Kitchens I Have Seen

27 03 2011

In case you’re wondering what I’ve been up to for the last few weeks, apart from eating tacos, I’ve been looking for an apartment.  Again?  Yes.  I haven’t mentioned it here because I was kind of in denial, and then I hoped that if I just shut up and buckled down it would all be over faster, but that has unfortunately not been the case.  This has been, by far, the most painful and grueling of my Parisian apartment-hunts to date.  And it is ongoing.  As in, we still haven’t found a place that we both like and is willing to rent to a couple of itinerant immigrants steadily-employed thirtysomethings.  It is, quite frankly, baffling.  And extremely frustrating.  And a little scary, because we’re supposed to be out of this place in mid-April and are facing the very real possibility that we won’t find a place to rent before then and will have to put all our stuff in storage or sell it and sleep on someone’s couch until we find a place of our own.  It is an unsavory thought.*

From time to time I wonder if we’re being too picky.  But the conclusion I come to every time is no.  A kitchen meant to reheat soup and frozen dinners from Picard is not going to cut it.  An apartment that requires me to commute for an hour won’t either, because the Métro doesn’t run that early in the morning.  And is it really so much to ask, in this, the supposed culinary capital of the world, that the kitchen accommodate someone who likes to cook and entertain?  I think not.

Towards the end of our last apartment search, only a year ago, Nick suggested that it would have been interesting if I’d photographed the kitchens of the apartments we looked at to show people the gamut of Parisian apartment kitchens from the ghastly to the glorious.  (By glorious I mean containing cupboards and/or shelves for storage of cooking equipment and food, a stove, oven, and refrigerator, and a bit of counter space.  That is to say, a usable kitchen.)  It didn’t happen then, but this time I was prepared.  So without further ado, allow me to present to you the kitchens I’ve seen so far.

kitchen 1

This was one of the first ones we saw.  The apartment was nice, pretty, well-located, and freshly repainted, but this is the kitchen in its entirety.  Once I put in a stove and a cupboard, there remained enough room for one person to stand.  We discussed putting the fridge in the living room, but then we wouldn’t have room for the table.

kitchen 4

This one was empty, save for a sink and a two-burner glorified hotplate.  Those cupboards?  Totally empty inside, as in, no shelves.  Still, I had visions for this one, as it was open to the living room and it was located on the most beautiful courtyard.  Our application was denied.

kitchen 5

Pros: it has a huge fridge and four burners.  Cons: no counter space at all, no room for an oven.

Kitchen 6

This is one of the better ones.  Nice big two-compartment sink, four burner stove with oven, room for a large fridge (which we would have to buy), lots of cupboards.  We’re waiting to hear back.

Kitchen 8

The picture doesn’t really capture how big and intrusive the post, no, pillar in the middle of this kitchen is.  Also the building was in terrible shape, the place got no light, and it was really bizarrely arranged.  Nick asked if I thought they Gerrymandered it.  After looking it up, I replied in the affirmative.

Kitchen 7

Like: gas burners.  Dislike: only two of them. Like: big fridge and washing machine.  Dislike: microwave instead of oven.  Like: large sink. Dislike: saggy bed, location right above the train tracks.

kitchen 9

I was kind of enamored with this one – again, it was open to the living room, and therefore somewhat expandable.  Already, there’s room for a big fridge and an oven, and it has some cabinets already installed.  Plus, it had a large closet and a nice bathroom and it was right by the Marché Aligré.  But no point dwelling on what I can’t have.

Kitchen 2

Good use of space, but just. too. small.

kitchen 3

Even smaller.

kitchen 10

Apart from the fact that this place was completely under construction and is unlikely to be finished by the time we need to move in, it had room for a fridge OR an oven OR some counter space, but only one of those.

kitchen 11

Love at first sight.  Yes, we would have to buy an oven and refrigerator, but the rent is low enough that that would be financially feasible.  Cross your fingers for us!

As you can see, it’s something of an emotional rollercoaster.  We’ve actually seen at least five more apartments than this, which I did not get a chance to photograph for various reasons, not counting the cancelled viewings (at least three, one of which called me five minutes before our appointment to cancel) and the places where I’ve left multiple phone messages or played phone tag to no avail.  I have to say, when I moved to Paris three years ago, I did not anticipate spending six to eight weeks of every year looking for apartments.  At least it’s forced me to learn my way around more neighborhoods and visit more of the city than I would have otherwise.  Gotta find the silver lining.

*So if you, or anyone you know, has an apartment to rent in Paris, I would love to hear about it.  Please contact me through the email address found on my About page.

On this day in 2008: Easter Dinner (Cooked in what I then thought was a horrifically small and poorly equipped kitchen.  Ah, the naïveté of youth.)

Originally published on Croque-Camille.




31 responses

27 03 2011

Perhaps it’s time to end the euro-adventure and return to the motherland?

27 03 2011
Chez Loulou

Sounds like complete and utter hell.

So very sorry to hear about these problems! I’m sending all my positive vibes your way so you two find something that you love and will be comfortable in!

27 03 2011

Oh bella, I really really really feel for you. I’ll ask around my work & see if anyone knows anything. Fingers crossed. And HUGS.

27 03 2011
Betty C.

I have just stopped feeling bad about having a small kitchen. I think it is grandiose by Parisian standards!

27 03 2011

This is quite unbelievable to me-they call these kitchens-I thought the French liked to cook-what is the rent for these and what neighborhoods are they in?

Is this typical of French apartments?

27 03 2011

I feel for you! I will never, ever complain about American apartments or kitchens again! I can’t believe landlords would have the nerve to call a room with a sink and a microwave a kitchen. Best wishes in your search. I’m sure someone will come forward with an amazing hookup for you, or that last one will come through.

Or you could just ask that Dave guy who also lives in France for help. 😉

27 03 2011

Well if Parisian apt designers are laying out kitchens in order to fit them into specific congressional districts that vote a certain way I think that actual explains A LOT about Parisian kitchens!!

27 03 2011

I am really sorry to hear about the challenges you are going through to find a new apartment. Before we bought our house in the South of France, we actually looked at buying an apartment in Paris but gave up that thought quickly when we saw how little space and kitchen you get for such a high price. Good luck with your search.

27 03 2011
Anna Johnston

What a brilliant idea, thanks for bringing me apartment shopping. 🙂 I love that last kitchen, its lovely, I’ve got my fingers crossed for you defo. Mr HG and I are about to begin the hunt for an apartment, I can’t wait.
Hope you find just what your after. 🙂

28 03 2011
Fiona at Life on Nanchang Lu

Oh Camille! That’s just depressing! I feel for you, I really do. After fifteen years of home ownership (yes, I started young), looking for places to rent in Shanghai has been very *interesting* including one place with he kitchen in the building’s stairwell. But at least here, as a foreigner, you’re seen as a prospective goldmine for landlords who can’t wait to sign you up. Compared to Chinese tenants, we’re less likely to set the kitchen on fire with high-powered wok burners too.
There has to be one out there, recently vacated by its food-loving owner, surely?
Good luck!

28 03 2011

Tha enormous post! I’m so sorry, Camille, but I can’t stop giggling about that one. Perhaps it was there for a lady with a huge leg circumference to practise pole-dancing while she defrosted Picard macarons for breakfast? (Wait, no, the macaron thing is me…)

Good luck my love – fingers crossed you find something soon and there’s no couch-sleeping at all! xo

28 03 2011

Oh Camille 😦 I know how you feel! That was our roller-coaster a few months ago. Feel lucky you haven’t seen a “bitchen” yet ( with a fold-down cutting-board over the toilet that you stand in the shower to use.

I had to settle for a toaster oven instead of a real oven, but at least we have counter space. Are you going through PAP or agencies?

28 03 2011

Apartment searching is the worst! It’s kind of funny how a country that likes to eat and cook so much doesn’t have a great supply of adequate home kitchens! My “kitchen” has no real storage space so everything is spilling out into the living room. Even the fireplace functions as a shelf for food items!

28 03 2011
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[…] kitchen has become such an essential room when considering a home. So I could empathize with this lady’s search for a proper kitchen in Paris and it made me think back to my tiny place in the 7eme. I had a kitchen nook, with only a […]

28 03 2011

I totally feel your pain! I couldn’t (and still can’t) believe the size of what they call kitchens here. I was under the impression that since the French like to eat well – that they would also like to cook. But obviously not in Paris since as you noticed, most of the kitchens here make it very difficult to cook and entertain.

I noticed that most of the photos you took had “normal” sized refrigerators. Of the 15 or so apartments I looked during my apartment search – none had a normal size refrigerator and most didn’t even have a proper oven (what’s up with those counter-top models??) and don’t get me started on those hot-plates!?

I settled for a place that had a built-in oven, a four-burner stove, cabinet space and an almost normal size fridge – the downside is I have practically no counter space and my kitchen can only fit one person cooking at a time!? Best of luck and I hope you find something that works for you!

28 03 2011

Thank you so much, everyone, for your encouraging comments, sympathies, and well-wishes! They really help me to feel better about the whole situation.

Pete – I’d be lying if I said the thought hadn’t crossed my mind.

Betty – I’ve no doubt it is.

Esme – I’m afraid it is typical of Parisian apartments, at least. These range from 1000-1200 euros/month, and are all over the Right Bank – 3rd, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th arrondissements.

Amy – I know, they make the American standard look downright luxurious.

Hopie – Nick was so happy that somebody got his Gerrymandering joke!

Fiona – I can’t even imagine what apartment kitchens in Shanghai might be like! (Although judging from your post about your oven, I’m sure they’re an adventure.)

Hannah – Not that I don’t appreciate the couch offers… 😉

emiglia – Both. On the whole, the agency places tend to be less depressing and/or weird than the PAPs.

Jessica – You certainly have to get creative with storage around here.

29 03 2011
hungry dog

Wow, is all I can say. I really hope you get that last one–it looks like the best by far! Even if you do have to buy your own oven and fridge (I gather this is not as weird in France as it seems in America). Good luck. Moving can be so stressful but if you find a great place it’s worth all the trouble.

30 03 2011

Ah, now I know why you were envious of my kitchen! That last one is perfect though. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!

30 03 2011

hungry dog – It’s common in France for apartments not to come with fridge, oven, etc. Doesn’t make it any less weird, though. I mean, who wants to move that stuff?

Ryan – Thanks, and I’m envious of your kitchen because it’s nearly half the size of my entire apartment! 🙂

31 03 2011

Don’t get why French kitchens don’t have ovens :-S
And that pole :-O
Sorry for your ordeal! I like the last one & I hope you get it- I love that big window & it seems to have lots of potential. Fingers crossed!

1 04 2011

Oh, Camille, I sympathize. I really, really do! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you. The right apartment IS out there for you! xxx

2 04 2011

Ugh, I feel for you, apartment hunting in Paris such a major PAIN!! When we were looking for our new place, we both made a list of what our ideal apartment would have. Mine included a kitchen with room for an oven, dishwasher, fridge and counter space and a bathroom with a tub & room for a washer/dryer. There is no way I thought we would ever find an apartment that had all of that, but we actually did. Our kitchen even has major cabinet & storage space!! So don’t lose hope – apartments with decent kitchens are hard to find in Paris, but they DO exist!

2 04 2011

Grapefruit – I know, it just doesn’t make sense.

Ann – Thank you, and I for you!

ksam – I’ve already lived in two. 🙂 And lucky you!

5 04 2011

oh no, Parisian kitchens are not at all what my romanticized ideas led me to believe =) I hope you get the last one!! Good luck.

6 04 2011

veggietestkitchen – Thanks! We didn’t, but we got another one that has lots of potential.

12 04 2011
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13 04 2011

Camille, I am very happy you finally found what looks like a decent apartment and kitchen ! Ces “cuisines”… incroyables !! Les maisons sont anciennes, non ?

13 04 2011

isathreadsoflife – En fait, la plupart sont refaits à neuf!

2 05 2011
» Savoring – Parisian kitchens Veggie Test Kitchen

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25 05 2011
The Mistress of Spices

Just seeing this post…weird. I’m sure you’ve find a suitable place by now! But I totally feel the pain, having gone through this many a time. We’re finally in a place with quite a nice and big kitchen, so we will surely think twice about moving again anywhere else. It is too ironic that the supposed capital of all things culinary is so bereft of apartments where anything culinary can actually happen!

25 05 2011

Mistress of Spices – My point exactly! And yes, we did find a place, but it was really down to the wire. I was getting seriously nervous that we wouldn’t have anywhere to live!

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