As one of the world’s most densely populated cities, Paris’s apartments tend to be packed together pretty tightly. The late 19th century buildings have their advantages, like their stunning Haussmann architecture and dark wood beams, but they also offer little-to-no sound proofing. The reality is that you can often hear your neighbours as they go about their day; the scrape of a chair as they get up from the breakfast table, the slam of a door as they leave for work. But while a certain level of noise is inevitable, it shouldn’t be so loud that it can’t be resolved with the use of a pair of earplugs at night. If you feel that your neighbours are being inconsiderate, you can take action to resolve the noise problem.
Meet the neighbours
When you move into your new home, ask the landlord if they know any of the neighbours, and get them to introduce you. Then, if any noise problems should arise, there’s a greater chance that the complaint can be solved with a quick, person to person conversation. Be sure to act in a polite way; perhaps they didn’t realise how much their dog was barking while they were at work, and are sorry the noise was disturbing you. Problem solved…
Unfortunately, this is often not the end of a neighbour’s nuisance behaviour. The next thing to do if the noise problem doesn’t stop is to write a letter of complaint to the neighbour with an ‘accusé de réception’ (a proof of sending and receiving, making the letter official). This letter should set out clearly the concerns you have and give them sufficient notice (say, a week) to resolve the noise problem before you make a complaint to the police. Keep a copy of the letter, so you have proof that you have tried to use diplomacy to resolve the problem. At the same time, report the complaint to your landlord in case they can help, and make contact with your other neighbours to see if they have been experiencing similar problems. Note down when the disturbances are happening, and gather recorded evidence to use later if needed.
Escalate the situation
If all else fails, it might be time to make contact with the police. If the problem involves late night parties and loud music, wait until the next time one happens and report it that same night. The law in France is on your side: it states that people should make no noise at all between 10pm and 7am, and nothing above ‘ambient noise’ for a prolonged period outside of these times, and by now you have extensive evidence to use to show that your neighbour has been breaking this law. Use the non-emergency number, 17, to speak to the local police directly. However, noise complaints won’t be their top priority, so you might not get an immediate response.
Set an example
Finally, it’s hard to make a convincing case and resolve the problem if you’re making too much noise yourself. There is certain noisy behaviour that is sure to upset the neighbours:
Avoid loud conversations while you’re walking up and down the stairs in the day, and try to be silent at night. A normal conversation can echo through the building and be a problem for your neighbours who are trying to sleep.
We’ve all heard it, the noise of your neighbour’s shoes clattering across the uncarpeted floor of the apartment above yours. Especially if someone is wearing high heals. Get some slippers and make your downsta ighbours’ lives more peaceful.
Having a party without making noise and disturbing the neighbours is almost impossible, but if it’s very occasional and doesn’t include very loud music then it might be okay… Make contact with to your neighbours to discuss it before hand, and be respectful of their need to sleep in their own home.
Hopefully this advice will help you to resolve any noise problems you have. While in an ideal world all neighbours would be respectful towards each other, sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way and you get landed with anti-social people in the property next to you. Be up front with your landlord or estate agent when you’re renting or buying a property if you are particularly concerned about living somewhere noisy, and aim for the top floor which is notoriously the quietest part of a building. Above all else, don’t let nuisance neighbours stop you from enjoying your time in Paris.
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