Prêt à Voyager.

“Home is a Room with a View.

When I tell people I live in Paris, people generally have an idea of what it’s like, but it’s not always quite as glamorous as one would think. I spent the past two years living in a 12m2 (129sf) shoebox. While I’ve been living the life in France – and ironically working from home a lot – many of my friends in the U.S. have bought houses. No joke, in several instances I walk into their bathroom and say, yeah, so this is pretty much the size of my apartment in Paris. (Ok, in some cases it’s closer to the size of their kitchen). And as much as I’d try to explain that apartment to friends, no one really would get it until they saw my apartment. So I decided to put together a post on my blog and invite my friends in Paris to draw their first Paris apartment along with a mini explanation to help get the idea across. Who knew it’d become my most popular post ever, and will no doubt make you think twice about what you think is small.”

“Now, after spending the past 4 months in a state of what I’ve coined nomadicity, discovering various neighborhoods through my friends apartments (thankfully Europeans travel a lot!) while on the hunt for a new place, I, like Victoria, am looking forward to getting settled down. After months of searching, I’m excited to have found a new home to call my own. Even if it’s still small, I’ll have a new view of Paris.”

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned in my own Paris shoebox living:

  • You need far less than you think you do.
  • Natural light is key (a view is even better).
  • A 6th floor walk-up is cheaper than any gym.
  • Small spaces are harder to photograph.
  • Anne Ditmeyer is an American designer / editor, blogger behind Prêt à Voyager (translation: ready to travel) and Design*Sponge contributing editor. As a freelancer she can work from anyway, but chooses – for now, at least – to call Paris home. Her latest endeavor is Studio/Practice, a giant curated resource of the best tips and tools for freelancers, a collaboration across an ocean with Lauren O’Neill.

    Comments
    23 Responses to “Prêt à Voyager.”
    1. Thanks so much for including me, Victoria! I hope your move is going well, and that you’re thankful that your cozy cottage is still bigger than these places ;) Special thanks too to my friends Sarah S. (who knows how to draw a beautiful rug), and Jen D. who seriously had a shower in the middle of her Paris apartment! Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up ;)

    2. My husband lived in an apartment like this when he was a student in Paris and many of our American friends have a hard time believing small apartments like this exist in Paris. When we moved to Paris as a couple, we lived in about 450 sq ft (a bedroom, living room, and office/guestroom) yet somehow mad more than enough space for frequent gatherings with friends, dinner parties, and friends visiting from the US. I somehow managed to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for 12 in 2 toaster ovens (mine and our friends’ who lived two floors down). I have nothing but fond memories of that apartment and frequently tell my husband that if we were ever to purchase a pied à terre in Paris, I would want to buy that exact apartment (not that it is for sale… but, I can dream, right?).

      • I totally agree, Lindsay! People don’t believe it until they see it. Also, I don’t think apartments this small would be legal in America ;) But so awesome you prepared a Thanksgiving dinner for 12 in 2 toaster ovens. I’m not quite that talented, but I will be attending THREE Thanksgivings in Paris this year!

        Anne

    3. It’s an eerie, joyous feeling when two of your favourite blogs, whom had no idea knew about each other, suddenly collide. Reason #212 why I love the blogging community. (It goes without saying that this was a really good read.)

    4. Marjory says:

      So true. I appreciate seeing the plans of the Paris apartments. I am with you, I personally love small spaces as long as they have a view. This post brings back so many memories. Will never forget my tiny room in Paris on Rue de l’Observatoire when I was a student there. It was inconvenient in so many ways but it had a balcony and a grand view of the city including the Eiffel tower. Who could resist that? Thanks for the lovely post. :)

    5. Melissa D says:

      My E. Village NYC apartment was very similar in size and layout – so much so that one would have to hold the toaster in the bathroom to make toast – I definitely commiserate. But…Paris! That is worth the space sacrifice alone. Thank you for sharing!

    6. My husband and I lived in a tiny studio apartment in Zurich for a year back in 2000. My husband moved over first and found our apartment. When I came over from Australia we spent a weekend in Paris on route to Zurich. I remember walking into our hotel room in Paris and my husband commenting on how huge the hotel room was compared to our apartment. I honestly thought that he was joking until we arrived in Zurich and I saw just how small a European apartment can be! Our studio apartment was the tiniest place I’ve ever lived but it was laid out so perfectly that it has actually been one of the best places we’ve lived in. It made much better use of its limited space than any of the two bedroom apartments we lived in afterwards back home in Australia.
      We had a single bed that doubled as our couch, a tiny table that only just fit two dinner plates, a desk with a computer that we also used as our tv and stereo, a bar fridge under the kitchen bench and… well, that’s about it. Strangely it did have a pretty decent sized bathroom though. A built in wardrobe right near the door served as a room divider and hid our bed. The bed side of the wardrobe featured a book case. It was a pretty nifty built in. A lot of thought went into the design of it.
      We never really felt like the space was too small but being in a new country we did spend a lot of time out and about playing tourist. The one time it did feel a little squishy was when friends (a married couple) stayed with us for 2 weeks. The only place for them to set up their sleeping bags was right in front of the door – much like the yoga mat spot above ;)

      • Sally, I can totally image that moment in the hotel room when your husband made the comment about how much “bigger” it was than your to be apartment. But you are so right, a good layout can go a long way. My new place is bigger than my last place, but magically my last one had the perfect storage for hiding all my suitcases!

    7. Nice blog! Paris was always my dream destination! well you could have used a wide angle lens ;)

    8. Narumi says:

      Love this post ! My american friends when they saw my 36m2 in Paris were very surprised.. but as you say we need less than we think we do :)

    9. barbara says:

      I lived in Paris for 7 years! 2 of them I spent in a 14m2 studio apartment! Whenever I opened my fridge door I couldn’t leave the kitchen it was so small! Then I went on to sharing with room mates in order to hava a slightly bigger place… When I first met my husband though we moved in together in a tiny place right in the center of Paris… It was 25m2 and 6 floors up! Although teeny tiny, it was such a happy time for us, that whenever I think of that year we lived there I get all nostalgic!!

    10. LISALOU says:

      You are right ! I am a Parisian girl and it’s so hard to find a flat in paris ! too small, too dirty, no elevator, no nothing :) it’s a parisian life you know, but you had luck to found this pretty one. My first flat was so small, I had to fight to get it, so when i get a job i had the honor to move in a bigger! The good point in Paris is that you could meet interesting and creative people and that city inspire you ^^ have a good day ! nice blog I put you in my favorites

    11. Laurette says:

      La Chambre de Bonne as they call them, as big as a caravan! Views are what count.

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