The rooftops of Paris conceal a huge number of tiny flats that were once sleeping quarters for domestic workers, a relic of bourgeois life in the 19th and early 20th centuries when they were referred to as “chambres de bonne” — maids' rooms.
Astonishingly, they still fetch sky-high prices of up to €11,000 euros a square metre in Paris's well-to-do neighbourhoods.
However, many of these box-sized apartments have fallen into disrepair and indeed disuse, but perhaps not for long.
The mayor's office announced on Monday that by 2020 the City Hall wants to see 1,000 of these apartments renovated as part of a plan to ease the chronic housing shortage.
“We want to do everything we can to create new lodgings,” housing deputy Ian Brossart told AFP.
He added that the move was also intended to fight against health hazards in the apartments, most of which are in the rooftops of central and western Paris.
The City Hall said it would rely on private landlords to carry out the renovations, but added that they could help out to the tune of €14,000 per apartment.
Authorities have proposed a €10 million budget for the renovation project, and hope to begin in early 2016.
A study late last year found that of the 114,000 chambres de bonne in Paris, 51 percent are smaller than 9 square metres, meaning they're too small to legally inhabit.
However, around 15 percent of these apartments are inhabited anyway.