I'm not here to talk about finding housing in Paris, though. I'm here to talk about another "type" of housing. One that I never imagined existed, at least not in cold Paris.
A few years ago my husband's friend was looking for a place to live in Paris. This friend came from Algeria and had an Algerian name. It's already hard enough for a Frenchman to find accommodation in Paris, but it's even harder for somebody who has a foreign name (especially for someone from Africa or Asia).
When my husband's friend would call a potential landlord, the conversation often went like this:
Husband's friend: "Hello, I'm calling to ask about the room to rent. Can I have an appointment to come and see it?"
Potential landlord: "What is your professional situation?"
Husband's friend: "My name is .... and I work as a scientist at the ..." (gets cut off)
PL: Rambles off some excuse to get off the phone and get rid of my husband's friend.
Two months go by like this. My husband's friend is getting tired of crashing at friends' places. One day he sees an ad for a room that looks promising. He calls the number and the person who answered the phone was surprisingly friendly. He feels that something is not quite right, but he goes over to visit the property anyway.
|A café in Paris. Author of photo: Den Nation.|
"Oh, by the way, we are nudists," the couple mention at the end of the interview.
"Nudists, what?" said the friend.
"That's right, we believe in nudism, this is a nudist apartment."
Our friend is silent, obviously confused.
The couple continues, "Yes, there is a no-clothes allowed rule here." "As soon as we enter the apartment we remove all of our clothing and the clothes stay off." "We know what you must be thinking, but we are serious and this is something we really believe in."
Our friend is speechless.
"There are 3 of us living here now and we are totally comfortable with being nude and you would have to be too." "So what do you think?"
"I'll have to think about it," responds our friend.
He really did think about it. It's not that this kind of living arrangement bothered him, it just really caught him off guard, but ultimately he decided against it. He found a place to live shortly afterwards.
|A Parisian residential building. Author of photo: Den Nation.|
I'm not against this type of living arrangement either, but a few questions come to mind. What do you do if you want to have company over? And what about the winter? I asked our friend about this and he didn't ask the first question, but the answer to the second question was that, yes, they kept their clothes off all year, even in the dead of winter. I just can't imagine that! When I think about how cold some apartments can get in France, I can't imagine living nude in January in a freezing apartment. Either their heating bill must be really high or, in the case of shared heating (where the temperature is controlled by a central source so the apartment units of a building are all at the same temperature) there are some elderly people living in the building that have managed to convince the building's management to keep the temperature high. That, or the building is insulated quite well. Can you tell I suffer during the winter here in cold apartments?
So, I wonder, has anybody else had any experiences like this, in France or anywhere else?