Finding an apartment in Paris is like painting a Giacometti, hunched over in a tiny hotel room crammed with your life's possessions, exhibiting a great deal of bewilderment and persistence. After all the hard work and dreaming, the end product finally materializes- dark, depressing, and reflective of the increasing emptiness and decay of modern society, the rental equivalent of an existential struggle for meaning. We ended up living at Mama Shelter and taking our dinner in the restaurant every night.
According to friends, Seloger, Lodgis, and LeBonCoin are fairly fruitful, but when we got here, every apartment we inquired about was already taken (I since discovered Book a Flat, which I love. They even have pet friendly furnished apartments). We limited our search to a few arrondissements and learned that finding a good place is about who you know. After some awful viewings (toilets outside the apartment, bathrooms in the kitchen), my husband's friend referred us to an agent who finally found us something worth moving for.
I was almost sorry she did, because we were at an Airbnb by Lamarck-Caulaincourt, on a nice winding street near Avenue Junot. Bululu Arepera, a gluten-free Argentine canteen, was right around the corner, next to a family-run vegetable market and mom-and-pop shop we came to love. At nights, we sat outside at Le Refuge, sharing drinks with the bartenders- I didn't even mind climbing 96 stairs in the metro everyday!
For some reason, I thought all Paris apartments had crown molding, parquet floors, and floor-to-ceiling windows, but real people actually live in humid little holes they pay through the nose for. Cash-rich Parisians aren't exempt from rotting walls, asbestos, or bad foundations either. Our friend put down a year of rent- over a million euros- before getting his (amazing) place, only to have the paint peel a few weeks later.
At any rate, I loved living here. It's one part of Paris that isn't quite gentrified yet, and every corner was practically made for Instagram.