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Expats renting or investing Haussmannian apartments in Paris: what to know

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Haussmann-style buildings account for 60% of the buildings in Paris. Parisian Haussmann-style apartments offer irresistible charm and property investment potential. Elegant facades, extensive Parisian balconies, high ceilings, and sophisticated details create a unique appeal, attracting residents and expat investors alike. In the 19th century, Georges-Eugène Haussmann created the vision behind a monumental urban renewal project commissioned by Emperor Napoleon III. This blog gives information about investing in Haussmann apartments in Paris:  history, renovation requirements, maintenance tips, pros and cons, and much more.

Fun Facts about Haussmann Apartments in Paris:

Uniformity Amidst Diversity: Despite their uniform exterior appearance, each Haussmann apartment often boasts unique interiors with diverse layouts, and decorative features.

Napoleon III's Vision: The renovation of Paris under Napoleon III and Georges-Eugène Haussmann wasn't just about urban renewal; it was a deliberate effort to modernize the city, improve sanitation, and control potential civil unrest by creating wide boulevards that were difficult to barricade.

Elevator Innovations: Many Haussmann buildings were among the first in Paris to be equipped with elevators, making them early adopters of this now-ubiquitous technology and providing residents with modern convenience and luxury.

Symbol of Status: At that time, owning or residing in a Haussmann apartment symbolized social status and sophistication, attracting affluent residents and prominent figures from politics, arts, and literature.

Design Principles of Haussmann-style Buildings: A Guide to Height, Function, and Structure: The Baron Haussmann designed his buildings according to strict rules; in particular, the building height depended on street width, and also: 

  • The wider the street, the taller the building!
  • Built side by side, these buildings form what is known as a "wall-street", as if all the buildings on a street made up a single wall.

floor plan of Haussmann building in Paris

Wall-street - rue du mur

  • The ground floor applies to stores and the concierge ("gardien" in French).
  • The 2nd floor is the "noble" floor, housing the aristocracy. As the elevators only date from 1870, they could avoid the pain of climbing the stairs. These Haussmann apartments have high ceilings and balconies all along the facade.
  • The 3rd and 4th floors have less extensive window surrounds and originally no balconies, although some were installed later following the modification of the Haussmann law.
  • The 5th floor has a long balcony all along the facade.
  • The attic on the last floor is home to the household staff, and it is usually accessible via a separate staircase from other residents.

floor plan of Haussmann building in Paris

Floor plan of the Haussmann building in Paris

History of the Haussmann building in Paris

The Haussmann buildings in Paris resulted from the city's architectural transformation during the 19th century, particularly under the direction of Georges-Eugène Haussmann, who served as the Prefect of the Seine Department from 1853 to 1870. His ambitious urban renewal projects reshaped Paris into the modern, grand city it is today.

Background of Haussmann's renovations in Paris: 

Before Haussmann's tenure, Paris had narrow, winding medieval streets, inadequate infrastructure, and poor sanitation. During this period, Napoleon III, Emperor of France, sought to modernize and beautify the capital and address social unrest and public health concerns.

Haussmann's Renovation Plan in Paris: 

Upon his appointment by Napoleon III, Haussmann had unprecedented authority to redesign Paris. His renovation plan involved creating wide boulevards, spacious parks, and squares and implementing a modern sewer system, gas lighting, and improved water supply. Haussmann's vision aimed to facilitate traffic flow, enhance public hygiene in Paris, and prevent future insurrections by creating open spaces, making it difficult to erect barricades during uprisings.

Wide Boulevards and More Green Space (Parks & Squares) in the City: 

One of the most notable aspects of Haussmann's plan was the construction of broad, tree-lined boulevards that cut through the city, including Rue de Rivoli, the Boulevard de Sébastopol, the Boulevard Saint-Michel, to replace narrow and congested medieval streets. These boulevards eased traffic congestion and provided space for grand buildings and monuments. Haussmann also hired landscaper architects to design numerous squares and parks, such as Parc Monceau and Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, for more green spaces in Paris. 

Haussmann Architecture: 

What is the Haussmann-style apartment? Buildings constructed during Haussmann's renovation are known as "Haussmann buildings" or "Haussmannian architecture." Characterized by their uniform height, ornate limestone facades, wrought-iron balconies, and Mansard roofs, these buildings are emblematic of Parisian architecture. The uniformity in building height and design contribute to the city's aesthetic harmony.

Paris before and after the Haussmann's renovations - Hôtel de Ville Paris

Paris before and after the Haussmann's renovations

Why should you invest in a Haussmann-style apartment in Paris?

Investment Benefits: 

Investing in a Haussmann-style apartment in Paris offers many investment benefits. Haussmann-style properties are commonly located in prestigious neighborhoods such as the 8th, 16th, and 17th arrondissements and are in high rental demand, especially among business corporate tenants and expatriates. 

​​Cultural and aesthetic appeal: 

Beyond financial considerations, investing in a Haussmann apartment immerses you in Paris's rich cultural heritage and aesthetic beauty. These Haussmann apartments exude a timeless elegance and sophistication, reflecting the quintessential Parisian lifestyle. For many foreign investors, owning a piece of Parisian history represents a financial asset, a source of prestige, and a cultural link.

Paris Haussmann-style apartment with molding, marble fireplace, high ceiling

Distinctive Features of Haussmann apartments: 

Haussmann apartments are renowned for their unique architectural features, such as 

  • Elegant Facades have ornate details, symmetry, and grandeur.
  • Balconies feature wrought iron adornments, adding charm.
  • Mansard Roofs are steeply sloping roofs with dormer windows.
  • High Ceilings and Spacious Interiors are airy, light-filled rooms.
  • Parquet Flooring, Decorative Moldings, and Luxurious marble fireplaces reflect craftsmanship, elegance, and a timeless Parisian elegance.

Parisian balconies are a popular feature of Haussmann apartments. Only some floors in a Haussmann building have a balcony. The lucky ones usually live on the second and fifth floors. Haussmann-style Parisian balconies provide a charming outdoor space where residents can enjoy stunning views of Paris's cityscape or lovely street views while enjoying a morning cup of coffee or a glass of French wine at dusk. Often, pedestrians at night raise their eyes to soak up the ambiance of Parisian life as party guests entertain themselves outdoors. A balcony dramatically enhances the pleasure of living in Paris, offering a private oasis amid the bustling city.

Parisian balconies in Haussmann apartment

Haussmann-style balconies in Paris

Risks and considerations: Drawbacks of Haussmann-style apartments

Disadvantages of inconvenient Haussmann apartment floor plan 

Haussmann apartments feature long, winding corridors that seem to go on forever. Finally, you discover one WC and, a bit further, the kitchen, usually at the very end of the hallway. In Haussmann's time, domesticity was the norm, and it was their reserved domain to prepare meals. Also, cooking odors did not reach the residents and their guests. Nowadays, it is only practical if you use rollers. Not convenient. 

Do you want to work around this layout and make changes? If you do, be prepared for a mountain of paperwork and severe cash expenditures if you get through the syndic and the co-owners. So, before diving headfirst into historic charm, ensure you're ready to tackle the quirks of those Haussmann apartment floor plans.

Parisian balconies in Haussmann apartment

Limited sanitary facilities 

The Haussmannian apartments we're renovating today generally don't have functional, comfortable bathrooms that suit today's tastes and sometimes have only one WC. 

High maintenance costs 

Haussmann-style apartments are known to be very demanding in terms of maintenance due to their age and historical importance, which can be a real drain on your wallet. First, preserving the historic aesthetic requires specific works, such as customized windows or particular materials, to maintain the building's authentic appearance, which can be costly. 

Usually, the "architecte des bâtiments de France" has to approve your plans. Furthermore, as many of these buildings are over a century old, they are exposed to problems such as plumbing issues, water damage, humidity, and poor isolation. Solving these problems to ensure the building's structural integrity and the comfort of its occupants involves a lot of hassle and costly repairs and renovations.

Accessibility Issues

Those fancy Haussmann buildings in Paris might look grand but miss some modern-day convenience. They may lack elevator access, which can be inconvenient for strollers or wheelchairs. Some elevators may need to be wider to accommodate a baby with a stroller or many suitcases when going on a trip. So, if you're about accessibility and easy living, you might think twice before financing one of these historic marvels.

Elevator and staircases in Haussmann buildings in Paris

Challenges of AC installation

You wouldn't believe it, but installing an AC in your Haussmann apartment can be almost impossible. From strict building regulations to architectural constraints, fitting those bulky AC systems can be a real challenge. Outside the building, don't even think about it! And inside your apartment, beware of the moldings, the arches, and the lovely boiserie. What to do?
Thank God the walls are thick!

Check out this guide to learn how to install an air conditioning system in Paris and how to deal with co-ownership formalities.

Understanding the Haussmann Real Estate Market in Paris

Market Overview of Haussmann-style Real Estate Sector

Haussmann-style Apartment Prices in Paris 

The average real estate price in Paris in 2024 is around 9,403 €/ m2, ranging from €6,243 to €15,749 per square meter. Due to their historical significance and architectural grandeur, Haussmann apartments for sale in Paris generally fetch higher prices than properties from the 1950s and 1970s. 

All in all, real estate prices of Haussmann-style apartments in Paris vary depending on factors such as their: 

  • location (arrondissements & quartiers), 
  • size, 
  • property condition,
  • amenities (elevator, concierge, balcony/terrace, service room, bicycle room, parking, etc.)
  • condition of the building's common area

Trends and Stability of the Haussmann Property Market in Paris

Over the years, Haussmann-style properties have always been one of Paris's most desirable real estate investment options. However, preferences have slightly shifted recently, particularly among young French residents and foreign investors. Today, many prefer to invest in newly constructed buildings with contemporary amenities and better energy efficiency. Despite this changing trend, Haussmann properties retain their appeal for those captivated by their timeless charm and cultural significance. 

Areas with a High Concentration of Haussmann-style Apartments 

Where are Haussmann-style apartments most likely to be found in Paris? To answer this question, find out the open data provided by the city of Paris.

The map below shows that dark blue indicates districts with more than 80% Haussmann-style buildings, while light yellow indicates neighborhoods with less than 20%.

Map Percentages of Haussmann-style buildings in Paris by districts

There is much more dark blue in the northwestern part of Paris, between Saint-Lazare and L'Etoile. Conversely, many more light green and yellow areas are in the center of Paris and its suburbs. 

Unsurprisingly, neighborhoods in Paris with a high percentage of Haussmann-style buildings are located on the west side of Paris, where are some of the most prestigious buildings:

  • 8th arrondissement: Europe, Champs Elysées
  • 16th arrondissement: Chaillot, Trocadéro, Victor Hugo
  • 17th arrondissement: Plaine de Monceaux, Ternes, Porte Maillot
  • 9th arrondissement: Rochechouart
  • 7th arrondissement: Gros Caillou, Ecole Militaire, Invalides
  • 6th arrondissement: Notre-Dame-des-Champs, Odéon
  • 5th arrondissement: Val de Grâce
  • 14th arrondissement: Montparnasse

Haussmann buildings in Paris 16th district

Haussmann buildings in Paris 16th district

However, some less well-known districts in Paris with lower prices per square meter also appear to have a high concentration of Haussmann buildings. These districts include:

  • 14th arrondissement: Plaisance, Petit Montrouge
  • 13th arrondissement: Croulebarbe, la Salpêtrière behind the Jardin des Plantes
  • 12th arrondissement: the upper part of Picpus
  • 18th arrondissement: behind Montmartre, the Clignancourt neighborhood
  • 10th arrondissement: Saint-Vincent de Paul

Meanwhile, in the center of Paris, apart from a few spots around the Palais Royal, the Sorbonne, and the Île de la Cité, there are very few Haussmann buildings around. Why is that?

These central districts in Paris, such as the Marais and Saint-Germain-des-Prés, already had their distinct architectural styles defined before Haussmann's renovations, making it difficult to redesign them from the ground up. Moreover, these central Parisian neighborhoods usually have very narrow streets and irregular layouts, making it challenging to accommodate Haussmann's designs. Authorities preserved some districts in Paris for their historical and architectural heritage, so there was no incentive to refurbish them in the Haussmannian style. Therefore, while Haussmann-style buildings are famous in Paris, they're not common in the central districts in Paris.

historical architecture in Le Marais Paris

Historic district of central Paris - Le Marais

Advice on assessing investment potential and profitability of Haussmann style apartments in Paris

Assessing the investment potential and profitability of Haussmann-style apartments requires careful consideration of several factors:

Property Location in Paris: 

Pay close attention to the property's location in Paris. Haussmann-style apartments in prestigious neighborhoods in Paris with easy access to amenities, public transport, and cultural attractions tend to achieve higher rental prices and generate greater rental demand, especially among business corporate tenants, expatriates, and diplomats.

Haussmann apartment with a view of Eiffel Tower

Condition and Required Renovation: 

Assess the condition of the apartment and the amount of renovation work required. While Haussmann-style apartments are renowned for their historic charm, they may need much work and a large budget to meet modern standards and good energy performance. Consider the cost of renovations and their impact on the property's future rental value and potential profitability.

Rental Demand of Haussmann-style Apartments in Paris: 

Analyze rental demand in the area, considering factors such as proximity to international organizations, embassies, universities, and tourism trends. Haussmann-style apartments are often more likely to attract a broader range of expat tenants, including professionals relocating to Paris for temporary assignments, sabbatical families, diplomats, international students, etc., which can contribute to a steady rental income.

Financial Considerations: 

Conduct a thorough financial analysis, including potential rental income, purchase price, condominium charges, maintenance costs, annual property taxes, potential secondary housing tax, or vacant home tax. Calculate the expected rental return on investment and assess whether the property matches your investment objectives and risk tolerance.

Legal and regulatory aspects of Haussmann apartments in Paris: Renovation and Maintenance

Many of Paris's Haussmann buildings are protected historic monuments and may require specific renovation and historical preservation regulations.

Haussmannian Buildings in Paris: Historic Monument Status 

Listing as Historic Monuments (bâtiment inscrit):

  • Recognition of Significance: Buildings are acknowledged for their historical, architectural, or cultural value, though to a lesser extent than classified ones.
  • Restrictions: Owners face restrictions on exterior alterations, which are less stringent than for classified buildings.

Classification as Historic Monuments (bâtiment classé):

Higher Protection Level: Classified buildings of exceptional importance are subject to stricter modification restrictions.
Renovation Requirements: Renovation work must match the original and requires approval from the French Minister of Culture.

The protection of historic monument surroundings:

When a building "non-classified" or " non-listed" is adjacent to or located within the field of visibility of a building protected as a historical monument, the architect of French Buildings (architecte des bâtiments de France, or ABF) must give their opinion on any work (building permit or declaration of work) that modifies the exterior appearance of an existing or new building or involves work on the exterior space. This opinion differs according to whether the buildings are within a 500-meter radius zone or visible from the Historical Monument.

This link will enable you to access the Mérimée database and verify whether your Haussmann apartment in Paris classifies as a historic monument.

Louvre Museum Paris

Renovation Requirements for Haussmann apartments in Paris:

Renovation requirements for Classified Buildings: 

Maintenance or renovation work must be carried out identically to the original, with approval from the French Minister of Culture. Each project requires a declaration with the Regional Conservation of Historic Monuments (CRMH).

Renovation requirements for Listed Buildings: 

Renovation is generally less restrictive, with requirements varying based on the nature of the planned work.

Renovation requirements for buildings in the protection zone around a historic monument:

For work requiring a permit or authorization on a building adjoining or located within the field of visibility, the town hall processes the application after obtaining the agreement of the architect responsible for French buildings.

For work not subject to a permit or prior declaration, authorization from the département prefect under the French Heritage Code is necessary after consultation with the "Architecte des Bâtiments de France." The proprietor then sends three copies of the application to the town hall.

Tips for maintaining Haussmann apartments in Paris

Maintaining a Haussmann apartment in Paris requires special attention to preserve its historical charm and architectural integrity for both owners and tenants. Here are some tips for effective maintenance:

Regular Cleaning and Upkeep:

Regularly dust, vacuum, and clean surfaces, including ornate moldings, fireplace, woodwork, and decorative elements.

Chimney sweeping:

Chimney sweeping is vital for homes with fireplaces or wood-burning stoves. Due to the accumulation of creosote and soot, professionals typically recommend it annually, but also because it's mandatory to be covered by insurance in case of fire. Hiring a certified chimney sweep ensures thorough cleaning and inspection, with professionals equipped with protective gear and specialized tools to safely remove debris and identify potential issues like cracks or blockages. Regular chimney maintenance ensures efficient fireplace operation and minimizes the risk of chimney fires, making it an integral part of home safety and upkeep.

Parisian marble fireplace in Haussmann apartments in Paris

Inspect for Structural Issues:

Periodically inspect the apartment for signs of structural issues such as cracks, dampness, or sagging ceilings. Address any issues promptly to prevent further damage and maintain the building's stability.

Managing Dampness and Moisture:

Haussmann apartments may experience dampness and moisture problems, especially in lower levels or areas with poor ventilation. These problems can lead to mold growth, rotting woodwork, and damage to plaster and paint.

To better manage humidity problems in the Haussmann apartments, improve ventilation by opening windows and doors and using extractor fans and dehumidifiers, address leaks promptly, insulate and seal breaches, using moisture-absorbing products, monitoring indoor humidity levels, maintain adequate drainage, remove mold promptly, considering waterproofing vulnerable areas, and consulting professionals if problems persist.

As a tenant, if you notice a damp problem in your Haussmann-style apartment, report it promptly to your landlord to prevent it from getting out of hand. 

Updating Old Plumbing and Electrical Systems:

Older plumbing and electrical systems may require updates or repairs to ensure safety and functionality. Leaks, clogs, and outdated wiring are common issues that need attention.

Window and Door Maintenance:

Consider upgrading to double-glazed or triple-glazed windows for improved sound and thermal insulation. Original windows and doors often suffer from wear and tear, causing drafts, sticking, and frame deterioration. Upgrading to modern, energy-efficient windows can mitigate these issues while enhancing comfort and energy efficiency within the apartment, and increase its value on resale. 

Parisian windows in Haussmann apartments in Paris

Upgrading Heating and Insulation:

Ensuring adequate heating and insulation is essential for comfort and energy efficiency in Haussmann apartments. Upgrades to heating systems, insulation, and window treatments may be necessary to improve energy performance and reduce utility costs.

Manage Noise and Security Issues:

In Parisian Haussmann apartments, noise from neighboring units or the street below may arise, necessitating comfort-enhancing soundproofing measures like double-glazed windows. To prevent noise disturbances like playing music or young children playing, soundproof the apartment further by addressing creaky wooden floors by implementing floor and wall soundproofing or solutions like carpets and putting chair leg noise reducers. Additionally, ensuring robust security measures, including sturdy locks, is essential for maintaining safety in the apartment.

Preserve Original Features:

Preserve and restore original features such as parquet flooring, marble fireplaces, decorative plasterwork, and ceiling moldings.

Avoid removing or altering architectural elements contributing to the apartment's unique character and value.

Decorative mouldings in Haussmann-style apartments in Paris

Secure Proper Insurance Coverage:

Protect the apartment against fire, water damage, and theft risks adequately with housing insurance

Resources and support for investing, renting out and managing Haussmann apartments in Paris for international investors

For expat owners seeking resources and support for investing, renting out, and managing Haussmann apartments  in Paris, several options are available:

High-End Rental Agencies:

Consider partnering with reputable high-end, long-term furnished rental agencies specializing in the Paris real estate market, such as Paris Rental. These agencies possess extensive knowledge of the local Paris rental market trends, can offer advice on profitable investments, and help find quality tenants from their exclusive clientele base, including expats, diplomats, and corporate tenants.

Rental Property Management Services: 

Engage professional Haussmann apartment property management services like Home Management to streamline your Paris rental Haussmann apartment's day-to-day operations and maintenance. These services handle tenant communication, rent collection, property maintenance, and emergency response, allowing expat owners to manage their investments remotely with peace of mind.

Online Platforms and Forums: Explore online platforms, forums, and expat communities focused on real estate investment in Paris. Websites like Expat.com offer valuable insights, advice, and connections with other expat investors and regional property professionals.

In conclusion, investing in Haussmannian apartments in Paris offers a blend of historical charm and investment potential, especially for expat owners seeking to capitalize on unique opportunities. While the allure of Haussmann architecture is undeniable, prospective buyers must carefully weigh the advantages and drawbacks before making investment decisions, from navigating renovation requirements to managing maintenance costs and ensuring legal compliance. If you need further advice on investing or renting out Haussmannian apartments in Paris, do not hesitate to contact Paris Rental to find the perfect furnished Haussmann apartment to rent in Paris or to buy.

Haussmann-style apartment decoration

Editor: Siyi Chen

Photo credit @Dimitri Iakymuk

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