Rue d’Alencon

Yes, babycakes, you read the title right.  When I saw the ad for a one-bedroom apartment at Montparnasse, I called immediately to ask the address.  The agent hedged* and said it was a one-lane street in between Avenue du Maine and Boulevard du Montparnasse.  “Rue d’Alençon?!” I screeched in response, and she laughed and asked how I knew.  We got in a long conversation about the neighborhood, the street, our search, and I made an appointment to be the first to see it the next morning, humming I believe in miracles as I called to tell my companion the good news.

Rue d’Alençon

I love this street because it is tiny – 4 buildings on one side, 5 on the other – cute, and in my mind the perfect location.

That same night I posted this to my tumblr:**

Currently mulling over an apartment that meets almost everything on our wishlist except the floor – it’s a US 2nd floor/ FR 1st floor.  In the past we have only visited US 3rd floor and above apartments because of concerns about noise and light.  With this apartment, noise is not a problem since it’s on a tiny one lane street, but we are concerned about the lack of light.  Living room faces east on the road and bedroom faces west on the interior courtyard.

Buying an apartment in Paris is all about compromise – and here we have everything we wanted (love the neighborhood and have been dreaming of this street forever, beautiful stone building, cellar, no concierge but close enough to our current place to use our current concierge for mail/dog/life emergencies etc, elevator but it doesn’t really matter for 2nd floor) – EXCEPT light.  The problem is we only have one month left to find a place, and we’re going to have to compromise on something.  Should we sacrifice luminosité to have everything else we wanted?

The short answer: No.

We had a long discussion about this, we spoke to each of our families about it, but it didn’t really sink until I asked if I could turn all the lights off.  At 10 a.m., all the lights were on in the apartment, not for staging purposes (the interior is kinda a wreck) but because it so dark without them!

The bedroom - believe it or not this photo was taken during the day!

Photos of the rest of the apartment, which needs a bit of work but nothing too major:

Living room - need to redo the floors and paint the walls.

Kitchenette - would need to be redone.

Bathroom - good condition, but ugly and en suite to the bedroom.

I haven’t followed up with the realtor who showed us the apartment but I wouldn’t be surprised if it sold that day.  Despite its darkness it would make a great pied-a-terre for someone commuting from the southwest of France (most trains from that direction arrive at Montparnasse), or investment property for such rentals.  Unfortunately my dream of living on this street is officially killed – that building is the only building not owned by an investment company, and the first floor is the only floor with small apartments.  Every other floor is an entire 1000-2000 sq ft apartment in itself, with starting prices in the 1M range.  Next.

My 2nd visit last week was a by-owner listing catty-corner to that amazing Commerce apartment.  30 m2 3rd floor walk up in crappy limestone building with no cellar and no concierge.  Unfortunate shotgun-like layout with a 5’8″ wide bedroom that you had to pass through to get to the kitchen.  And it was the same price of the infamous Gobelins one so I think I would be physically incapable of signing an offer at that price on such a clearly inferior apartment.  Next.

*Many realtors wait until the day of the visit give the exact address out of fear that you are another agent trying to poach their listing.

**Where I post photos, inspiration, my picks and purchases at the Drouot auction house and brocantes, and random thoughts.  Check it out here.


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