Housing in the Cities
Veronique lives with her family in an old building in Paris. Like many other buildings in French cities, her building has large rooms with high ceilings. Each apartment has a bathroom. A caretaker--called a concierge (kon) syarzh')-lives on the ground floor and looks after the building.
Some people in cities are not as lucky as Veronique and her family. City centres are very crowded, and it is difficult to find a place to live. Many people live in tiny apartments. Some must share bathrooms with people in other apartments. Some people have no running water. Many poorer people in Paris live in single rooms in large, old buildings.
Between 1914 and 1950, few new housing units were built in France. By 1950, there were not enough places for people to live. The government and private companies built thousands of new units, many of them apartments. In the cities, huge areas of old housing were torn down to make way for new buildings. Large developments were built just outside the cities. More than half of all French dwellings have been built since 1950.
. Why was so much housing built after 1950?
Many people who work in the cities must choose between small, old apartments near their work place or larger, newer apartments far away. More than half the people in France rent their homes.
Some people have more than one place to live. As people leave the countryside to live in the cities, houses become vacant and people with money buy them to use as summer cottages. Developers have built many apartments and chalets (shah la'), or small wooden houses, in holiday areas. Many families buy these places and use them every summer and some winters for their holidays.