On one occasion I was able to rent the same place — on the corner of rue Montorgueil and rue Saint Sauveur — for three years in a row. But every other year I’ve had to rent a new place because my previous apartments were no longer available. Consistency is the one real benefit of buying something here, but far outweighed by other factors.
This year’s apartment has some terrific advantages and a few distinct drawbacks, most of which I was aware of when I decided to reserve it.
The location is basically perfect: just a few blocks above rue Montorgueil, on the same physical street. Unlike prior places I’m not under continual surveillance by fabric porters, or forced to walk by a row of prostitutes to get to the nearest métro. The immediate neighborhood is profoundly quiet at night; while I loved the energy of being right on rue Montorgueil the cheerful noise of eating and drinking ran late into the night, especially on weekends.
The most remarkable benefit of this place is the light and air. Four large windows face east and four smaller skylights face west, so on a bright day I get direct sunshine all day long. By opening opposing windows I can get as much through ventilation as I want.
Apart from the view onto rue Montorgueil, which was a mixed blessing, this apartment has the loveliest view of anywhere I’ve rented.
A couple more pics out the windows from later in my stay:
The apartment is also one of the largest I’ve rented, and it has exposed beams which you only see in older buildings. This place has an elevator up four of the five flights, which I prefer for this level although I’m equally happy to live up three flights of stairs without an elevator.
This place does have a few drawbacks:
- The kitchen and bathroom fixtures haven’t been updated in decades. They work, but show their age.
- The hot water pressure in the shower is a trickle, and I’m told that nothing can be done about it. This isn’t a big issue for people who are used to camping out, like me and my nephew Andy (who will be visiting in a couple of weeks) but it could come as quite a shock to someone used to a reasonable quality hotel.
- The apartment is at the top of the building, so will be an oven in hot weather. This is mitigated somewhat by the excellent through ventilation, but my hope is that the weather will stay mild until I leave, in the second week of June. (Air conditioning is rare and inordinately expensive in Paris rental apartments.)
- There’s a school yard on the east side. It isn’t visible, but from 8:20 am to as late as 6 pm on school days the happy sound of children playing is almost continuous. I haven’t found this too annoying, and I have ear plugs and noise-cancelling headphones if necessary. I’m normally out and about in the daytime, however, and it’s beautifully quiet at night, when it’s more important.
Overall, I’m very happy here, and as long as the hot water doesn’t stop altogether, and we don’t get a heat wave, I think this will be a fully satisfactory home away from home.
Update: One additional drawback of the apartment has been definitively fixed, although it was eye-opening. From my arrival I noticed a sour smell in parts of the kitchen. It took a few days to decide that it was the odorant added to residential natural gas (THT) coming from somewhere near the gas meter. I messaged my host about this but she assured me that it was just a by-product of combustion interacting with air pollution. I was skeptical so I mixed up some soapy water and daubed it on the suspect junction, on the supply side of the meter. Bubbles immediately appeared, showing a rather fast gas leak. The leak was promptly fixed by a City of Paris professional and I have had no further problems. Ventilation in the apartment is so amazing that there was never a risk of explosion (or dying in my sleep!) but this reminds one of the need to be observant, and persistent.
Update: When you stay in a hotel you are shielded from the practicalities of managing an apartment, but when you rent for a month or more you encounter a variety of curious things. Three years ago I had to keep leaving the key with a neighbor to allow various mysterious processes to take place in my apartment while I was out and about. Early in this year’s stay I had a visitation by a team of three electrical engineers, who poked around in the electrical box. Then (unrelated I think) my landlord informed me that the electricity in the entire building would be out from 8:30 am to 5 pm on a particular day. I organized for this but in the event there was an electrician’s strike and it was rescheduled for a few days later, when the work finally got done. Most curiously, just now, I was working at my laptop in my sleeping shorts and two rough-hewn guys called out from the hall window. They said they needed to get onto the roof from my apartment in order to secure a window in the adjacent apartment that had been broken by a fallen antenna. I was a bit dubious about this until the landlord, who lives in the apartment below, stuck his head out his window, verified their bona fides, then came up to supervise while they climbed out the window and did their work. My nephew Andy had left early that morning; if he were still there it would have been quite a little impromptu get-together!