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. The sweeping views from Montmartre, beamed ceilings in the Marais, herringbone wood floors and crown moldings in a classic Haussmannian building, maybe a péniche on the Seine: there is a different Paris home for everyone. And thankfully for that, since when you are looking for a property in Paris it already feels like there are a million people looking for the same place you are. But then, there is nothing like the moment when you finally find your place.
If you can’t live in Paris, the next best thing is to own that dream apartment as a pied à terre. But it’s not hard to imagine what happens once the dream collides head on with battle of the search : surly real estate agents answer your queries in rapid-fire French, if they answer at all. You arrive to a showing, only to find that it is already sold after you’ve trekked across town to see it. The apartments you do manage to see are drastically different from the photos you saw online (how did they make that closet look like a bedroom???). You found a place with great bones but it needs a serious face-lift… How do you get from here to there? The key is to stay focused and determined – with a sprinkling of perseverance and nerves of steel. Or maybe you’ll just get lucky.
Twenty years later, almost to the day, my mom became a part owner of a newly redone fractional apartment in the Marais: a two-bed, two-bath in a 150 year old building, with a terrace on a quiet, private courtyard shared with the oldest synagogue in the city. She spends 5 weeks of every year in Paris. The shared ownership helps make it affordable. When the dream meets reality, two decades and a little creative thinking can go a long way to almost having it all.
- Erica Berman shares her experience with the Paris Apartment Blog
- Can’t afford to buy but looking for a place to stay? Haven in Paris has some great special offers for this summer right now…