How to find the perfect property in Paris, whether you want to live in an apartment in Paris’s city center or find a house in the quieter Parisian suburbs.
Paris has the largest number of English-speaking expats in France. The cost of living in Paris is high but you get a lot for your euros in this cosmopolitan city, with its tree-lined boulevards, bistros, markets, shops and world-famous landmarks. Find out where to buy a house in Paris to make the best investment in France’s exciting captial.
Paris is still a good place to buy
While property prices in most of France have fallen over the past few years, homes in Paris have continued to rise (an incredible 37% since 2009) – until now, according to financial news agency Bloomberg. As French president François Hollande introduces tax increases and cuts property subsidies, it looks as if property prices will fall in Paris. So while it might not be a great time to buy if you’re looking for a quick return on your property, you might be able to bag yourself a bargain. Paris is always going to be a good place to buy property. “Prices in Paris won’t collapse,” says Bernard Cadeau, Chairman of Orpi, France’s largest real estate agency “everybody in the world wants to buy in Paris.”
“The scarcity of rented accommodation in the city means that you’ll always be able to rent out your home.
How much are properties in Paris?
Property in Paris is sold (and priced) by the square meter. As a rough guide, an average one-bedroom apartment is about 30 square meters; something more palatial could be up to 500 square meters.
The sort of accommodation often sought by richer expats – well-renovated apartments of 90 to 120 square meters with a lift in an older building – cost in the region of €12,000 to €16,000 per square meter. However, in a gentrified area like the Buttes aux Cailles in the 13th, you could find a pied-a-terrein good condition for around €150,000; and in less desirable areas further out, properties as low as €6,000 per square meter.
You might also find that sellers are willing to negotiate more than in previous years. Don’t bother offering way under the asking price, though.
Where to live in Paris?
If you’re single or a couple without children then deciding where to live in Paris is probably a no brainer: you want to live in the city. But if you’re coming to live here with your family, you might want to look outside the city limits, especially if you want to buy a house. Bear in mind that most international schools are in the city and immediate surroundings.
Living in the Parisian city
Paris is divided into 20 different neighborhoods called arrondissements, each with its own number, character, and special features. Starting right in the center, the first is situated on the right bank of the Seine around the Louvre. Each successive arrondissement is in a clockwise spiral direction around the city, rather like a snail shell, and numbered consecutively. The lowest numbers are the most central and the highest are the furthest out. For more information on each of the 20 arrondissements, see ‘Where to live in Paris’. Unsurprisingly, the further away from the center you go, the cheaper the property. Like most cities, most districts in Paris have expensive and less expensive areas within them.
Almost all of the available accommodation in the center of Paris is apartments because, with the exception of some grand hôtels particuliers (townhouses), the older Parisian buildings were all originally designed as apartments – as are newer builds. The newer blocks may not have the elegance and romance of the older, 19th-century, Haussmann-type buildings (parquet flooring, ironwork balconies marble fireplaces), but they often have the advantage of being better-designed space-wise and having underground car parks.
Though, with either option, you won’t get much in the way of outside space, apart from a communal courtyard.
What can you buy in Paris’s 20 arrondissements
What little residential property there is amongst the museums and theatres in this most central of arrondissements is extremely elegant – think Rococo, Renaissance and Empire – and expensive. For example, an elegant apartment near the Place Vendome or Tuileriescan costs well over €13,000 per square meter, although something on a busy road above the shops of the rue de Rivoli will be cheaper at around €11,000 per square meter.
This tiny but diverse area contains the Paris Stock Exchange, wholesale shops and hidden bars – and pricy properties. You’ll find properties over €11,000 per square meter around the pedestrianized Montorgueil area or €15,700 per square meter for a bijoux apartment on the rue Léopold-Bellan. There are also cheaper, less charming places along the large boulevards north of the rue de Clery at around €7,000 per square meter.
3rd and 4th arrondissements
This is where you’ll find the fashionable, buzzy Marais, center of the city’s gay and Jewish communities, and the very sought-after Ile St Louis. Tall wooden doors hide elegant courtyards and mansion apartments: the older parts in the south are more expensive. A small apartment on the desirable rue Vieille-du-Temple may cost up to €14,750 per square meter; a character apartment in the area from the Hotel de Ville to St Paul starts around €10,800 per square meter. If this is too expensive, then look behind the Pompidou Centre or between Temple and the Place de le Republic for properties around €8,500 per square meter. If you find an apartment needing renovation, you may be able to negotiate up to an 8% discount.
The Latin Quarter may be full of students, with cheap cafes and bars, but the chic apartments in beautiful buildings cost a packet: around the Sorbonne and Pantheon are upwards of €11,200 per square meter. Prices are a lot cheaper round the Gared’Austerlitz. Look out for Art Nouveau and Art Deco buildings in amongst the older properties.
This area, with its narrow medieval streets, cool restaurants, bookshops, fashion houses, prestigious academic institutions, and the Jardin du Luxembourg, is very fashionable and very expensive. A tiny (95 square meters) apartment overlooking the St-Sulpice church recently sold for €2 million (€21,000 per square meter). Most start between €10,500 and 13,500 per square meter.
A large apartment in a grand Art Nouveau or Art Deco block in this exclusive, aristocratic area may give you a view overlooking the Eiffel Tower or Les Invalides. It will set you back a hefty €15,000 per square meter.
The best value places are to the north of the Gare St Lazare. If you’re close to the tracks and don’t mind the noise, you can pick something up for under €6,500 per square meter. Apartments in the Golden Triangle (Champs-Elysées – Avenue Montaigne – Avenue George V) are at the other extreme. Architecture ranges from Renaissance, through 19th-century Haussmann to Art Deco and Post World War II.
Prices average €9,000 per square meter in this area – a mix of business and residential – including the upmarket Boulevard Haussmann and shops like Galeries Lafayette. Look to the slightly sleazier area to the north, closer to Pigalle and the red light district, and you can slash around €1,500 off the square meter price. You’ll find 18th-century apartment blocks called immeuble de rappor there in the 9th (and in some of the other arrondissements, too). Flat-fronted, they have small rectangular rooms (sometimes knocked into larger rooms), parquet floors, brick fireplaces, and lowish ceilings.
Despite urban renewal, the 10th still has run-down areas and a fair amount of crime, especially around the Gare du Nord and the Gare de l’Est. That’s why you pay around €7,000 per square meter for an apartment here. The Canal St-Martin area has become very trendy – disused factories transformed into lofts – with prices upwards of €9,000 per square meter; add €2,000 per square meter for a canal-side view.
This area is densely populated with a mix of people: young singles, couples, gay, trendy, bourgeois, and poorer immigrants. There are parks and markets around the trendy Place de la Bastille and Place de la République (and apartments for around €9,000 per square meter); and trendy, shops, and restaurants around rue Oberkampf and rue Fauberg St Antoine. An apartment in a 1980s block with balcony and parking around the Père-Lachaise cemetery costs around €10,000 per square meter.
Primarily residential and popular with young families, the area has been regenerated in recent years. It has open spaces – Parc de Bercy and the vast park Bois de Vincennes – and trendy shops. Expect prices to the north to be €8,000+ per square meter. Further south, a 1970s or 80s condo is around €7,000 per square meter.
There’s been lots of regeneration here too, with masses of unattractive high rises and the city’s main Chinatown area. Historic Butte aux Calles has cobbled streets and a villagey feel but is generally pricey, with 19th-century apartments between €9,800 and €11,000 per square meter. Cheaper prices can be found in Tolbiac where 1960s–70s apartments with parking go for under €8,500 per square meter. Cheaper still are the modern blocks on the outskirts of the city, priced around €5,000 per square meter.
This area, dominated by Montparnasse, is a residential area popular with UK and US expats. Around the beautiful Montsouris park, there are streets lined with houses, not apartments, which is very unusual in Paris. Apartments in Montparnasse and Denfert-Rochereaucost are in the region of €10,000 per square meter and upwards; prices get a lot cheaper the further south you go towards the périphérique. Around Porte de Choicy, or Porte d’Ivry you can pick up something modern between €5,000 and €7,500 per square meter.
Another densely populated area of Paris, this solid residential area hasn’t got much in the way of nightlife or culture. It does have some of Paris’ most prestigious schools, some of which are bilingual. Property gets more expensive (and more attractive: Art Deco and Nouveau, Haussmann) the closer you get to the elegant 6th and 7th. Further south, closer to the périphérique, property is less prestigious but much cheaper. The average price for the area is just over €9,000 per square meter.
This is an affluent, leafy, safe, and conservative residential area popular with wealthy families, with several museums and the vast Bois de Boulogne. The average price here is just over €10,175 per square meter. As well as period and modern apartments, there are lots of private hôtels particuliers, some still occupied by single families, and some gated, single-family mansions.
In the northwest of the city, what was once a rough working-class area has now become fashionable amongst the young. While the average price is around €8,000 per square meter, prices rise around the villagey Place St Ferdinand, Parc Monceau, and rue De Prony, but drop very substantially around La Fourche in the north. Foreigners like the area around the Arc de Triomphe/Ternes for its central location.
This area contains Montmartre (and the Sacré Cœur) with its truly breath-taking views across the city. There are some breathtaking prices to match: €11,500 per square meter at the top end. While some parts are a bit touristy, there are lots of quiet, leafy little back streets. Property gets cheaper in La Goutte d’Or and La Chapell, giving an overall average property price of just over €7,000 per square meter. The 18th is also the African/North African district, with the famous Barbès market.
A large arrondissement with a couple of nice parks (one containing the city’s science museum) but generally rather run down. Property sells at an average price of €5,000 per square meter here. While you may bag yourself a bargain, make sure that you’ll feel comfortable living here; some parts of the district are quite rough.
This somewhat deprived but increasingly mixed area also has cheaper property (and one of the loveliest parks). With property selling at an average price of around €6,600 per square meter – and as low as €3,000 per square meter in some parts – the bargain prices have recently attracted a youngish, cosmopolitan crowd here. It’s a vibrant place.
How to find a property
While there are over 3,500 agents immobilièrs (estate agents) in Paris, almost all of them operate completely independently without any co-operation (with the exception of a couple of companies like Orpi), and there are almost no multi-agent agreements. It’s also been estimated that about half of all Parisian property is sold direct by the owners. So property hunting can be a bit of a nightmare, which is why many people choose to use property finders.
Here are a few English-language property and property finder websites to get you started on your search:
A final tip
Property tends to move fast in Paris: sometimes a property is sold the same day it goes on the market. Once you find a place you like, you may have to act fast. So:
- Do your research into the different arrondissements and know what the price per metre is for that area.
- Make sure you know what you’re after at the outset.
- Remember that making an offer is legally binding (see our guide to buying property in France).
- Have your finances sorted (get a French bank account).
Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn (photo 1, 3), AUGUSTO JANISKI JUNIOR (photo 2), Pline (photo 5), Alex E. Proimos (photo 6), randalfino (photo 8), Jean & Nathalie (photo 9), austinevan (photo 10), PhillipC (photo 11), Oh Paris (photo 12).