One of the main stories on the French news shows yesterday was a report on skyrocketing real estate prices in Paris and its suburbs. Surprise, right? Who would have thought buying an apartment in Paris would cost you "the eyes of your head" — les yeux de la tête — in other words, an arm and a leg?
Well, we all would. San Francisco, New York City, London... so why not Paris. Still, the news anchor said the rise in Paris prices has left notaires and buyers perplexes. Since 2009, the price of apartments in Paris has risen by 17.5 per cent.
The way apartment prices are expressed in French is the cost per square meter. In Paris, the city-wide average is now 7,330 euros per square meter. That would come to about 680 euros per square foot (one square meter = 10.76 square feet). At today's rate, 680 euros will cost you $950 U.S. That means a 1000 square foot apartment in Paris would cost nearly a million U.S. dollars.
In the close-in Paris suburbs, real estate prices have gone up 15 per cent since 2009. The square meter is going for about 5,000 euros, or nearly $7,000. Divide that by 10.76 and you'll see that the square foot is going for $650. Your 1000 square foot apartment in the suburbs would cost $650,000.
A thousand square feet is a very large apartment by Paris standards, however. Five hundred square feet is a kind of average, and is a common size for a one-bedroom apartment. When I lived in Paris as a poor student and teacher, I never lived in a place that was more than about 350 square feet.
The news report included a comparison of what you can buy in three different cities for 100,000 euros. I'm not sure why they chose that price — they were just picking a nice round number, I think.
In Paris, your 100,000 euros — U.S. $140,000 at today's exchange rate — will buy you a 150 square foot studio apartment. That a 10 x 15 foot room — a real pied-à-terre (an expression the dictionary doesn't give a translation for). Tiny.
In Lyon, the same amount of money will get you a 365 square foot apartment — that's a very small one-bedroom or a large studio. And finally, in Châteauroux — I don't know why they chose that city, which is about 45 miles south of Saint-Aignan — your 100,000 euros will get you 1,100 square feet. Of course, Châteauroux is not quite as picturesque and lively as Paris...