Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 2188: Owner, Hargrove Apartment
Studio apartment in the 5th arrondissement, Paris
2005, 4 weeks
The location, on the edge of the 5th arrondisment by the 13th was a bit far out for walking to the Seine and the sights and restaurants in that area - the 4th 5th, and 6th, but the metro transportation was excellent, with a metro stop only a block or so from the apartment.
The apartment itself was located in the rear of a large apartment building, and I mean at the very rear on the bottom floor.
There were many shops nearby, as well as several nice little neighborhood restaurants. Franprix was just across the street and there were numerous bakeries, etc. In that respect the apartment was very well located. R. Mouffetard was a short five minute walk. Marly on the corner had fabulous take-out oysters at a very reasonable price.
The building, on Rue des Gobelins, itself was a little run down, (e.g., chipped stairs, dirty well worn carpets on the interior stairs, peeling wall paint), but the entry courtyard was clean with some greenery.
There was no outside sitting area as the entryway with the greenery was merely a way to get in and out the building itself. Even though the weather was beautiful during our stay, the courtyard always seemed to be cold.
Let's put it this way, the apartment was DDT - dumpy, dirty and very tired. What little furniture there was, needed cleaning. There was one chair in the living room/bedroom area and a small kitchen table with three chairs. The sitting room had a couch, no chairs. Everything was old and well worn.
There were no windows, yes, no windows in the apartment. There was a small vent in the kitchen ceiling and in the small sitting area there was a sliding door that overlooked the buildings next door. There was a teeny balcony but it had a few raggedy plants and was incased with chicken wire. No room to step outside.
The place stunk from the minute that we walked in. Right next to the bed (my side of course) the rug smelled like cat urine.
The weather was fabulous during our entire stay, which made the apartment air seem even more stale and un-breathable. On the second day, we had to beg the manager to give us the key to the sliding door as it was impossible to breathe in there.
He finally gave it to us, telling us to be sure to lock the door when we went out. We still can't figure out how someone could have gotten in as there was no ground in sight (even though it was on the first floor), very very strange arrangement. The apartment was probably a storage area at one time.
They need to scrub the whole place and find a way to freshen the air. There was a fan over the bed, which we had on every minute of our time in the apartment. With the rear sliding door open and the fan on, it made a little difference, but not much.
When we would return each day, after the fan had been off and the sliding door was closed, the air was stale and we had to wait over an hour to get at least a little bit of fresh air.
Since there was only one chair in the living room/bedroom, we had to bring in a kitchen chair. We usually just sat in the kitchen or pulled the bed down.
There were several mildew/peeling spots on the walls, a large one in the kitchen was the worst. The representative said that because of the lack of ventilation, it was impossible to keep up with the mildew; that made me feel better. I guess the only thing that can live and grown in this place is mildew.
There was no bedroom. It was a wall-bed unit (aka murphy bed) in the main room. When the bed was down, it was very difficult to walk in that room. The closet space was adequate, as were the drawers, but no place to store our luggage, so we had to leave it in the sitting room, which was very small and it took up quite a bit of the couch and floor space.
The bed had a horrible, saggy, stained mattress and the pillows, aside from being dirty and stained, were almost flat. It was so difficult to sleep there because of the mattress, the pillows, and the noise upstairs, which started every morning about 6:30 am, walking around, pulling out chairs, music, voices, etc.
The small bathroom was the only good thing about the apartment. It appeared to be fairly new, nice tile and a huge wonderful bathtub. There were more than enough large, good quality towels. Although there was no towel rack, merely one or two hooks in the wall.
There wasn't much storage space, only one tile shelf behind the tub, and the area around the sink. The shelves around the sink that were shown on the website picture had been removed. The mirror and the lighting were excellent for applying makeup.
The kitchen was an extension of the main room, not a separate area. It had everything that we needed but the drawers with the silverware etc. were dirty and a real mish mash. The pots and pans were old and dented, and were crammed into one cabinet and hard to get to.
We didn't cook, because of the constant smell and general 'yuckiness' of the apartment, although we did bring in prepared food a few times. I couldn't resist the oysters from the corner restaurant, Marly.
Problems or Bonuses
Oh boy were we surprised; the pictures on the website and the owner's description were so misleading. I spoke with her several times on the phone before our trip, and she kept reassuring me that her lovely apartment was well funished and immaculate.
We actually tried from day three on, to find other accomodations, either a hotel or an apartment, to no avail. It was September/October and everything is always booked solid at that time. I called numerous places daily and we went to many hotels in person. A huge waste of our precious Paris time.
Before we found this dump, I had spoken to the owner of another apartment, but his apartment was booked for most of our four-week stay. I was secretly glad because it was so much more than we normally pay. We had become phone friends, and I had his phone number with me (an accident, but a nice one). I called him from Paris to see exactly what dates he had available and he had the last four days of our stay. The apartment was about 2.5 times more expensive than this hovel, but at that point it didn't matter. It would have been a little cheaper had we been able to take it for the entire four weeks, but it was still over twice the amount of this dump.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The representative met us on time and then decided that he wanted to be our new best friend. He would call or pop by unannounced to go for coffee. When we told him of our disatifaction and problems, he mainly laughed them off, saying that the apartment is always rented and that some people, (i.e., a wealthy American doctor) take it every year for two months. I certainly hope that he sterilizes his hands before he touches his patients.
He said, as did the owner, that Americans like soft mattresses and soft pillows, soft maybe, but not dirty and worn out! When we told him that we would be moving, he wanted to come over and retrieve the apartment key at our new place, sometime during our last full day in Paris, as he would be away when we left the apartment.
He wanted to see the new place and asked us to tell the other owner what a wonderful representative he would be and that he could arrange for all repairs! He insisted on the new address, although I told him that we didn't have the phone number. We spent very little time that last day in the new place, dreading that he would appear, unannounced, at any moment.
September/October, 2005 the apartment was listed on her site as $950 per week. She charged us $798 because of the length of our stay. No security deposit, possibly because there was nothing that we could damage!
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
NO, NO, NO. Never again. I wouldn't recommend this to our worst enemy. We had a friend visit us one evening, as she was visiting Paris too, and she was repulsed with the apartment. It was so bad, that she forgot her manners and said that right away. Very embarassing for us, as we had told her what a nice little place we would be renting.
The main reason that we took this place, our only consideration being that it was farther out than where we usually stay, was because we planned the trip only six weeks in advance and everything else was taken, as well as most of the flights we wanted. We always plan at least seven or eight months in advance, so basically this was our only choice, date-wise. The rent was extremely reasonable for what we thought we were getting.
When we returned home, I telephoned the owner right away. She claimed that her representative/friend had never said a word to her. Maybe true, maybe not. She told me that if I had told her myself when I was still there, she might have refunded part of the four days, but now, two weeks later, she had spent it! Shame on her.
I apologize for taking so long to review this place, but I just found out about Slow Travel.
Things to do in this area
The Cluny Museum is about a block away, the metro was convenient and Franprix and several good bakeries were across the street.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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