Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 1849: France Homestyle, Trinite
3bed/2.5bath apartment in 9th arrondissement, Paris
November 2005, 1 week
This apartment is located on the French 5th floor of a building on rue Jean-Baptiste Pigalle in the 9th arrondissement. It is on a narrow, quiet street, equidistant from Metro stops Trinite and Pigalle. Because it is outside the main center of attractions, the neighborhood is more of a place where people live and work than where tourists visit. We weren't aware of any other tourists. It is about 20-30 minutes to everything via Metro, and it took us 20 minutes to walk to Montmartre and 45 minutes to the Marais. The atmosphere is hustle-and-bustle down at the main plaza of Trinite, with long lines at the sandwich shop during lunch, but the side streets are quiet with their share of gems.
Despite its proximity to Pigalle, the neighborhood is safe and comfortable, not seedy in the least. We came home several times late at night (once a Saturday at 2am) and did not find anything changed in this respect.
It is not the most convenient location for a first-timer, but great for blending in a little bit and getting a feel for "real Paris."
Everything we needed was in the area, including a Franprix supermarket across the street, several good boulangeries and pharmacies within a few blocks, and the wonderful rue des Martyrs, with its various food shops, 10 minutes by foot. We were also 10 minutes from the Au Printemps department store, 15 minutes from the Opera, and 10 minutes from the train station Gare Saint Lazare.
The neighborhood also had many moderately priced clothing and eyeglass stores, although I couldn't find a kiosk to buy a newspaper. The cafes are mostly the sort of big brasseries that don't have much character. The two restaurants we tried in the area, Mollard and Le Brigadier, were below par. The apartment is also 10 minutes from the Moulin Rouge and other, um, amenities of the Pigalle area. There was a cyber cafe just around the corner and a modestly equipped sports club 10 minutes away.
The building was quite historical, and the apartment had high ceilings, elaborate moldings, and restored antique furniture. It was truly beautiful. For an amusing half-hour, read the part of the binder where they itemize every object in the apartment and its price. There are six floors in the building (not including the ground floor), one apartment per floor. We sometimes heard the neighbors talking, but overall it was quiet. The street noise was minimal - just some annoying scooters.
The apartment is huge, with three large bedrooms, one large master bathroom, two small bathrooms, a large eat-in kitchen, separate dining and living rooms, a laundry room, a large entry hallway, and a secret room that we did not have access to. The master bedroom and kitchen looked onto the courtyard and an intricate array of Paris roofs; the other two bedrooms and the dining and living rooms looked onto the parking garage and houses across the street. French doors connected all the rooms but the kitchen to balconies. Most of Sacre Coeur was visible from the front balcony, looking left up the hill. All the rooms were airy and bright.
The furnishings were all in excellent shape, and the apartment was clean. Recent leaking had exposed the plaster of a large patch of ceiling in most of the rooms, although the walls were freshly painted. The apartment was tastefully decorated in a classical style with antique knick-knacks in glass-front cupboards and some paintings on the walls. There were six chairs around the dining room table, and a couch, a bench, and three chairs in the living room. Two nights I slept very comfortably on the couch. :) The TV had cable, including CNN, CNBC, and BBC, and a VCR, which we didn't use.
Two of the rooms had full beds; the third had two narrow twins and a futon. They were small but comfortable, with extra sheets and blankets available.
The master bath was huge with two sinks and a shower/bathtub with a curtain. It also had a full-length mirror, abundant storage space, and extra towels. The other full bath was very small, located at one end of the hall. It had a narrow stand-up shower, a tiny sink that mysteriously funneled any object resting on it into its basin, and a toilet. Both full baths had radiators and were quite warm in freezing weather. The half bath had a large sink and counter area and a toilet.
The kitchen was huge with small table and a few chairs, tons of cabinets and counter space, and a mini-fridge; a normal-to-Americans-size fridge was in the adjoining laundry room. We didn't do any serious cooking, just some eggs, but from what I saw there were pots and pans of many sizes. We did confirm the presence of an adequate number of ceramic plates, large plastic tumblers, and wine glasses. We didn't use the dishwasher.
Problems or Bonuses
INTERNET: For some reason, we were unable to download the internet software onto our laptop and so never had internet access. If you don't speak French, you may have trouble with this process. I speak French and spent three hours on the phone with Wanadoo and still didn't get it to work. We never called the France Homestyle representative about it since we felt it would be futile. Also, the internet connection is in one of the bedrooms (thankfully near a phone). The shelving unit you work at is not very comfortable but the cable is too short to work elsewhere.
HEATING: It snowed while we were there and even with the many radiators turned to high, the apartment was a little cold. But it's a large space so what can you do.
FRENCH DRYER: I don't know what it is about French washers and dryers. The washer took 2 hours; the dryer took two days (I'm not joking).
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The agency responded to our questions promptly before we arrived and spoke English. We paid $3000 for seven nights in November 2005. The onsite person spoke English and gave us a thorough tour of the apartment. She forgot to show up when we left, however, and had us leave our keys inside the unlocked apartment. I did not feel good about this. The apartment was as described on the website, and the pictures were accurate.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would recommend this apartment for a large group that can use the space. There were four of us, but there was easily room for a group of six (even more, except for the sleeping space). The apartment itself was gorgeous, and stood out more than the neighborhood itself, although we had great fun exploring. Like I said, it's a tiny bit off the beaten path for your typical tourist, which has both pros and cons.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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