In France, kitchens are an entirely different story. They are never the same and they are almost always horrible. Kitchens often come with nothing but a sink and the renter is expected to provide storage (shelving, cupboards, drawers), counters and appliances. To me this is insane because for each place you live you have to buy what can fit in the kitchen and then if you move, you may need entirely different furnishings to fit the next kitchen. Such a waste of money! There is very rarely an exhaust hood for the stove, which in my opinion is just disgusting and in the case of my current apartment leads to serious problems of humidity and mold.
Now don't get me wrong, on occasion you can find a fully equipped kitchen, American style and everything, but it is rare. Some places have something between just a sink and a "real" kitchen: perhaps a sink and a bar with shelving or a sink and a few cupboards. But you never really know and so I find that for my current apartment search, one of the things I'm really watching for is the kitchen.
But apartment ads are very deceiving here. They have a number of different ways to describe kitchens, and I can't seem to figure out what they all mean because just when I think I understand I see a kitchen that doesn't fit my definition of the term used. For example you can have une cuisine équipée, une cuisine aménagée, une cuisine ouverte, une cuisine séparée, une cuisine américaine, une cuisinette, un coin cuisine, etc. The list goes on and on. But from what I can understand here is what these terms mean:
Une cuisine équipée: a kitchen with things in it (maybe storage, etc), but what these things are can never be known without seeing it.
Une cuisine aménagée: about the same as above, it has things in it
Une cuisine ouverte: a kitchen that is open onto the living room, rather than being in a separate room.
Une cuisine séparée: a kitchen in a separate, closed room.
Une cuisine américaine: by far my least favorite term for describing a kitchen. When I first saw American kitchen I imagined a kitchen like in America with appliances, cupboards, drawers, etc. I was excited and thought that that was what I needed to be looking for in the ads. But no, it simply means that the kitchen is open onto the living room (une cuisine ouverte). What a poor choice of words! This type of kitchen can be completely empty, but as long as it is open, it is American. Too bad we are better than that in America and this is not at all what our kitchens are like!
Une cuisinette: a very small kitchen, usually with a minifridge, a sink and two stove top burners, and nothing else. Perhaps good for a student, but not for adults or a family.
Un coin cuisine: a small kitchen space, seems to generally be in a corner of the living room.
So with all these options, how is anyone ever supposed to get a decent kitchen! Where is the term that refers to an actual kitchen that can be used for cooking!?!?! Cuisine à cuisiner could perhaps be a good term to indicate to those of us who actually like to cook and want to cook, that the kitchen will in fact provide us with the means necessary to do so. Too bad this doesn't seem to exist in France unless you are really lucky!
This kitchen problem is especially relevant considering the apartment I just visited on Thursday. A beautiful apartment in a new, modern building complex complete with beautiful gardens. Only 3 years old! Gorgeous parquet floors, clean, white walls, lots of light, 42 m2, a big balcony overlooking a pretty garden, an amazing bathroom complete with bathtub and space for a washing machine, an actual closet in the bedroom (where we could hang clothes and store stuff!!!), a big water heater and a big living room. Seemed perfect. But then there was the kitchen: une cuisinette. That's right, a tiny little miserable kitchen (like I had when living as a student in France at the Technohole) in the middle of the living room. What is that!?!?! These are nice apartments for adults and families, and you can't even cook! Two burners!?!?! One cabinet under the sink where I wouldn't even want to keep my food!!! Where do you put an oven? A microwave? The necessary coffee maker? Where do you store food, dishes, pots, pans????? How does one actually cook with this!?!?! The people who live there now built an extra plan de travail for their kitchen space which was basically a little counter that jutted out from the wall into the middle of the living room, right next to the computer desk with a drawer, an extra cabinet and space for an oven. But even that's not enough for me! Where would I put everything!?!?! And its in the middle of the living room!?!?! And they had their fridge set up next to that, in the middle of the room, right next to the door to the bedroom.
a cuisinette in the apartment complex we visited Thursday
What I would like to know is, who designed these buildings!?!?! Brand new apartment buildings and they design that for the kitchen space!?!?! This person's an absolute moron! We would have had to basically construct our own kitchen and lose a large amount of the living room space to do so. So, we had to say no to this beautiful apartment and keep looking, hoping to find something that is nice, well-built, and has a real kitchen, which we may never find in this country of crazy kitchens!
How are the French so well known for gastronomy when they can't even cook at home? You would think the kitchen would be something they would value!