I moved from mon petit village Pélussin to la grande capitale Paris l’année dernière on August 16th 2019. Maintenant, my lease is coming to an end et par conséquent je dois déménager… très bientôt! Encore une fois… Sauf que cette fois-ci, j’ai une nouvelle idée… Je voudrais arrêter de m’imposer ces incessants, lourds, coûteux, stressants déménagements. Malgré ma nature nomade, non, I should say, because of ma nature nomade, j’ai décidé de trouver un logement once and for all, so I can even more fully embrace my nomadic needs while keeping my stuff in one place, dans un seul endroit. Schlepping my things around is no longer something I feel like doing.

 

Renting vs Buying en France

 

Did you know that renting (and I’m not talking about Airbnb type arrangements) in France was très très difficile? Mon beau pays, in all its wisdom (cough cough) has decided to protect les locataires, the renters, so much, that when they don’t pay, it is virtually impossible for les propriétaires, the owners, to kick them out. Seems like a nice move for locataires and a nasty one for propriétaires? Think again. Aux États-Unis, si vous ne payez pas votre loyer, you’re out. Bien sûr it’s harsh and I wish that to no one. But it also means that it’s a lot easier for renters to actually be able to rent parce que le propriétaire sait qu’il ne prend pas un risque énorme en vous louant son logement. Whereas en France, since it’s so hard to get rid of a renter who doesn’t pay, owners come up with this ridiculous almost unreachable list of boxes to tick so that you may be allowed to rent their property. Je comprends, ils veulent se protéger et c’est bien naturel, mais unless you have a ginormous salaire or someone wealthy enough to cosign your contract, well, bon courage finding something.

 

J’ai fait l’expérience de cette drôle de règle en 2017 quand je suis venue m’installer en France. J’accumulais les mauvais points:

-Entrepreneuse as opposed to employée

-Pas de bulletins de paye (and they always want to see three)

-Je voulais habiter seule as opposed to wanting to settle down as a couple. I say this specifically because I learned since then that agencies n’aiment pas les colocataires (housemates) so when deux friends want to look for a place together they have to say they are romantically involved. Don’t ask. Vous savez à quel point j’aime la France mais vraiment, des fois, elle me frustre. Enfin, ce n’est pas la France qui me frustre mais les gens qui lui imposent ces folles règles.

 

Conclusion? There I was. A 35 year old business owner with decent looking tax returns and money in the bank, yet I had to ask Maman to cosign mon contract de location (attention “location” est un faux-ami et signifie “rental”) tout ça pour un super cheap rent since I lived in the middle of the forest for 2 years. Une pure folie!

 

Renting in Paris

 

La règle habituelle en France est que vous devez gagner trois fois net le montant du loyer. Mais à Paris c’est quatre fois! Par exemple, si votre loyer s’élève à 2000 €, vous devez gagner 8000 € net par mois. Knowing that France is a champion for super duper high taxes, just imagine how much more than 8000 € per month you must make to pay your €2,000 rent, which by the way in Paris, is nothing. Voilà pourquoi renting ended up so much more difficile et cher than buying.

 

Buying in Paris

 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not about to tell you buying in Paris n’est pas cher… loin de là… c’est extrêmement cher! Environ 12000 € le m². Right. Pas top. Unless you’re a millionaire. Or unless you love the idea of living in a closet. Since I am neither, I’m having to think outside la boîte. And so lately, I’ve been on an exploratory quest des villes, villages, banlieues (not the dodgy ones don’t worry) autour de Paris et j’ai décidé de partager mes recherches avec vous mes chers lecteurs. Qui sait, peut-être que vous pourriez en profiter un jour? Peut-être que vous aussi vous aimeriez habiter ici un jour? Sachez que j’ai officiellement commencé mes recherches le 23 juin so bear with me. Mais en fait je crois que je suis plutôt productive! Voyez par vous-mêmes:

 

Chartres

 

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Je suis allée à Chartres la semaine dernière. C’était ma deuxième fois. La première fois que j’ai visité Chartres, c’était en mai 2017. J’habitais encore aux États-Unis à cette époque mais j’étais venue en France pour passer mes examens. If you’ve been following me lately, you know I just went through them again… chaque année en mai! May is forever my favorite month… not. Ha. Mais je digresse. Revenons à Chartres.

 

Coup de foudre total. Cette ville de 40000 habitants est magnifique. Vous la connaissez certainement pour sa cathédrale internationally renowned, mais Chartres offre beaucoup plus. Avec son architecture médiévale et ses étroites rues piétonnes, elle nous donne l’impression de voyager dans le temps. Sans parler des collines, des escaliers pour accéder d’un quartier à l’autre, des églises, its lovely petit fleuve called l’Eure, its tons of whimsical looking little bridges, I could keep going… it’s an eye orgasm… eyegasm?

 

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-Le prix est beaucoup plus bas qu’à Paris, environ 2500 € le m²

-À une heure quinze de Paris en train, approximately one train per hour, billet de train aller-retour environ 30€ which is un peu cher et un peu loin I think

-Small city so super walkable par exemple 10 minutes de la gare au centre ville

-J’ai peur que l’aspect culturel / intellectuel de Paris me manque BEAUCOUP

-J’ai trouvé un appartement superbe, dans une maison qui date de 1750, le long du fleuve, avec vue sur la cathédrale, and on top of it all it’s super cheap!!!

 

Can you feel my terrible dilemma?!? I just don’t feel that Chatrains (people who live in Chartres) are my kind of people and I’m afraid of feeling out of place! J’y vais demain matin jusqu’à dimanche soir pour m’imprégner un peu plus de cette ville… you’ll know more bientôt!

 

Boulogne

 

Je dois vous avouer que mon arrondissement préféré à Paris est le 16ème. De loin = By far. My kind of place. In fact, the photo at the top of this blog post of the Eiffel Tower, is taken from le 16ème arrondissement, et pour être plus précis, from la Maison de Balzac! Le 16ème est beau, chic, élégant, calme (that’s relative of course, it’s still Paris après tout… but compared to my current Marais, oh boy, oui, c’est plus calme), propre, pas d’odeurs d’urine, pas de tentes, pas de graffiti, pas de touristes, plein de cafés, plein de restos, plein de marchés, plein de librairies, avec le Bois de Boulogne juste à côté pour les jolies promenades (I only ever stick to daytime promenades cough cough). Mais oh la la c’est si cher! Et oui, c’est Paris. J’ai donc décidé d’explorer Boulogne, qui se trouve le long du périphérique, sous le bois, et donc à côté du 16ème. Mais franchement, c’est pas top, et trop cher. Boring. Next!

 

Le Vésinet

 

Did I say Boulogne was boring? That’s because I hadn’t visited Le Vésinet yet! Yikes. I can’t believe I wasted a whole morning there! Je l’ai fait parce que j’ai entendu et lu des choses plutôt positives à propos de cette ville, qui en plus se trouve sur le RER A. Vous connaissez le RER? C’est une sorte d’hybride entre le métro et le train. I’ve heard some lines were a little iffy but I’ve never experienced anything other than traveling to and from the airport during the coronavirus so pretty peaceful if you see what I mean… et le RER A qui dessert (no I’m not talking about chocolate pâtisserie désolée! Here “dessert” comes from le verbe desservir = faire un arrêt quelque part) des destinations considérées huppées autrement dit les trains sont propres, calmes, et safe. My kind of trains. So I looked and looked and looked for something to match some of the interesting reviews about Le Vésinet and I found… rien du tout! Enfin… ce n’est pas complètement vrai. Apart from a few boring shops in the boring center, I saw plenty of wide avenues filled with gorgeous mansions. Par exemple:

 

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Pas mal, n’est-ce pas? Mais pas exactement dans mon budget… ha!

 

Saint Germain en Laye

 

Aaaaaaah beaucoup beaucoup mieux! Finalement, some life! Une autre ville desservie (that same verb again!) par le RER A (super pratique, rapide, et économique, surtout comparé au train pour Chartres!) et en fait tout de suite en sortant du RER, you find yourself faced with a stunning and huge château et son parc adjacent, qui est absolument immense, offre un panorama impressionnant sur Paris et la Tour Eiffel, et se transforme en forêt à mesure que vous progressez dans votre promenade. Même les chiens sont autorisés on or off leash hurray super cool!

 

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J’ai aussi appris que Saint Germain en Laye était the place of birth du roi Louis XIV (Versailles guy) it felt special being there and feeling, breathing history in. Évidemment, en tant que Parisienne, it happens to me all the time, but it never gets old. L’histoire, la culture, la civilisation, la littérature, l’art, tous ces éléments qui font que je ne peux pas m’absenter trop longtemps de ce sublime pays.

 

Une petite ville vibrante, très jolie, belle architecture ancienne, beaucoup de commerces mignons, petites rues pleines de charme, 6000 € le m². Mais je ne suis pas convaincue. Zut de zut je veux juste être dans mon beloved 16th et je n’aime pas les compromis! C’est si frustrant et j’ai peur de prendre une mauvaise décision! Quoi faire?!?

 

Rueil-Malmaison

 

Ok les amis, this is getting de mieux en mieux = better and better! Une autre ville juste à côté de Paris, sur le RER A, 7000 € le m², avec 78000 habitants donc pas exactement un tiny village! J’avoue ma première impression n’a pas été bonne… pourquoi? Parce que le quartier dans lequel se trouve la gare du RER ressemble un peu à Loserville : moche, style moderne des années 1970, avec des magasins genre Subway. Sigh. Where have I landed again? Mais je ne me décourage pas, armée de mon GPS je me dirige vers le centre ville qui se trouve à environ 15 / 20 minutes à pied de la gare. Pas top. So far not impressed. Ready for Le Vésinet #2… but oh boy, was I wrong. Mes amis, on your next visite à Paris, allez à Rueil-Malmaison! C’est si joli, charmant, élégant! Et vous avez peut-être entendu parler du Château de Malmaison? La demeure de campagne de Napoléon Bonaparte et sa femme l’impératrice Joséphine! It’s alright for some! They didn’t bother looking for a small apartment like me oh nooooo they picked le château! Why can’t I be une impératrice?!? La vie n’est pas juste.

 

Je serais ravie de porter ce genre de robes, ça m’irait très bien! Plus sérieusement, j’adore la superposition du gris clair de la statue et du gris menaçant du ciel. Si dramatique! Et entre parenthèse, heureusement que j’avais apporté mon parapluie parce que la pluie est venue soon after cette photo. Zut alors!

 

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Joséphine est enterrée dans l’église Saint Pierre Saint Paul… vous pouvez voir l’extérieur de ce superbe bâtiment sur une photo plus bas.

 

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Le centre ville regorge d’adorables magasins et boutiques, de superbes boulangeries, pâtisseries, traiteurs, boucheries, charcuteries… clearly les Rueillois (habitants de Rueil-Malmaison) ont d’excellents goûts culinaires et je pense que c’est un très bon signe. Je commence à comprendre pourquoi Joséphine portait des robes amples… je m’imagine avec horreur avec quelle facilité je pourrais prendre des kilos ici…

 

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Mais la bonne nouvelle c’est qu’il y a des parcs, des bois, et des forêts PARTOUT pour fondre les calories c’est incroyable! On oublie qu’on est juste à côté de Paris! Je me suis perdue dans la forêt dans le silence et la solitude totale! J’ai adoré!

 

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Je n’étais pas prête pour ça avec ma petite robe et mes sandales… oops! Thorns everything aïe aïe aïe! Mais je suis têtue and I crossed this forêt anyway! Je voulais voir ce qu’il y avait de l’autre côté. It was boring. Typical. After all this trouble. Oh well. There’s only one way to find out, n’est-ce pas? At least now I know what’s on the other side. North of the forest, super cool, south of the forest, pas cool du tout. C’est simple!

 

Oooooh could this be mon compromis!? Le compromis qui me consolerait de ne pas pouvoir habiter dans le 16ème arrondissement de Paris (yet)? Come on Virginie, c’est pas si mal, it’s literally on the other side of le Bois de Boulogne… je pourrais même y aller à pied! Plus it’s on the (fancy) RER A, 15 minutes away from le centre de Paris. De plus, je ne dois pas oublier la raison initiale de cet achat : je veux acquérir un petit pied-à-terre so I can continue ma vie de nomade que j’aime tant, sans avoir à déménager toutes les cinq minutes! Mais je ne compte pas y habiter tout le temps! Non non je veux acheter cet appartement pour pouvoir voir le monde, habiter partiellement aux États-Unis, aller passer un mois à Venise (I need to practice my Italian and what more glorious place to do so!) quand j’en ai envie… Ok, I guess I’m not buying le château after all.

 

La suite dans les prochains épisodes mes amis! In the meantime, if you have des idées, des commentaires, des recommendations, des endroits que vous aimez tout particulièrement, send them my way and share them avec notre communauté dans les commentaires! Je suis tout ouïe.

 

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Learn French online with Virginie

Join French Truly’s online school, either by buying the French online course(s) of your choice or by becoming a monthly member. See more details about the membership at the bottom of this page 🙂

Each French online course is packed with video & audio files along with written material, to make it as fun, easy, and user friendly as possible for you! Come and learn French online with me!

 

French online course #1: 600 WORDS

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In this course, you will find 15 videos (+ 10 bonus ones) to help & accompany you every step of the way through the course + for each word, each sentence, each expression, each conjugated verb, I have created an audio file of my voice, slow and slightly faster speed. Your French language learning experience has never been so easy, fun, and fruitful. You can learn French online and benefit from the flexibility working at your own pace offers, while having me with you the whole time.

 

Did you know…

You can converse (speak + understand) in French with only 600 WORDS?

The average French person only uses between 300 & 3,000 WORDS?

This means that if you can master a relatively short list of words, you’ll be able to express yourself like the average French person! Plus you’re much more likely to understand the French when they talk back to you!

 

This course will teach you…

1- How to speak French

2- How to pronounce French

3- How to make French sentences

4- How to conjugate all the most common French verbs

5- How to polish your results

6- How to self evaluate your French

More info HERE

  • It should take you about 30 hours to complete this course, which is made up of 10 lessons
  • This course is designed for a beginner / intermediate level. If you are intermediate but feel like you could really reinforce your foundations, you will love it.
  • You can join whenever, either by buying the course or by becoming a monthly member giving you access to my French online courses from $10 / month. See more details about the membership at the bottom of this page 🙂

 

Online course # 2: PERFECT PRONUNCIATION

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In this course you will find 11 videos + 150 audio files + 92 pages PDF format to help & accompany you every step of the way throughout the course. In some parts of the videos, my face will appear close up and profile so you can easily see how I make these sounds with my mouth. The 150 audio files are composed of the 100 most popular French words and the 50 most common French phrases. They are recordings of my voice, speaking slowly enough so you can easily grasp every syllable. Your French language learning experience has never been so easy, fun, and fruitful. You can learn French online and benefit from the flexibility working at your own pace offers, while having me with you the whole time.

NB: if you are the proud owner of my previous French online course 600 WORDS, don’t worry, this is not a repeat as we are now exploring 1 letter words and up, whereas in 600 WORDS we began at 4 letter words and up.

 

Combine knowledge with confidence…

For you to be able to have a pleasant and efficient conversation with a French person, one thing is key… can you guess what it is? Confidence! How well do you think you will communicate in French if you don’t feel confident about your accent? If you are scared that people won’t understand you? Or even worse if you think someone might make fun of you? Without a minimum of confidence there is no room for communication. Yet if you feel confident, you can afford to make a few mistakes here and there because people will still understand you. What prevents a conversation from happening isn’t just a lack of knowledge, it’s also a lack of confidence. You need to have both to make it work, not to mention, to make it fun!

 

This course will teach you…

1- How to pronounce every letter of the alphabet

2- How to pronounce every digraph & trigraph

3- How to make every French sentence flow

4- How to pronounce the 100 most popular French words

5- How to pronounce the 50 most popular French phrases

6- How to avoid the pronunciation mistakes everyone makes

More info HERE

  • It should take you about 20 to 2 hours to complete this course, which is made up of 11 lessons
  • This course is designed for a beginner level. If you are intermediate but lack confidence when it comes to talking and feel like you could really benefit from focusing on pronunciation, you will love it.
  • You can join whenever, either by buying the course or by becoming a monthly member giving you access to my French online courses from $10 / month. See more details about the membership below 🙂

 

Online course # 3: FRENCH DICTÉES

French online course dictées

 

In the FRENCH DICTÉES online course you will find 20 videos + 10 audio files to help & accompany you every step of the way throughout the course. Why 20 videos? Because there are 10 dictées in total, each focusing on one particular topic, and for each dictée I have prepared 2 videos. Let’s say the video focuses on both French past tenses called imparfait & passé composé. The first video will go though the grammar, the conjugation, and all the tips on these two past tenses to help you understand and remember how and when to use them. The second video will be the actual dictée, a short story written by me, describing everyday life situations conveniently packed with imparfait and passé composé verbs! Boom! Efficient! The dictée will also be read by me, slowly first and then a little faster, with a close up on my face so you can more easily recognize the words and copy the shapes I make to improve your own pronunciation.

 

Become a French language expert

How do you become an expert at anything? By focusing on one thing at a time.

I’ve made sure to categorize and isolate either a verb tense, a verb group, a grammar or vocabulary topic per dictée, so you can effectively focus and interiorize concepts separately, which makes it a lot easier to remember them.

 

Here’s what you’re going to learn

What grammar & conjugation points will each dictée focus on?

Dictée # 1: Present tense

Dictée # 2: Past tenses – imparfait & passé composé

Dictée # 3: Future tenses – futur proche & futur simple

Dictée # 4: Conditional, imparfait, asking questions

Dictée # 5: Imperative form

Dictée # 6: First group verbs all tenses

Dictée # 7: Second group verbs all tenses

Dictée # 8: Third group verbs all tenses

Dictée # 9: Numbers

Dictée # 10: Prepositions

Each dictée is a short story written by me about practical everyday life situations. This means that not only do you get to work on conjugation & grammar drills, but you also improve your conversational skills at the same time: a magic combination for your next trip to France!

 

Grow your confidence talking about practical everyday topics

The dictées will refer to common topics that you are very likely to hear or very likely to use to express yourself such as:

-Traveling to France

-Socializing

-Childhood memories

-Family dynamics

-Everyday life routines

-How to express your ideas, opinions, and dreams

 

Two videos per dictée

First video: key grammar and conjugation reminders explained very clearly so you feel prepared and confident entering each dictée.

Second video: the actual dictée. I’ve made sure to categorize and isolate either a verb tense, a verb group, a grammar or vocabulary topic, so you can effectively focus and interiorize concepts separately, which makes it a lot easier to remember them.

 

And for you challenge lovers over-achievers?

Yes I have prepared something just for you! I have also made 10 audio files, 1 per dictée, so that if you wish to, if you want it extra difficult, if you want to test yourself more deeply, you can solely rely on sound. Indeed there are many occasions in life where we hear a language but we don’t see it: speaking to someone on the phone or listening to the radio for instance.

 

20 videos? 10 audio files? What else?

This new FRENCH DICTÉES online course also comes with written files with both the French text along with the English translation, so that you can evaluate yourself when you’re done taking notes.

To summarize, you’ll be able to use video, audio, and written material.

 

Dictées worked for me, they’ll work for you!

Let me tell you, I LOVE dictées because THEY WORK. And clearly you realize this too and that is smart of you. So now let’s see how something as simple as a dictée can truly help you become a little bit French! Your French language learning experience has never been so easy, fun, and fruitful. You can learn French online and benefit from the flexibility working at your own pace offers, while having me with you the whole time.

 

Become a monthly member!

Learn French Online

My goal is to transform your French language learning experience. This is why I’ve decided to offer you a new way to learn French online and gain access to the French Truly Online School! Actually, more than 1 new way, you’ll have 3 plans to choose from so come and learn French online with me!

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