Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 2890: Paris Hideaways, Les Entretiens
Studio apartment in St-Germain des Pres, Paris
June, 2007, 10 days
This little apartment is located in Montparnasse, around the corner from the famous cafés of Le Dome and Le Select. There are metro stops close by, the closest being about a block away. There are also buses that stop about a half a block from the apartment. All in all, the location was perfect for both walking and taking public transportation.
The apartment itself is on the ground floor with a lovely entrance on a courtyard. The apartments must have all been ateliers at some time. Indeed at least one of the neighbors appeared to be using the space as an artist's studio.
There are *many* cafés and restaurants nearby.
The apartment is a studio (one room) apartment with a loft sleeping area that is accessed by stairs. Downstairs there is a table and four chairs, a kitchen area, two comfortable chairs that can be unfolded into twin sleeping futons. Also downstairs is the clothes and towel closet as well as a tiny W.C. Note that the W.C. (toilet and tiny sink) are downstairs. The shower and full sink are upstairs. This was not accurately represented on the website, although it may be corrected as I mentioned it to the agency.
Another thing you will not realize from the photos is that the only windows that open are a small portion of the large skylights and a big window over the door. You have to climb a ladder to open the big window. The skylight is opened with a pulley. We were told to close both when we went out because of the possibility of rain. If it is both raining and hot, you can't get any ventilation in the apartment. Also, neither of us really liked the idea of climbing a tall, shaky ladder to open and close a window. Leaving the door open for ventilation (during the day, not while sleeping, obviously) drew attention from the crazy neighbor. (See below.)
Note that the skylights have shades on them but the shades did not cover the windows completely.
You can view the apartment directly: Les Entretiens.
The courtyard through which you enter the apartment is really pretty. This apartment has beautiful plants outside. There's no sitting area and although we were told we could take the chairs outside to sit there, we quickly discovered that one neighbor was keeping track of our comings and goings and that he wanted to talk with us. (We had been cautioned that he was a bit crazy but we didn't expect him to listen to radio static all day and keep his door open, popping out into the courtyard every time he heard us.)
The condition of the apartment was good. It could use some painting and a few other touch ups. It was clean enough but after a couple days I started noticing things like crumbs in the silverware drawer.
We've rented many vacation apartments and this was the first time that we stayed somewhere over a week without anyone mentioning a change of towels or linens. There were extra in the closet, so we just assumed that we should change our own. The towels were too small, but I mentioned that to the agency so perhaps it will be remedied.
Bathrooms: We were shocked to find that the toilet was downstairs and the shower upstairs. The W.C. downstairs is very small. Imagine the smallest bathroom you've ever been in. Now imagine it a little smaller. Okay, that's it. The sink in that little W.C. is cold water only and I swear I could only wash one hand at a time. The upstairs bathroom has a shower, full sink and room for storing toiletries. The hot water and water pressure were good. There was a hair dryer in the bathroom and some bars of soap.
The Bed: Basically, it was terrible. And I'll sleep on a couch and not complain. Soft beds or hard beds, I really don't care. But this thing was softer than soft, creaky, and smaller than a US standard double bed. Again, we suggested this be improved. I would not stay in this apartment if the bed has not been replaced.
We didn't use the kitchen to cook although it looked like it would have been possible to make a meal given what was there. The collection of pots, pans, and utensils seemed sufficient to cook a meal.
Problems or Bonuses
This was the first time we rented an apartment without finding any reviews online. I was happy to find that Katia of Paris Hideaways (located in the UK) was legit and that the manager was there waiting for us when we arrived. The rental process, paying Katia her fee through Paypal and then paying the manager in cash, was easy.
BUT -- the apartment had not been accurately represented on the website. The toilet being downstairs from the sleep loft, having to climb a ladder to open a window, not being able to ventilate the apartment when it was raining, the bed being smaller than the advertised "queen" ... these shortcomings led us to be disappointed. The apartment really needed to be tested out by the agency (Katia) before renting it. For example, the closet was very big but there were only four hangers. A fan would have been nice. These little details really started to bother us primarily because the place was, actually, really cute and could have been great.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The agency seems to go by several names. Emails are from Charming Hideaways, the website says Paris Hideaways, and the URL is something completely different. The bottom line is that Katia is a real person with real apartments and people sending her deposits via Paypal should not worry. The rental process itself was extremely well-handled and super easy.
The manager for this particular apartment was very helpful, accessible, capable, and reliable.
Katia responded quickly and thoughtfully to my email in which I listed our problems with the apartment. It's likely that she'll change the listing to reflect that it's not a queen size bed and to better describe the quirkiness of this apartment.
We paid $750 per week for the rental, including agent fee. Compared to the prices of hotels in the area, this was a significant savings during peak season.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Honestly, I would recommend this apartment to anyone who doesn't mind climbing a ladder to open a window. If you're traveling in the summer and you need a/c or someplace really cool, this won't be it. The skylights are gorgeous and the place is very light but obviously, it will heat up a room during the summer even when there are shades on the skylights.
The location is fantastic and the place really is as cute as it looks on the website. If we had known what to expect, we might have felt differently...
This is not the kind of rental where the owner recommends restaurants and makes suggestions about your stay. If you have never been Paris, this might not be the place to rent for your first trip.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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