Category Archives: Home and Garden

Christmas Tree Recycling

IMG_5538It’s always a bit depressing taking down the Christmas tree and packing away holiday decorations, but it’s even sadder when you have to plop your tree by the garbage bin and wait for it to be carted off to the landfill, droopy branches and all. But, just like last year, the city of Paris can save your tree from this gloomy fate. Now through mid January,  the Mairie de Paris has set up dozens of locations throughout the city where you can take your tree (minus any and all decorations) to be recycled. The recycled trees will be used as compost and mulch in the Parisian gardens. The list of recycling points can be found here.   (Scroll to the  bottom of the page.)

Laundromat Matters

When you’re living abroad, the most simple tasks can sometimes be the most complicated. Seemingly easy things, like shopping at the grocery store or getting money out of a cash machine, take on a new level of complexity. One such task is doing your laundry at the self-service laundromat or laverie. Getting your clothes cleaned isn’t rocket science, but figuring out how to work the washing machine and what products to use is trickier than it sounds, especially if you don’t understand French.

If you’ve got dirty laundry spilling over your hamper, use our mini guide to get your pile of whites and darks washed and dried. After your first visit to the laundromat, you’ll get the hang of it. You may even end up doling out help to puzzled Parisians who sometimes have trouble figuring out the laundry machine directions themselves!

(If you have clothes that need dry cleaning or you’d prefer to use a laundry service, read our earlier post here.)

Useful Vocabulary

laundry le linge
wash la lessive
washing le lavage
laundromat la laverie
washing machine la machine à laver
detergent la lessive
to wash or scrub lessiver
softener l’assouplissant or l’adoucissant
stain la tache
stain remover le détachant
bleach l’eau de Javel
to dry secher
dryer le sèchoir
dry sec (m), sèche (f

(For information on international fabric care symbols, visit this link.)

Typical Laundromat Signage

Fire Safety

Despite several highly publicized fires in the City of Light, it was only recently that French legislators passed a law mandating smoke detector installation. By January 2016 all living facilities in France are required to have smoke detectors (détecteur de fumée). Paris’s beauty makes it easy to forget that Haussmann didn’t have safety codes in mind when renovating the city. Nor did medieval architects consider how difficult it would be for a firetruck to race down a narrow, cobblestone street. Several hundred years later, despite the services of the city’s brave firefighters (les sapeurs-pompiers de Paris), many of Paris’s buildings remain not only fire hazards, but fire traps.

Whether you are moving to Paris permanently or relocating for the long term, it is important to check if where you’re staying is equipped with at least one smoke detector. When you’re planning a move and packing your suitcases, smoke detectors aren’t the first thing you think of, but they might be the most important thing you pack or buy on arrival. Paris brings to mind baguettes and bistros, not fires, but the reality is that such dangers can occur anytime, anywhere. Considering a fire breaks out every 2 minutes in France, a smoke detector is an essential purchase. For as little as 20€ you can make your space fire safe. Even though smoke detectors aren’t mandatory yet, they are relatively easy to find. Major home stores, local hardware shops, and even some bigger grocery chains sell smoke detectors. For a sure bet though, visit one of the stores listed below. These stores also sell everything you need for a quick and easy installation.

Mr. Bricolage  (Click here to see the store’s presentation on installing smoke detectors. The slides are in French, but a website like Google Translate can help you get the most important information from the presentation.)

166 Rue St Maur, 75011 Paris

21 Rue Ménilmontant, 75020 Paris

Castorama

C C Les Arcades 1/3 rue de Caulaincourt, 75018 Paris Clichy

11 Cours de Vincennes, 75020 Paris

119 Avenue Flandre, 75019 Paris

BHV Rivoli

55 rue de la Verrerie, 75004 Paris

Donating Goods to Charity

Spring cleaning or planning for your next move?  Either way, it’s the time of year for cleaning out closets and getting a fresh start.  If you find that you have too much stuff, here are some ideas of how to shed yourself of unwanted clothes, books, and household items.  And you may help someone in need at the same time.

The city of Paris offers free curbside pick-up of bulky items in the different arrondissements and greater city area. The service is generally offered twice each week with varying times for each area. Before placing any items curbside, please call 01 55 74 44 60 for direct information and scheduling. Note that it is not lawful to place oversized items on the curb without pre-authorization. For pick-up details in your area or to make an appointment on line, visit the city’s Web site and fill out the online form.

Emmaus Communautes will come to your apartment and pick up bags of clothes, shoes, toys and/or furniture that are in reusable and resalable condition.  They are similar to what many Americans know as the Salvation Army.  They will not come for just one bag, so if you call, be sure you have enough to make their trip worthwhile.  Be prepared to tell them how much you have for pick up.

Les Orphelins d’Auteuil
40, rue La Fontaine, 75016 Paris,
Tel :  01 44 14 75 20

Les Orphelins d’Auteuil is a Catholic-run  orphanage in the lower 16th that has a second-hand shop to help fund the home.  According to the web site they sell the following :

  • clothes and shoes for all ages
  • costume jewelry, silverware, dishes, artwork
  • linens such as sheets, towels, tablecloths, curtains
  • books, records, toys

You can leave things in good condition, Monday through Saturday from  9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sales take place on Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m.to 12:30 p.m. and then again from 2:00 pm to 6:30 pm.  Saturday hours are 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  There is parking available on-site so you can unload without fear of blocking traffic or being ticketed.

You can also find drop boxes for clothing at several locations in and around Paris:

8th arrondissement: St. Philippe de Roule, at the intersection of rue Faubourg St. Honoré and Franklin Roosevelt

12th: La Halte des Femmes (Coeur de Femmes day shelter) 16-18, passage Raguinot, M: Gare de Lyon

13th: La Maison Coeur de Femmes, 77, rue du Château des Rentiers, M: Porte d’Ivry or  Nationale

A list of 300 collection boxes managed by the organization, Le Relais, can be found on-line.  In addition,  these organizations may also accept secondhand clothes and shoes:

La Croix Rouge at 01.44.43.11.00
L’Armee du Salut at 01.43.62.25.00
Le Secours Catholique at 01.45.49.73.00
Le Secours Populaire at 01.44.78.21.00

Yahoo hosts a bilingual online recycling group called Freecycle Paris that not only enables you to donate your items (clothes, furniture, appliances, etc.) to other members who need or want them, but also allows you to browse for items that may be of interest to you.  The group is free to join.

Finally, both the American Library in Paris and SOS Helpline will accept used books, CDs, and DVDs in good condition

You Call That Furnished?

Every post here at Posted in Paris usually begins with a flurry of e-mails looking for information.  The one we got back from Susan Karp, a relative newcomer to Paris, was so well-crafted that we asked her to write the post.

by Susan Karp

I am sure that somewhere in Paris there exists a mythical, beautifully furnished apartment or two just waiting for some expatriate family to move into.  But we didn’t see any of those.  The furnished apartments we were shown were – as I said to my husband – fine if we could just get rid of all the furniture.  As we probably should have expected, the furniture in these apartments was old, tired and very much like my grandmother’s circa 1972.  I very definitely remember avocado and gold.

Before we found the place we now call home, we first stayed in two temporary apartments, the kind rented on a (very expensive) monthly basis, and these were equipped — as I always assumed furnished apartments would be – minimally but adequately.   There was a bed for everyone, a couch, a coffee table and a television that we could never figure out how to turn on.  One pillow, one set of sheets and two towels for each member of the family.  A dining table and chairs.

There were anywhere from four to six – often mismatched, sometimes chipped — plates, bowls, and salad dishes, cutlery and glassware for a family of four, two pots (rarely more) and a frying pan, maybe two.  Interestingly, there was always a knife block and usually a salad spinner.   To round it out, there was a motley assortment of serve ware (salad bowl, a platter), and the minimum of kitchen gadgets (spatula, wooden spoon) almost always purchased from Ikea (as were the plates and glasses.  In fact, I’m not really sure what people here did avant-Ikea.)

There was always a coffee pot (a Nespresso, even if there were never any pods left in the apartment), usually a microwave, and often a toaster.  The windows had curtains, the cabinets were left in place — now that’s an interesting and unexpected Parisian twist, how an unfurnished apartment often has no kitchen — and there was usually some kind of cleaning supplies, be it a mop or a vacuum. 

 It was enough to get by, certainly for a vacation.  But for a year, especially with kids?  No way.

With the help of a couple of other Parisian expats who’ve gone the furnished route, here are some ideas of what your future home may still be missing.  Whether you bring these items with you from home, purchase them here or forego them altogether will be a function of your personal tastes and budget.

What Makes a House a Home

  • Framed family photos, especially digital picture frames
  • Pillows and throws
  • Vases
  • Candlesticks
  • English language books
  • Board games, playing cards
  • Musical instruments
  • Sports gear

For those of you with kids:

  • Art supplies, including crayons (Art supplies – even colored paper — are ridiculously expensive here and while it is easy to buy colored pencils and markers, it is impossible to find good ol’ Crayola crayons)
  • Toys and costumes
  • Scooters or bikes (and don’t forget your helmets!)

Creature Comforts

Bedding:  European beds have different dimensions than American but enough people complained about sheets being too scratchy or stiff, or musty blankets that this really bears repeating.  I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see my son’s Star Wars sheets in his Parisian bedroom.  And I’ve found it very difficult to find those kind of sheet sets in Paris. If you’re past the stage for that, consider bringing a down comforter, pillows, and flat queen sheets.

Towels.  Oh how I wish I’d gone to Target or Macy’s and stocked up on fluffy, absorbent American towels and bath mats.  I believe I am the proud – if humbled – owner of Paris’ most expensive bath mats because I like the rubber-coated American ones.  But bear in mind, if you don’t have a dryer, even the fluffiest American towel will be crunchy in Paris.

Slippers and comfy clothes for hanging around the house:  We very carefully weeded through our clothing, leaving behind anything that we considered too schlumpy for Paris.  But some Sunday mornings, I’d give up every pain chocolat in Paris for my favorite, too-ugly-to-leave-the-house-in sweater and a pair of sweat pants.  And when you’ve seen what’s on the streets in Paris, you’ll be happy to leave your shoes by the front door and step into your slippers.

In the Kitchen

Cooking – always hard in an unfamiliar kitchen – is even more difficult when you don’t have the right tools.  To be blunt, the knives are …. well, blunt.  Bring your own (paring knives, chef’s knife, bread knife) or be prepared to buy them.  Your furnished kitchen will also certainly be lacking American measuring cups and spoons, as well as: 

  • a pot large enough to make pasta
  • mixing bowls
  • resealable containers
  • baking pans for special purposes such as cake pans, muffin tin, loaf pan
  • ice cube trays
  • cutting board
  • many gadgets that most cooks consider essential: tongs, grater, peeler, garlic press, whisk, zester
  • meat thermometer

 Practical

 It’s all the little things you need to make life a little easier. 

  • Laundry basket or hamper
  • Electrical transformers and adaptors
  • Hangers (Do you know where wire hangers go to die? Parisian furnished apartments)
  • Storage of any kind:  Under the bed for out of season clothes, bins for toys, etc.
  • Door stops for when the windows are open
  • Small step ladder
  • Assorted tools such as a hammer, screwdriver, wrench, pliers (all those things that you actually need right away, especially if you’re putting together Ikea furniture)
  • Hooks for coats (invest in 3M removal hooks before you come)
  • Picture hangers
  • Alarm clock
  • Kids backpacks: I cannot tell you how much money we spent on backpacks at BHV because I thought it would be “sweet” to get the same thing the European kids carry (which turn out to be Eastpaks at 75€).
  • Lunch thermoses:  impossible to find here.

You will probably find out that you need to buy:

  •  Table and floor lamps
  • Hair dryer and if you use them: curling iron or flat iron
  • Fan
  • Hand mixer
  • Tableware:  glasses, dishes, bowls
  • Flower boxes
  • Space heaters
  • Cell phones
  • A market caddie

 A final note:  Your camera, laptop, Ipad, printer, Ipod, and Ipod dock may become your most beloved possessions when you are far away from home.  These are incredibly expensive in France, about 50 percent more expensive than in the U.S..  If you are American, buy these before you leave.  Most new gizmos are dual voltage (that is, they run on both North American and European current) although you will likely need a plug adaptor.

Resources

Already on Posted in ParisFrench Electricity Explained, What (Not) to Wear in Paris and Don’t Forget to Pack The…..

Some suggestions for shopping:

Casa (housewares, accessories)

Castorama (hardware, appliances, some housewares and furniture)

Darty (appliances)

Ikea (furniture, bedding, houseware)

La Vaissellerie (dishes, glasses, cutlery)

 Susan Karp moved to Paris with her husband and children for – as she puts it – “no good reason.”  But even this cynical native New Yorker has been wowed by the city of lights.  A longtime freelance writer, Susan has contributed to Consumer Reports, USA Today, Newsweek International and is the author of the now-sadly-out-of-print Smart Guide to Profiting from Mutual Funds.

Help for the Do-It-Yourselfer

If you’re an expat living in an apartment in Paris, chances are that a) something needs fixing, and b) you don’t have the tools to take care of it. If you have some do-it-yourself know how, though, there’s an alternative to the expense and hassle of finding someone else to do the work for you. Heather Stimmler-Hall, author of the always helpful resource, Secrets of Paris,  has the details on how to rent tools from the city of Paris at one of its bricothèques or from Zilok.fr.  Check out what she has to say:  http://www.secretsofparis.com/heathers-secret-blog/borrow-or-rent-tools-electronics-stuff.html .

Moving In

Ksam, who blogs at Totally Frenched Out, previously took us through the steps of finding your perfect Parisian apartment.   Today’s post takes the next step.  Fair warning: this post is not for folks moving from abroad into their first Parisian apartment.  But stick around.  You might learn something.

by Ksam

Step One:  Moving Your Stuff

There are a multitude of moving companies in Paris and across France.  Some of the more well-known ones are Demeco, Les Déménageurs Bretons, and LeDéménageur.com.   Most offer several service packages, going from only moving the boxes from place to place to them doing all of the work (packing, moving and unpacking).   Prices vary widely, so you should shop around and get several different estimates (devis) before making your decision.

There are also several companies, such as demenagerseul.com and  Je-déménage-seul, that cater to those planning on doing everything themselves (or with the help of a few willing friends!).  These firms sell boxes and packing materials and also usually rent moving trucks.

If you’re only in need of a truck (véhicule utilitaire) for the moving portion, here are a few suggestions:

ADA
Avis
Europcar
National/Citer
Rent and Drop

Step Two:  Getting Connected to Your Lifelines

Now let’s talk about are the hook-ups.  You know – electricity, water, Internet, etc.   Those of you already living in France have two options – you can either transfer your account directly if you are moving out of the old place and into the new place on the same day, or you can open an entirely new account and then close the previous one later.

For electricity, contact EDF.  There is an English speaking helpline: 05 62 16 49 08 or you can reach them by e-mail at simpleenergywithedf@edf.fr

For gas, contact GDF.

Water hookups and charges are typically included in your rent.

If you’re like most expats, you are probably concerned with getting Internet set up ASAP in your apartment.  If you don’t have an Internet provider, check out the previous Posted in Paris article on Connecting to the Internet.  But if you already have Internet access and would like to keep the same provider, I strongly recommend seeing if they will keep your current account open all the while opening the new one.  SFR, Bouygues, Free and Numericable all offer this service.

You can help this process along by giving them as much information as possible about your new apartment, including the previous renter’s phone number.  This can be found by plugging any landline phone into the outlet and then dialing any French phone number.  An electronic operator will then give you the previous phone number.  (Tip: review your French numbers before you do this!)  If it turns out there isn’t a phone line set up at your new place, doing it this way will also save you 50 percent of the cost of opening up a new France Telecom line.

Step Three:  Filing Your Change of Address

As far as the French administration is concerned, those of you with a carte de séjour have eight days to inform the préfecture of your new address.  Given that you often need an EDF or France Telecom bill to provide proof of address, it’s not always possible to do so, but make a note to go in as soon as you can.  If you have a French-registered car, you have one month do complete the change of address on your carte grise.

And it doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while the French government actually comes up with an idea to simplify its citizens’ lives.  And this time around, it’s in the form of a Web site: http://www.changement-adresse.gouv.fr/

Once you sign up for this site, you will be able to inform all of the following government organizations of your move with just a few simple clicks:

  • EDF
  • GDF
  • Pôle Emploi (unemployment services)
  • Tax authority
  • CAF (benefits service)
  • L’assurance santé (health benefits)

At the end, you will also have the option of signing up for mail-forwarding with La Poste.  If you choose not to do it here, you can also do it in person at your nearest post office, or online at http://reexpedition.laposte.fr/.  Expect to pay 23€ for six months, or 41€ for one year of forwarding.

La Poste also offers something called “Le Pack Ma Nouvelle Adresse”.  This special package offers several pre-stamped envelopes so that you can inform businesses of your move, as well as pre-written letters you can use to inform various agencies (EDF, insurance, etc) of your new address.  (These could be particularly useful for those with a low level of French).  In addition, you’ll get 10 “I moved – take note!” post-cards, as well as a  moving guide with moving tips and timelines.  Lastly, they also include coupons with special offers from their partner companies offering discounts on moving boxes or moving quotes, etc.  The cost for this service is 34€ for six months or 52€ for one year.

Here is a brief list of other companies you may also want inform:

  • bank branch
  • mobile phone company
  • mutuelle (health insurance)
  • insurance company
  • your employer
  • magazines/newspapers subscriptions
  • any stores where you have loyalty cards
  • any businesses in your home country using your French address

And the very last thing to do:  send out the invitations for your pendaison de crémaillère  (housewarming party)!

Finding an Apartment in Paris

by Ksam

Congratulations!  You’re ready to start apartment hunting in Paris. It may seem obvious, but before you start looking, you need to figure out what exactly it is you’re looking for.  

Location, location, location.  Most people usually have a general idea about where they want to live,  choosing, for example, the chic quality  of the 5th or the 6th arrondissement, the bohemian 20th, the up-and-coming 10th or the low budget 18th and 19th?  It is a good idea to visit your target quartier at different times of the day, in order to get a feel for the neighborhood and whether or not you think you’d feel comfortable and safe living there. 

Apartment essentials.  Make a list of what you are looking for in an apartment.  With competition for apartments high, the chances that you will find THE perfect apartment are slim.  So make sure you know which items on your list are absolute must-haves and which you might be willing to give up  Would you take a 6th floor walk-up if it had everything else on your list?  Or would you be willing to consider a smaller apartment if it was exactly where you wanted to live?  Items to consider include overall size, number of bedrooms, storage space, access to sunlight, modernity of bathrooms, and the amount of work needed to get the apartment up to your standards. 

Pay attention to the calendar.  August is generally the most difficult time to look for an apartment because many agencies shut down for the month and  the owners are typically on vacation.  That said, September and October are often the most competitive because of all the students looking for housing.  May and June are usually good months because the school year is almost over and a lot of people are moving out. 

Assemble your dossier. While there is no standard list of items to include in a dossier, plan on pulling together these items: 

  • a copy of your ID card or your passport;
  • a copy of your work contract specifying type and length as well as date of hire;
  • a letter from your employer stating you are currently employed there;
  • your last three pay slips (as a general rule, they like you to earn at least three times your rent);
  • your last two tax returns;
  • your last electricity bill which provides proof of address;
  • proof you’ve paid your rent for the last three months; and
  • relevé d’identité bancaire (RIB) which provides your banking details.

Finally, French law requires that you show proof of housing insurance.  Common events covered by this insurance includes: a percentage of capital and valuables; legal costs incurred when personally liable or when claiming against a third party; civil liability; fire; explosion and related risks; weather-related risks (water damage); attacks on the building and acts of God; theft and vandalism to set amounts; broken windows. 

If you’re just moving to France and you have a package of benefits provided by your employer that includes housing, a letter of attestation from your employer that your salary and benefits are sufficient to cover the rent may take the place of some of these documents. 

Why so many documents?  French law makes it extremely difficult for owners to remove tenants thus the owner is almost always going to pick the safest bet.   As a foreigner, you are probably not considered the safest bet.  Thus you will want to do everything in your power to show that they will not be taking a risk by renting to you.  This could include writing a letter as to why you think you are the perfect locataire for this apartment. Or if you have already rented in France, you could ask your previous landlord if they would write a letter vouching for you.  

And what’s this garant I keep hearing about?  Because it’s so hard to kick someone out of an apartment, many landlords will ask you for a garant, or a co-signor, that is, someone in France who will agree to pay your rent in the case you don’t.  This can also be called a caution solidaire.   If you have a salary at least three times the monthly rent, a garant may not be required.  Given astronomically high rents in Paris, this can be tough.  In that case, there are a few options to secure a garant even if you know next to no one.  One is to ask your bank to be your garant.  This usually involves you putting at least one year’s rent into an account.  (Yikes, I know).  Second, if you are employed by a French company, check with your comité d’entreprise.  Many have lending schemes to help their employees with this exact problem.   Finally, you may want to consider using something called Garantie Loca-Pass, in which this particular company will act as your garant.  Be warned though that not all agencies or owners accept this method.    

Starting the search.  There are several ways to go about finding an apartment.  You can go through a rental agency, find something online, or try the word-of-mouth method.  

Rental agencies (see below) have the advantage of having someone else do the hunting for you.  Don’t get me wrong, you’ll still have to go from agency to agency (and maybe on several occasions), but at least a lot of the legwork will have been done for you.  While the charges are high (usually the equivalent of one month’s rent), you may find it to be worth it if your phone French isn’t that great or you don’t have a ton of time to find a place. Keep in mind that a rental agent who has taken a liking to you can also put in a good word for you with the owner. 

Given the high cost of going through a rental agency, the market for online rentals (see list below) is quite competitive.  You may have heard horror stories of people calling 10 minutes after an ad was posted only to find out it had already been rented. Or showing up to visit an apartment only to find out there are 40 other people there, all with dossiers a million times better than yours.  

So what can you do?  My best advice is to look early and look often.  Most Web sites offer an alerte email service that allows you to enter your criteria and receive an e-mail whenever a corresponding ad is posted.   Take note that  some of these sites send out e-mails once per day or once per week, which means the good apartments will be long gone by the time you come across them. 

The word-of-mouth method is probably the cheapest method, but also the hardest, especially for new arrivals who don’t have a network in France.  There are a few ways to go about it though – you could consider posting ads on the various expat forums, contacting some of the more well-known expat groups (such as Message), or stopping by the American Church in Paris on a regular basis.  It may not be the easiest place to get to, but the ACP has a bilingual bulletin board that is updated daily around 2pm with new housing offers.  Along the same vein, you can also try the American Cathedral in Paris

Another tip is to take a look in the local bakery or supermarket when you’re buying that fresh baguette.  The people who work in these places are often aware of available apartments in the area, or will at least allow owners to put up an ad near the door. 

Okay, my dossier is finally ready.  Bring on the visits!   Here are some questions to ask the agent or owner, either before or during the visit. 

  • How much is the deposit?
  • How much is the rent?
  • Are there any monthly building charges on top of the rent?
  • What kind of heating does the apartment have?
  • Do you have an idea of how much the last renter paid for electricity? Gas? Water?
  • How much is the taxe d’habitation (an annual housing tax)?
  • Will I be reimbursed for any improvements made? (paint, etc.)
  • Do you accept pets?
  • What floor is it on?  Is there an elevator? 
  • Does it include any appliances?
  • What kind of storage does it have?
  • Is there are parking spot or a cave (a basement storage space, typically with a dirt floor)?
  • Does the apartment appear to be clean and well-maintained?
  • If there is a hot water heater, are you expected to pay for annual maintenance?
  • What is the water pressure like?  (Test this one yourself!)
  • What kind of light does it get?
  • How secure is the building?  Is there a concierge?
  • What are the nearby methods of transportation?
  • Where is the closest grocery store/post office/pharmacy?
  • If you have children, what are the neighborhood schools like?

Signing the lease:  The first thing to do is to celebrate!  (Actually, maybe you shouldn’t celebrate until you have the keys in your hand…).  So go in and sign that contract but first check the fine print. The lease agreement must include the following: 

  • the owner’s name and address and that of their agent (if using an agency);
  • a description of the property (number of rooms, garage, garden, cellar);
  • the date on which the contract starts;
  • the duration of the contract;
  • amount of the deposit;
  • rental amount and terms of revision/increase; and
  • declaration of common areas. 

The owners are also required to provide you with a copy of the DPE (diagnostic de performance énergétique), the building’s energy performance report.  This report details the energy efficiency of the building, as well as the risk of exposure to lead poisoning. 

Note that the average contract length for an unfurnished rental is three years.  You don’t necessarily need to stay for the entire three years, but if you leave early, you must give at least three months’ notice by registered mail.  The three month period is reduced to one month if you lose your job and can no longer afford the apartment, or if you have to move to another region or country for your job. 

As for how to pay, most places will give you the choice between paying by check every month or paying by direct withdrawal.  If you prefer the latter, make sure you have either already given them your RIB or that you come equipped with one to the meeting. 

L’état des lieux:  The next step is the état des lieux, literally meaning “the state of the place”.  And what an important step this is.  During the état des lieux, you will go over the apartment with a fine toothed comb.  It is in your best interest to point out even the smallest defects because if they’re not noted when you move in, they might be when you move out and you will be held responsible.  So go ahead and point out every single hole in the wall, cracks in the paint or scratches on the floor or windows. Prepared renters will come armed with a camera in order to have physical proof of the apartment’s condition when they moved in.  You may also want to bring your phone charger so that you can test all of the outlets. And don’t forget to make sure the water faucets and the shower work, as well as the heaters if possible. 

One thing to note is that the état des lieux can be amended after you move in if you happen to notice other things not initially noted.  This must be sent by registered mail however, and the sooner the better! 

Once that’s accomplished, you’re finally ready to move in.  Stay tuned for Part II in which we provide tips on moving and all the additional steps involved in making your rental your home. 

RESOURCES
 
Rental Agencies 

Century 21
FNAIM 
La Fôret 
Orpi 
Foncia  
Guy Hoquet 

English Language Sources for Rental Ads

AngloInfo:  Mostly short-term rentals, although you can sometimes find longer term rentals on this site
Craig’s List:   A word of caution about Craig’s List.  There are some legitimate deals to be had here, but also scams a plenty.   Be wary of any ad offering to mail you the keys after you send them a wire transfer.
FUSAC:  Not all of the ads are listed online, so pick-up a hard copy if you want access to all of the housing offers.
Paris Voice

Other Sites with Real Estate Announcements

Appartager: For people looking for roommates
De Particulier a Particulier : Rentals by owner
Seloger

For Students and Interns in Paris

Campus France 
Centre d’Information et de Documentation Jeunesse
Centre Régional des Oeuvres Universitaires et Scolaires  de Paris (CROUS)
Centres Internationaux de Séjour de Paris
 
FIAP

Rental Vocabulary

Abbreviation French English
F1, F2, T1, T2   F stands for houses, T stands for apartments. The number equates to a living room PLUS the number of bedrooms (that is, the kitchen and bathrooms are not counted).  For example, T3 would be a two bedroom apartment
  A Louer; Location offre For rent
Appt. Appartement Apartment
Part. Particulier For rent by owner
Prop. Propriétaire Owner
Loc. Locataire Renter / lessee
  Depôt de garantie Deposit
  Loyer Rent
C.C Charges comprises Includes building charges (and sometimes garbage removal fees or water) 
  Honoraires d’agence Agency fees
  Logement vide Unfurnished apartment
  Logement meublé Furnished apartment
G.S. Grand standing Luxury apartment or home
Séj Séjour Living room
Ch. Chambre Bedroom
Sdb. Salle de bain   Bathroom, usually with a tub
  Salle d’eau Bathroom with shower only
WC Toilettes Small room with just a toilet, sometimes a sink
Chem. Cheminée  Fireplace
  Cuisine intégrée   Kitchen has cupboards and countertops
  Cuisine équipée  Kitchen has some appliances, such as stove or refrigerator
  Cuisine américaine  Kitchen opens out onto the living area
  Cave  Wine cellar area in basement, typically with dirt floor
  Chambre de bonne Maid’s room (typically on a separate floor)
RDC Rez-de-chaussée  First floor (USA), Ground floor (UK)
  1er étage  Second floor (USA), First floor (UK)
  2eme étage   Third floor (USA), Second floor (UK)

 

Ksam never really had any desire to live in France, but seven years on and she’s still here. If you catch her on a good day, she may even admit she likes it. (Moving from Brittany to Paris helped).  She splits her time between traveling around France for her very-random-yet-enjoyable job and her apartment in the 15th. You can follow her adventures at Totally Frenched Out.

Where Can I Find……

Don’t pull out your hair.  We’ll keep a running list of those things you may be searching for but just can’t seem to find.  This list will be updated regularly, adding items previously featured on the top right hand side of the site.

Dental floss:  Yes, dental floss exists in France but you won’t find it in the supermarket with the toothbrushes and toothpaste.   Stop by your neighborhood pharmacie.  You will find it there.

Fresh tortillas: Take a trip to the Latin Quarter to stock up at Mexi and Co., 10 rue Dante (5th arrondissement).  These tortillas freeze well.

Rice Krispies:  Kellogg’s products are widely available in Paris and you’ll easily find chocolate flavored rice cereal as well.  But for some reason, only two of the major supermarket chains carry Snap Crackle and Pop:  Auchan and Super U.  Unfortunately neither has a store in the city of Paris.  Check their Web sites for an outlet in a suburban community near you.

Graham crackers for making graham cracker crust: You can probably find graham crackers at one of the markets catering to Americans but for one-quarter of the price, grab a package of Speculoos cookies at your local supermarket. These Belgian treats, nicely spiced with cinnamon and cloves, crumble well and are the perfect foil for cheesecake, Key Lime pie, and pretty much any treat calling for a graham cracker crust.

Bread crumbs:   Take yesterday’s baguette, let it sit out another day until it’s good and hard, and then smash it with a rolling pin or put it in your food processor.  If you don’t have the time or the patience, you can usually find boxes of bread crumbs in the supermarket next to the flour.  Look for the carton marked chapelure.

A decent hamburger: Okay first of all, the beef tastes different in France so it’s never going to be like a burger back home. And second, let’s just say that neither France nor the U.S. can really do each other’s cuisine justice. That being said, there comes a time in the life of every North American expat when a decent burger is just what the doctor ordered. Le Figaro did an article on this awhile back but it’s been so long, you now have to pay to retrieve it from the archives. So take a look at blogger David Lebovitz’s post: Where to Find a Great Hamburger in Paris.

A place to rent a tuxedo:   Two good sources are: www.jjloc.fr and www.lesdeuxorsons.com.  Bear in mind that you cannot rent accessories so be prepared to buy ties, shoes, pocket squares, even shirts.  Thanks to Anne at Fête in France for the info.

Dried sweetened cranberries:   Although you may find them elsewhere, you might be surprised to learn that the ubiquitous urban supermarket Franprix carries dried cranberries.  Look for a display of green or orange plastic packages with various types of nuts, dried fruit, and popcorn.    You can also sometimes find them from the fellow selling nuts, dried fruit, olives, and spices at your local open air market.  And the word in French for cranberries is…….”cranberries.”

Aluminum foil that doesn’t feel like tissue paper:  Look for the package marked papier aluminum renforcée which has roughly the same durability as the regular aluminum foil sold in North America.  Stay away from the regular variety which tears at the slightest provocation.

Aveda hair care products:  Joel Villard at 16, rue de Saint-Simon in the 7th arrrondissement (Metro: Rue de Bac) is the only licensed Aveda salon in France.  Its stylists are trained at the Aveda Institute and familiar products like Rosemary Mint Shampoo, Be Curly, Shampure, and Hand Relief are for sale.  Call 01 45 55 85 69 for hours.

Information about what’s going on in Paris this week:  Pariscope is the definitive source for all things cultural — art shows, theater, concerts, movies, special events.  It comes out every Wednesday and is available for only 40 centimes at every press kiosque.  (And if your French is limited, check out this on-line guide  to how to read Pariscope!) Figaroscope, a weekly supplement to the newspaper Le Figaro. also comes out on Wednesday and includes feature articles as well.

A playground that suits my kids:  There are tons of playgrounds in Paris, ranging from a tiny seesaw and a sandpit in a pocket park to full fledged affairs for older kids.  The city of Paris has a complete list on-line arranged by arrondissement.  Click on the text “toutes les infos” on the right hand side for a detailed listing of the offerings.

Fabric, notions, and everything else for sewing:   Take the metro to Anvers, head up the hill towards Sacre Coeur, hang a right and you’ll find everything you need for sewing whether you’re making clothes or decorating your Parisian apartment.  The two biggest stores are La Reine and the Marché Saint-Pierre but there are also a dozen or more other stores selling material, buttons, trim, and the rest.

Musical instruments and sheet music:   All musical roads lead to Rome, in this case, not the city in Italy but the metro stop on the border of the 17th and 8th arrondissements.   Some of the stores rent musical instruments but get there too late in the school term and you may be out of luck.

Plants, seeds, window boxes and other gardening gear:  Paris is thick with florists and you probably won’t have any trouble buying geraniums, vases, and small pots in your neighborhood.  If your needs go further, check out the stores along the Quai Mégisserie in the 1st arrondissement.  There’s also the Marché aux Fleurs on Place Louis Lepine on Ile de la Cité (Metro: Cité).

A cheap but decent manicure: There’s no equivalent in Paris to the $15 manicure you find in the Vietnamese nail salons in New York or LA. For the most part, a full manicure will set you back 30 to 35 euros. But if you can trim your own nails and deal with your ratty cuticles, you can get nail polish applied expertly for around 6 to 8 euros. Ask for a pose de vernis rather than for a manucure.

The Case of the 10 Euro Light Bulb

I got together with a newly arrived family the other day and one of their questions (along with where to go for dry cleaning, hair cuts, and hardware) was where to find a light bulb that costs less than 10 euros.  The simple answer is nowhere.   Back in 2008, the European Union passed a law affecting all its member states, banning incandescent light bulbs. Restrictions on the sale of old style filament bulbs began going into effect in late 2009;  stores can still sell any of these items that remained in stock at the time of the ban although at this point, those stocks are pretty much depleted.   (The one type of bulb you may be lucky enough to find are small chandelier style bulbs. )    The newer high efficiency bulbs use 80 percent less electricity and should save on your utility bill and reduce carbon emissions over the long term.   So open your wallet and consider it your contribution to saving the planet.