FRANCE

Paris students can't put up with their parents

The French National Union of Students (UNEF) has launched a forceful campaign demanding that university housing be built. Students tell us about their struggles to find a home in Paris. "Some people seem to think there aren't any housing problems for students in Paris... Damien and Mélanie, 22 and 23, both live with their parents."

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According to a study done by the French magazine l'Observatoire on student life in Paris, a third of students have trouble finding housing in the capital. A whopping forty-two percent live in family homes - 37% have to put up with their parents, while only 7% live in a shared flat. Thirty-one percent live alone or in a couple, while 14% stay in the dreaded ‘residences' (shared toilets and showers and hospital-style food). But thanks to ongoing complaints from UNEF and other associations, the subject has become an important issue in the local elections in Paris, which are to take place on March 29.

"It's three hours there and back on the train for me"

Cécile Diez, 20, is in her second year of economics and social administration at University of Versailles/Saint Quentin:

I got placed at the University of Versailles. My parents live very far away in the suburbs. So it's about one hour and 40 minutes to get to my faculty. I tried to get a place at Cité University, but they said I didn't meet the criteria. I also tried to rent an apartment. But the prices are impossible and I don't have half of what I need to pay the three months' worth of rent deposit. My parents are nurses and they already have to pay for the medical studies of one of my sisters. They can't give me anymore.

I got a job working in a bakery on Sunday mornings. I make €750 a month, but that's not enough to rent near Versailles. I temporarily found a good solution: I stayed at someone's house who was abroad for a few months. But they came back and I find myself spending three hours each day on the train again."

"Even though I’m a scholarship student my application for a room in university housing was rejected"

Aude Leroy, 19, is in her first year of economic and social administration at the Sorbonne (Paris):

I finished college abroad. When I came back to France I wanted to apply for the Sorbonne, although my mother settled in Toulouse. My father died when I was young and my mother does community work, so my uncle helps me with money. He gives me around €400 a month. I also receive a grant from a student organisation, which is about €330 per month, for nine months.

Even though I'm a scholarship student my application for a room in university housing was rejected. There really are so few rooms that only older, Masters students have a right to them. So I came to Paris a month before my course started to look for an apartment, and stayed at a friend's house.

I soon found out that's it's almost impossible to find an apartment for a student. I didn't have enough money, and the agencies ask for three months of rent in advance, which is impossible for me. Finally I gave up. I rent a room in my aunt's house. It's not ideal, because I can't really invite friends round, and I have to leave the room this summer because my aunt's renting it to some Americans. But I can't really complain. At least I live with someone I know, and it's kind of alright."

The campaign poster on a wall in Lille

"Some people seem to think there aren't any housing problems for students in Paris.

Damien and Mélanie, 22 and 23, both live with their parents."

Posted on Flickr by Frédéric Bogaert.