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The Apartment Tour

January 20, 2013

Finding an apartment in Paris is a bit like finding a new pair of jeans or finding people to interview for a story. You have to try on a lot of jeans to find a pair that fits. You have to call a lot of people to find someone who will speak with you on deadline. You have to go to a lot of apartments to find one you can rent.

Sciences Po Paris students are on their own when it comes to housing. The school has an office to help students if needed, but there’s no university-sponsored accommodation in the city. Landlords usually require the renter to be present and have a bumload of documents proving that the renter is a real person with real money and that (s)he knows other real people with real money who can cover rent if necessary, so I waited until I arrived to find a place — though trust me, I had scoured listings for months. During the first week here, I felt very, very spoiled by UNC’s easy housing system and Chapel Hill’s abundance of apartments available to students. After four failed interviews, I finally found a proprietor that was okay with me leaving the apartment in May.

Please, take a moment to imagine a choir of angels singing Hallelujah in relief.

And please, let me take a moment to, once again, thank Lucie for her help and her friend for recommending the agency I ended up using.

The agency handles short- and long-term leases, so there was no need to lie and say, “Oh, I don’t know when I’m leaving Paris” to landlords who wanted tenants to stay longer than five months. (To be fair, though, I haven’t booked my plane ticket home, so I technically don’t know exactly when I’m leaving. Totally honest.)

The apartment itself is quite nice. It’s on the top floor of a 6-story building. Wealthier people rent rooms on the floors below as offices or housing, and my floor is a hallway of former maid’s rooms.


As you can see above, there’s a slanted wall, so there is some strategy involved with sitting on the bed and getting up in the morning. Thankfully (for once), I’m short. The room itself isn’t that small; it’s about the size of the bedroom I had in my apartment in  Chapel Hill. Only instead of just a bed, desk, chair, in-wall closet, and dresser, this one has a bed, pull-out table, three chairs, a dresser, island, sink, refrigerator, cabinets, closet, and shower.



Yes, I’m quite glad that I’m small.

Rent includes electricity, water, heating, and Internet — a very good deal for a Paris apartment. The apartment comes, too, with sheets and dishes — another relief.

No one knew an American would be renting this apartment, but this mug was at the front of the cabinets.

No one knew an American would be renting my apartment, but this mug was at the front of the cabinets when I moved in. A lovely welcome gift, indeed.

The water-closet is in the hallway, so it’s not unlike a college residence hall. (I do, however, think I might be the only girl on the floor given the position the toilet seat is always in.)

The building is in a lovely neighborhood. Like, next-to-the-Eiffel-Tower-lovely. I pass many, many souvenir shops on my way home, no matter from which direction I come. If I stand on my bed, reach out through the window, bend to the left, stick out my camera and look through the monitor, I can see the tower.


The closest metro stop is maybe 8 minutes walking distance away, but there is a bus stop close-by, so I’ll be taking the bus to and from school — just like high school, only nicer.

It feels very, very good to have my own place. My pictures and other mementos from home are on that quirky slanted wall, my clothes are organized in a small dresser instead of a large suitcase, and the closet now has a small selection of food, from “American” (sliced) bread to canned haricots verts extra-fins (green beans). Turns out the fridge isn’t quite working, so I’ll have to get my fromage francais a bit later.

If you’d like to send me mail because you love me and know how much I like mail, e-mail me and I’ll send you my address. If you need to send me mail because of something important or logistical, same process. A little man with a nearly unintelligible accent will slide mail through my door, “porte R,” and into my new home.

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