Paris is a densely populated city with a high proportion of apartments to houses. Gardens and outside spaces are therefore at a premium. However, there are various ways of finding or creating an external space.
It’s estimated that only 800 hectares (1,975 acres) or 7.6% of the 105.4 km2 (40.7 square miles) total area of central Paris are private gardens. Since less than one percent of Paris properties houses, this is hardly surprising. The central arrondissements (districts) in particular are lacking in gardens. A few rare mansions in the 7th, 8th and 16th arrondissements have a garden. And in neighborhoods further from the center, such as Montmartre, Belleville, Ménilmontant and Montsouris they are more common.
Shared gardens are becoming more popular
The idea of a garden or courtyard shared amongst several apartments is gaining ground. These are often quite small, often not exceeding 45 m2, but provide the opportunity to socialize with other occupants while enjoying an outside space.
Balconies offer outside space and add value to apartments
Haussmannian-style apartment blocks have continuous balconies running the width of the building on the 2nd and 5th floors. Whilst they are not large areas, they offer space for eating outside and for creating a small garden. They are also prized for the value they add to apartments.
Balconies fell out of fashion in new construction during the 1980s and 1990s but are back in vogue owing to demand. Architects are coming up with innovative ways of including garden features, such as vertical gardens, roof gardens and facades made of wood.
Constructing a terrace is a possibility but the rules are strict
Highly-prized but rare, a terrace can add considerable value to an apartment. A complication is that the surface area of an external terrace is not included in the interior surface area of the apartment. So it’s not always easy to calculate the value to add to the price. Experts reckon that a terrace on the same level as the apartment adds significant value but a roof terrace adds less.
Sometimes, buyers decide to have a terrace constructed. However, this is not for the faint of heart as the approval process is complex. First, the co-owners’ association must agree to the idea. Then, for old buildings, the scheme must be authorized by Bâtiments de France, the government bureau that regulates alterations to historic properties.
Also, apartments with a terrace are subject to specific regulations. The terrace is almost always owned by the co-owners’ association, even if the apartment adjacent to the terrace has private access. It is considered to be part of the common areas of the building and the co-owners share the cost of repairs and maintenance. The co-owners’ association normally has the right to access a terrace for maintenance, such as waterproofing. This means that you must be able to dismantle any structures that you create on the terrace. So it is always advisable to consult the co-ownership regulations.
Even if apartments with their own outside spaces are hard to find, there are over 400 public parks and green spaces in Paris to enjoy.