The bedsit in north Paris awaits its first tenant. It is spacious enough to entertain a few friends, and is furnished with the basics: bed, desk, chair, shelves, built-in wardrobe, kitchenette equipped with sink, fridge, hotplates and a shower room with lavatory.
This is one of 3,000 new student lodgings provided in the city under a five-year plan. The scheme adds 61 single and 16 double studio flats to the student housing stock, and facilities include a laundrette and large communal room with a bar. It is run by a partnership between the state, Ile-de-France region, City Hall and the Paris CROUS, the local branch of the nationwide student support network.
Monthly rents average e300 (£210) or about e142 after benefit deductions. But tenants at the Residence Ornano will be among the lucky ones. Despite numerous initiatives to build and renovate, and to encourage property companies to release empty flats or householders to let rooms, housing remains one of the biggest problems for students in France.
The capital, for example, has 14 per cent (30,000) of the country's student population but dedicated housing for only 14,700.
A national survey by OVE (Observatory of Student Life) of student living conditions, backgrounds and habits found that in 2003 38 per cent lived with their parents compared with 41 per cent in 2000. This is because there are now more postgraduate and overseas students and greater student mobility.