Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 3362: Vacation in Paris, Studio with a Million Dollar View (#87)
Studio apartment in Montmartre, Paris
May 2007, 1 week
The location is terrific. The apartment is on the Rue des Abbesses in Montmartre. The street is lined with restaurants, cafes, wine shops, cheese shops, and bakeries. The Place des Abbesses and the Abbesses Metro stop are just down the street, and Sacre Coeur and Place du Tertre are about a 10-minute stroll (uphill, of course, since this is Montmartre). Noise -- mostly singing accompanied by accordions -- can drift up to the apartment at night if you have the terrace doors open, but it was perfectly quiet when they were closed.
Montmartre is away from the center of Paris, of course, but the Metro is so close that it didn't bother us in the slightest, and the views from Montmartre and the charm of the neighborhood more than make up for its distance from Kilometer Zero.
There are numerous cafes, patisseries, etc. on Rue des Abbesses. You could eat every meal at a different spot on the street for the entire week and not exhaust them all. Being able to step outside and get still-warm baguettes and pain au chocolate was a treat.
The building was nice and quiet; the only sounds we heard from other apartments were a piano and someone singing scales one morning. There are many other apartments in the building, but we only saw other people a couple of times, and they were always friendly. The building has coded entry and the apartment is accessed with a typically complicated French key -- it takes some practice to get the hang of it.
One note of caution: the apartment is on the sixth floor (seven flights, for Americans) and there is no elevator. We counted 115 steps from the street to the apartment. While this sounds like a lot, we only ever went up them once a day, so it didn't bother us too much (except for carrying the luggage up), but it would not be a good fit for older people or someone with difficulty walking. The views from the apartment/terrace are fantastic and well worth the exercise, we thought.
The apartment itself is a small studio with a kitchenette, French double bed, table with two chairs, and a bathroom with a single-person shower. If you spent a lot of time in the apartment you'd probably find it cramped, but if you are using it mostly as a place to rest it's fine for 1-2 people.
You can view the apartment directly: Million Dollar Apartment.
Quite frankly, the terrace was one of the main reasons we rented this apartment and it did not disappoint. It's small and the chairs are a bit low and uncomfortable, but the views are positively gorgeous. Whenever we were in the apartment and weren't in bed, we were sitting on the terrace. Coming back after a day out in the city and having some wine and chocolate on the terrace while listening to the streets below and watching the lights of the Eiffel Tower come on was one of the greatest pleasures of our trip.
The cafe chairs in the apartment are fine. There are also two very small wicker rocking chairs with narrow backs -- we'd not seen anything similar before and haven't since -- that aren't the most comfortable things in the world. After you sit in them for a while they're OK, but they definitely take some getting used to. The apartment was not spotless, but was clean enough for our tastes.
There is a TV in the apartment that I struggled to operate (there were three different remotes) until my wife reminded me that we didn't come to Paris to watch "The Simpsons" dubbed into French.
The bed is a French double bed, so it's a little smaller than an American double. If there are two of you in the apartment, you should be a couple or the bed will force you to become one.
The bathroom was the only real problem we had with the apartment. The door wouldn't stay shut -- the lock was broken and the door just swung open unless you carefully balanced it just shy of closed. There was also a burnt-out light bulb in the bathroom and, most distressingly, a shattered bulb still screwed into the socket with its filament exposed and surrounded by jagged glass. Someone came into the apartment and fixed this the second day we were there, but it was a pretty nasty thing to see on first arriving. Also, we neglected to bring any soap or shampoo with us, and there was none in the apartment that we could find, so we had to run out and get some.
There is a small kitchenette. Apart from making coffee and using the corkscrew and wine glasses, we didn't do anything in the kitchen, but it seemed adequately stocked with flatware, plates, etc.
Problems or Bonuses
We were supposed to have a bottle of wine awaiting us when we arrived, but it wasn't there, and the broken bulb in the bathroom was an unpleasant surprise. The day after we arrived, someone came into the apartment while we were out, fixed the bulb, left the bottle of wine, and tidied up a bit. There wasn't any notice that this was going to happen, so it was a little disconcerting when we returned at the end of the day, though we were glad to see the bulb fixed. I'm not sure if they just got our arrival date wrong -- we got the keys in the mail several weeks before -- or what, but this struck us as strange, especially since they didn't leave any note to apologize or even acknowledge that they had been there.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Vacation in Paris was very professional. They are based in New Jersey, so there were no difficulties with communication or anything of that sort, and we were able to get the keys in advance, which made for a more flexible arrival schedule.
The price was great--we paid 109 USD per night. Given the terrace/view and the neighborhood, we thought it was a steal.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
While we probably wouldn't stay here again, that would only be because we wanted to try another area of the city. We would definitely recommend the apartment for someone on a budget who still wanted a great view and lovely location. You have to put up with some small inconveniences -- all those steps, the Metro, the not-quite-deluxe accommodations -- but we thought that the price and views from the terrace were worth it.
Things to do in this area
Sacre Coeur, Lapin Agile, Moulin Rouge -- all of the obvious Montmartre attractions are nearby. We also like the Cimetière de Montmartre, which was about a 10-minute walk from the apartment. Truffaut, Stendhal, Alexandre Dumas, Vaslav Nijinsky and many other notables are buried there, and the cemetery is quite peaceful and pretty.
Also, there were several cats in the neighborhood who were extremely friendly.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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