Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 3210: Perfectly Paris, Houdon Hideaway
2bed/1bath apartment in 18th arrondissement, Paris
October 2007, eight days
For our fourth visit to Paris, we decided to stay in Montmartre (the village-like hilltop area where Sacre Coeur is located), in the 18th. The apartment is on the second floor of a four-story building (walk-up)located off the street on a courtyard, so it's quiet. The location is about 2/3 of the way up rue Hudon from the Place Pigalle Metro stop toward the Abbesses Metro. Pigalle and boulevard Clichy are lined with sex shops; to visit the nearest supermarkets, one must walk past them (we did most of our shopping on the interesting market street rue Lepic which is a five-minute walk away). The Abbesses area is touristy (several cafes and small hotels), but nice. Uphill a hundred yards from the apartment Montmartre becomes a charming mostly residential area. There is good transportation via the #2 and #12 Metro lines to other parts of the city.
There are three noteworthy boulangeries within three minutes, also a laundromat, and a half dozen cafes. Rue Lepic has open-front specialty stores: seafood, butcher, fruit stores, cheese shop, pastry shops, take-out prepared food, charcuterie. Three smallish grocery stores are each about 10 minutes away. A tiny bistro, Chez Grisette, is just across the courtyard. There are a number of restaurants in the area. The Pigalle/Clichy strip has fast food, many cafes and, for some reason, several Irish pubs.
The building is a typical middle class apartment, perhaps 100 years old, with nice curved wooden stairways. There is a building on the street and two facing the courtyard. The rental apartment has an entry hall, off of which are all the rooms. They are fairly small, particularly the second bedroom. There is a small (1-person) kitchen separated from the living/dining area by a counter. Each room has its own window, which opens to the courtyard.
You can view the apartment directly: Houdon Hideaway.
The shared courtyard has a small area of flowers, and a bench on which we enjoyed a picnic lunch. There are also a table and chairs, but we didn't know if they were for public use or belonged to a tenant. In late afternoon there would be a few school children playing. On Saturday afternoon one of the tenants held a birthday party for their daughter in the courtyard.
The furniture was not fancy, but was comfortable. One "antique" dining chair had been broken and a folding chair took its place pending a permanent replacement. We enjoyed the radio/CD player and the apartment's small collection of mostly French CDs. There is a cable TV in the master bedroom, but the complex instructions for its use seemed forbidding and we are not TV watchers, so never tried it. The apartment was clean. There were plenty of towels. When relaxing in the living/dining area there were a small couch and an easy chair, so two of us used dining chairs.
The beds were comfortable, but lower to the ground than Americans are used to. The master bedroom has lots of closet space. There is a spacious bathroom with a tub and a separate small shower with glass doors. The toilet is in a separate room, which made getting four adults ready in the morning more efficient.
The kitchen was only big enough for one person. My wife cooked all breakfasts and three dinners, and found it well equipped with cookware of good quality. Glassware and dinnerware were of good design.
Problems or Bonuses
No surprises. The apartment surpassed our expectations.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Gail of Perfectly Paris was prompt with e-mail responses to questions and grew up in Canada, so speaks English well. The check-in representative was an expatriate whose first language is English. The cleaning team spoke English with an accent. All representatives were most helpful, in accommodating our late arrival (due to difficulty locating our shuttle van at the airport; fortunately my daughter-in-law carried a T-Mobile cell phone which works in Europe) and in allowing us to store luggage at the apartment during the clean-up before the next renters arrived. The price in 2007 was €1050 per week year around.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We liked the apartment and the fact that it was not directly on the street, and we liked being in Montmartre. The sex shop district around the Pigalle Metro stop might make some uncomfortable, but the buildings above the shops were attractive and the boulevard has a landscaped median for pedestrians and cyclists, so one can avoid walking directly by them. And where else in Paris can one buy a fresh baguette on a Sunday night?
Things to do in this area
I celebrated my 65th birthday at L'Entracte on rue d'Orsel. It is a classic tiny bistro whose owner, Gilles Chiriaux, greets guests then cooks in a tiny kitchen while an assistant waits on tables. Not a fancy place, but good for traditional bistro food at moderate prices.
Sacre Coeur is the big site to see (the funicular up the hill is fun and costs the same as any other ride on the Metro system). There is a modest Montmartre museum, featuring an old zinc bar -- which one can still find in use in a few wine bars and cafes. My wife enjoyed visiting graves of celebrities in the Montmartre Cemetery (ask for a map at the gatehouse).
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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