Abby Gordon's love affair with Paris, France began years before she began working there as a lawyer in July 2007.
She had visited Paris many times before and dreamed of living there. So when opportunity came knocking, Gordon answered.
After five years of renting, Gordon decided to put down roots in Paris.
Gordon had just purchased a condo in Boothbay Harbor in December of 2010. Her family began coming to East Boothbay in 1900; and her great-grandparents eventually bought a cottage that is still used by her great aunt Judy Jacobson a few months each summer.
“I really wanted to buy in places that mean a lot to me; that I knew I wanted to spend time in every year,” Gordon said. “I have always loved Maine, and I love Paris … but, I still don't know where I want to live permanently.”
Working more than 40 hours a week left Gordon little time to look for her own Parisian apartment. She needed help.
“There are literally hundreds of realty offices just in Paris,” Gordon said. “And I really needed someone to walk me through the buying process.”
Little did Gordon know the help she would employ to purchase her apartment would land her on an American television show: House Hunters International.
The owner of a Paris rental business (a Massachusetts native living in Paris with a vacation home in Damariscotta) recommended Adrian Leeds. Leeds has been the featured agent on House Hunters International episodes in Paris.
Each House Hunters International episode takes place in an international locale where an individual, couple or family wish to rent or buy. They are shown three locations based on their wish list and budget.
Gordon was very firm on three points: location, layout and character. She saw several places with Leeds, but ended up putting in an offer on the first apartment she saw.
The apartment in Marais is just 10 minutes from Notre Dame and two blocks from Saint-Paul metro on a quiet street. When Gordon saw the apartment with Leeds, she thought it had layout potential.
“A lot of Paris apartments have long narrow hallways. Because of the layout of this apartment, you wouldn't lose an inch of space – nothing wasted,” Gordon said.
The asking price for the 375 square-foot, unfurnished abode was €420,000, but Leeds negotiated it down to €417,000 (approximately $550,000). The apartment was Gordon's in May.
The apartment was gutted in August of 2012 and in the end Gordon spent $130,000 creating her Parisian home.
During the process, Leeds asked Gordon if she would be interested in being on House Hunters International.
Gordon told her she wasn't interested in being on television. But a few weeks later, the show's London office called. Staff there had seen Gordon's website and blog. Gordon advises tourists on where to go, what to see, where to stay, what to eat, etc. She also advertises her Boothbay Harbor and Paris rentals there.
“They asked me if I knew someone who would do the show; then I started to think about it,” Gordon said. “It would be good for publicity, and might help me rent the place out when I wasn't in Paris.”
Spoiler alert! House Hunters International films after closings. Filming for the episode, “La Vie En Paris” took place in June, August and November for 12 hours at at time. Leeds showed Gordon her new apartment (she pretended it was the first time) and two others she had never seen before comparable in price and locations.
“It was fun, surprisingly so, and interesting to get a glimpse into how these shows work. I had never watched the show before,” Gordon said. “I don't know if I should say this, but, they do overdramatize the situations a bit.”
Gordon said she was worried Leeds would show her an apartment during filming she would like more than the one she had already purchased.
“There was one, but in the end I'm glad I went with the one I did; I call it Les Miroirs du Marais,” Gordon said. “I'm looking forward to the show; I haven't seen the final version yet.”
Tune in to HGTV's “House Hunters International” program on May 16 at 10:30 p.m. and May 17 at 1:30 a.m. You can also get a sneak peek at the gorgeous finished apartment on Gordon's website.