Should we move to Paris?!

(115 Posts)
Sparklemotion1982 Wed 16-Apr-14 17:48:14


I currently live in London with my husband, and he has been offered a job in Paris. I don't like London, I'm lonely here and hate the weather (before here we lived in Dubai for 7 years which I really loved, and I would love to go back there).

We have to decide whether to take the job in Paris and was wondering if anyone had any advice, having moved there.

We don't have children at the moment but would probably TTC over there as I am 32. I work from home so wouldn't meet anyone through work so am wondering what areas would be best to live in, and whether it is easy to meet people. We both only have rusty GCSE French so would have lessons over there.

Any advice would be very much appreciated as we are very confused!

Thank you!!

LillianGish Wed 16-Apr-14 19:55:36

I moved there just when I got married and loved it. Both my dcs were born there and I can highly recommend it (in fact my top tip for giving birth would be do it in France). That said we both speak French in fact dh is bilingual I think if neither of you speaks French your experience might be quite different. Where would your husband work as that would obviously influence where you might live. I'd also point out that the weather in Paris is quite similar to London.

I think if you're lonely in London, you'll be even lonelier in Paris, where you don't even speak the language. And the weather is not better really.

On the other hand -- maybe Paris will inspire you a bit more, maybe you'll be lucky and fall in with a good group of people. Healthcare and maternity is generally better in France.

So you could give it a try, but I think you need to be realistic.

juneau Wed 16-Apr-14 20:12:20

Well, I would go in a heartbeat, but that's just me. I've always dreamed of living in Paris.

Can you afford (or would your DH's company pay for) an intensive French course at the Alliance Francaise? If so, I highly recommend it. To get the most out of any OS experience you really need to speak the language - at least to conversational level (with the exception of the ME and a few other expat-heavy places).

If you work at home, however, I don't suppose you will be any less lonely. In fact, not speaking the language is likely to isolate you further unless you make a concerted effort.

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Thu 17-Apr-14 00:18:56

If you are lonely in London and don't speak French, if you move to Paris, it will knock the loneliness you feel in London into a cocked hat. Hate the weather in London? It rains more in Paris.

I don't mean to piss on your parade, but do think very carefully about it. The bureaucracy in Paris can grind even the most cheerful person down - if you don't speak French, and your partner does, this will put a huge burden on him, as he will have to sort out parking permits, electricity, utilities, make all the appointments for the doctors and dentist (because although there are a fair amount of English speaking doctors and dentists, the receptionists rarely speak English). And there is nothing more rage inducing than getting phone calls at work when you're in the middle of a meeting - there's a man here, I think he wants to read the meter, can you speak to him? Can you book an appointment at the dentist for me, and explain that my filling is loose, and I don't want it replaced with amalgam, can they do a white filling in its place? And having to book leave to go and deal with the parking permit people because the person at home doesn't speak enough/any French. (My DH worked from home - while he was used to it in London, he found it profoundly depressing in Paris - it was the lack of easy interaction with the outside world that did it for him, and a lack of friends, although he did make some.)

And in Paris, if you are not very confident at the language, some of the people in shops will delight in giving you entirely the wrong thing (actually, they do this with most foreigners, but it can destroy your confidence if you aren't very good at the language). It can be amusing, being given a millefeuille instead of six eclairs, the first time, but by the third time it happens - or if you just go into the bakery and ask for a baguette and they look baffled, shrug and serve the person behind you, it can grind you down.

Yes, it's a pretty city. But it's staid, middle class, middle aged and dull (that's my French neighbour's assessment, not mine - her son moved to London and she said what a lively city it was in comparison). Lovely for a holiday (but mind you don't tread in any of the dog shit that lines the pavements; very few people pick up their dog poo and there are millions of small dogs), fabulous restaurants, but so, so conventional. And never mind being the city of love - I knew five couples who split up in the four years that we were there. French divorce law, if that is where you are deemed to be resident, is not kind to the one who earns less...

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Thu 17-Apr-14 00:26:56

I've just seen that neither of you speak French - is there any way that at least one of you could do a really intensive course before you go, that gets you up to at least C1 level? Does your DH have a really good support network through work, that could relieve you both of as much of the bureaucracy as possible?

GreatAuntDinah Thu 17-Apr-14 06:37:46

But it's staid, middle class, middle aged and dull

Depends which bit you live in! OP, there are a fair number of support networks for English speakers in Paris so the isolation needn't be as big an issue as all that.

SizzlesSit Thu 17-Apr-14 07:17:04

I love living in Paris but I work, am fluent in French and am not looking for a huge group of friends (I have quite a few but with work and families ad the size of Paris its not easy to meet often)

Having said that, my English friends live here and the mum sees differents groups of English-speaking mums and their DC several times a week, loves exploring Paris and is so well known in local bakeries and at the market that she's always getting extra fruit/cakes for free...

MasterOfTheYoniverse Thu 17-Apr-14 07:21:25

Living in Paris will be as removed from what you will have experienced in Dubai as can be. And certainly the opposite spectrum of what you may have experienced living there with a baby/toddler.
I agree with all the warnings advice given above.
Maternity care is great but after you give birth it will be swim or sink and likely to be a very isolating experience.
There are many ways to enjoy Paris as a young couple. Being stuck at home with a baby is not one of them.

NomDeClavier Thu 17-Apr-14 08:10:14

Giving birth is great IF you speak good French and are stubborn OR you are happy to nod and smile and do what the doctor says. My French got very fluent very fast during my first pregnancy so I could argue my corner because I personally don't like their attitude to birth. Pregnancy care is second to none, BF support is almost universally crap.

Paris is wonderful IMO and I would go back in a flash but it can seem lonely and transient. There are the non French speaking expats who just float through for a few years and those who are there for the long haul but have a strong network of French and English friends. The first are easy come easy go and the second hard to find and get to know, and unless you're a long haul person they won't make the effort (generally speaking).

I found the Anglican church there a great help for meeting people. I'm still in touch with lots of people and if we pass through we always say hi.

Learning French before going would be a huge priority for me. If neither of you have enough to get by you're going to struggle.

SizzlesSit Thu 17-Apr-14 08:25:42

I would say though that there are loads of ways of meeting people.
Message is a forum for English-speaking mums (or if you're pregnant) andthere are meetups every day practically - both with and without DC.

Meetup also has loads of groups - including lots for expats of all nationalities plus French people wanting to meet to talk in English and in French (eg 30 mins if each si you both get to practise)

If you google associations English Paris you'll find many other groups. It all depends what you're lookin for. I've found integrating French groups of friends quite tricky. But groups of foreigners very easy.

Bonsoir Thu 17-Apr-14 12:48:38

If you can afford to live centrally and have the best of Paris on your doorstep I don't think it is all doom and gloom - the reality of Paris is that bits of it are up-to-date, glamorous and fun and others bits are from another age and place entirely, steeped in aspic and to be avoided at all costs! You become really good at mental slalom living here, picking out the bits that meet your modern woman expectations and closing your eyes to the rest. One thing is for sure: Paris is a very image conscious city and if you look midde-aged (which I am sure you do not) you haven't got a hope in hell of making inroads on the modern, forward thinking parts of society.

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Thu 17-Apr-14 22:43:12

Some of us have jobs where we meet "modern, forward thinking parts of society." smile Sometimes these people become friends, sometimes not. The most marvellous clothes horse does not an excellent conversationalist make!

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Thu 17-Apr-14 22:47:05

And I am not sure I would want to be friends with someone so shallow as to judge me on how I looked, anyway. Certainly my French (female) friends didn't (none of them were particularly image conscious - of my close friends, a couple of diplomats, a couple of business women, but they were very interesting people, which is surely what counts).

BOEUFster Thu 17-Apr-14 22:51:11

Bonsour, how silly! Surely not everybody in such a metropolitan city is so narrow-minded? I think people the world over prefer being around those who are relaxed, secure in themselves and great fun to be with, rather than the stereotypical skinny, uptight and RUDE Parisians who are paranoid about younger models pinching their husbands. That old trope of French bourgeois men taking mistresses is so outdated- there's really no need to chase eternal youth and to mistrust other women etc, at least in the modern world.

PortofinoRevisited Thu 17-Apr-14 23:05:06

Bonsoir, but you are middle aged and live near the peripherique and you seem to manage. I fear you are being a little unfair and dispiriting here. Maybe thats why I prefer Brussels as we don't give a shit about such things as modern woman expectations - whatever they are....

PortofinoRevisited Thu 17-Apr-14 23:18:52

Otherwise, I would go with what Sheherazade said. Moving abroad does not solve issues - it is same shit, different language with extra bureaucracy. A weekend in Paris is very different from moving to Paris. You have to do lots of homework.

Bonsoir Fri 18-Apr-14 14:19:37

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.


OP it's a really good point about French bureaucracy. I think it was responsible for about 95% of the fights me and DH had when we lived in France, the fact that he (being French) had to take care of so much of it, and I hated feeling so dependent on other people. If you are used to being really independent and doing your own thing, it's incredibly frustrating to suddenly not be able to do simple things like make a doctor's appointment or get a phone contract or whatever.

Is Paris the only option for going abroad? Could you go someplace like Brussels or Berlin, where the language is not so much an issue? We live in Berlin now and it's sooooo much easier and laidback (and cheaper!)

My personal take is that it's only worth living in Paris (as an expat) if you have a ton of money so can live centrally and pay people to help you with all the complicated bits.

Bonsoir Fri 18-Apr-14 15:13:56

There are plenty of English-speaking HCPs in Paris to tide you over until you learn French - or even just because some things are easier to discuss with someone of your own culture.

Lots of people arrive not speaking French and learn it - especially when, like the OP, they are young and childless and have time to invest in language courses and making friends.

elQuintoConyo Fri 18-Apr-14 16:31:47

I live in Barcelona.

Just saying...

LillianGish Fri 18-Apr-14 16:42:15

I actually found having a baby to be the best way of cementing my French. There's nothing like having a real incentive to learn.

JenBehavingBadly Fri 18-Apr-14 19:46:21

Come now Porto. There's nothing wrong with living close to the perepherique. You can get a great deal on tyres from some of the local places, ven if the fumes can play havoc with your free radicals, ageing the skin prematurely.

PortofinoRevisited Fri 18-Apr-14 20:25:22

Sorry Bonsoir, I am certainly not envious of you! God forbid. I was commenting that you have given some very narrow minded advice to someone asking about living overseas which basically sums up to "Paris is not for you unless you are young and gorgeous" which coming from someone who is middle aged and living in the suburbs strikes me as a little unfair. I am also middle aged and live in the suburbs but usually prefer to stick to providing more practical information rather than inferring I am something I am not.

PortofinoRevisited Fri 18-Apr-14 20:27:06

And yes - I have been to Paris. Many, many times.

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Sat 19-Apr-14 00:07:11

I didn't get that there was any jealousy over your life from Portofino's post, Bonsoir. hmm Perhaps you are reading too much into it?

I found the bureaucracy in France the worst I have come across, ever - even worse than Eastern Europe in the 1980s. At least there it was straightforward to extend your visa, ID card etc; you just had to be prepared to queue. Not asked for one set of papers, you produce these and they tell you they want something completely different (which happened to me in Paris - it took 9 months to get my carte vitale and the best part of a year to sort out my ID card and get the car registered).

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Sat 19-Apr-14 00:14:32

"One of the duller suburbs of Brussels" - love it! They are all dull in their own way! grin Although, to be fair, the bit of Paris I lived in was neither central nor trendy, but dull and middle aged (like me). If I'd wanted trendy and exciting I'd have gone for Bastille.

Claxonia Sat 19-Apr-14 15:37:25

I agree that Paris is very lonely and also aggressive. Although if you could move before getting pregnant/having children and build up a network that might help a bit. Maternity care is great as previously mentioned and it is a great place to be if you want pain relief when giving birth! Also in the plus side - child care is heavily subsidised both for working and non-working parents

LillianGish Sun 20-Apr-14 10:46:10

About to move to Bastille so feeling hopeful of being trendy and exciting - despite being middle-aged!

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Tue 22-Apr-14 18:02:36

Lucky you, Lillian - it's a really lively area with lots of great bars and good little restaurants.

Sparklemotion1982 Tue 29-Apr-14 10:43:55

Thank you so much for all of the posts above. Yes, my husbands work would probably pay for us to do an intensive language course...
I am leaning towards going, and hopefully we will make the decision this week. To be honest I think it would be really nice for us to have a change and a fresh start somewhere European. I'm not a massive fan of flying and my Mum lives in Spain, and it appeals to me that we can hop on a train to Milan for weekends away...

I think I would find it more inspiring to be somewhere that is not the UK, I just find it makes life a bit more interesting.

Neither of us speaks good French at the moment, we both just have A grade GCSE French, but I hope that with that as a base we could both pick up more relatively quickly...

Does anyone have any advice on which arrondissements might be nice to live in? In London we lived in Clapham, just off Northcote Road which I really liked...somewhere with nice shops and cafes and a few lively bars appeals to me...I don't know if there is anywhere vaguely comparable?!

Thanks again so much for all your help, I really appreciate it smile

Beachcomber Tue 29-Apr-14 11:04:19

I'm amazed that anyone would choose to live in Paris over London.

Good luck to you though if you go. The trains and transport links to other places are good. We don't live in Paris (although I did live there for a while before DC) but in another part of France. The bureaucracy, as already mentioned, is very tedious and I find France to be a bit behind the times compared to the UK. Weather and food are good though.

Beachcomber Tue 29-Apr-14 11:18:35

This might help you get stared on which part you want to live in.

I lived in Clichy when I was there which is described in the articles as one of the "less salubrious parts" of the 18th grin

Sparklemotion1982 Tue 29-Apr-14 11:28:39

Thanks for this, much appreciated.

I am currently in Paris in the 20th with two kids and a student DH. The area doesn't have a great rep, but I love the part I am in: walking distance to Bastille, Nation, Bois des Vincennes, easy access to both Gare du Nord and Gare de Lyon, cheap markets and fancy boutiques side by side. I agree with beachcomber that sometimes you can feel like you've gone back in time here in France....cheques, having to pay for online delivery for everything, even collect in store, much more bureaucracy done in person or by mail. We have been here for two years and there is always at least one piece of paperwork we are waiting for or some office we need to go to.

Every day things are much more expensive: food, clothes, going out, everything. I often order things online from the UK and have them delivered here.

I think I would adore living in Paris if I were part of a young couple. I would try to live around Bastille in the 11th arrondissement or in the 5th near the universities. Around montparnasse or in the 6th would also be great, as would around st paul in the 4th. I think around bastille would be ideal though for the best transport links and I think prices would be a bit cheaper. Flats are small, but everyone is used to it and it is easy to find furniture to fit.

As far as meeting people goes, everyone I have met is desperate to speak and learn more English, so I don't think you would have trouble meeting people and building a network though it does take a big effort at first. There are lots of cafes that do language exchanges and social enterprises so you would find things to do.

I would set aside some money for an intensive French course if you want to brush up. I have heard that there are also language labs in the library near Centre Pompidou and TV has helped me too.

Having a baby here is brilliant, though again I would buy the baby stuff from the UK except for a few pieces of extra cute petit bateau/bonpoint stuff. The birth experience really depends on which hospital you register with and usually spaces are booked up quickly, sometimes before you are six weeks pregnant. Make sure you call the maternity hospital you want as soon as you get a positive test! Likewise, you can register for childcare from the sixth month of pregnancy and places fill up fast. I have really benefitted from the extra things they offer here like dietician appointments and help with your pelvic floor muscles after the birth.

I have moved around a lot and view living in a new place as an experience worth having even if the new place isn't as easy to live in as the old one. I really value picking up a new language and viewing the world in a different way, so I would say if you are up for a change and have the energy for the initial period of settling in, go for it.

Sparklemotion1982 Tue 29-Apr-14 11:55:24

Thank you so much Alteredimages, this is really helpful.
We are really up in the air at the moment, changing our minds every day...

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Tue 29-Apr-14 23:49:34

Bastille is great. Also Batignolles, and around Montmartre. Avoid the 15th (unless very close to the 7th, most dull), 16th (stretched faced old ladies and small dogs that shit a lot), the 13th (like a run down Moscow suburb). 5th and 6th are nice. 8th is expensive - more stretched faces and lots of Russian and Chinese shoppers carrying their Hermes and Chanel bags! 17th is good for families, but I wouldn't want to live there (apart from Batignolles) if I was childless as it can be a bit staid.

Does your DH's company have a Mr/Ms Fixit who can sort out a lot of the bureaucracy for you?

Sparklemotion1982 Wed 30-Apr-14 09:42:40

Thanks this is very helpful! They are putting us in touch with a relocation agency to help us out...

Brilliant! Good luck with everything, whatever you decide. I think it both helps and distracts you sometimes that the UK is so close. I love the eurostar!

Sparklemotion1982 Wed 30-Apr-14 13:42:42


My husband has accepted the job so we will be moving over for September when he will start work...just trying to decide now whether to sell or let our house here, and whether to sell our furniture or take it over...I want to get an unfurnished apartment so that we can choose our own furniture smile I thought it might be an idea to sell our place here and get a bolt hole in the south of France with a little pool or something maybe that we could go to for long weekends...that would probably be if we decided to stay in Paris long term though I guess...getting a bit ahead of myself! Has anyone experienced actually buying somewhere to live in Paris instead of renting?

Thanks again everyone!

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Wed 30-Apr-14 18:11:43

Keep your house in London rented out until you have been in Paris at least a year. If you sell and then find out that Paris/France isn't for you, then at least you have somewhere to come back to, and will still be on the property ladder.

GreatAuntDinah Thu 01-May-14 08:40:05

Two useful resources for you would be FUSAC and Message Paris. I've bought a house here (in the suburbs) if you have any questions, though it sounds to me like you'd be better off renting for a while.

Bonsoir Sun 04-May-14 14:42:53

Sparkleemotion1982 - House purchase in Paris is not nearly as liquid a market as in the UK - people hold onto their properties for much longer and tend not to upgrade (move up "the property ladder") when they move but to keep their apartment as an investment and buy another. We, in common with lots of families we know, have a hotchpotch portfolio of properties that are a mixture of purchase, buy-to-let, inheritances etc. If I were you I would hold onto your London property (which is likely to increase in value a lot faster than a Paris property) and rent here - there is a buoyant rental market for larger apartments.

I think that the nicest arrondissements are the 8th and 17th (but not the Batignolles part, which is dangerous and gloomy and a nightmare for parking and public transport). Parts of the 7th are nice (just beneath the 8th, near the Seine). I don't personally like the 6th and the eastern part of the 7th because the roads and pavements are very narrow and there is nowhere to walk or park. The 5th is even worse in that respect. The 1st arrondissement can be fabulous providing you don't want too much space.

Claxonia Wed 07-May-14 16:32:12

I love Batignolles in the 17th. Loads of great restaurants and shops and lovely parks and people are generally a bit friendlier than other parts of Paris. It is true though that parking is a nightmare. I also love the 9th around rue des Martyrs but it is rubbish for parks.

Sparklemotion1982 Wed 07-May-14 17:28:02

Thank you everyone for this. We are now definitely going so trying to decide which area to live in, bit confused as some people say Batignolles is the only nice area of the 17th and some say to avoid it?

We are a married couple at the mo and I work from home but we are thinking about TTC while over there.

I basically want to live somewhere like Northcote Road in Clapham but in Paris.....

So it seems like areas to look at are:

17th - Batignolles?
11th - Bastille


Is this right as a list for our relocation agent?

Thanks so much guys!!!! xoxoxo

Bonsoir Wed 07-May-14 21:43:58

I go to Les Batignolles once or twice a week as my DD's piano teacher lives there. It is a former working class area of small dark apartments, very narrow streets and even narrower pavements. Roads are a minefield of one way streets and public transport and infrastructure is terrible. It has been invaded by nouveaux pauvres in recent years. It is dead during the week as everyone is at work. If your benchmark is Clapham do not even think about Batignolles.

Sparklemotion1982 Wed 07-May-14 22:51:49

Wow. OK. I was just looking at that as somewhere for us to live!! Is there anywhere else you would recommend Bonsoir? PS Not sure what a nouveaux pauvres is... sad

MasterOfTheYoniverse Thu 08-May-14 07:09:21

4th le marais all the way to bastille.

I'd skip the 5th

6 & 7th if you can afford. If you don't mind less space fir your money, this is the one place you should look.

17th around villiers is better than batignolles.

To bastille, i much prefer the 3rd/10th border around the canal St martin/quai de valmy (and towards oberkampf to go out).

More than anywhere else i've lived, in Paris, where you live can really define how people perceive you. Are you with the "it" crowd? Alternative yuppies? Old money? Bling ring? Or just has been if you don't know the difference.

Also, you have to factor in that Paris is much more Urban than Londo where we always a garden square or major park within a block or 2.
No such thing in vast areas of Paris. A consideration when you have a baby/toddler.

Last but not least, veer on the side of safety. Well lit street, pincode entrance, lift, permission to keep a pram in the lobby etc...

Finally, i have to say neighborly attitudes may be a shocker!
Make sure there is good insulation. Think again about the charm of an old parquet floor....every pin dropped echoes loudly!

Bonsoir Thu 08-May-14 07:38:42

The 6th can be quite divisive for international families... Big expat community doesn't mix with super self-satisfied Parisians. This is somewhat true of the whole of the Left Bank where the local social codes are at their most defined and impenetrable.

Booboostoo Thu 08-May-14 07:50:14

I live in France. I see you have decided on Paris, I hope you have a wonderful time. I echo the need to speak the language, the French are very rude to people they don't know at the best of times, but they seem to reserve their worst for foreigners.

Another important point to consider well before going over are the tax implications of your move. Talk to an accountant who is familiar with the situation in France and how things work out for people who also have assets in other countries. Do not assume that it's all as simple as the Uk where you fill in tax returns or it gets done for you. Every decision in France, like buying a house or inheritance arrangements especially when you don't have children, has enormous implications and is best planned in advance.

Health care in France is extremely well funded but also very paternalistic. If you are happy with what the doctors will anyway do to you, fine, if not you have very little choice even in a private health care setting.

Bonsoir Thu 08-May-14 07:54:49

There are plenty of good non-paternalistic doctors in Paris with modern attitudes and practices though they can take effort to track down.

SizzlesSit Thu 08-May-14 08:29:07

Dont buy in paris until you ve lived here a bit. The quartiers (the bits that make up the arrondissements) are all so different and everyone has different tastes.

As a young couple we lived in the 17th near Ternes. Was great for what we wanted (no clubs/bars but restaurants, shops and sports facilities and convenient for transport)

We moved to the 16th after DS arrived. Yes its not trendy but its very nice, loads of flats (we bought and there was NOTHING available in the 17th in the size we wanted) and we live next to a fantastic park. DS has already made friends with some boys we see regularly and he starts at the local (fab) school in Sept when he'll be 3.

The people here are all well off (judging by clothes!) but very friendly. The atmosphere in the park is lovely.

I love our flat but I have French friends who would hate to live where we do - all individual taste.

Booboostoo Thu 08-May-14 08:47:51

We're in the rural south Bonsoir where I suspect things are a lot worse! Can't have a Harmony test here, or a home birth or a ELCS, and that's only the pregnancy related refusals we've had (the worse of the other ones was no sedation for a 16mo with suspected brittle bone disease having a scintigraphy - that one put me off the entire country). I am not a big fan of France, you can probably tell!

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Fri 09-May-14 22:21:48

Basically, the 17th is divided into two: Batignolles and the staid bit around Parc Monceau. Batignolles is young, edgy, with good, cheap restaurants and bars. It's lively in the evenings. It is a mixture of small and cheap apartments and larger, grander ones. If I was childless, I would have preferred to live here than near Monceau, which is very residential, bars and restaurants tend to close early. You should also avoid the area around Porte de Champerret, as there is a lot of social housing there, it's a bit grim and not particularly nice after dark.

Without knowing your budget, it's a bit difficult to advise. We were paying around 4,000 euros a month for a large-ish 4 bedroom apartment near Parc Monceau.

Sparklemotion1982 Fri 09-May-14 22:33:55

Thanks for this. Our budget is only around 2200 euros a month...and we'd like unfurnished. I thought this would mean a one bedroom but our relocation person said we could get a 2 bed. Our ideal would be light, big windows, parquet floors and a balcony for our cat. I'd like to be near some good shops, Id love to be close to a zara, h&m etc! Or if not possible at least a few small shops, bakeries etc?

Mindboggle Fri 09-May-14 23:02:31

I live in the 15th and I love it here, there's all the services you need and good public transport. I also like 12th between gare de Lyon and bois de Vincennes. It's a good idea to look for a place close to your husband's work or at least convenient for commuting.
Around rue de Rennes there are lots of shops, and near Edgar quinet and vavin there are lots of restaurants and bars.
For 2200eur you should be able to expect around 60-70 sq metres easily in most arrondissements so 3 room/2 bedrooms. You can check to see what you can get.
I had my son in France last year and have no complaints about my treatment or after care. A colleague of mine has lived here for years and speaks awful French and manages to get by.
Good luck!

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Fri 09-May-14 23:07:36

Sparkle - does that include the "charges"?

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Fri 09-May-14 23:30:57

With that budget, I think you will probably need to look in the 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th arrondissements, where you will get more for your money. Parts of the 14th are lovely. Maybe the 10th, but parts of the 10th are very grim indeed. Also bear in mind that you will probably have to put in a kitchen, and possibly a bathroom. If you want a balcony, you will probably be looking at a modern block, rather than a traditional Haussmannian one.

Lots of little shops in Paris, much nicer than the chains!

Bonsoir Sat 10-May-14 09:22:04

EUR 2,200 will get you a perfectly reasonable small classic apartment in the 16th - we recently relet an 80 sq m 3-room in Passy for almost precisely that amount. You will get more floor space for your money and a nicer apartment if you get a "double sejour" (sitting room and dining room separated by an open archway or double glass doors) and one bedroom than if you want a two-bed.

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Sat 10-May-14 09:38:13

I don't think I would recommend the 16th to someone under 60 though, Bonsoir - and not sure you would either! (Although Passy does have Zara and H & M.) I lived in Passy when I first moved to Paris. It was OK, and convenient for work.

Bonsoir Sat 10-May-14 09:49:43

You get better rental accommodation by far in the 16th than in the 11th for your money these days - and there is no Zara in the 11th.

The market is not "obvious" and there are real downsides to the more recently invested areas IMO. Fewer expats too.

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Sat 10-May-14 10:01:25

The 16th (particularly rue de la Pompe and rue de la Tour) is absolutely stuffed with Americans (as are parts of the 7th). I do think if you are coming to Paris absolutely "cold" and don't speak the language, that you need some kind of guidance. Maybe an expatty area would suit the OP better, for that very reason?

WickedWitchoftheNorthWest Sat 10-May-14 10:04:58

A general warning - don't listen to bonsoir - I think all the fumes from the peripherique have gone to her head. She is well known for doling out her particular brand of weird and bad advice all over mumsnet. Her main motive seems to be making out she's something she's not!

WickedWitchoftheNorthWest Sat 10-May-14 10:07:41

I lived in Paris for many years, working in the 16th and living in the 11th, near Oberkampf, for a good part of that time. The 16th is boring and staid while the 11th is much more fun. Great transport links, too. It depends on what you're looking for, really.

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Sat 10-May-14 10:24:44

Oooh, I worked in the 16th, too, WWNW. I would recommend the 11th if you are unencumbered by enfants.

Bonsoir Sat 10-May-14 10:28:38

I lived in the 11th for 11 years - I moved there before all the bars etc moved in - and prices have gone through the roof. As owners of rental property in both the 11th and 16th I think I have some idea of the market.

Claxonia Sat 10-May-14 12:40:10

We pay less than that for a big, bright 2 bedroom in Batignolles, we moved in 2 years ago though and not sure what prices are like now. Locally there are mostly independent shops and restaurants although we are only 20-25 mins walk from all the chains at Opera. If you prefer to be nearer to big chain stores the 15th and 16th might be good. I would also advise to try to find a flat you would be staying in for a few years (i.e. not to to small if you want kids) as finding places to rent is a hideous nightmare in Paris.

SizzlesSit Sat 10-May-14 17:15:12

Was about to take offense at the 16th being called boring and staid but then realised that compared to many other livlier parts of Paris it is! grin

Still, I love not being woken by all the people sitting outside bars and cafes / young neighbours having all night parties so each to their own I suppose.

pommedeterre Sat 10-May-14 17:20:10

We did a year in Italy last year. I am fluent dh is (still) learning.

He felt isolated and lonely. I got really fed up of having to organize absolutely everything for him and the family.

It was a much bigger deal than we imagined.

So I would say yes only if you can plan very very intensive language courses before going !

GreatAuntDinah Sat 10-May-14 18:01:17

I lived in the 18th near Jules Joffrin until 2012. I liked it a lot, very boho. I now live in a part of the suburbs that would make you faint in horror if you think Porte de Champerret is dodgy ;-)

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Sat 10-May-14 19:02:54

Pommedeterre - I felt your pain too!

GreatAuntDinah - I loved that part of the 18th as well - had a good friend who lived there. Porte de Champerret is just dull and a bit menacing with no redeeming features, IMO. It doesn't have the boho charm of other "working class" arrondissements, just relentless blocks of charmless flats. Where are you now? Montreuil? grin

GreatAuntDinah Sat 10-May-14 19:09:31

Nah, Montreuil is positively salubrious compared to our corner of the 93 grin ten minutes from the gare du nord and literally four times bigger than my Paris flat, for 250 euros a month less.

SizzlesSit Sat 10-May-14 19:59:35

This thread has made me realise just how much the Parisiens talk about where they live/size of flat etc. Never prices but Ive spent hours talking flats/location/commute especially when someone buys.

The eternal debate of central Paris (small, expensive flat) vs outside Paris (larger but a commute which is especially difficult when there are strikes...)

Bonsoir Sat 10-May-14 20:38:32

The commuter train links from the suburbs to central Paris are terrible compared to London and it just isn't aspirational to live in a large pretty house in a nice village and commute in every day in the way it is for many people who work in London. There aren't the large pretty houses in nice villages to start with!

I very much adhere to the advice given by others, and think that you need to live in Paris for a while to work out where you would like to live. I nevertheless feel quite strongly that if you aren't a fluent speaker of French, going to live in an area where there are very few expats isn't wise.

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Sat 10-May-14 21:54:59

I commuted in UK for a while, and it was hell (though lovely at the weekend and once I got home - it was a fab cottage in the country). I said I would never do it again, and was determined not to live out in the sticks in Croissy or somewhere when I was working in Paris. And I no longer commute in London, either. Hooray!

GreatAuntDinah Sat 10-May-14 22:04:16

There aren't the large pretty houses in nice villages to start with!

Bollocks. Of course there are.

Bonsoir Sat 10-May-14 22:13:58

You obviously aren't fussy!

WickedWitchoftheNorthWest Sat 10-May-14 22:19:08

No bonsoir you obviously aren't well-informed. There are many lovely affluent villages that lots of people commute from. For example

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Sat 10-May-14 22:43:13

Croissy, Bougival, anywhere out that way is nice. I had a friend who lived in Croissy, large house, right on the river. It wouldn't have suited me, but I could see the appeal.

Bonsoir, you are making it sound as if Paris is surrounded by Little Croydons!

Bonsoir Sun 11-May-14 06:04:28

It mostly is! Greater Paris is a planning tragedy - lots of truly horrible building and transport links. Which is partly why Parisians don't move out but buy maisons de campagne which are not necessarily that far away in distance but are nonetheless inaccessible. I have come across quite a lot of Americans/British who thought that they couldn't survive in a Paris flat and needed a large semi-suburban house, a garden and lots of parking and nevertheless relented after a couple of years around Saint-Germain-en-Laye because life was so hard.

France has done a fabulous job with the TGV and I think that Paris public transport just gets better and better but suburban public transport and commuter links are terrible. Try taking the train from Saint-Lazare to Versailles <shudder>.

GreatAuntDinah Sun 11-May-14 07:09:45

Croissy, Maisons-Laffitte, Conflans, Auvers-sur-Oise, Bougival, Marly-le-Roi, Enghien-les-Bains... Need I go on?

PS it's not that I'm not fussy, thanks, I just earn an average wage hmm

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Sun 11-May-14 10:00:30

I quite liked my little journeys to Garches, Croissy etc etc on the suburban trains. I could always get a seat, there was plenty of space. Much better than the London Midland train to or from Milton Keynes, where you were packed in like sardines, or they would often cancel trains at whim, meaning you couldn't get to or from work at all. And have you been on the tube recently in the rush hour? Now that really is grim.

frozentree Sun 11-May-14 13:04:35

All depends where you live - we're out in a beautiful village in the Yvelines, yet my husband has a extremely reliable and fast train commute into St Lazare which takes only 30 minutes, after a 10 minutes drive to the station. He tells me he always gets a seat...

LillianGish Sun 11-May-14 20:22:07

I tend to think that if you are moving to Paris then you want to live in Paris - and anything extra-muros just isn't the same. I would also rent to begin with then you can have lots of fun exploring to see where you want to live. Personally I'm a big fan of the 14th which while not fashionable has some lovely bits (round rue d'Alesia for example) and is quite reasonably priced. You have to accept you will be in a smallish (by London standards apartment) but you will be a Paris for goodness sake. If you try to apply London standards to French housing stock you are destined for disappointment - vive la difference! I'm about to move back with two dcs and though we briefly considered a move to the banlieu for more space we both agreed that it wouldn't be the same thing at all. Apart from anything else as an expat I want something that feels faintly cosmopolitan and not just like living in France (if that makes sense).

I have days where I adore living here and others when I dream of moving back to London.

The 4th is lovely for bars, restaurants & shopping but the apartments are generally very expensive for very very very little space. DH and I live in the heart of le Marais and it's very loud at all hours so wouldn't really recommend it if you're planning a family. 16th is great for kids, lots of expats there too.

I would avoid the 18th & 19th (and parts of the 20th) like the plague. Lasted about a month in the 18th when we first moved here around the montmartre/barbes area and it put me right off Paris. Grim! and I grew up in SE London...

Agree with all the posters about bureaucracy, its a massive PITA here. More so because DH isn't from the EU but French helps a lot.

Good luck with your move!

I used to live in 15th near montparnasse / falguiere and had my first studio apartment at la motte piquet, which I adored. The weekend market was right there and the cafés were great, the usual fromagerie / charcuterie / boulangerie on my doorstep too. This is going back a while but I presume it's still nice? Great bus and metro lines (after living there for years I learned to choose apartments on metro interchanges and a street or two back from a boulevard so there were plenty of buses passing).

I also lived behind place de clichy (not recommended but I was a student so severely budget restricted) and near pere lachaise which was ok.

GreatAuntDinah Mon 19-May-14 15:59:42

I would avoid the 18th & 19th (and parts of the 20th) like the plague

It all goes to show there's no accounting for taste - I'd much much rather live there than in the 16th! Depends if you're after a Kensington or Dalston vibe I suppose. OP, you really need to visit various areas to get a feel for them.

Bonsoir Mon 19-May-14 17:31:34

Drug dealers on your doorstep and in your hallway night and day isn't everyone's cup of tea smile

WickedWitchoftheNorthWest Mon 19-May-14 18:53:51

Boring wannabe snobs on your doorstop who brag about how many flats they own and their dull children' achievements aren't everyones' cup of tea either smile

GreatAuntDinah Tue 20-May-14 09:46:18

Yes nothing like a nice bit of sweeping generalisation to start the week. I guess I have to admit the 16th does have a better class of drug dealer

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Wed 21-May-14 22:38:04

LOL at the drugs. The only time I was stopped and asked where one could buy cocaine, was early one morning on the rue de Courcelles. I said that this was the sort of area where people would have their drugs delivered to their apartments, not go to some grotty flat in the back streets to pick it up. I sent them to Chateau d'Eau but warned them it might be a bit early, as Parisians weren't early risers (I was doing an early shift at work in an emergency and had to be in at 0630).

Bonsoir Thu 22-May-14 07:57:04

There was a location on rue de Courcelles for dealers to meet Neuilly housewives who rolled up in their Minis to collect and pay. It was a badly guarded secret and has since been stamped on by the new cafe owner. It didn't make the neighbourhood dangerous, however, as payment and delivery were very reliable and said housewives went back to the comforts of their own homes for consumption purposes.

revolutionarytoad Thu 22-May-14 08:37:51

Took me 5 mins at the Gare du Nord...

will be living in a not particularly salubrious area in Paris from this summer. Had an opportunity to take an apartment off the Boulevard de Magenta- no thanks. Even around Rue Blanche you get idiots thinking they're fine to leer at you and make sexist demeaning comments as you walk by.

I say better to live in a boring but safe area really. Paris is so easy to navigate you can get to better places in no time.

riverboat1 Thu 22-May-14 19:55:59

Paris is so different to London. Here, everything inside the periph is Paris, and everything outside is like a different world. I live in the east suburbs, 20m RER ride into Paris (and 20m in the car on those rare days where there is no traffic) and you would never believe that my town is just a few km away from one of the most beautiful, cultural cities in the world. There is nothing here, just apartments, houses, shopping malls and delapidated town centres with hardly anything going on.

Whereas London has stuff going on all over the place, in the inner and outer zones. I lived in zone 4 there, and there were destination bars and restaurants, street life, heaving parks, galleries, theatres...the main difference really being the street life. Outside Paris proper, it is non-existent. People don't walk, they drive everywhere. And if you want to go out, or do something of an evening (other than go to your one local restaurant, or to a generic Buffalo Grill or Leon) you go into Paris. It's just not the case in London.

I have friends who live in the west suburbs, Marly le Roi, St Germain etc. While those areas are infinitely prettier and posher than the east where I live, it still seems to be basically the same story in terms of lack of 'life' and vibrancy.

I don't get it really. Why is there not more demand from people living in the suburbs for bars, restaurants, culture, Paris-ness?

This is only tenuously linked to the OP, really. But if you take only one thing from it let it be this: don't contemplate moving to the suburbs of Paris if you already feel lonely in London. Stick to Paris proper. With your budget you can get something nice.

revolutionarytoad Thu 22-May-14 21:04:42

Like an extreme case of local centralisation? I know someone who's talking about people getting pushed out of Paris. It's like people being priced out of their parents' neighbourhoods just outside London. I mean, Montmarte got gentrified too....

revolutionarytoad Thu 22-May-14 21:05:32

* always talking

LillianGish Thu 22-May-14 21:30:16

Excellent post Riverboat - your analysis is spot on.

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Thu 22-May-14 22:17:57

There are some very dull places in commuterland outside London. Bromley isn't exactly buzzing. Twyford, anyone? Buckingham? Ruislip? Slough? Epping?

LillianGish Thu 22-May-14 22:26:54

But they are slightly further than 20 minutes out of Central London - though I accept they are probably quite dull. I was thinking more along the lines of Ealing, Chiswick, Richmond - essentially these are suburbs, but still have a London vibe and their own charm.

riverboat1 Thu 22-May-14 22:35:46

Exactly Lillian. Here it's more like everything from zone 2 onwards is alone the lines of the places you mention Sheherazade. There are no 'buzzing' areas except within Paris, zone 1, itself.

riverboat1 Thu 22-May-14 22:56:24

OK, actually there are SOME places in zone 2 that are nice and still Paris-y (Boulogne, Vincennes, Levallois) etc. But a lot of not so nice places too (St Denis, Villejuif, Bagnolet...)

Compared to the residential riches that is zone 2 of London ...Clapham, Camden, Islington, Hackney, Kensington...places that you'd CHOOSE to live in, rather than being forced to live there because Central London was too expensive.

And looking at the transport map of Paris, zone 3 is really a wasteland. Some of the places in the West are OK in terms of not being dumps, but there is nowhere in the east, north or south that is in any way 'buzzing' or 'dynamic'...

Whereas looking at the London map, in zone 3 you still have nice places to live all over the place like Balham, Greenwich, Hampstead, Wimbledon, Finchley, even Stratford now...

I would LOVE to be proved wrong though. I am pretty much tied to living in the east / south east suburbs of Paris for the foreseeable future and am constantly pouring over the map trying to spot potentially nice places we could move to. If anyone knows of any hidden gems in the south or east suburbs I'd love to know.

Bonsoir Fri 23-May-14 10:17:43

There's no story and no community in many Parisian suburbs. If you are Catholic and want to get involved in parish life (and it can most definitely take over your DCs' life if you go the whole French hog with school/church/scouts/conservatoire structuring life 7 days a week) there is a ready-made community, but anything more imaginative is really hard to find in the suburbs.

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Fri 23-May-14 17:54:04

But is there "community" in the London suburbs? I'm not talking about Clapham, Balham, Ealing etc, as they really count as "London" (and London is a lot bigger than Paris), but the drear beyond. This is a genuine question - I've lived in villages, where the sense of community was great, and in central London (where I am now), where there is something for everyone. But places like Bromley (20 minutes from Victoria on the train) and Twyford (30 minutes on a fast train) seem a bit of a wasteland to me.

Bonsoir Fri 23-May-14 18:48:38

You may be right, but what there most definitely isn't in Paris is the vast, semi-rural commuter hinterland that London has and that makes up the "greater South East" with lots and lots of desirable villages and small towns, great schools and general high standards of living. Fontainebleau? Rouen? Orléans? No thank you.

schlafenfreude Sat 24-May-14 16:23:28

If you are planning to have children there then you might want to filter your location by proximity to a decent maternity, and whether you have a particular idea of the kind of birth you want/whether anglophone staff is essential (in the latter case you want the Hopital Franco-Brittanique).

revolutionarytoad Sat 24-May-14 19:21:00

Are you talking about Richmond, Staines, Windsor? They don't even compare to Rouen!

riverboat1 Sat 24-May-14 19:26:59

Agree that London is bigger, but (and my knowledge of historical geography is very shaky here) isn't that because it has grown organically and lots of little enclaves have joined together to become 'Greater London'? Whereas there is no 'Greater Paris'...Paris, the city has been hemmed in by the periph and motorways, that kind of organic growth has sort of been stumped and cut off. 'London' is way, way bigger than 'Paris', because Paris is now and (presumably forever) defined by the periph...psychologically and geographically.

LillianGish Sun 25-May-14 11:26:28

That has always been my impression Riverboat. DH and I keep thinking we should explore a few 'burbs with a view to moving out for more space, but have yet to find anywhere that appeals. It also comes back to what Bonsoir said earlier in the thread about poor commuter connections (let alone if you want to do that journey outside commuter hours) and it not being aspiration all to do so. I certainly know more people who have an apartment intra muros and then a house in the country right out of town (usually picked up for a bargain price or inherited from a relative) so thinking that might be the way to go (though the idea of spending all my holidays maintaining a second property doesn't particularly fill me with joy!)

Bonsoir Sun 25-May-14 11:55:42

I know Parisians whose weekend homes are very close to Paris - think Versailles or Saint-Cloud. They have large houses there that they go to on Friday night, while living in a very central Paris apartment all week, bang next to their investment bank/law firm/PE offices. I'm not sure anyone in London has their "country house" 20 minutes drive from central London?

Holidays are, of course, taken somewhere completely different - at their beach house on Ile-de-Ré or near Biarritz, their apartment in the mountains and of course around the world...

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Sun 25-May-14 19:01:41

I find it quite appealling to have a country house close by - you would definitely use it every weekend in that case! (But not Saint-Cloud, thanks.)

This has got me thinking - is London the only large city with a desirable/aspirational commuterland? I was thinking about other capital cities where I have lived - Brussels, well, you could commute from anywhere in Belgium and be there in an hour, and people did commute from Ghent, Leuven, Waterloo etc. Vienna - it's a long time since I lived there, but most people lived within the Ring or the Gurtel, or in one of the nicer outlying suburbs (which still had a Vienna postcode), like Grinzing.

Former Eastern European capitals are now developing desirable suburbs/outlying villages, I think - some of my Polish friends have moved out to Konstancin and Wilanow, for more space, but as one put it, villages in the British sense simply don't feature in Poland. If you tell someone you live in village, they will assume a dirty farm and a few tumbledown cottages.

Bonsoir Sun 25-May-14 19:11:25

New York has a massive commuter land.

Different cultures certainly have different perceptions of where is desirable. When I lived in Luxembourg it was noticeable that the French and Italians lived "en ville" in apartments and the British and Germans wanted houses and gardens in villages.

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Sun 25-May-14 20:23:29

Oh yes, New York, of course. smile

LillianGish Sun 25-May-14 22:57:06

20 minutes drive from central London on a Friday afternoon and you'd still be pretty much in Central London grin

Bonsoir Mon 26-May-14 10:19:37


SheherazadeSchadenfreude Wed 28-May-14 22:11:28

I'd be lucky to make New Cross in 20 minutes, or Battersea...

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