Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 2523: Owner, Opera Bastille
1bed/1bath apartment in 12th arrondisment, Paris
Nov. 18-26, 2006, 8 days
The apartment is on a lovely historic courtyard, with mature trees, greenery in planters, flowers on window sills and cobblestone walks - very close by Place de la Bastille. A calm environment just off the busy rue du Faubourg St. Antoine.
We had two lunches at the Bistro St. Antoine, literally just outside the door. It's a friendly cafe-restaurant (first time in, the counter man shook our hands before seating us) with good, hearty food. There's a Monoprix for grocery shopping about five minutes by foot on rue du Faubourg St. Antoine, and the Aligre outdoor food market (daily except Monday) is about five minutes by foot, too. Two American-style cofee shops in the block, Starbucks and Columbus Cafe, as well as an Air France office! Numerous good restaurants and brasseries walkable: Bofinger (the oldest brasserie in Paris) Main d'Or (Corsican), Square Trousseau (contemporary French) Ravigote (traditional French) Chez Ramulaud (contemporary French) to name just a few.
The building is three-story and 19th-century. Very well kept in the common areas, with two apartments per floor, and very quiet neighbors. I believe from the configuration and the history of the neighborhood that this was at one time "industrial" space, most likely from a history of the courtyard, Cour Bel Air, woodworking. The apartment is two flights up without an elevator.
The furniture is a mix of new and antique. Plenty of seating. Lovely large antique desk-table positioned with a view of the courtyard. One living room side chair a bit overdue for re-springing but no big deal. The couch is low. The apartment was spotless throughout.
The standard width (140 centimeter) double bed was very comfortable. The "bathroom" sink is small and in a corner of the bedroom, mounted on a lovely natural wood cabinet, the arrangement reminiscent of some Victorian cottages and homes in America. The bathroom (tub and toilet) is small, with a shower head without a wall mount, and no shower curtain. We managed.
Very well-appointed kitchen, with good quality appliances. Ceramic cook-top, full-size oven, microwave, dishwasher, large refrigerator. We did little cooking but there were plenty of dishes and pots and pans had we wanted to. The coffee maker was the non-electric "plunger" type.
Problems or Bonuses
On the plus side was the elegance and the character We felt we really were somewhere, obviously in Europe, and not residing at IKEA. Very much as if a friend who happened to be Parisian had made her home available to us. Indeed, this is the owner's Paris home, and it's evident from the way its appointed. (She also has a home in the country.) We loved the layout of the apartment: sweeping length with two sets of double doors creating a "vista" when open, finished by a good-sized antique mirror on the bedroom wall, and on the left wall in this perspective, three large multi pane windows opening onto the courtyard. Ceiling beams were exposed, with some interesting small hewers' marks (signatures?) visible. The woodwork was left natural, and it added greatly to the apartment's charm and was highly appropriate to a neighborhood that historically was the woodworking center of Paris - and still is. Also, the ceramic tiling in kitchen and bath is both understated and superb.
Nothing is perfect and the bathroom proves the point. The tub is small, and if one uses the shower-head care is needed to avoid sending water everywhere. There is no place to put toiletries. We solved this problem by storing them in plastic bags in the bedroom sink cabinet.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
All communication was with the French owner, who speaks English. Smooth, with prompt responses. The owner met us at check-in and again at checkout. We paid €575 for our eight-day stay. There was mention of a €20 cleaning charge. Never collected.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We would stay again without hesitation, and highly recommend it. This is an elegant 45-meter apartment in a lovely, calm setting, with virtually everything one needs no more than five minutes away, a bus stop (Line 86) and Metro station (Ledru Rollin on the No. 8 line) right outside the door, and other bus and Metro connections three minutes away by foot at Place de la Bastille. And the price in our opinion is unbeatable. We had friends who manage several Paris short-term rentals over during our stay. They toured the apartment. We told them what we were paying. They said: "Impossible."
Things to do in this area
The Bastille Opera is three minutes away by foot. Faubourg St. Antoine is historically the craft, and particularly the woodworking, center of Paris. There are numerous impasses off the rue du Faubourg St. Antoine and adjacent streets where the trade still is practiced, and they make for fascinating poking about. The Viaduc des Arts, with high-end arts and crafts shops and a strip park above on the viaduct is close by. Numerous clothing stores, Gap and so forth, in this stretch of rue du Faubourg St. Antoine. Restaurants galore (see above). Also the Richard Lenoir open-air market starting at Place de La Bastille, two mornings a week, Sunday and (Tuesday?) is great.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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