The short narrow window had been patiently waiting, creaking back and forth gently in the breeze for 2 years. Summer had just passed and the nights grew longer and a brisk chill was in the air. Alone and shivering I wedged myself up into the window frame, peering into what appeared to be a cramped toilet abandonné. My fingers drew deep trenches through the dust and climbing down onto the cistern, then the porcelain itself, it was clear none had passed through in quite some time. By the shafts of streetlight on the old cracked lino could see no footprints but my own. If any were coming in and out they were using the doors, with keys, since I knew they were all locked. The house was quiet and still, nothing was stirring, moving, breathing.

I moved slowly and breathed silently, expecting to encounter an angry hobo at every turn. While my eyes adjusted to the gloom I ran my fingers along the walls, feeling the old textured wallpaper peeling and crumbling away into dust. I stepped over the dried crunchy leaves which had blown in through the window and progressed into a space between a large empty room to the left, the front door and staircase to the right. Old lino tiles, dried and turning up at the edges, crinkled softly beneath my feet and old posters sagged from the walls. It was bare and dusty, entirely deserted. Trees swaying in the wind outside cast shifting shadows through the mottled glass illuminating the old wooden stairs in a golden yellow hue. If anyone was living here, they'd surely be upstairs. With long slow deliberate steps I crept up.

Squat


In a large room at the top of the stairs light streamed in via three floor to ceiling windows facing out over a small park. The room was empty yet held a faint whiff of dampness. One corner of the ceiling was slightly discoloured and water damaged. To the right I found a small bathroom with paint flaking from the walls and ceiling. With a cough and splutter dirty thick brown water oozed from the tap. I hit the lights and to my surprise the room lit up revealing a bathtub, basin and toilet. I snapped the light switch down quickly. This quaint little house was offering up many surprises - water, power and even a bath. A rare luxury in a city known for shoebox apartments.

Salle-de-bain


In the adjacent room old curtains lay strewn across the carpet and a single chair sat facing out one of the two huge windows into the dead parisian streets. I lay for a while on the floor in the middle of the room, listening to the occasional snippet of conversation passing by or the occasional car. This little gem of a house lay empty and waiting, offering power, water, shelter and convenience at the modest expense of security, mold and luxury. It deserved better than neglect. I moved in shortly after.

Split-pane


Qx and I picked the front door lock from the inside, with a bit of help switching the barrel at 3am for a high security model. With the new lock in and the downstairs window securely bolted we slept the first frigid night in my new place, TF and I curled up on the floor with nothing but body heat and an old hoodie to keep us warm. By 4am, huddled together shivering it clear the priorities were heaters then a bed. Those first nights were uncomfortable yet held an unease excitement as I dozed restlessly awaiting the sounds of someone booting in the door. One solid kick. Perhaps qx knew what I was thinking for one day he returned from china town bearing a most practical gift: nunchucks.

Ma-chambre-v1
Bedroom shortly after moving in, moving on up in the prohobo world.


Quickly Le Squat evolved from sparse and dirty to hobo-deluxe. Late at night I'd wander the deserted streets purloining whatever furniture I could from the haphazard piles of streetside collection, hauling it back and hustling it through the front door while the neighbourhood slept. With time we amassed a double bed, sofabed, click-clack, plush arm chair, lamps, small desk, large desk, stove, fridge, microwave, small oven, bookshelf, clothes racks, large rug, a couple of mounted canvas metro prints and three electric heaters. With furniture, electricity, free wifi and (cold) running water the quaint little house very quickly became a home. I had paid to live in places worse. Qx discovered the house was owned by the city, presumably their motivation to clean it up and either sell or rent it was non-existent. Suited me fine, I hoped nobody would turn up with a delivery truck and wonder why the locks had changed.

Like any abode of questionable legitimacy le Squat had some quirks. The broken hot water system was sorely missed and despite there being a couple of decent open networks nearby internet was often flaky. Coming and going was a nervous affair, with standard operating procedure being to check for suspicious characters front, back and sides, pause a moment to listen at the door then stroll on out like we owned the place. The large local hobo population, while too lazy to have attempted the window would likely roll in the front door given the chance. Sympathy for them was scarce as for two years they'd been living within sight of the open window which would have led them to shelter and relative warmth.

Metro-Art
Le squat. Deluxe living accomodations at rock bottom prices. Apply within (or bring a drill).


poster detail


Predator's early accounts of squatting in Australia planted this desire to squat, then staying in Bob and Green's trainyard squat in 2002 drowned it in fertiliser. It was a life experience happily realised. That little bit of uncertainty in everyday life that I might return home to find my things cast into the street, pawed over and looted by the neighbourhood, or appropriated by other squatters in some act of cosmic justice, was unappealing but exciting. Trusting my lodgings and my possessions to the chaotic whims of the universe was scary at first but over the past 3 years I've realised I need little more than a laptop and a camera (or three) so the chance once taken lacked the intimidation I had expected. Greater was my concern for TF, who often slept there alone while our dirty little posse of vagabonds ventured into the metro tunnels below paris dodging trains and seeking adventure.

Frigo
With the acquisition of a discarded fridge the squat took a giant step towards Board of Health certification. Thankfully...


Those disapproving of my lifestyle choices will take smug satisfaction that one morning the city workers arrived, locksmith in tow, to evict me. I might not have lived there long but it truly was a home. Toothfairy's also, by the end she was staying there as much as I. I could have demanded a court order and made a stand, fought the man, kept le squat another month or so but in the end I knew I'd be booted and the city would take back what was rightfully theirs. Our run had saved me ~AUD7000 in rent and I saw no value in tainting the memories with a siege for a place to which I had no legal right. With our brand new 350eu dollar drill we'd secured the place to better than when we arrived, the delicious irony there should be evident. As I watched the city locksmith remove our cylinder and insert his own I felt more than just a twinge of sadness.

Ma-chambre-v2
Bedroom all prohobo shortly before eviction from my comfy little parisian squat. I've paid to live in worse places than ...


Ten minutes later shouldering as many of my worldly possessions as possible, sacrificing the rest to the squatter gods, I marched out the front door of the little house I held so dear to return to the BHV Institute of Professional Cataphilia. As I walked past the hobos one looked up from the depths of his wine bottle, stared me in the eyes and shrugged his shoulders once as if to say "bad luck kid". He was mistaken for I would've done worse had I lacked the courage to climb through that little window, take a chance and move in. That day was merely the closure of a great life experience and a period of time I'll always remember fondly. The Squat was taken but the memories will always live on for those who stayed there. One day, if I ever have the money I'll return to Paris, buy that little house and then truly it will be ours.



About the author

Found frigid and dying in the snow by a passing missionary at the abandoned Soviet airbase in Choir, Mongolia, little dsankt never had a chance. The Dreams Foundation granted his wish to one day travel the world, thinking he'd only last a month or so. To everyone's amazement he's still going strong. When asked for comment the foundation's treasurer would only say, "The little mongrel cunt just won't fucking die, it's costing us a fortune!"

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Paris Miscellany
Tunnelbug   2009-08-02 20:24
That's quite the pad. You did well for yourself there. I think I've only seen one grander squat in my life, and it was in San Francisco. I'll write you about it some time if you remind me. Long live Le Squat.
Zero   2009-08-02 22:11
R.I.P
Moe   2009-08-02 22:26
Paris is so great for Squats. My favorite one was in an old bank right downtown. When I asked the guy how they set it up, he replied matter-of-factly - "Oh. It is like this. A man buy the bank and want to do condos. But instead of condos we come and do squat."
Little Mike   2009-08-03 00:16
Brilliant read, the intarwebz seems to have been sadly lacking in decent content in recent months. This makes me want to go find a rooftop to camp on right now
Site   2009-08-03 03:32
Sounds like a fun escapade! shame it didnt work out though...
Le Loup   2009-08-03 19:42
Au revoir Le Squat. Too bad you had to leave the Roquefort and noodles I gave you. Hmm, Roquefort and noodles, now there's an idea...
le fookin yaz   2009-08-04 01:28
pour cela est la facon dont des squatter, il est aussi tres triste. repose en paix. le w0rd.
Air33   2009-08-04 06:16
UERing houses...I knew you had a softspot for them!
Rookinella misser of plastic horse riders   2009-08-04 13:45
A very sad time for She-Ra the cheese wax wearing barbie doll and her noble steed. It was an absolute pleasure to experience this particular explorer pad for a couple of those Winter days but may it rest in peace :-( *sniff*
Flicka   2009-08-05 06:40
This is one of the bessst write up's i've ever read.
What a life you lead.. Quite a decent pad, eh?
joeblow   2009-08-06 06:59
Pretty fucking awesome man, i woulda loved to experience that squat. Have you go any stories about close calls or any more cool stories regarding the squat to tell us? I was waiting for an update for a while and this was worth the wait =))))
baar01   2009-08-07 05:24
Pink Tp. Respect.
sk   2009-08-07 15:41
easily one of the best write ups i've read here. i felt your pain. ah well, back to the brissy drains then...
qx   2009-08-08 01:29
gonna steal it back from the maaaan
Stray   2009-09-05 01:23
Nice squat man, Predator would have been proud of ya...
dave   2009-09-07 04:59
Update you asshole, this blog is too interesting.
Junix   2009-09-08 10:47
Most likely the electric meter dimed you out. Easy enough to bypass and worth doing if you have the tools. Has the added benefit of giving life to places lacking to start with.
qx   2009-09-17 14:51
Wasn't the electricity that did it. The electricity came from a city owned building just next door, so bills were paid automagically.
J-Bags   2009-09-20 15:01
I don't get how you could pilfer electricity from the joint next door but couldn't fix the hot water system, unless their leaking from places their not supposed to be then theres not much to them.
qx   2009-09-26 03:42
The gas was on a separate system - looting from that would have aroused suspicion (although it would have been possible)
The heater was an antique - to fix it would have required a visit from Le Man, which would have been interesting when he wanted to know where to send Le Bill.
Controleman   2009-10-17 04:26
What's up with the ladder on top of your room? Pas très pratique comme boussole de hobo
dsankt   2009-10-18 08:40
j'y mettais les vêtements pour sécher.

Also, updates arrive precisely when they do and no amount of badgering will hasten the process.
dsankt   2009-10-20 07:51
@tunnelbug, yeah for my first squat it was pretty deluxe. Perhaps it's just the explorer approach to it.

@moe, the french are great for that. It makes perfect sense to them and therefore all is right with the world.

@le loup, fear not there's always more noodles and more roque.

@air, shhh you ruin my reputation.

@rooks, she-ra rode the ship through to the very end. A noble way for one of her prowess.

@joeblow, there were few close calls, merely the occasional curious passerby who tried the door handle but never lingered. The cops drove past often but I doubted short of flaming skulls bursting from the windows they'd never have stopped.

@stray, and I've have to loved to show it to him.

@J-Bags, as qx said it was possible but the effort to benefit ratio wasn't there. Besides the gf had a hot shower.
BigLoada   2009-10-21 19:27
Thats one nice pad dude. Better than any legit flat I paid stupid amounts for when I lived in London. Great writing as always too . Take care man.
jannx   2009-10-29 07:48
that's a fine looking spread you set up! Hope you kept the key just for a memory.
Jono   2009-11-11 16:30
Wowza,
just came across your site (Jono here, from UER) and was fascinated by this tale...

I like how you operate.

Jono->
Christopher   2011-09-07 06:24
Thanks for the interesting read. It offers an interesting glimpse into the lives of squatters and rovers. It was kind of sad seeing your pad taken away but I figured it provides more adventures ahead for you.
pacquiao vs marquez   2011-11-02 14:09
This is very interesting. Thanks for sharing.
Agnes   2012-06-07 08:07
Hope you kept the key just for a memory.
Piznit   2013-01-07 18:17
Skullfuck the roof son.
ElExplorador   2013-03-13 21:09
Well done, sir. You've got the right attitude.