So we looked at five places yesterday, all of which were great. Both Sarah and I were pleasantly surprised by the moving agent. We had heard a lot of negative things, and had grown to expect the worst, but I think the only problem she had was that she did her job too well, making it difficult for us to choose only one place.
A quick synopsis of each place follows.
The first was about a block from my office, which isn’t necessarily a great thing. My office is in a tech park, and is a lot like the more boring parts of yaletown and most of Burnaby. There are lots of businesses, but no space to really live. The metro is nearby though and provides easy access to downtown. It’s also like yaletown in that it’s only a few blocks from more ‘homey’ places, but it’s not the same as living there. The space itself was nice – 37 m sq and modern. Everything had recently been refinished: marble bathroom, hard wood flooring, new shelving and bed, designer kitchen, etc. It actually was a pretty nice place, and I think would have been OK except for the location.
Second on the list was something a little more haute couture. We went down to the 8th, and took a drive down the Champs Elysees. About half way down we pulled off to the right and stopped. We were maybe 20 m from the famous shopping street. I’m pretty sure I saw Sarah looking for a pen to sign the contract at that point. The apartment itself was a ground floor (strange – usually this is reserved for shop space) ‘mezzanine’ (Loft). Again, newly renovated, but clearly in an older building. It came well furnished, had super high ceilings (except for the bedroom), and decent storage. The huge up here (aside from the location) was a large kitchen, full stove and dishwasher. We disagree on the quality of the view; I think I look more for mountains and monuments; Sarah was totally happy with Shoe-Store-Window view. This was Fashionista Paris. The other downside is that it’s not very close to stuff to live, unless one can feast on Fendi, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel.
The next place we saw was towards the north of the 17th. By comparison to the previous two places, this apartment was huge! It was 47 m sq, and used to be a three bedroom that was converted into a one bedroom by tearing down the walls to make a large, long living room. It was an older building and showed it’s age well with the thick brown crossbeams lining the ceiling. Some of the other apartments I’ve seen actually added styrofoam crossbeams to simulate this same look. The bathroom wasn’t awesome and ‘stove’ translated to ‘toaster oven’ when we actually got there. The best part of this place was defintely the size. The worst was the bathroom and kitchen.
Place four was located near Bastille, and was actually facing a small harbor off of the Seine. This place had so much character it was overwhelming. The front door opened into a stairwell that was less than two shoulder widths wide, and spiraled straight up. The apartment alternated living and shared space up the staircase. I counted as we walked: Washing machine, apartment, Washing machine, apartment, toilet, living room… huh? At some point we had entered into the rental unit without noticing. It was top floor, and included the stair well as part of the property. The building itself was maybe 10 or 12 feet deep, but quite wide. It was a water front, corner lot, roof level flat, and from the bedroom you could see a km to the shining golden statue on the top of Bastille, and a huge distance along the Seine as well. I think that the only other place I’ve seen like this was in Newfoundland, so the best way I think I can describe this is as a Fisherman’s Penthouse suite. The place was definitely ‘cozy’, but it did have a tremendous amount of storage for all things big and small, and the view was about as good as you’re going to find. Also, the flat was super cool. The downsides here were the super tiny staircase and that there was a curtain instead of a door in the Water Closet.
The last place we went to was in the 7th, which I think is a student district. This place was in, without a doubt, the best location that we had seen so far. It was on top of a bank and a bakery, across from a coffee shop, and on the same block was a chocolatier, meat vendor, supermarket, vet, Irish pub, gourmet goods shop, etc, etc. The streets were tiny and full of life. This was the other side of Paris – the tiny shops and cafe’s that you hear about in tourist shops where Hemmingway or Dali would come to think and socialize. At the top of the stairs to the fifth floor flat was a large window that perfectly framed the Eifel Tower. Opening the door we were both struck immediately by the yellowness. Each 1/4″ plywood wall was painted, from floor to ceiling, post-it note yellow. The place was also, essentially, unfurnished, despite what the ad said. It had a mattress in the bedroom, a crappy table w/ two chairs (49$ from Ikea back home) in the kitchen, a broken tv stand, and a weird couch thing. The W.C.T. also suffered from an overly aggressive spring, I think if I dropped the cat from 18 inches up, she’d be launched into the perfectly yellow roof. The layout of the place was OK, and the neighborhood was incredible. But, there was something funny that each of us noticed that we couldn’t quite put our finger on. I think that it was the cheap construction and hideous colour, but the other two ladies sensed something more. We asked if the furniture could be removed and if we could rent it unfurnished, but the guy said something to the effect of ‘I have a line of people at my office that want this place; you take it as is or I take someone else.’
To close the day we shared a coffee with the lady from the Agency and picked our top three places. No word yet on whether we will be accepted to any of them, but we have our fingers crossed.