petite anglaise

March 17, 2006


Filed under: city of light, parting ways — petiteanglaiseparis @ 12:27 pm

Easing my hand gently out from where it had been lodged – between someone’s left buttock and a standard issue French teenager’s Eastpak rucksack – I glanced tensely at my watch. The métro was taking an eternity to leave each station, the doors failing to close on the tightly packed mass of commuters and student demonstrators compressed within.

I was late for my first appointment with my new destiny; getting progressively more flustered as the minutes ticked by.

Red faced and panting, I finally arrived, complete with Tadpole and pushchair, at the address I had scribbled on the printout. A smartly dressed man with a briefcase awaited us in front of the entrance, and he motioned us inside, although not before woefully mispronouncing my surname.

Tadpole was in a very chatty mood.

“I’m going to help mummy choose a new house today!” she announced. “I’ve got three houses: mummy’s house, daddy’s house and tata’s house! And now I going to buy an udder one!” Normal rules do not apply to Tadpole-speak, a language punctuated exclusively with exclamation marks.

Mr Agent Immobilier raised his eyebrows, probably thinking that 32 square metres of working-class Paris looking onto an interior courtyard doesn’t normally qualify for “house” status.

He rang the doorbell, and a harried looking student answered the door, before scuttling back to her dissertation.

I looked around me, finally able to appreciate, after combing my way through all those petites annonces, what thirtysomething metres really felt like. Tried to imagine fitting Tadpole and me, plus as many of our belongings as possible, into a space half the size of the apartment we occupy, but can no longer afford.

I couldn’t, without resorting to use of the word mezzanine.

The indignity. Thirty four years old this year, teetering on the brink of getting myself 165,000 or so euros into debt, and I will be reduced to either sleeping on a convertible sofa in the living room, or adopting the bed-on-stilts approach in order to share Tadpole’s bedroom.

Obsessed as I may be with clambering onto the first rung of the property ladder, it hadn’t occurred to me that I would have to do so in quite such a literal sense.

I forced myself to pay attention to the kitchen, the bathroom, the electrics, the central heating, but concentration was difficult, on account of a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Because the word “mezzanine”, to me, spelled the end of an era, and the beginning of a new one which I am rather hesitant to embrace. I closed my eyes and let myself contemplate my dream home, a stone cottage nestled in the Breton countryside, one last time.

Then I took a deep breath and let it go.

For now.


  1. It’s a step Petite!

    Bear in mind you need another 10% of that 165K for the notaires fees and taxes. It’s never ending – better than rent though!


    Comment by Martin — March 17, 2006 @ 12:36 pm

  2. I have the notary fees, in savings, and apparently qualify for some 0% loans too, so it looks like I should just take the plunge this time. Mr Frog and I dithered (probably a good thing) for too long, and I think I can only bear to move somewhere smaller if it will actually be *mine*.

    Comment by petite — March 17, 2006 @ 12:44 pm

  3. Bon chance!

    Downsizing might be good for you – metaphocially sweep some clutter from your life/heart and put a little distance between you and Mr Frog too.

    Life is too short to dwell on ‘might have beens’ and only just long enough for the ‘real things’ – in my experience.


    Comment by Martin — March 17, 2006 @ 12:59 pm

  4. I think you are brave. I admire the way you are getting on with things so quickly.

    Bon courage

    Comment by mary anne — March 17, 2006 @ 1:00 pm

  5. How did the estate agent manage to mispronounce “Anglaise”?

    Comment by Claire — March 17, 2006 @ 1:04 pm

  6. I am in 21sqm, with a double bed mezzanine. The space is small, but it is amazing how quickly you get used to it.
    Good luck!

    Comment by Anne — March 17, 2006 @ 1:05 pm

  7. Good luck Petite! The sacrifices you make now will be worth it in the long run.

    Comment by Kasey — March 17, 2006 @ 1:05 pm

  8. Ohhh dear – I think I’d avoid the mezzanine! De-cluttering is good, and can be very therapeutic, but with a 2 year old who will become a 3/4 year old, you’ll need a bit of space for (temporary) escape. Is there no possibility of a provincial cottage with garden just for the two of you? You clearly don’t like your job…
    Jumping into the propety market can, of course, be both nightmare and distraction at the moment, but for goodness sake, take care of yourself. It will all work out in the end.

    Comment by Claira — March 17, 2006 @ 1:17 pm

  9. No! I need my job (good at the moment, but still might move on soon), and my social life, I can’t go burying myself in the countryside at a time like this! I’d end up marrying the local farmer, in desperation, a few years down the line.

    I’ll do all that once I’ve found someone to do it with. And then I’ll rent out my little flat to the students it rightfully belongs to.

    Comment by petite — March 17, 2006 @ 1:28 pm

  10. Fair enough. Can’t really see you in wellies stuffing geese.

    Comment by Claira — March 17, 2006 @ 1:48 pm

  11. I swear we don’t bite out here in suburbia and you can have something fairly decent for 165K euros. There are trees, quite suburban schools, even some shops are open on Sunday and the RER can take you to Paris in a mere 30 minutes, the possibilities are endless ….

    Mind you if your looking for “Sex in the City” stay put and pay those silly prices.

    Comment by P in France — March 17, 2006 @ 1:55 pm

  12. I’m actually looking to keep Mr Frog and Tadpole as close together as possible, and to stay in the area I live in, because I like it.

    I suppose the upside is that one day when I do sell, I will be able to afford one hell of a farmhouse.

    Comment by petite — March 17, 2006 @ 2:18 pm

  13. I left a big house with a huge garden in The Netherlands to be squeezed but happy in 40 mq2 here in Paris!! It’s small but so cute and cozy and so well organized and when I close the door it belongs just to me!

    Comment by Eau — March 17, 2006 @ 2:41 pm

  14. Just a thought, but it can be cheaper-in the long run to scrape enough for a T3 and rent out a room (to female, obviously).The rent should cover the larger mortgage and, with a student, preferably PhD, you get the extra space during the summer. Sounds like a nightmare idea, but it can work very well. I’ll shut up, now.

    Comment by J — March 17, 2006 @ 2:47 pm

  15. I keep telling myself that I don’t need what I have now. I barely use the living room. I don’t spend hours looking at the wonderful view (see header image). I have never been on the balcony for any length of time (south facing, hot enough to fry an egg in summer). Often I don’t even open the shutters as we leave early, and come home late.

    So, if needs must. And I will enjoy decorating a place that is my own, for a change.

    Comment by petite — March 17, 2006 @ 2:44 pm

  16. Dear Petite,
    What a wonderful blog. I spent my evening gently reading through different sections. I was deeply touched by your honesty and beautiful writing. I wanted to leave a note on the adoption slot as I have very similar experiences except my biomother and I agreed to only meet the once and then our correspondence gently ended. By the sounds of things no bad move.

    I wish you well with your new life and all the new things you face.

    Please pop in for a coffee and chat you are always welcome

    Comment by Laura — March 17, 2006 @ 2:54 pm

  17. banks here will only let you repay up to 1/3 of your net salary per month, so I really can’t stretch to a T3. Unfortunately. And I do value our privacy.

    Comment by petite — March 17, 2006 @ 2:55 pm

  18. Well at least if it’s small you won’t have to spend too much money on furniture?! Also think how much time you’ll save on housework!

    All joking apart, I took the plunge four years ago and bought a little house (very little) and I’m glad I did. However small it is, it is all mine and I finally felt rather more grown up (which was about time seeing as I was over thirty). Also a small flat in Paris will definitely be easy to rent out once you find that farmhouse etc……..

    Comment by Hazy — March 17, 2006 @ 2:56 pm

  19. Prices in Breton countryside at the mo are not far from Parisian ones…well, slight exaggeration but only slight…900 Euros for a 2-bed with no garden – more than double what it was 2 years ago. Plus, you can’t walk through the fields like you can in Blighty (one of the perks of being expat is the unfettered and unembarrassed use of the word)as they’re barbed wire’d and very privatey. No paths, etc. That was a big shattered dream for me! And NOTHING happens. Except the Fireman’s Ball once a year. I haven’t plucked up the courage yet…sounds too dodgy. Lots of weird things though. Neighbour drives his tractor to the boulangerie (3 doors away from him) for example. The single bus a day decides randomly not to run, so you spend an hour wondering if its late or not. etc. Great to come back to after work in the city though.

    Comment by Lucy-Jane in Rennes — March 17, 2006 @ 3:14 pm

  20. Petite, do get somone with relevant practical experience to help you to view any poential purchases and give you an unbiased opinion (in advance of any professional survey). I recall from earler blogs that you are not unskilled yourself in that departmment, but it can be so eay to find out much too late that there are repair/maintenance/other costs which were not factored in….. another pair of eyes from a more detached viewpoint can be invaluable in property buying.

    And I did think J’s suggestion is worth considering, even if your initial reaction is not positive. Have you explored ‘buy to let’ type mortgages where you can factor in the income from renting out a bedroom to increase the size of your available loan?
    The ‘loss of privacy’ entailed in sharing with the right kind of professional adult may be preferable to the loss of privacy (yours & Tadpoles) as she grows up and needs ever-greater space? Especially if you could find the ‘right place’? And very couragous of you to be progressing this while you must still be feeling pretty low.

    Comment by fella — March 17, 2006 @ 3:17 pm

  21. Ughhhhhh…my face is all scrunched up in sympathy for you, Petite. We just bought and furnished a house here and sold one in Portugal and the only pleasant thing about the whole process, in my opinion, is looking at houses you could never in one million, billion years afford. Everything else sucks.

    Good luck to you and I hope you find something quickly. The good thing about houses is that they are like finding significant others–there is no standard “perfect”, what one person falls in love with, someone else probably really doesn’t like.

    Comment by Sarah — March 17, 2006 @ 3:26 pm

  22. Wow, I didn’t realise it was still so much cheaper than London! You’d have no chance of buying on your own if you were here – one aspect of having made your life in Paris to gloat over. Good luck with it.

    Comment by Jean — March 17, 2006 @ 3:28 pm

  23. Hard decisions. I don’t envy you.

    Comment by nardac — March 17, 2006 @ 3:41 pm

  24. Ugh, this is tough. I can’t see you living in one room with Miss T for very long. Before you know it, she will need her own space……just like she has already at her dad’s place.

    Comment by Parkin Pig — March 17, 2006 @ 3:57 pm

  25. But this is a start. A first step …then situations may change and appartement according to it! So Ptt doesn’t have to think that she will be always living in such a small place!! She may win the lottery or find a new and much better payed job or even meet a rich prince charming!!

    Comment by Eau — March 17, 2006 @ 4:15 pm

  26. Can you lot try to be a bit more positive!!!

    Congratulations Petite. I think it’s wonderful news :)

    32m isn’t as small as you think, it all depends on what you make of it. It’s amazing what they make now to maximise space in ikea. And you can always put up a little partition wall to give tadpole her privacy(or the other way round). Small as she is, she shouldn’t need more than 3 or 4 of your meters!

    Is the deed done, or are you still looking?

    It’s a huge step towards independance, and i’m delighted for you. Well done.

    Comment by Caty — March 17, 2006 @ 4:22 pm

  27. She doesn’t have her own room at her dad’s place. It’s much bigger, admittedly, but has only one bedroom, and he probably needs to think about buying something and downsizing too.

    Comment by petite — March 17, 2006 @ 4:29 pm

  28. Yikes, fella. I shudder to think about Petite having to manage a roommate situation. I wouldn’t want to have to parent my toddler in front of a stranger. I’d take the close quarters over a not-completely-private bigger place.

    Comment by LJ — March 17, 2006 @ 4:30 pm

  29. Petite,

    Keep looking at it bravely. downsizing now will allow you to build more of what you want later. I would hate the idea of doing that as well.

    The option of leasing it out in the future, when you move upward again is a good one.

    Comment by Gruntled — March 17, 2006 @ 4:32 pm

  30. excellent news! wise decision!

    real estate in paris is a great investment – as a parisienne, i can tell you that there is hardly any ‘quartier’ left which are affordable! unless of course you head to la banlieu….

    Comment by claire — March 17, 2006 @ 4:39 pm

  31. A few things I wish I’d thought out more clearly when we were buying six months ago (in Ain, bird-flu country):

    The current low interest rates, which are now starting to rise, mean that you can get a larger mortgage now than you would if they were higher – because the proportion of interest to capital in your repayments is lower. Useful if you need a big mortgage, but the down side is that, when interest rates go up, as they are predicted to keep doing for quite a while now, repayments will represent more (possibly much more) than a third of net salary.

    On the other hand, it makes sense to stretch yourself as much as you can, because those notary’s fees mean you won’t want to sell up and move again any time soon. Keeping the place and letting it is an option, but the returns don’t seem to be great, and you then face paying capital gains tax if you decide to sell.

    Just my centime’s worth.

    Comment by Claire — March 17, 2006 @ 4:40 pm

  32. Me and my boyfriend are in the process of buying a Paris appartment at the moment too…were not on a very high budget, but i quite like the thought of having somewhere little and cosy to stay. And like you said, its important to be in the city where we can have a social life. Id much rather be in a little flat there than a country mansion.
    Hope you find a nice place and settle in well

    Comment by Maxi — March 17, 2006 @ 4:47 pm

  33. Can you qualify for a “1% patronal”? I did, years and years ago, and am still in it (granted it’s big enough for all 4 of us, plus cat) We opted for the house in the country instead and keep paying our cheap rent thanks to the “system”.

    Comment by magillicuddy — March 17, 2006 @ 5:04 pm

  34. I am so jealous!! When I was in Paris 3 weeks ago, I couldn’t help but stop at estate agents as I passed them and drool at the wonderful appartments in the windows.. It would be a dream to own my own flat in Paris.. When I got home I had to console myself with a long overdue re-viewing of ‘L’appartement’.. Congratulations Petite!!! The way things are with the property market in London at the moment, I am on scedule to be able to afford a parking space by, er, 2046..

    Comment by David in London — March 17, 2006 @ 5:44 pm

  35. LJ I understand, and agree with, your perspective, of course. It wouldn’t work with many/most people… but it could with ‘the right one’. Parenting in front of a stranger could be a disaster… but having a flat share with a like-minded individual who would interact well with Tadpole could be a good thing for …. Tadpole,… Petite… & like-minded individual. It would only be possible if Petite could identfy such a person…. but she has a huge network of correspondents & friends, so who knows? In general, it always helps to identify all the possible options even if most of them are eventually eliminated. Its a huge step and I would not be surprised if Petite gets some useful tips from her many correspondents… hopefully before rather than after she signs on any dotted line!

    Comment by fella — March 17, 2006 @ 6:27 pm

  36. it’s been a while since i came by, and i can’t believe all the things you’ve gone through since then! i don’t know what to say, but i do hope that each day you are able to find a little more peace and happiness. one thing that’s wonderful and constant at least is your little tadpole! ;)

    best wishes today ;)

    Comment by Sarcomical — March 17, 2006 @ 6:28 pm

  37. Good luck with the whole apartment hunt. Bright side of small: it’s yours and you’ll have very little cleaning. I spent my childhood in Tokyo sharing a teeny room with 2 younger siblings, several turtles and a pair of budgies. We survived (well, except the turtles–long story). So will Tadpole.

    Comment by dongurigal — March 17, 2006 @ 6:45 pm

  38. What seems like an eternity ago I posted here on your website that the regularity of posts had dramatically fallen since J in R had hit the scene. I haven’t missed one of your posts since and *have been* pleased that you are again posting regularily (sp?).

    *have been* meaning I feel a tinge of guilt being “pleased” when you are so obviously going through a difficult period in your life and finding your blog a useful emotional outlet.

    It’s great to see that you’re taking this step to finding a home of your own. I hope you find the right one and with minimal stress.

    Oh, and keep up the posting rate. Please.

    Comment by Germain — March 17, 2006 @ 6:57 pm

  39. I think it might actually be a good move. Looks like Paris is heading towards the same house price rise craze that London had in the past decade, I bet your flat would actually really gain value in a few years.. (but don’t quote me on it, Paris is not London so who knows, but if I had money right now i would bet on that..).

    Comment by Zebulette — March 17, 2006 @ 7:08 pm

  40. Being chastised for not being positive… hmmmm… I refuse to give Petite advice on this because she’s in a difficult position, one that I’m not and never have been in and one where there are many factors to juggle. I acknowledge the difficulty of her decision and my support is in not belittling her with Pollyanna answers to this conundrum. 34m2 is small…

    I am happy though, that you’re deciding to stay in the neighbourhood and that you’re buying. I think our neighbourhood rocks and it’s one of the cheaper sweeter parts of town. Good luck and if you need anything, just call.

    Comment by nardac — March 17, 2006 @ 8:09 pm

  41. Haven’t you thought of moving outside PAris ? you may have a longer commute but a bigger appartment !

    Comment by Claude — March 17, 2006 @ 8:31 pm

  42. I’d be willing to take one for the team and move to Paris to be your PhD-student-in-residence! Don’t think my advisor would be too happy with the idea, tho . . .

    Comment by emily — March 17, 2006 @ 8:31 pm

  43. Fella–you are and have been a thoughtful contributor to Petite’s blog, and you make lots of sense. Yes, or course we can all agree that there are plenty of hypothetical benefits of Petite having a roommate. A bigger place with more space! Fellowship! Late night ice cream binges, only with two spoons (Tadpole being at M. Frog’s or in bed)! But I am a worrywart of a mother, and quite pessimistic at that, so I am having a visceral reaction to the idea of a stranger in the den. And what if Tadpole were to get close to said roommate, only to have something come up that causes another seperation? Ugh. So I vote (this is a majority rules decision, right Petite?) for the small yet private place. Right, I’m off to check my closed-circuit monitors for trespassers now.

    Comment by LJ — March 17, 2006 @ 8:33 pm

  44. That is right, f o r n o w. When I was five I lived with my mother in 26 square metres flat and it coneverted in my memory into something quite spacious. Now I am trying to prepare myself to buying something its size, so bad I am not five any more…Mezzanine? Funny, this mezzanine thing is being laughed off by my friends. Is it universal symbol of decline? Mezzanine could be quite cosy, I think. Once I overcome fear of it falling down. I am not an expert but it is always a good investment to buy something in the center, once you move into your cottage you may get good money from letting it. Or keep it as a little pied a terre. Good luck!

    Comment by mag — March 17, 2006 @ 8:41 pm

  45. Tadpole is priceless x

    Comment by fjl — March 17, 2006 @ 9:04 pm

  46. I say ‘Go for it’ Petite! I left my husband 3 years ago ~ taking with me my three little boys. He was on a good wage and we had always lived in very nice ~ and very big ~ houses. With my marital settlement, I bought a small classic 70’s house (ooooh yes, complete with swirly mustard and brown shag carpet and amber light fittings ~ which I replaced). We’re a little cramped but, for now, it’s my safe place to be. The boys and I are happy here. And the best part is … it’s all *mine*.

    Comment by Kerry — March 17, 2006 @ 10:03 pm

  47. I vote for Tadpole sleeping on the sofa bed… and never getting any new toys.

    I had a friend when I was ten (see my blog) who shared a room with her mother and I was quite jealous.

    Comment by katie — March 17, 2006 @ 11:42 pm

  48. Saw quite a tempting one this evening.

    One room on either side of the hallway, separated by kitchen and bathroom, one for me, one for Tadpole. I’m thinking that my room could have a sleeping area and a living room area, and hers could be wardrobe, play area and bedroom. I wouldn’t be able to do much in the way of entertaining, but we would both have our own space.


    Comment by petite — March 18, 2006 @ 1:04 am

  49. i don’t think petite is going to find too many renters who want to share a small space with a toddler… not unless you’re family (and I like little kids). one thing’s sure – no PhD students. they need quiet to work.

    Also, phD students don’t go away in the summer.

    also, I think it’s been awhile since some of you had a roommate…can’t imagine petite would like it at this stage of life.

    houseboat on the seine? :)

    Comment by mmf! — March 18, 2006 @ 1:07 am

  50. I like the sound of the one you just saw……. at least it has the two rooms……..

    I have a good feeling about it :)

    Comment by Kasey — March 18, 2006 @ 2:27 am

  51. OMG… you’re not buying the apartment above us are you? Our layout is exactly like that and I think they’re selling the one above.

    Comment by nardac — March 18, 2006 @ 4:50 am

  52. OOOOH can I relate…lets see, I went from a 2300 square foot home, 4 bedrooms, 2 full baths, 1 1/2 acres, with beautiful lake access..TO…a barely 700 sq foot apartment in the village, with a tiny bathroom, 2 small bedrooms, no closets and the front yard is can fit one small chair, its basically the size of a postage stamp..I was soooooo very sad, but me and the kids found the beauty in it…we only have to plug the vacuum in one outlet and vacuum the whole house, we can talk in a normal voice and hear everyone wherever we are in the house…and plenty more exceptional benefits:)
    You will embark on a new adventure petite, I can’t wait to read about it!!:)
    Btw, please please please start writing your book, you have such talent!

    Comment by kim — March 18, 2006 @ 6:47 am

  53. As an expat in Hong Kong its taken a while to get used to the small living spaces (800sqft currently).
    But as someone else has mentioned there are so many ways to use space well, and if its your very own then you will be able to just what ever you wish. Good luck Petite.

    Comment by Mia — March 18, 2006 @ 7:59 am

  54. I don’t want to dish out advice but I will anyway :)

    Slow down Petite: Splitting up with the father of your child, falling in love very quickly and deeply, a second relationship breakdown, and now house buying.
    All within less than a 12 months.That’s very confusing and a lot for even the strongest human to deal with.

    Take your time, take a break, breath deeply, take a holiday don’t rush head first into anything.

    Bring Tadpole to visit me, I’m sure she would have a fun day out ! You know how to contact me.

    Comment by Pauline — March 18, 2006 @ 9:19 am

  55. Pauline – the thing is, Mr Frog and I looked at millions of flats, it was a real project of mine to buy. I’ve been looking on and off in Paris since 2002. So I don’t feel like I’m rushing.

    The Brittany dream was a lovely interlude, but now my focus has naturally shifted back to Paris again, and I have to leave my rented apartment anyway, as it is too expensive for me to keep on without a partner, I’d rather move once, into my own place, than rent a smaller one first and then move again later.

    Comment by petite — March 18, 2006 @ 9:42 am

  56. So how do you do this?
    Petite, your writing has given me a great deal of pleasure for some time now. I read your blog regularly and have come to care about your characters.
    I read a newspaper every day, the handsome ticket of 50p a shot. I read plenty of vacuous fiction that I pay for. I can give it up for a week or three. How can I use this to contribute to your housing fund?
    You see it occurred to me… you do seem to have tens of thousands of readers. Possibly hundreds of thousands. If even a small percentage can figure out a way to get a few euros your way …..
    Well for me it would be a way of saying thank you. Of saying that your writing is important for little dreams of my own past. What is one up from mezzanine anyway?
    When you figure a sensible way to contribute my tenner to your housing fund let me know.
    …and as for everyone else out there reading this….. come on, it’s a few pints of bitter….chip in?

    Comment by meredic — March 18, 2006 @ 10:38 am

  57. You need to change this link to say, go towards the housing costs of Petite Anglaise! Yes, 5, 10, 20 here and there could go quite aways. It’s like a wedding or baby registry, but it’s your house registry!!

    Comment by Laura — March 18, 2006 @ 10:47 am

  58. Job done…..I hope.

    Comment by meredic — March 18, 2006 @ 11:11 am

  59. In the U.S.,the government offers foreclosed houses,condominiums and apartments for sale at auction for the amount of back taxes owed on the property. You may want to do a little internet research,as I am certain that there must be similar options in France.

    Bonne Chance!

    Comment by Belle — March 18, 2006 @ 11:27 am

  60. You people are really sweet. I looked at paypal donations, but found it impossible to add a button without my real name being disclosed at some point in the transaction. I might start some form of moving in list (like a wedding list, on a store website) when I move into a new place – then if people really wanted to show some appreciation, they could contribute towards curtains or cupboards or something.

    Comment by petite — March 18, 2006 @ 11:55 am

  61. at least your buying and not moving in with your parents! theres always an upside!

    Comment by piu piu — March 18, 2006 @ 1:16 pm

  62. sorry ‘you’re’

    Comment by piu piu — March 18, 2006 @ 1:17 pm

  63. I don’t think you need to worry about this naming thing so much Petite. Any net geek worth their salt could probably sus you out anyway. I am also sure there must be a similar netgeek out there who can figure out a way for people to say thanks anyway.

    Let me appeal again. How can I say thank you to this woman, who I consider to be an author(ess) of considerable value in a way that will help her buy a place to live. I mean I read loads of rubbish that I paid good money for.

    Rugby anyone?

    Comment by meredic — March 18, 2006 @ 4:01 pm

  64. I wish you all the luck to find the right home. I believe there are to kinds of people:
    1. the ones who can’t live in the city (me included)
    2. the ones that can’t live without the city (you)
    I don’s see you living in a suburb just for that extra 5m2 so I am sure you will find a way to fit yourself and tadpole into smaller space for now. Until the prince charming will come and take you away to live in the middle of nowhere (like mine did). Good luck!

    Comment by carra — March 18, 2006 @ 4:45 pm

  65. Have you tried the Amazon Honor System, Petite?

    Comment by eric — March 18, 2006 @ 5:21 pm

  66. Why don’t you write a novel and earn enough money to get any house you desire? Give it a try.

    Comment by Elizabeth — March 18, 2006 @ 7:18 pm

  67. Hi Petite,

    What an incredibly well written blog! I have no real interest in Paris or house buying at the moment, and yet I kept reading anyway.

    Bon chance – I hope you find what you’re looking for!


    Comment by Jane — March 19, 2006 @ 2:22 am

  68. Petite, it’s a fantastic decision! I just bought a tiny flat myself – but still, it’s ALL MINE and great fun to decorate, not to mention strolling around a brand new neighbourhood. You’ve done the right thing.

    Comment by dan — March 19, 2006 @ 1:14 pm

  69. “Why don’t you write a novel and earn enough money to get any house you desire? Give it a try.”

    Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? :)

    Comment by Pomgirl — March 19, 2006 @ 1:35 pm

  70. What does “mezzanine” mean? Here, it’s an extra floor. In an office building, for instance, the mezzanine might have a restaurant or small shops rather than offices, would be where the skyway goes through, and doesn’t count as a floor. (The floors get numbered 1, M, 2 rather than 1, 2, 3.)

    An extra floor seems like a good thing, so I’m guessing it means something different in the world of Parisian apartments.

    Comment by I'uli — March 19, 2006 @ 2:02 pm

  71. l’uli – it’s pictured above. A bed on stilts.

    Comment by petite — March 19, 2006 @ 6:40 pm

  72. Oooh a mezzanine. Thats a bit different :-)

    Comment by Free Football — March 19, 2006 @ 7:37 pm

  73. You are such a prolific wirter, I think you should compile the blog into a memoire.
    I enjoy reading your daily life and Paris thru your eyes.
    I have a challenge on my blog I would love for you and your readers to participate. Please join us.
    Have a great week.

    Comment by maggie — March 19, 2006 @ 9:54 pm

  74. Ah, so that is what a mezzanine is! Makes sense, especially if you think of a concert hall……..or a football stadium, and think of what a mezzanine is. It almost seems as though you are moving into what is commonly known here as astudio apartment.

    Now, for us metrically challenged Americans, how does 32 square metres translate into Imperial measurements? (I even spelled metres the British way, to show my respect for you. ;-) ) My house here is 1350 square feet, so you can use that as a benchmark if you need to. I am thinking about 90 square feet, but that doesn’t sound quite right.

    Comment by Dave of the Lake — March 19, 2006 @ 11:42 pm

  75. OK, thanks! That makes much more sense. (It is kind of like an extra floor in a way.)

    In American-speak, that is a loft, or a loft bed. (A loft can also be an attic, especially in a barn, but let’s not make this more complicated than we have to.)

    Comment by I'uli — March 20, 2006 @ 3:13 am

  76. I’m determined not to start another technical tangent, but
    32 square meter = 344.4451328 square feet.

    Comment by Gruntled — March 20, 2006 @ 3:57 am

  77. “I’m determined not to start another technical tangent, but
    32 square meter = 344.4451328 square feet.”

    Right! That sounds correct. I know that 1 meter = approx. 3 feet, but I forgot how to do the calculations for square footage.

    Comment by Dave of the Lake — March 20, 2006 @ 6:42 am

  78. Petite– My husband is French and is invovled with French rel estate…maybe he can help you? We live in the South of France, though he might have a lead?

    Comment by Tongue in Cheek — March 20, 2006 @ 10:05 am

  79. At least it is all yours.

    Good luck.

    Comment by Laura — March 20, 2006 @ 10:29 am

  80. I know nothing at all about all these house things, but I deeply admire your bravery, Petite. You are insprirational.

    Comment by Léonie — March 20, 2006 @ 11:40 am

  81. J K Rowling doesn’t live in 2 rooms and you don’t have to either.
    Don’t you realise you could buy a large appartment in Paris AND a house in the country with the advance you’d get on the book everybody is telling you you should write?
    Why then don’t you do it?
    GET A BOOK DEAL!!!!!

    Comment by Parkin Pig — March 20, 2006 @ 11:45 am

  82. Correct me if i’m wrong, but I thought a mezzanine in French could also be a sort of minstrels’ gallery-style balcony room, usually a bedroom, with proper stairs up to it. I thought that’s what you meant at first and wondered what your objection was!

    I can understand your dislike of a mezzanine bed though, a bit teenage. I hope you find something big enough to eliminate the need for one.

    Comment by Susan — March 20, 2006 @ 11:51 am

  83. Perhaps you should recount the surface area of the apartment using Tadpole feet ?

    Comment by coutho — March 20, 2006 @ 12:09 pm

  84. PP – I don’t think book deals are that easy to come by, especially when you haven’t actually got around to writing one, what with working full time and being a single parent and all.

    But I’d like to, I just need to find a very rich gentleman to support me while I graft away. Or win the lottery.

    Comment by petite — March 20, 2006 @ 1:10 pm

  85. Hi Petite

    It’s not the size that matters !
    I lived for 8 years in a tiny south London flat with my then partner (now husband) and I have only great memories attached to this cosy nest ! Later we bought a house about 6 times bigger but I can’t say we’ve been happier just because we had more space. Go to a certain swedish furniture shop – even if only for cunning ideas on how to live comfortably in a small space. Besides you do save money when in a small pad as there is no space to put new “things” – as for entertaining you’ve got the perfect excuse to get invited by other people and in the summer you can organise picnics and entertain outdoors.
    All the best


    Comment by Froog — March 20, 2006 @ 1:11 pm

  86. I think you should opt for a two-room place. I have seen a double-sized sleigh bed being used (with the additon of lots of fluffy pillows at the back side) as a couch. It looked great and then became a bed at night. This may or may not sound like your cup of tea but I swear it looked great. You can always share a bedroom with your daughter, but since you don’t want to have to move again very soon, options are good to have.

    When Tadpole is older, if you are both in need of more personal space, you can consider a move somewhere else. It doesn’t sound like the real estate market in Paris is going to disappoint you if you should decide to sell up in a few years’ time.

    Comment by Susana — March 20, 2006 @ 7:31 pm

  87. Re: Book deal.

    Petite, you already have the raw material for several books. It’s just a matter of compilation. How’s this for a success story: French Word-a-Day blogger, Kristin Espinasse — great blog, by the way — made collections of her posts, printed them in book form through publish-on-demand, and sold them on her Web site. The books caught the eye of a commercial publisher (Touchstone Press), they cut a deal, and in April Touchstone is releasing Kristin’s “Words in a French Life” (see

    If you were to go the publish-on-demand route (e.g.,,, and other sites), maybe your book(s) would catch the attention of a real publisher too. And even if not, your loyal readers would buy the books, which would be a great way to help you with your flat-buying fund.

    Comment by Passante — March 20, 2006 @ 8:33 pm

  88. Ooh, the excitement. Don’t get discouraged, Petite. Now I know your budget and your district of choice, I am sure that you will find something extremely suitable for you and Tadpole. I would go for something that looks a bit horrid and needs a lot of work doing. Then you call in Mr Flighty , who is very handy and knows lots of “men who do” and Bob’s your building site. This is the absolute best way to come in under budget and with the type of space you want

    Ps I was serious about Mr Flighty
    PPS isn’t “Mezzanine” the hippest club ever?

    Comment by Flighty — March 20, 2006 @ 8:51 pm

  89. No. That’s the Le 41, n’est ce pas?

    Comment by petite — March 20, 2006 @ 9:30 pm

  90. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…

    Comment by Loxias — March 21, 2006 @ 2:31 pm

  91. eeh, that Smartie has a gob on her..
    And Loxias, was that you in the *** ****?

    Comment by Flighty — March 21, 2006 @ 2:43 pm

  92. Courage, ma chérie!

    My previous (non-)comment was on the woes of buying a flat (or a ‘flatlet’, in our case) in the big city. Try renting in Barcelona, for instance.

    Anyway, I, too, was shocked by the surface/price ratio…

    @Flighty: it was probably not me in the *** ****. What is the *** ****, anyway?

    Comment by Loxias — March 21, 2006 @ 3:15 pm

  93. Loxias,
    I thought it was you in the *** **** in the corner at 41, you see. I was just confused but I’m OK now

    Comment by Flighty — March 21, 2006 @ 4:44 pm

  94. Meredic had the perfect idea. Perhaps we could show you our gratitude for your blog and where applicable memories of things past if you openend a postal box.
    We could send you our contributions in an envelope, the notes covered with carbon paper. Would that be a means?

    Comment by Angie — March 22, 2006 @ 3:49 pm

  95. For now, I’ve chosen the much less romantic option of a paypal button in the sidebar. Appreciate away!

    Comment by petite — March 22, 2006 @ 4:04 pm

  96. I know this is a few days late but I hope you’ll see it anyway – if you are considering purchasing a small apartment, look at They focus on urban living in New York city (where tiny apartments are in abundance) and provide helpful tips on working with small spaces. They currently have a “smallest and coolest” apartment contest, complete with photos, and it’s amazing to see what people have done with apartments similar in size to ones you’re looking at. Perhaps it will provide a little inspiration, and good luck finding a place that works for the two of you.

    Comment by seejanebee — March 23, 2006 @ 1:06 am

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