I think Bill is chiefly to credit for the miracle of my finding my Paris abode at long last and for its being incredibly fun and in a tremendous area again this year but I know Candace and Tracy were pulling for me, too. So the three of you are hereby invited to celebrate with me in Paris next month... or at a later date of course if nec. :) Anyone who was sending less palpable support I thank you, too!
Anyway the agency stuff kept falling through - I don't know why all the Paris apt. agencies' practices are so inefficient but they are. The worst of all their crazily inefficient things is the fact that when you let ANY of them know of the apts you would like to reserve, they then have to contact the individual landlords to see if the apt is still available - regardless of the fact that according to THEIR WEBSITE it was indeed available for the dates you needed.
You see, there is no system for landlords to update apt availability themselves on the sites. So more and more what happens is you contact the agency, they contact the landlord, the landlord ALWAYS takes at least 2 days to get back to the agency for some reason (one of the best things about Frenchies is they are generally highly efficient; one of the worst things is that on occasion when that efficiency falls flat, it Really Falls Flat - there's no halfway mark - gah!), and so far this year and for several weeks last year, the landlord's answer was that the flat was already rented. Then the agency emails me Paris-time, which I get when I come into school, I have to go back on the site (in between and before and after classes and -um- WORK, quoi), re-input my dates (again, in between and before and after classes and -um- WORK, quoi) to see what seems to be available that day (looking at these sites takes forever because of all the little symbols and different formats from one to the next and making sure that my basic requirements --internet, TV, non-smoking and, if possible, washing machine-- are met in addition to being in a halfway decent area of Paris and not being too expensive AND having enough seating or floorspace in the living room to have the students over for class once in a while if nec. on rainy days where we can't sit in a park or somewhere to discuss the most recent reading assignment or museum visit), send them some more selections (oh, say, in between and before and after classes and -um- WORK, quoi) and start the ball rolling again (you know it: in between and before and after classes and -um- WORK, quoi - bref you get the idea I think of how crazy this has been making me, non? -AND- perhaps, how much I start to actually resent crap like this due to its very boneheadedly inefficient nature - gahhhh! :) tee hee, I am my father's daughter after all). They get my selections the next day of course because invariably by the time I'm able to send my new selections off it's after the end of the FR business day...
And so it goes... (in the immortal words of Kurt Vonnegut - Slaughterhouse Five I think, or else Breakfast of Champions, I forget...)
So. This spring as last year every day when I would sign on I would think, "it really sucks that something like this which should be so fun and exciting always becomes a hassle and drag instead, as my stress level mounts and the days keep rolling by without any apartment finalized." I even thought a few times that it would be the perfect thing to have Mom or Dad do if they were still around - especially Dad - not the emailing of course but the searching...
Anyway I'm not sure why but last Thursday I decided to try craigslist. In some ways this was worse b/c all the different apt. owners on there describe their apt's differently, etc., BUT I was getting more and more mad about the agency sitch b/c on top of the process with them being So Incredibly Efficient you can count on paying upwards of 500€ extra for the agency fee. Today that is $696.00. Most of the apt's containing the stuff I wanted and located where I wanted (NOT necessarily in the 5e, honest - just within one or two arrondissements' distance of the center of Paris - anywhere from the 1st to the 10th or so...) were running about 1500-1700€/month ($2000-2300) already and I needed nearly 6 wks' stay. Another $700 (at least) on top of that?! Gulp. Granted I budgeted for the apt but any money I don't spend on my abode can be put to use for more fun stuff for the group, too. So ANYWAY most of the apt's on craigslist are being advertised by the owners (many of whom also list their apt's on the agency sites but if you contact them directly they're perfectly happy to rent without the extra fee (c'est normal - makes no difference to them). (Last year's apartment was a little more than I wanted to pay in case you're wondering but it was actually a luck-out, too - ended up finding out about it off the agency grid, too, so no fee there either - I think honestly it kind of stuck in my craw that I'd have to pay a fee this year so I was resisting it even more than I normally would have.)
So! thank goodness for Barbara, a German art professor who has lived in France for 40 years and decided to take pity on me. I wrote to around 10 different apt owners, half of whom responded and all but one of them (from my first pass anyway) had already rented their flats. Barbara has 3 flats on Rue des Ecoles: two 1-BR's (kinda) and one studio. The only one she had open at first was only available for 18 mai-20 juin (I need til 30 juin) so I thanked her and started to move on. Monday morning she wrote me back again that she had asked her studio tenant (same building as the original 1-BR if she might be able to move out a little early) and wondered if I would be willing to move up one floor to her studio on 20 juin.
And it has all worked out. Icing on the cake is that the building is in the 5e just a little farther from the Seine (but closer to the Sorbonne) than last year's flat and in a quieter, non-touristy street to boot... Not quite as much room for students to come over but still basically feasible (helped by the unfortunate fact that I only have 13 in this year's group and by the fact that even tho her "1-BR flat" is really a glorified studio, at least the bed is a little out of the way rather than my having to make a mad dash for my apt ahead of the students to fold up the futon on those days when rain made us need to have impromptu class at my house).
Anyway enough gab (I think over the last weeks of not posting my verbosity got saved up!)
Here is the building/neighborhood/view for both flats:
Here is my "1-BR" flat (but also considerably more charming inside than last year's, tho not en face de a wonderful gargoyle-y church, but well...) where I'll be from May 18 - June 20:
And here is the teensy but delightful-looking studio one floor up where I'll be from June 20-30:
Added plus is I was able to reserve the apt via paypal this morning (on payday luckily - but the program account will reimburse me) so it is all set - no danger of not having a place to stay and Barbara, tho one of the loopier Germans I have met in my life, is nonetheless just as detail-oriented and responsible as any of them (yeah I stereotype European nationalities, so sue me), so yay on that score also. Super prompt email replies, etc., lots of conscientious attention to detail -even on some things I hadn't thought to ask about- all of which bodes really really well. She actually prefers to figure stuff out voice to voice so we've spoken by phone/Skype already 3 times and "in person" she is just as with-it as via email.
So yay yay yay.
I'd like to say that all the program stuff is going as well as this. It's going, but I'm short of where I wanted to be by now. I had a disastrous March which messed up my mental schedule of when I wanted Paris stuff decided so even tho (I feel) things this year should have been way easier to set up I am nevertheless about a week and a half behind where I wanted to be planning/reservation-wise at this point. But all will be well, plus the Sorbonne let us do the placement test long distance this year so that saves us major time the first few days in Paris...
That's enough thinking-out-loud-at-readers'-expense so