22 February 2010

Freecycle- My Online Flea/Free Market

When I officially moved in to my humble home, my excitement died down as I was hit with the hard reality that I had no furniture, no appliances. 9m2 seemed very spacious then. I could even fit in 10 heads to give justice to "9m2". Worse, my heater wasn't working so I had to think of creative ways to warm myself up as I waited for the plombier.

Fortunately I had the Ikea single mattress given by my friend Sol and the comforter from Timi. Sufficiently enough to be a notch higher than the homeless sleeping in the metro.

As the days grew colder, the essential stuff started piling in, thanks to a lot of generous Pinoys. From zero, I started having a small drawer, table, chair, extra warm duvet, a pillow, utensils, etc...

It was great. But it just got better when I discovered Freecycle. I already knew the site, but I didn't know how good it was until my Parisian independence.

In Freecyle, you'll find not just freebies, but amazingly good freebies! In about a months time of being a member, I've seen people giving away television, computers, printers, cameras, ovens, fridge, toasters, bikes, clothes, microwave, tables, chairs, cabinets, baby stuff, lamps, plants, beds, mattresses, doors, windows, tickets, etc. Some new, some old, some broken, some weird.

I, for one, am a recipient of pretty neat and useful stuff from several generous souls. It took my worries off spending. And so week by week I cross out items from my checklist. I was able to get a halogen lamp, throw pillows, microwave, vegetable steamer, hangers, books, wine crates and even a Longchamp back pack. There was even a small fridge, but I lost it to another because the transport guy whom I hired, was suddenly scheduled for a job interview at 7 in the evening.

Director's chair from a French lady

Vintage microwave


Recipe books

Longchamp back pack

pendants from a French woman (childhood mementos)

Freecycle is a combination of flea market and ebay. Except that the items are 100% FREE. As Paris is notorious for its space-challenged dwellings, Freecycle becomes an avenue for people to get rid of stuff that they don't want or need anymore. It is for the non-business-minded people who find more convenience in giving away their stuff rather than undergoing through the stress of selling. Mostly it is for people who believes in recycling. Rather than throwing things out, members wait for someone who will benefit from their "trash". Good for the environment, eh?

Around 85% of things that fill up my sanctuary are treasures from different people and I am not a bit ashamed to admit it. I think practicing freecycling is just practical for expats like me for they do not know how long they will stay in this fairytale land. With a little bit of imagination, the bits and pieces acquired from Freecycle might turn into something truly magical.

Freecycle is not just a hunting ground for freebie addicts. It is, for me, like a club where people share their stuff, as well as their desire for a sustainable world. It's also a good way to meet people from everywhere. From the short span of time that I've been a giver and taker, I've met and chatted with French, Romanian, American, Chinese, British...It also gave me an excuse to rediscover Paris, widen my French vocabulary, and once again thank God for my good fate.

Cheers to good souls! Cheers to more freecyclers!

Extra, extra:
There are other sites where you can give away or get free stuff:

If you're lucky, you can find really cheap deals in www.leboncoin.fr. I was able to get a funky coat rack for mere 1 euro, a mirror for 3 euros and an Ikea stick-on mirror for free!

18 February 2010

Change of Address

As if relocating is not stressful enough, I had to return to the Prefecture de Police to inform the beloved authorities that I've changed my address. Obligatoire. One of those adult things that I wish my mother would do for me. But as I am in France (and my mother isn't), I had to muster enough strength to wake up early and face the unknown. This time without a translator with me.

I actually made a mistake the first time. I was told that I only had to go to the Commissariat in my district to change my address. But as my Carte de Sejour is addressed in Hauts-de-Seine and not in Paris, I was instructed to go to the Prefecture de Police instead. You only go the Commissariat if it's a Paris-to-Paris change of address.

Usually one must dial any of these numbers first to set a rendez-vous: 0153212550/0153715371/0153735373

You also have the option to make a rendez-vous online:

But in my case, I was instructed to head straight to Bureau 1708 (escalier F, 1st floor), without setting an appointment (note: this Bureau entertains concerns from 9am-12noon only).

For the recipients of Competences et Talents visa, these are the necessary requirements for the changement d'adresse:
-copy of your passport
-copy of your Carte de Sejour
-3 ID photos
-copy of your Controle Medicale
-proof of your new address in your name (contract, quittance de loyer, Assurance d'habitation)
-copy of your Lettre de Consul
-any documents related to your "project"(CV/proposal letter/portfolio, etc.)

After about a month, you'd get a call from the Prefecture, informing you to claim your new carte de sejour with your new address on it.

Paris Prefecture de Police: 1 rue de Lutece (Metro: Cite)

For additional infos, please read:

12 February 2010

For Three Months I Had A Good View of Sacre-Coeur

I've been warned.

Even before I dipped my toes into the Parisian dream I've already been hearing scraps of Parisian housing horror stories. Oh no, there are no ghosts nor ghoulish characters lurking under the beds. But worse...More vicious, more adult.

To gain access to dwellings for rent under your name, one must procure the necessary requirements and submit them to an agency, under its approval. And that means...
-Carte de Sejour
-agency fee (around 200-300 euros)
-one-two month/s deposit

Obviously I didn't have those when I was new. But through the help of a friend I succeeded in starting out my baby steps. In my first six months, I lived with a very warm and accommodating Filipino family in Boulogne-Billancourt. I payed 260 euros per month, and that includes everything including food and laundry. I didn't have my own bed though. I had to sleep beside a 12-year-old girl in a queen-sized bed. But for 260 for everything plus a warm treatment, who was I to complain?

At six months I developed enough guts to leave my hospitable hosts. I still didn't have enough money then but I had a friend who was equally courageous as I was in braving a new world. She found an ad in Craigslist by a French student. He's offering to sublet his studio in rue Letort for 2 months as he was leaving for vacation. It was located in the North though. Back then we were afraid of the notorious North because of all the bad publicities we've been hearing.

But the price lured us to change our perspective. At 350 euros/month for everything, it was absolutely perfect for our pockets! Day by day we were starting to get accustomed to the profanities in the wall, the Turkish toilet and flight of never-ending stairs(there was no lift in the building).

It was starting to become a sanctuary...Maybe because we had an absolutely magnificent view of Sacre-Coeur. I've never really fully appreciated the exterior of the Basilica until I lived in that "Golden Palace"

September was about to end and my friend and I had to part ways. In my search for a new home, Appartager.com and Craigslist became my everyday buddies. Craigslist offered more scams than real deals. Oddly enough, I almost bagged a free room in a posh home in exchange of "babysitting" a 12-year-old girl.

I ended up in a 250-euro-per-month colocation in rue Sofia with an Algerian roommate. I found his ad in Leboncoin.fr. This time I had a closer view of Sacre-Coeur. However at the end of that month, I decided I needed to leave.

Once again my friend came to my aid and for two months I lived with another accommodating Filipino family in Gabriel-Peri.

Big bang to 2010, by some miracle (and with the help of good people) I now have my own place. I don't know how it happened because honestly until now I'm still way below minimum wage. It's a 9m2 room though and the toilet and bath are shared with others. But it's under my name and I have peace and quiet. Best of all, it's at the foot of Sacre-Coeur.

For the happy hunters, here's a list of the websites that might win you a home:

11 February 2010

La Suite ELLE Decoration par Maison Martin Margiela

This post is stale and I might not have the right to present it on 2010. But I think it's a shame not to archive one of my favorite exhibits during 2009-done by one of the top designers who truly inspire me.

Sometimes I wish I could have the creative brain of Martin Margiela.

Cite de l'Architecture et du patrimoine

Festival Silhouette