On March 17th, I celebrated one year since I found my Paris apartment. It would take three months before I took ownership officially, but it felt like mine from the first moment I saw it. In fact, I went so dotty over it that I didn’t even notice what neighborhood it was in. I just made an offer on the spot.
Upon further investigation of my new quartier, it became clearer why I’d gotten such a deal. I discovered the area was ragged and worn down; many of the shops and cafes, dowdy and neglected. Graffiti marred façades. Yikes, had I made a bad investment?
But by the time I’d begun the renovation of my place, one of those dowdy cafes nearby had been replaced by a trendy, new eatery catering to a younger, hipper crowd. When I returned six weeks later, I saw another café had undergone a change of ownership. A temporary vinyl sign announcing, “Changement de Propriétaire,” was strung up over the old sign, obscuring its Mistral font, once de riguer in the early 1980s, now a painful reminder that change was long overdue.
In the year since I first discovered my apartment, over eight new places have opened. Nearly every time I go back, I notice something new. That’s rapid change, and a sign of the times in Paris. Of course, now I’m attached to my quartier just as it is, graffiti and all. One of the last patches of real Paris, it’s friendly and affordable. In an area devoid of tourists, my neighbors look upon me as a novelty and are charmed I live among them. The American from New York. It’s exciting to them. You wouldn’t get that in the Marais or Saint-Germain-des-Prés, I can tell you.
But change is inevitable as more young people seeking affordable housing move farther east. Looks like my apartment isn’t the only thing to undergo a change of ownership. At least I got in on the ground floor, right?Read more about my life in the 11th, here. Explore “Paris for Parttimers,” my continually updated, custom Google Paris map. Discover as I do, the best places to eat, shop and be, the way the locals do it. It’s not always glamorous, but it’s 100% Parisian. Just like my neighborhood.