It was described as being 50m squared (about 500 square feet), and "à tout refaire" - everything must be re-done. Hence the lovely price-tag. So we went - why not?! Maybe this was just the ticket to homeownership in the city!
There was only one photo on the agency's website - of the outside of the building - the rest was a mystery.
We hiked up avenue Gambetta, taking in the beautiful Père Lachaise cemetery, the tree-lined street, the kids playing at the park. Then we turned right onto the street where the apartment was located...
I looked at Copain. He looked at me. We weren't in Kansas anymore.
I tried to remain optimistic- This neighborhood is up and coming! I'm sure there will be a Starbucks here in no time! Yeah, the guy on sitting on that porch looks like he's been there for the past week, but hey, we're in Paris! It's....authentic!
The agent met us at the gate and lead us up two flights of stairs in a lovely, well-kept building. We looked at each other hopefully - the co-propriété (the co-owners) must be good, responsible people!
Then the agent opened the door to the actual apartment we'd come to visit...
We walked into a little horizontal hallway which gave us four choices - one door lead to a bedroom, one door lead to the living room, one lead to the WC and one lead to the kitchen. Lots of...options. The walls rocked wallpaper from 1943, a gigantic TV had made a permanent indent in the bedroom mattress, two tables were set up in the living room covered in bullets and knives, and the shower was located in the kitchen, closing nicely with a brown accordion door. Jackets and shoes hung in the overstuffed closet.
We learned that the owner, a retired policeman, had just died, leaving the apartment to his niece in Marseille. (Maybe he secretly hated her). And she wanted one thing - to get rid of the place (very understandable).
The windows on the left of the apartment gave onto a courtyard and a building, and the windows on the back wall gave onto another courtyard and another building.
The tank for the toilet was located on the wall and flushed by pulling a handle at the end of a metal chain, BUT, there was one small window for aeration purposes which is really hard to find in Paris. I pointed it out to Copain hoping he would ignore the rotting wood around the window frame and direct view into the neighboring apartment.
We asked the agent how exactly he envisioned this apartment being livable, and he jumped into his spiel of tearing down walls, fusing the shower room and toilet together, adding door frames in murs porteurs (supporting walls) with approvable from the building manager, opening up the kitchen onto the living room, re-doing the electricity and plumbing, and then voilà! A brand new apartment in Paris!
You understand just how badly we want an apartment in Paris when I tell you that Copain immediately called his parents to see if they thought it was a good investment.
We asked the agent if we could meet him at the agency later in the afternoon, after walking around the neighborhood to get to know it better. As we adventured further down the road, we realized that the neighborhood had a ways to go before it was actually up and coming. I wondered if I would feel safe walking home alone at night.
The sun was shining, so we grabbed a table at a local café, ordered salads and rosé and talked about the potential of the apartment. How it would be a good investment - that when we sold it, we would make a mint. 50 square meters in Paris! At this price! We could make it beautiful! We could sell it for so much more!
But then we finally admitted to ourselves, it wasn't a coup de coeur, it was a good investment. And while people buy apartments to invest their money, we also want to buy a home, not just an investment. We want a coup de coeur.
I told my colleagues about the apartment the next day and they told me I was crazy-town. 50 meters for that price?! But the neighborhood is up and coming! And then I thought that maybe we had made a mistake. I texted Copain that maybe we should visit again and reconsider. He texted back:
Don't think about it. This wasn't our coup de coeur.
And he's right. It wasn't.