The secret to finding your perfect Paris property…
1. Get to know your Paris arrondissements
“Today the life of every Parisian…revolves around his arrondissement.” So says Thirza Vallois, Paris resident and author of the best-selling Around and About Paris. As a France property specialist for over 25 years, I’d add the following advice if you’re in the enviable position of buying property in the City of Light: get to know your escargot. Not the famous French delicacy in this instance, but the snail-like formation of Paris’s eighteen districts, known as arrondissements.
Whether you’re buying a permanent home or a holiday property in Paris, understanding your arrondissements is essential. The first arrondissement, for example, is home to the Louvre and sits right at the centre of a spiral that criss-crosses the River Seine, looping outwards all the way to the eighteenth (pictured below). This unique set-up means that on the right bank the first and eighth are neighbours, while on the left bank the seventh and fifteenth adjoin.
Consequently, every arrondissement has a distinct character. Buyers sometimes come to me with preconceived ideas about this ‘bohemian’ quarter or that ‘shabby’ area. While there are exceptions, I usually counsel an open mind because until you’ve spent time pacing the distance between the metro and your potential new home or soaking up the atmosphere at the local café, you really won’t know which arrondissement suits you.
Confused? Why not take a look for yourself. An extensive network of trains, buses and boats cross the River Seine from right bank to left and throughout the arrondissements. There’s also a bicycle-sharing system and because Paris is easily navigated, you can happily manage a spot of flâneur (a distinctly French way of strolling) without losing your way. I thoroughly recommend getting to know Paris on foot.
2. Ask the expert “Where would you live?”
From apartments in the eighth to mansions in the sixteenth, I’ve been fortunate to visit a bedazzlement of Paris properties in my time. I’m often asked which arrondissement I’d live in and invariably, my answer is the seventh. This is a neighbourhood where property value and demand stays constant – excellent news for Paris buyers and sellers alike. Home to the iconic Eiffel Tower, the left bank seventh also hosts the National Assembly and a number of foreign embassies.
Decidedly unstuffy for a neighbourhood of substance, the seventh offers first-rate metro connections and local bakeries. You’ll also find a cobblestoned market street called rue Cler, which sells quality produce to make your daily shop a pleasure. Meanwhile, terraced cafés offer plentiful excuses for Café au lait and people watching – my favourite aspect of Parisian life.
In recent years, families have been drawn to the seventh’s green park at Les Invalides and the Montessori School of Paris. And although the menu at legendary Le Voltaire is classically French, eating out in the seventh is more diverse than you might think. With a growing number of relaxed restaurants such as Marlon on rue de Grenelle, you’re likely to see large family groups eating out at the weekend.
Property in the seventh arrondissement is a beautiful mix, particularly in the peaceful Saint-Germain quarter. Here, the quintessential Paris apartment comes with enough room for the whole family, along with high ceilings and lovingly preserved Haussmann features. However, you’re as likely to find a quirky loft studio with roof terrace, boasting fantastic pied-a-terre appeal and rental potential too.
3. Follow your instincts
It’s plain to see that those seventh arrondissement homes sing to me – but they might not sing to you. Your brief for a property to buy in Paris will be entirely unique so while it’s sensible to take advice, trusting your instincts is vital. Perhaps an apartment amidst the art galleries of the sixth, or a medieval garret in the fourth’s multi-cultural Marais will feel more like home?
Still wondering which is the right arrondissement for you? A conversation with a Winkworth Paris specialist will point you in the right direction. Our local knowledge is forged from many years selling property in Paris, as is our extensive network of French legal professionals and banks. We’d love to share the benefit of our experience with you.
By David King, a fully qualified Chartered Surveyor, having studied at both the Royal Agricultural University and Grenoble University in France. He has many years’ experience selling exclusive property in the UK and internationally. His interest in international architectural history is a great asset in his role at Winkworth and David uses his expert knowledge and experience in the field to find the perfect match for buyers and sellers. David oversees the running of Winkworth International, enabling clients to fully benefit from its extensive global network.
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