Monthly Archives: September 2011

Flat Finding Flashbacks Part 2: Fall


I thought finding an apartment in Paris in January was one of the most nerve wracking, time consuming, soul draining experiences ever. Nothing trumps this fall though, searching for a flat for was a trip down Flat Finding Flashbacks memory lane amped up on humid Paris weather and a flurry of back to school students. At least I didn’t have to spend another 20 Days in a hotel.

This month’s rundown:

205+ emails

170+ calls

15 viewings

8 viewings on “Superday”

4 day of cancellations

3 offers made

2 times being beat out just as papers were going to be handed in

1 new flat

Another 4 months in Paris

Finding a flat in the fall is tough, especially if you consider these circumstances:

  • Can hold 2 people, not a couple
  • Only a 4 month lease – competing against back to school students who want 10 – 12 month leases
  • Don’t speak French (well) Parlez-Vous Anglais?
  • Don’t have guarantors (French citizen who’ll “guarantee” your rent payments if you can’t pay)

All I can say is good luck! Not much to add here that I haven’t already mentioned except start early, always call and be ready to make an offer on the spot.



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3 Magic Words: Parlez-Vous Anglais? Do You Speak English?

“Parlez-Vous Anglais?” is the Da Vinci Code to transitioning from French to English in every conversation.

Beginning with English or abruptly switching to English mid-conversation without these magic words when your French gets spotty usually results in this:

Sans Parlez-vous Anglais

Without skipping a beat, your remarks will be disregarded and the dialogue resumes in French. Insisting on anything other than French will be met with perplexed stares, furrowed brows and a one-sided conversation.

However, utter the 3 magic words: “Parlez-Vous Anglais?” (Do you speak English?) And everything changes.

You’ll often hear “A little”, or “Yes, but not well”, and then the conversation naturally pivots into English. Except for French administration/government, where I’ve received the snarkiest “no” with one part annoyance, two parts disgust, and three parts patriotism. This is the unspoken but just spoken code. A cultural norm. A French tradition.

It’s nearly impossible to bring English to a conversational duel in the French motherland and expect to win. Frenchies will call your conversational bluff and won’t high tail it in a showdown. Only two options exist: circling back to French or waving the “Parlez-vous Anglais” flag. French people are mighty protective of their language.

However, the French can be quite accommodating when speaking French!



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