Everyone Loves Where They Live
With the taping of our 30th House Hunter’s International episode completed and “in the can,” another episode begins taping this coming Saturday. This is barely enough time for me to take a deep breath in between and change wardrobes…but I’m not complaining! In this last episode, we taped apartments in the Marais, the 16th arrondissement near avenue Victor Hugo and in the city of Versailles, not far from the Château de Versailles, overlooking the “potager du roi” — the garden that produced fresh fruits and vegetables for the table of the court of Louis XIV — created between 1678 and 1683.
These house tours take the crew and me into parts of the city we might not otherwise venture and discover the pros and cons of living in each. One of the the things I’ve learned over the years is that everyone seems to love where they live regardless of where it is if anywhere near the City of Light. While I’m not sure I personally would want to be as far removed as Versailles, with about a one hour commute into the city on the RER, overlooking the gardens plus a larger apartment for the money than in central Paris, our “contributors” — the couple seeking the property with their newborn baby — found it very appealing.
This next episode takes us into the posh districts of Saint-Germain-des-Prés (6th arrondissement) and Le Marais (3rd arrondissement) with one apartment in the city’s lowest income neighborhood — the Goutte d’Or (18th arrondissement). While this district has a large number of West and North African residents, it is known for its open-air market, Le Marché Dejean. It is known as “the city’s capital of ’emerging cultures.’ For the last 150 years and in the last five years, the neighborhood has become almost “trendy,” with the arrival of new cultural centers, restaurants and shops that are attracting new people, such as our contributor, to this once not only overlooked, but avoided neighborhood. Of course, I’m not yet ready to recommend that our clients rent or purchase there, but some are not deterred by the area’s colorful aspects. For someone young and adventuresome, it could be just the thing and as I said, everyone seems to love where they live…regardless!
I am often asked why, as a real estate agency, we seem so focused on Le Marais. An outsider might think that, given the number of properties we represent for rental that are located in the districts that make up Le Marais (3rd and 4th) and of course, as a long-time resident of the Marais, I have a first-hand experience of the district and often expound on its virtues.
It’s not that we set out to be so “Marais-centric,” and I might argue that we’re not at all, given that we’re happy to work in just about any part of France, but our clients and the market organically took us there. Before the Marais began to gentrify significantly, Americans were drawn to Saint-Germain-des-Prés, thanks to the English language literary history in the district..and they still are, but they began to discover a new and exciting world hidden within the narrow streets and centuries-old buildings. From an investment point of view, Le Marais offered lower-priced properties that could rent just as well as those in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, as the “quartier” became face-lifted and hipper by the moment.
In a recent issue of Parler Paris, “La Rue de la Sucrerie on Valentine’s Day,” I complained about the number of new merchants along rue de Bretagne that cater to tourists…and more specifically about those that sell sugar-based delicacies that don’t “benefit anyone living in the neighborhood except for those who are addicted to sugar and are determined to kill themselves with that brand of ‘kindness’.” One of our readers responded to that complaint, “flabbergasted” that I could be so unaware of the changes to the district as a result of the number of tourist rentals increasing there.
She wrote: “Surely you’ve noticed the statistics illustrating the resident population drop in your neighborhood.”
Dear reader, I hate to burst your bubble, but the population of permanent residents has INCREASED in recent years! According to population data posted on Wikipedia.org, the district reached its peak in 1860 when it had almost 100,000 residents, but by 1999, it had dropped to under 35,000. This is long before it became the hip vacation rental spot of Paris! By 2009, the population had increased by about one thousand, still true today with 35,761 (source: insee.fr/fr/statistiques/fichier/2525755/dep75.pdf).
Thanks to the increased value of the property in Le Marais, investors are willing to renovate and gentrify, and that’s all positive for the city and this very historical area that can never be replaced. This is bound to happen to Le Goutte d’Or, too…as people like our House Hunters International contributor and others see the possibilities of an up-and-coming neighborhood. With that come the merchants who can’t help, but see the possibilities, too…and unfortunately for residents, those merchants who can afford to take the risk are the ones that cater to tourists who spend more money than the residents and those with the deepest pockets that can outlast the independents.
It’s the world we live in, like it or not. But let’s face it, we like it or we wouldn’t be here.
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
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