Know Your Syndiq
Paris for the most part is blessed with concierges (in New Yorker it would be your Super). I say “blessed” but I’ve never had a nice one. I don’t know the numbers but a fair number of buildings have them. They're the caretakers that run your buildings and maintain them. They live on site in the ground floor apartment.
Then you have the other side where the buildings are too small for a guardian. Gros Caillou, despite being one of the more expensive neighborhoods, is actually a neighborhood of mostly 1930’s buildings. There are some nice ones. Take square La Tour Mauborg where Fillon lived during the presidential election. Beautiful street. But rue Cler for instance, where Macron's private residence was located? Mostly 1930's. In fact Macron lived in one of those garish 1960’s monstrosities (that probably had a guardiane).
So not everyone in Paris is blessed. Which is why you should always, always get the number of your Syndiq. The Syndiq is the company that runs your building (who do you think cleans the common areas and takes the trash out every night?).
Let me tell you a little story of why this is important. One day I was leaving my apartment. I was carrying a bag of trash and an Amazon box, thinking nothing of it since I lived in my building for up to a year at that point, and never had any issues. It was just a normal departure like any other. Go downstairs, dump the trash, leave the building.
I got to the ground floor and a woman was standing at the entry door. She was speaking through the glass (my ground floor door is completely glass) to an older woman. I asked what was going on, and she informed me that the door was locked. I was really confused because that door is only ever "locked" from the outside, and requires using your vigik to enter.
As the lady on the outside couldn’t help us, I told her let’s go door to door and ask the neighbors. Someone clearly locked the door. Hopefully they were still in the building.
First floor nothing. The old lady who has lived in the building for 26 years had no key and had never heard of that door ever being locked. Second floor, no one was home. 3rd floor the man renovating the apartment next door to me could not help. He was just as confused. We were fucked.
We all went back downstairs and commiserated. Another man came down while we were running through options. He could open the restaurant as he had a key. In theory we would have no problems leaving that way, but we couldn’t get back in.
I guess some people didn’t care and 3 of our group left us by way of the restaurant. That left me and the old woman. Another guy came downstairs during this time. The old lady proceeded to fill him in. A man from the building behind ended up passing by at that moment. We flagged him down and while he tried to help, even the might of Thor could not open that door. I swear he went at that door for 5 minutes, the fucking thing was unbreakable.
He too gave up. Before he left, the old lady told him to go into one of the mailboxes and get the flyer for a locksmith (editor’s note never EVER call one of those people). He called a locksmith for us, then wished us luck.
Finally the contractor on the 3rd floor and the girl on the 2nd floor came back (through the restaurant). We let them know a locksmith was on the way. It had been an hour and 30 minutes (and I was still carrying that bag of trash). We didn’t know how long the locksmith would take, but at least we had an option.
Finally a man and his two teenage children came walking down the stairs. They didn't live in our building, none of us knew them, and the rest of the group proceeded to let them know the door was locked and no one could get out. Low and behold he holds up a key and says "I'm the one who locked it".
Of course we all went at him like it was Lord of the Flies. "What were you doing locking this door?, no one locks this door!", we've been trapped in this building!, we could have died, what if there was a fire?!". Another story for another day but that's why a lot of people die in fires, only one exit (there was once a fire in Goutte d'Or in 2015, started by a homeless man who lit the trashcans on fire. People were jumping to their deaths out of their windows).
They told us they were renting the apartment on the 1st floor, like an Airbnb, and they had been told to lock the door by the agency. They were French but clearly they were not from Paris because the only time anyone in Paris uses a key in the common door is if they are in the Marais and there is a door on the ground floor (the button on the wall and the key can turn the lock, but never do we use keys to lock those doors).
Anyway there was a long discussion and I left because I wasn't in the mood. During this time I had been texting my landlord's son who had lived in my apartment the previous 7 years. My landlord (lives in Lisbon) didn't even know my building has a basement (what building in Paris doesn't?) so I wasn't shocked that he did not know about a key or how to get us out.
In this situation this is where the Syndiq would have come in (during business hours). The Syndiq would have been called, or if the locksmith had come out they would have had to pay for the service. So it is very, very important that you know their name and phone number.
My landlord did not give me their number. Oralia had a notice posted on the board in my building's entrance. I contacted them and they told me to contact the company who is in charge of my building.
Sometimes your landlord will take care of all of this. You don't need to worry. And then sometimes you'll have a landlord like mine who is just there to collect money and who has never even seen your building. Know who to contact before you get into the above situation.
More info here: https://vingtparis.com/apartment-building-management/