bumble.
Since this all happened during the pandemic, neither search was traditional or easy. In the spring confinement, everything was closed in Paris, public congregation was forbidden, and we had a one-kilometer limit. That killed the possibility of coffee dates to see if the witty, attractive guy smelled funny or not.
Apartment searching went totally online for a few months. Lots of tiny photos.
I saw the similarities between the two endeavors. Both featured pictures from the early 2010s. Videos showed most men and apartments to be shabbier than their photos revealed. Paint jobs and attractive facial hair covered all kinds of muck.
Both fields had their fishy areas, too. Why was there no photo of the bathroom? Why did his picture look like George Clooney, but on the phone he sounded like Pee-Wee Herman?
There were several deal breakers, even by video. The apartment where you had to go through one bedroom to get to the other one. (With a teenager? Absolutely not.) Or the Bumble guy that kissed his long-haired chihuahua on the mouth. Ew.
Yvonne Finds Love
Still, the amoureux endeavor bore fruit quickly. While there were several good prospects shaping up online, one guy outpaced all the others. After a week of texting and video chatting, he offered to bust out of his one kilometer to meet me. We had several dates standing on a Paris sidewalk, one meter apart, just talking. He made me laugh, my French was sufficient, and somehow none of my other worries ever mattered.
Yvonne Finds an Apartment
My new guy volunteered to help me with my apartment hunt, which was going nowhere. My dossier had gotten turned down all over town. And just like in online dating, in real life, there were deal breakers. One place had the entire building’s garbage collection on the landing outside the kitchen window. One had a beautiful view but was a sixth-floor walk-up. One had zero closets. Zero.
My amoureux became the apartment wingman I needed.
He helped me whip my dossier into shape and wrote me a catchy cover letter. He went to visit apartments with me to ask all those questions I’d never thought about. Heating costs? Is the landlord local? When was this last painted? Is that a water stain? What’s that musty smell? He made sure the real estate agents understood that I was moving to a smaller and less grand apartment, that the landlord would be lucky to get such an attentive, attractive tenant as me. I started to get accepted, but nothing was quite right.
Eventually, I spotted a place online that looked good. We visited, and he pronounced it even better than the photos. I sent in my dossier, and after a month of hashing out the minutiae, I signed the lease.
Home, Sweet Home
I couldn’t throw a big housewarming party because of COVID, so the two of us opened a bottle of Champagne and toasted my successful searches.
I stumbled around in Paris and found a guy and an apartment. So, fellow expat cowgirls, get out there. You might find just what you’re looking for.
- Check Yvonne’s Paris Plumbing adventure!
- Here are some of the best bars for Singles in Paris.
- Read more about a Milennial’s Guide to Dating in Paris.
Written by Yvonne Hazelton for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Haven In for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates.