Category Archives: Home and Garden

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)!

Advertisements

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.

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.

Surviving Your House Guests

You’re in Paris so it’s a pretty good bet that sooner or later, family and friends are going to come knocking on your door, delighted to know that they now have a free place to stay in one of the world’s most visited (and expensive) cities.   And while most of us don’t mind spending time with those near and dear, running a bed and breakfast is something else entirely.  Here are just a few thoughts to preserve your sanity.

Rule Number One.   Just because someone calls or sends an e-mail that they are coming to town doesn’t mean you have to put them up.   Parisian apartments are typically on the small side and having extra people in your space can be a real drag.   Remember you are not obligated to house anyone for any length of time.   So when they say, “We’re coming to Paris!”, keep these stock phrases in mind.

“We’d really love to see you but we just don’t have room for guests.   Can we meet you for  [fill in the blank: coffee, dinner, a drink, and afternoon, an evening]?”

“I’m so sorry but we’re going to be totally swamped when you are here.  Maybe next time.”

Or “Budget Travel and Rick Steves have some hotel recommendations that look pretty reasonable.”

Rule Number Two.  Set the ground rules in advance.   Make it clear what’s going on in your life while they visit including both your work and social commitments.   If you have to leave for work at eight o’clock and want a shower before you go, say so.   If you’re not doing dinner, suggest places in the neighborhood where they can get a bite.

Rule Number Three.   You don’t have to play tour guide unless you want to.  Tell your guests to get their sightseeing priorities in order before they arrive.  There’s way too much to do in Paris whether they’re staying for three days or heaven forbid, two weeks.   You may want to suggest particular restaurants or favorite shops or museums, but don’t get caught in the trap of planning their visit for them.   Most public libraries back home offer a nice selection of tourist guides so they don’t even have to buy a book.   Or send them links to your favorite Web sites.

Rule Number Four:   A few orienting basics can go a long way to forging independence.  Have an extra subway and city map on hand.  Collect some brochures for tours (such as Paris Walks , Fat Tire Bikes, or Open Tour) or tourist attractions.  (You can swing by one of the tourist information offices around town and take care of this in one fell swoop.)  Show them where to find the nearest ATM and how to buy their first carnet of metro tickets.  You might  also point out your neighborhood market and boulangerie.

Rule Number Five:   You do not have to pick up your guests at the airport.  Period.   Send the information on how to take public transportation, the Air France bus, or a cab to your place, including an idea of what it will cost.   And for your convenience, here are the options for getting into town from Orly and Charles de Gaulle.

Resources

Paris Convention and Visitors’ Bureau  (in English)

How to be  Good House Guest  (a link you can forward if you are either truly courageous or truly fed up)

Equipping Your Kitchen

You  know that old saying, “everything but the kitchen sink.”   How about everything missing but the kitchen sink?  One of the quirks of the Paris real estate market is that unfurnished apartments may come with no kitchen at all.  Oh sure, there’s a room where the kitchen is supposed to be, completely with electrical and water hookups, but little else.  So take a deep breath and get ready to put in your own kitchen.  If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll get to sell it to the next tenant when you move out, or disassemble it and sell it off in parts to newly arriving expats.  Here are just a few of the places you need to know about.

Alinéa was described to me by a friend as “like Ikea but with a little more French flair.”   About a dozen kitchen styles are currently on offer as well as appliances, sinks, plus kitchen furniture, pots and pans, etcetera.   Plus you can design your own  Alinéa  kitchen on-line.   There are five locations in Ile de France, all in fairly far flung suburban communities.

BHV:  The three initials stand for Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville after the store’s flagship location opposite the Paris city hall but everyone calls it Bay-Aash-Vay.  The basement hardware section is legendary; you just have to go and see it for yourself.  The store also has suburban locations in Ivry sur Seine, Montlhéry, the giant Parly 2 mall in Le Chesnay, and another mall in Rosny sous Bois.   Appliances (large and small), hardware of every type, shelving, lighting but no kitchen cabinets or countertops.   And apparently, you can get a refund if something doesn’t work out.

Castorama may be  Home Depot’s French cousin.   It sells cabinets, appliances, and all manner of hardware plus everything else you need for other home improvement and gardening projects.   There are three locations within the city of Paris (Clichy, Nation, and Flandre: all accessible by metro) and a dozen or more elsewhere in Ile de France.

Conforama:  Not to be confused with Castorama (above), Conforama doesn’t have a hardware department but they do sell both large and small appliances, furniture, lighting, rugs, and curtains.   The emphasis is on bargains as opposed to design.  Not a great match if you consider yourself a style maven although you may save some money by shopping here.  There are two locations within the city limits (Pont Neuf and Nation) and more than a dozen other locations in Ile de France.

Darty stocks all manner of household appliances from refrigerators and stoves to food processors and hair dryers.   And then there’s the electronics section.  There are 10 locations within the city of Paris and dozens more throughout Ile de France.  I’m told that Darty makes it very difficult to get your money back (offering instead store credit) if you have a problem.   Fair warning.

Ikea.  Someone once told me that the word Ikea is Swedish for “allen wrench.”  I’m pretty sure that’s not true but those Swedes are laughing all the way to the bank.  With dozens of styles from sleek to country, Ikea’s eight Paris area locations do big business.   Access by public transportation is limited (for example, you’ll have to take the RER B and then a bus to get to the store closest to Aeroport Charles de Gaulle).   Amazingly, Ikea has risen to the challenge here by creating a mechanism for ride sharing for both drivers in search of passengers and passengers in need of a ride.

Leroy Merlin:  With one location within Paris (near the Pompidou Centre in the 3rd arrondissement) and others in the suburbs, Leroy Merlin stocks cabinetry, lighting, paint and wallpaper, f looring, appliances, and hardware.  More emphasis on function than style.

And don’t forget Craig’s List and FUSAC as sources for used appliances and furniture being sold by departing expats.

Don’t Forget to Pack the…..

When it comes to travel, there are two different kinds of packers: those who are prepared for every contingency and those who throw the basics in their duffel bags and figure that when push comes to shove, they can always wing it. While there’s merit in both approaches, if you are in the “be prepared” camp, here are a few things you might want to consider putting in your suitcase before moving to Paris.

  • Over the counter medications. For the most part, prescription drugs are more affordable in France but for some reason, it takes more effort to procure the things you might easily find on the shelves of an American drug store such as pain killers, cough and cold medicines, antacids, and special formulations for kids. Plus, it’s nice to have these on hand when illness strikes in the middle of the night. 
  • Small hostess gifts from your home country or town. A Canadian friend arrived in France with a case of cans of maple syrup, a lady from Virginia brought teas packaged at Colonial Williamsburg. Notecards by local artists and decorated dish towels also make nice inexpensive gifts.
  • An extra supply of your favorite lipstick or any other toiletries which you consider essential to your daily regime.
  • Some English language greeting cards. Your friends may appreciate a birthday card in French but if your great aunt Mildred ends up in the hospital, you might want to send “get well” wishes in English.
  • If you have kids, consider packing a few generic presents for birthday parties that may take place during your first weeks in Paris, that is, before you have time to figure out where the toy store might be. If your kids will be going to an international school, English language books or craft kits are fine. If they’ll be in French schools, think about the language issues when making your purchases.
  • Gift bags. For reasons I can’t quite fathom, gift wrap is extremely expensive in France and I have found myself more than once spending almost as much as the wrapping as on the gift itself. Do yourself a favor and lay in a stock of gift bags in different sizes. They will pack flat in the bottom of your suitcase and weigh almost nothing.
  • An extra set of American-sized passport pictures. There are photo booths everywhere in Paris but regrettably, the photos are the wrong size for U.S. passports and visas. If you need to renew your American passport or have it replaced during your time in France, you will pay a small fortune to get pictures taken with the right dimensions.
  • If you like to cook, but are renting a furnished place, don’t forget your American measuring cups and spoons.
  • If you are bringing your American sized beds, think about packing an extra set of sheets for each bed .  (European beds have slightly different dimensions.)

What would you add to the list?

Getting Clothes Cleaned Without Cleaning Out Your Wallet

Updated September 2013

It happens almost without fail for every arriving expat:  you go to the cleaners to drop off dress shirts, the only thing on your mind, making sure you know how to ask for them to be finished on hangers or folded, and then it happens:  sticker shock.  For Americans used to paying less than $1.50 to get a dress shirt laundered and ironed, the thought of paying three to four times that amount does not sit well.  The plain truth of the matter is that dry cleaning and laundry services in Paris are expensive.

Take a look for example at these prices at an independent dry cleaner in an upscale neighborhood.  If you do the math quickly, using an exchange rate of 1.5 dollars to the euro, a good rule of thumb if not always completely accurate, you’ll discover that it will cost you about $60 to get a suit cleaned.

So what do you do if you need to get your clothes cleaned and you don’t want to get your wallet cleaned out too?  Here are a couple of tips for those on a budget.

  • Seek out budget chains or hole in the wall proprietors.   5 à Sec (a play on words for the French expression 5 à 7, shorthand for a quickie after work and before going home, if you get my drift), Baechler, and Alaska Pressing (with locations in the 2nd and 16th arrondissement and perhaps elsewhere) offer more reasonable prices than the establishment whose price list appears above. You will still pay between 2.80 and 3.50 euros for laundering a dress shirt.  At 5 à Sec (with multiple Paris outlets), you must buy a card, paying for laundry of 10 shirts in advance, to get the discounted price.   But be cautious; the quality of the dry cleaning and pressing services is variable.  You may find that you have to touch up your clothes afterwards with your own iron.   Think twice about entrusting one of these  places with a special item, like a cocktail dress or silk blouse that you absolutely love.
  • Beware of extra charges.  Some cleaners charge extra for an appret, a special finish that is supposed to maintain the original feel and look of your garment.  I’m not sure I can tell the difference.
  • If you have a femme de menage, she will very likely be prepared to do ironing.  Weigh the hourly rate you pay versus taking your laundry out.
  • Change your dry cleaning habits.  Most wool sweaters can go in a washing machine set on a gentle cycle and dried flat.  Save dry cleaning for silks, cashmeres, suits, and anything that absolutely cannot be laundered at home.
  • Invest in no-wrinkle dress shirts.  No-wrinkle technology has improved dramatically in the past few years; you can find no-wrinkle shirts that look and feel like ordinary Oxford cloth or brushed cotton, for example, from LL Bean if you are still in the U.S.

If you are seeking an eco-friendly dry cleaner, try Sequoia which has locations in the 15th, 16th, and 17th arrondissements.