Real Estate Terminology Guide for Expats

French Apartments

If an apartment is furnished, it will come with an equipped kitchen and enough furnishing/fittings to get you started (bed, table, dishes, etc) but you will undoubtedly want to expand on this very basic arrangement. Unfurnished may mean absolutely bare – not even a kitchen cupboard, although you should ask to be sure. Rooms (pieces) are counted without the kitchen or bathroom(s), and as in many countries the ground floor is 0 and the first floor is one level up from the street.

Understanding the Ads

In addition to learning French, you will have to familiarize yourself with the abbreviations used in the real estate listings. The quartier will be marked at the top of the ad, usually with the closest metro stop listed next to it and the monthly rental price. Here is common terminology:

  • Standing and bel immeuble indicate a high-class building.
  • Pierre de taille (PdT) is an old building and the apartments are generally decorated with parquet, moulures, cheminées (hardwood floors, decorative moldings and fireplaces) and immeuble recent is a modern facility.
  • Apartments are advertised by piece, which is the total number of rooms, excluding bathrooms and kitchen. A 3-pieces has three rooms, typically a living room and 2 bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom.
  • A double-sejour is basically one large living room/dining space that could, technically, be two rooms.
  • A studio is one room, a studette may be as small as 9 square meters, and a chambre is that small, but without cooking facilities or a shower. Mezzanine means there is a loft for a bed.
  • WC separé means there is a separate room for the toilet plus a salle de bains (room with a sink plus bathtub) or salle de douche (with a shower).
  • Placards (closets) are mentioned when they exist. Otherwise it is up to you to provide your own free-standing armoires.
  • Cuisine equipee or cuisine amenagée is a fully equipped kitchen. If this distinction is not made, expect nothing except a sink. Always verify the degree of “equipped”. Cuisine americaine is an open kitchen, usually in the living room and separated by a bar.
  • RdC Rez-de-Chaussee is at street level and 1er etage means one level above.
  • Ascenseur is an elevator.
  • Cave is a storage area in the basement.
  • Parking means a garage space and box means the space has a lockable door.
  • Beware of travaux à prévoir, which means work needs to be done.