Monday, February 05, 2007

Boat Shmoat, We're Going to Paris - Part 11

Friday we were meeting with the real estate agent provided by the company to find expatriate housing in Paris. We met with Madame T in her office in downtown Paris. She was in her forties with professionally styled hair, slim, well dressed and had lavender business cards that were scented. She was very personable, as one might expect from one in her profession.

We both got into her car and she drove us past schools, which we told her we had no interest in, and told us about hospitals and medical care in general. She then took us to see the typical expatriate housing. We both nearly screamed. It was awful. The housing was like mini cookie-cutter housing developments, where all the houses look alike and are tiny boxes of ticky-tacky with faux shrubbery and lawns. Each parcel was the size of a postage stamp. It all looked fake and awful. There was no feeling of community whatsoever and certainly was not our idea of living in Paris at all. There was the patina of ‘temporary’. She told us that this was where the English speaking expatriates lived, such as Americans, British, and Australians. The prices were no bargain either. We could barely afford even a one bedroom house in this hellish nightmare of an area.

We told her, no, this was not what we were interested in. We wanted to see something in a village setting close to Paris. She seemed at a loss. We checked our maps and located the nearby town of St. Germain-en-Laye, which was the next suburb Westward out from La Defense. She shook her head, but took us there. This was the place we wanted to live in. It had French country town written all over it. We went by old buildings such as churches and chateaus, the little quaint town center, then cute little houses. We asked some prices and they were about the same as the expatriate hell hole we just left. Madame T was quick to explain that it was hard to find a house here because the houses were held in families for generations and people did not move that much. But, she also mentioned that the town was served by the Metro. Sean and I just looked at each other and we were off in our dreams again. We could live here. It would be a short commute to work for me every day.

The church of St. Germain

The Chateau at St. Germain

Streetscapes and houses in our price range in St. Germain. Aren't they to die for cute?


Shaney said...

It looks beautiful Sue & the houss are adorable...Real Estate Agents are commission based yes? Well they are here in Aussieland...And they will do anything to land a sale..Most of them bullshit there way into a sales pitch and can easily make an ant mound sound like the "Hilton" OK that may have been a bit far fetched...hehe
I was just about to go to bed when I clicked your link and saw Boat Schmoat 11 & had to read it....
Why would they house foreigners all in the one area, seems a little strange,or was it personal preference for those that relocated...I guess you cant answer for all of them...OK I am tired Sue...It is 1am here and I have been up since 5:30am yesterday morning...Sweet dreams from Aussieland...xoxox

Sue said...

It is typical for expats to be located together in one place. I saw it in Singapore too. But I think it is to be avoided unless you are someplace with security concerns like the Middle East (where I doubt I would take a posting anyhow). Some people prefer to stay with people of their own kind if they have kids. I don't get it at all. Hope you sleep well Shaney!

mr tickle said...

herd mentality!

Sue said...

That is correct, Mr. Tickle!