This is stressing me in.
July 23, 2008 5:33 PM   Subscribe

What is the best way for me to find an apartment in Lyon, with a kitchen, for 10 months to a year? I'm a Canadian in Toronto with a French Visa good for a year.

I'm leaving at the end of August to stay in Lyon for 10 months to a year. My girlfriend and I need an apartment apartment within a reasonable distance of the University of Lyon for those ten months. She is a student, I am not.

We will arrive in Lyon on the 29th of August.

Should we hire a real-estate agent? Search online classifieds ourselves? Would we be crazy to show up in Lyon on the 29th in hopes of finding a place for September in the few days left in August? Is there a better way to go about this?

Oh, and we're on a student's budget. The two of us will be splitting rent halfway.

I would love to hear from people who live or have lived in Lyon, especially from someone with a similar travel experience.

posted by Evstar to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
Two friends of mine did this in Lyon in 2006 (she was on exchange, he came for the trip) and couchsurfed for about three weeks before finding an apartment to rent. If you're ok with couchsurfing, or can afford a hostel for that long, that seemed like it would work. I definitely wouldn't expect to find a place in a few days.

Also, there are three branches of the University of Lyon, with about five campuses altogether. Do you know which one you'll be at?
posted by jacalata at 6:46 PM on July 23, 2008

Which Lyon University/campus? 1, 2, 3, and which campus of each? 2 and 3 are next door to each other, in the 3rd/7th arrondissement, but 3 has at least one other campus; I do not know off the top of my head where 1 is.

I don't know how they are about long-term visits, but there are demi-hotels provided by a company called Estudine. There's 2 of them on the border of the 3rd and 7th arrondissements (Saxe-Gambetta and... one ridiculously close by). It cost us about 500 CAD/student for a 2-person bedroom for a month; it had a semi-maid service, fully furnished. But, they have a 'kitchenette' with only a stovetop and a sink, and awful wireless, both of which make me wary about long-term residency. But they are designed for students and are close to all the cool parts of Lyon--the Rhone, the presqu'ile... It might be able to help you get through a month or so if you absolutely can't find housing elsewhere. Here's information on all its Lyon Estudines.

Would you be crazy to show up in Lyon on the 29th? GOD YES.

Expect even a cheap, tiny, cockroachy apartment to cost you 300 Euros/month, based on discussions with some Lyon residents.

Search classifieds: if you need cheap, look towards the borders of the city, perhaps even in Villeurbaine (which is like a hump on Lyon's back; the only distinction between Lyon and Villeurbaine is administrative; they are right next to each other, and metro Line A serves Villeurbaine and goes into Lyon). Popular student areas include Croix-Rousse (but it's being gentrified and prices are going up), and the scungier areas of the 3rd and 7th. The 8th has some cheap housing, but it's mostly immigrant workers, and is also extremely painful to get to. Ducheres and the Confluence (around Perrache) are being made into mixed-income housing and are easy to get to; I don't know if they will be ready by fall, however.

Basically, if the area you're looking at has a metro line, or even a tramway, it will always be within a 'reasonable distance'. Transit is so effective!

Here's a guide to student housing in Lyon. I linked you to the list of private residences (as it says in the text up top: 18m2 will cost you ~400 Euros a month), plus insurance, telephone, electricity, and installation fees. It has all sorts of info, and has a well-translated English version. Here's another student housing site.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 6:57 PM on July 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Hmm. I don't know which campus she'll be at. I'll have to ask her tomorrow when she's around again. If anyone cares to check back on this thread in a day or two when I know which campus she's at that would be superfantastic.

Thanks for the help so far. Does anyone else have any relevant advice or anecdotes?
posted by Evstar at 7:20 PM on July 23, 2008

I lived in Lyon a couple of years ago, and while I can't give any specific housing advice, the first thing you should do as soon as you arrive is buy a couple of transit passes. They are awesome.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:02 AM on July 24, 2008

Oh yeah. Totally ditto blue_beetle. Like I said, so long as you're on a metro line--and so long as you're on the campuses near the Rhone, which are easily within walking distance of the nearest metro station (I think it's the stop to the west of Saxe-Gambetta), you're fine.

People also walk far further in Lyon than you would in most of Canada. This is because walking is actually possible, as Lyon is not that big of a city. Lyon was, historically, limited in its expansion opportunities by geography (especially the formerly-untameable Rhone), so it expanded up instead of out. When you go up to Fourviere and look out over the city, you can see its old city limits by the red roofs; anything without a red roof is relatively new.

As for dealing with a real estate agent, only do that if you're really comfortable speaking French. I know I take my degree in French, but I still wouldn't want to talk to a real estate agent over the phone--with no facial expression to help them understand you, and vice versa--in French.

Oh, one other thing--there's a few Facebook groups for students in Lyon. I suggest asking around there.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 5:16 AM on July 24, 2008

I'm in the same boat as you - my boyfriend and I need to find an apartment for 7 months in Lyon starting mid-September on a student's budget but without actually being students (we're teaching English in the Lyon region). Very stressful (though maybe we can have a MeFi meet up in Lyon once done with all of the moving formalities).

From what I've found, being a student helps a lot because there are things exclusively for students. This pdf looks very helpful with a lot of student options and other random suggestions. Also, you've probably seen this but you can search here for apartments in/near specific areas.
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 8:48 AM on July 24, 2008

If anyone's still reading, she's at Lyon 2.
posted by Evstar at 8:29 PM on July 24, 2008

Lyon 2 has two campuses, one at Berges de Rhone in the city centre and one out in the suburbs at Bron, about 35 minutes from Perrache by tram (T2). She might be at one or both campuses, depending what she is studying. I lived at Residence Andre Allix (5eme) while attending Bron, and it took ~1 hour from my room to uni. As others have said, if you find a place convenient to public transport, it's reasonable distance to uni. Even though Bron is a fair way out, I think you'd be better living close-ish to the centre, because you'll only go to uni at normal public transport times, but you'll be going out in the city at night when it's harder to get around.
posted by jacalata at 8:44 PM on July 24, 2008

Yeah, the center of town--the presqu'ile and its environs--is the best place to live, but also the most expensive. In France, the poor get pushed outwards--the exact opposite of Canada and its suburbs. The centre of town is also where Lyon 2's main campus is. I've never been to the Bron campus.

If you can find a cheap place to live near a metro line, take it. Here's a (HUGE PDF) map of the Lyon/Villeurbaine metros, trams, buses, and funiculaires. Here's a simpler map. Also, if you like to ride bikes, there's Velo'v, a very cheap bike rental service (with an obvious workaround: if you check a bike in every 30 minutes, you can pay nothing for a day's riding), but it's difficult to get the card to rent a bike if you're not French, because it requires a European bank account. Here's the map of Velo'v stations, but you have to double click on a specific area for any stations to show, and only in that area--it doesn't let you browse. So use it after you've found the address of an apartment you like, to see how easy the transport is around there. The Velo'vs, plus the metro, really increase the range of acceptable places to live.

Croix-Rousse (on the line shown in orange) is probably still a good choice, and it has an amazing sense of community spirit thanks to its traboules (semi-public courtyards that were, for years, the only ways to go north or south in the neighbourhood) and its student population. One thing that might dissuade you: Croix-Rousse is the only place in Lyon where people don't hide when spaying graffiti. Graffiti is everywhere there, and Croix-Rousse tends to be super political and have far-left rallies by students. That said, Croix-Rousse also has a lovely population of retirees, who, if you find them, will teach you to play a sort of ball game native to Lyon (boule lyonnaise). It's an odd mix, but I find it lovely.

I think the metro stops at midnight, though, so keep that in mind. That being said, it's still much easier to take a drunken walk home through most of Lyon than it would be to do the same for Toronto and its sprawl. Its compactness will work in your favour.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 1:15 PM on July 26, 2008

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