Renting an Apartment in France

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 ...

Le B.L.A.N.C. in Grenoble

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

Searching on your own

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, 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, 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.

Some things to be aware of

There are lots of things to look out for when you're searching for an apartment:

The various fees

There are many fees which can magically appear when you rent an apartment:

Looking at the petites annonces

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, 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
deuxième étage second floor
60m2 60 m2 surface area of 60 m2
CA caution damage deposit
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 (???)
asc ascenseur elevator
balc balcon balcony
belles prestat belles prestations well appointed
bon état good condition
calme calm, quiet
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 américaine ???
cuisine équipée equipped kitchen
cède bail sublet (???)
dble vitr double vitrage doubly glazed windows
digicode numeric code at the building entrance
env environ approximately
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
meublé furnished
part loue particulier loué privately rented (no agency!)
placards cupboards
prox proximité close to
rdc rez-de-chaussée ground level
rdj rez-de-jardin garden level
refait à neuf renovated
rés résidence group of apartments
s/sol sous-sol basement
ss asc sans ascenseur without elevator
séj séjour living room
tb très bon/beau very good/pretty
tcc touts charges compris all fees included (usually charges, heating, water)

James Stewart 2001