Finding and renting an apartment in France can be somewhat daunting. If you can, try to take over an apartment from somebody who is already there. Otherwise ...
If you're going to Grenoble, there's a service there that helps visiting researchers get settled in. The service is called Le B.L.A.N.C. (Bureau de Logement et d'Accueil des Nouveaux Chercheurs). They can arrange furnished apartments, insurance, and can answer many of your questions. They also speak English (but prefer French, of course) and have email to which they respond quickly. Le B.L.A.N.C. has a limited number of apartments available. If they don't have what you need, you'll have to search on your own. As of September 1999, here's the contact information:
Le BLANC (Bureau de Logement et d'Accueil des Nouveaux Chercheurs), rue du manège, 38000 Grenoble phone: +33 4 76 46 89 00 fax: +33 4 76 46 88 88 email: B.L.A.N.C@wanadoo.fr
If you will be searching for an apartment on your own, you should of course check the local papers, which have long listings of rentals. But more convenient is the online service at www.bonjour.fr, which lists apartments all over France. ``Bonjour'' publishes weekly papers that include the apartment listings for the local publishing region. In Grenoble, for example, the weekly is called Le Trente-Huit after the number of the French département (Isère, 38) that contains Grenoble. The online listings are more up-to-date; they include apartments that will appear for the first time in next week's paper.
To search at www.bonjour.fr, you should follow these links:
-> Immobilier (lodging) -> Petites annonces (advertisements) -> Location (rental) -> Appartements (apartments) -> You'll be asked for a city name (or department) and some other information. For the city name, try the city itself and any municipalities that lie adjacent to the city. Otherwise, you will not see all listings that may be of interest.
Most apartments in France are rented through an agency, which acts as a middleman between the owner and the renter. For this service, the agency collects a hefty fee, sometimes up to a month's rent. Some apartments are rented directly by their owners. If you can find such a one, you'll avoid the agency fee and might get a more caring landlord while you're renting.
There are lots of things to look out for when you're searching for an apartment:
There are many fees which can magically appear when you rent an apartment:
I'm told that the agency has three months after you leave to return the caution. The amount returned is often different (plus or minus) than the sum given because the charges may contain an estimated fee for your water consumption, which is calculated exactly only upon your departure.
Apartments are classified by their number of rooms, exclusive of the bathroom, toilet, and kitchen. For example, a two-room apartment will be listed as F2, T2, 2P+C, or 2P+K (see below for details).
When you look in the newspaper or on www.bonjour.fr, the advertisements should appear incomprehensible to a non-French speaker. Included below are many of the short forms that I encountered, and my guess at their translations. I've put ``???'' where I'm even less sure than usual.
|Short form||Long form||English|
|2P+C or 2P+K||2 pièces + cuisine||2 rooms, separate kitchen|
|2P+C équipée||2 pièces + cuisine équipée||2 rooms, separate kitchen with some appliances|
|2è||deuxième étage||second floor|
|60m2||60 m2||surface area of 60 m2|
|DB||droit au bail||monthly rent tax of 2.5%|
|EDL||état des lieux||inspection fee|
|F2||2 rooms, separate kitchen|
|FA||frais agences||agency fees|
|T2||2 rooms, kitchen as part of one room (???)|
|belles prestat||belles prestations||well appointed|
|bon état||good condition|
|cave||celler, storage space|
|cc||charges compris||charges included|
|ch||charges||monthly maintenance fees|
|chauf coll||chaufage collectif||whole-building heating (your pay some fraction of the building heating)|
|chauf ind||chaufage individuel||per-apartment heating (you pay according to your own use)|
|chf gaz||chaufage à gaz||gas heating|
|chf élec||chaufage électrique||electrical heating|
|coquet||cute (i.e. small ! )|
|cuisine équipée||equipped kitchen|
|cède bail||sublet (???)|
|dble vitr||double vitrage||doubly glazed windows|
|digicode||numeric code at the building entrance|
|expo sud||exposition sud||looks south|
|hon||???||agency fees (honorarium ???)|
|imm bon stand||immeuble bon standing||nice building|
|interphone||intercom at the building entrance|
|libre de suite||available immediately|
|part loue||particulier loué||privately rented (no agency!)|
|refait à neuf||renovated|
|rés||résidence||group of apartments|
|ss asc||sans ascenseur||without elevator|
|tb||très bon/beau||very good/pretty|
|tcc||touts charges compris||all fees included (usually charges, heating, water)|
James Stewart 2001