The agent immobilier motions me through the tiled entrance hall and out into a paved yard with a balcony, which looks out onto the back of a nearby school of architecture, which is slightly downhill. The courtyard is bathed in light, even on this rather grey, uninspiring day, with its small droplets of rain which mist my glasses and make the whole world look foggy. The residents have decorated the courtyard with a ramshackle assortment of potted plants. Perfect.
Beckoning me through a door onto a narrow staircase, we climb two flights of stairs and he throws open the door.
I fall in love.
The main room is freshly painted, with a wooden floor and exposed beams across the ceiling. It is filled with light and the window looks across the courtyard we just crossed. There is a brand new kitchenette, with two hobs and a mini-bar sized fridge, just like in my first ever Parisian apartment. A tiny shower room and toilet (and it’s not even a chemical toilet, the estate agents is at pains to point out) open off the kitchen, in a room the size of a cupboard.
Of the three studios I have visited this week, this is the one. I want it, desperately. I can picture a spacious desk placed just so, by the window. A sofa bed in the corner, a large leafy plant. An uncluttered, bright, empty space where there is nothing to distract me (possibly not even the internet!) It will be my retreat, my writing place, but also the hotel petite anglaise, where good friends can come and stay at weekends. The home I share with Tadpole will become just that, the place where I relax. Where the computer once dominated my living room/bedroom/office, there will now be space for an adult sized dining table.
And so I go back to the agency, and take out all my paperwork: contract from publishers (in English), the compulsory electricity bill (why this document is so sacred I do not know, because the EDF never ask for proof of identity before opening an account), a photocopy of my carte de séjour. I explain that renting makes perfect sense for me, right now, as I can expense it, and add that I will obtain a bank guarantee, in order to reassure the proprietor, lest he throw up his hands in despair at the lack of the usual payslips. I hope that I will be seen as an attractive tenant, a stable, quiet individual who won’t even sleep there, who won’t mess up their freshly painted walls or really do much “living”.
Now I sit beside the phone and pray that I will get the call to say it is mine, and soon.