Well, work (a.k.a. my gig at the University of Chicago’s Center in Paris) was to start the next day, so today was devoted to getting myself together, re-starting my search for an apartment, and maybe getting my !@#$ hair cut.
I already had an appointment to see an apartment at 11am, that I had heard about through a friend of a friend. The place was at the top of the building without an elevator (5 flights), located near the Étienne Marcel métro stop in the 3rd arrondissement. It was a reasonably-sized studio with a nice kitchen, going for a relatively-reasonable price of 600€. However, there were two mitigating circumstances: 1) it was completely unfurnished—the tenant was even going to remove most of the kitchen appliances; and 2) 8 other people had already visited the apartment and declared their interest in the place, so my chances were slim. Nonetheless, I headed out and phoned the agent that was managing the apartment, leaving him a message saying that I was interested and that I had my dossier ready to give to him. I never got an answer.
I headed over to the UofC center to check my mail and to take care of some business at my bank nearby, and then grabbed some lunch. Another friend, Anatoly, had told me that the girlfriend of his friend was looking to rent her studio apartment near Nation as well, so I called her a left her a message asking to make an appointment to see the place.
Also, yet another friend had sent me a text message last night saying, “Hey, are you still looking for an apartment? I know somebody who is looking to rent.” To which I said, “Hell yes!” She passed my email and phone number on to this person, and I finally got an email today. The situation wasn’t entirely clear from the email, but the girl that contacted me was apparently a tenant in the same building, who was taking care of business for the owner while she was out of town. Either way, she had a studio near Strasbourg Saint-Denis (10th arrondissement) that was available for 600€, fully furnished, all charges included. She wasn’t sure when she would be able to contact me about visiting the apartment, but I left her my cell phone number and headed home.
I managed to get connected to the WiFi in Mélanie’s apartment, and when I checked my email the woman who had been contacting me about that apartment had sent me another email saying, “Actually, if you’re nearby, you might as well call the cleaning lady Linda, who is here right now and can show you the place. If you like it, she’ll give you the keys and then I’ll collect the money from you later. I live right next door.” Surprised at the casualness of this arrangement amid the usual panicked rigidity of the French rental system, I nonetheless made the call and left a message for Linda.
About half an hour later, I was on my way to the apartment to meet the cleaning lady and see the apartment. The apartment itself was spacious and indeed furnished, if also rather dingy. The main room was actually pretty big, but the tradeoff was a tiny and really grungy kitchen with an electric hotplate and a shower in the corner (yes, the shower is in the kitchen). And the washroom was a true water-closet: about the size of a small closet with barely enough room for your knees with the door closed.
When the cleaning lady asked if I was interested, I said yes (partly out of desperation, I’ll admit) and she gave me the keys. I reasoned that, since it would probably take a couple of days to meet the woman that was arranging the rental and sign anything or pay money, I could still see some other apartments and return the keys if I found something better. If not, I’ll just put up with the shitty kitchen and tiny washroom and be done with this.
On the way back to Mélanie’s apartment, I finally got a call from the woman taking care of this (also my potential future neighbor) checking in with me. In the course of the conversation, she revealed that this rental was being arranged so informally because it was only for a month. The landlady was expecting a tenant to arrive in October, and she just needed someone to fill in September (which is tax time for French folks). Ah, gotcha.
This was actually a bit of a relief, as I was feeling more and more worried about the feasibility of living in this place in the long-term. I was glad to have that option taken from me. And, at the same time, this place would allow me to stay somewhere without bugging my friends for the duration of September, while I looked for an apartment. I should hopefully find something before then. Nonetheless, this meant that I still didn’t have an apartment.
I got a call from the girlfriend of a friend of Anatoly and we finally set up an appointment to look at her place Thursday morning. I spent the rest of the evening writing up my blog notes for last Saturday (I was a bit behind) and then eventually had dinner with Mélanie when she got home from work. To bed!