Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 3519: Owner, Apartment at #3, Blvd. Morland, Paris (#130127)
2bed/1bath apartment in 4th arrondissement, Paris
May 5-17 2008, 12 nights
The apartment is in the fourth arrondissement, five minutes north-east of the eastern tip of Ile St. Louis, and it faces south-east on Blvd. Morland almost where that street meets the Seine. Thus, it's a wonderfully central position from which visitors can enjoy walking around the centre of the city or using the metro/bus to travel around town. Gare de Lyon and Gare d'Austerlitz are 10 minutes or less by foot; two other metro stops and a couple of bus-stops are even closer; two Velib bike-borrowing stations (if you have a smart credit card, you can use a bike for free for 30 minutes) are maybe three minutes' walk away. We didn't hear any noise from other inhabitants of the apartment, though Blvd. Morland is noisy enough during the day that we didn't really like having the front windows open.
A great little boulangerie/patisseries immediately across the street, and a very friendly grocery store a couple of minutes up the block, where we bought wine, fruit, veggies, a bit of cheese, etc. A bigger Franprix grocery store (budget products and prices) was about 10 minutes' walk away, and the higher-quality and price Monoprix maybe five more minutes away. The almost-daily Marche d'Aligre /Beauvais market, with artisanal counters inside and local growers' products outside, was no more than 15 minutes' walk away too.
Not sure how old the six-storey building is (maybe 100 years?) but as well as stairs, there's a one-year-old tiny elevator taking you to this third-floor apartment. This is budget accommodation: on your right when you come in the door are three "rooms," a toilet-closet (really, just big enough to house a toilet and you!), a one-person kitchen, and then the back bedroom (facing the quiet courtyard) off which is a narrow room with a little sink and a bathtub with shower. This division of plumbing is actually an asset for larger groups (we were five). On your left from the front door is first a little closet with the clothes-dryer and some space to hang clothes/store luggage; and beyond this are the three rooms facing Blvd. Morland: a bright dining-room with a generous-sized table and six dining-room chairs; it also has a long, narrow table with a computer. A second, quite large bedroom opens off the left of this room, with twin beds that can be pushed together (but won't necessarily STAY together). A fair-sized living room with pull-out couch opens off the right of the dining room. There's adequate space to store clothing and luggage, adequate lighting, and through-ventilation if you don't mind the noise of the boulevard. The owner supplies fans to cool the apartment; there's no air-conditioning, and it would perhaps be quite hot in the height of summer because of the south-east orientation and the big windows in the three front rooms facing the boulevard.
No outdoor sitting area; no pool; but geraniums in the window-boxes under all the windows.
The furniture was generally from Ikea -- functional, fairly low quality -- but adequate, though it would have been nice to have another comfy chair in the living room rather than the foosball table; we had to bring in a couple of dining-room chairs if we wanted to sit together in the living room (though we didn't do that too often, having been together all day and then coming home to shower/do a bit of food prep/use the computer/flake out on our own beds!) When the pull-out was put away for the day, it made a comfortable 2-3 person couch; the armchair in the same room was very comfortable.
The apartment was quite clean, though not spotless; we had no qualms about it (and I tend to have qualms when things aren't really clean).
The beds were, thankfully, excellent: the double in the back room has a really great memory-foam mattress, and the twins in the front room have firm, comfortable mattresses; the pull-out is apparently quite decent. Nice cotton bedding, two comfy pillows per person, I think, cozy duvets, lots of towels etc.
The kitchen is cramped for two unless you like to tango :) but it has lots of decent pots and pans and utensils, a good four-burner gas stove and oven, a full-sized fridge, a dish-washer and washing-machine. It was fine to cook in. There were a few basics in the cupboards (salt, pepper, tea) -- still usable things previous guests had left, I think. There could have been more plates/glasses/mugs etc.; we seemed to have to wash dishes more than I'd have like to but certainly enough of everything for one meal and its preparation.
Problems or Bonuses
The owner supplies not only the computer with Internet connection but a phone (shared line with her own) from which you can dial anywhere at no charge. She also supplied detergent for the washer and the dishwasher, which was nice. She supplied us all with terry-towel dressing-gowns too, which was great, and there are several umbrellas as well as lots of books and games and little-kids' toys in the apartment (and that foosball table).
Agency and Representatives (and price)
I found the apartment on the Homelidays website; it was highly recommended by previous occupants. The owner is friendly, helpful, and very pleasant; she is also the on site person, since she lives one floor down. I communicated with her by e-mail to make inquiries and then book; she sent me a proper short-term rental contract and asked me to return a copy to her to finalize our rental, which I thought good. She promptly answered my millions of questions about the apartment and its location and contents; her English is fluent (she and her husband are originally from Canada). Her representation of the apartment was honest. The photos on the web-site match it well. We paid €1540 for 12 nights, which is the rate listed on the web-site; there were no additional costs.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
The cons: the front rooms are either noisy OR potentially hot in the summer, depending on your noise tolerance; the furnishings aren't particularly charming; and the space is a bit cramped by North American standards , especially the three areas with plumbing: toilet/kitchen/tub-sink rooms (but after all, this isn't North America, and though I'm a size-16 woman I managed fine).
The pros: it's a great location from which to explore the whole centre of the city by foot/bus/metro/bike. It's a terrific price for five or even six people to have accommodation with full laundry/kitchen/computer/phone facilities, and though the apartment isn't huge, the high ceilings and the good ventilation made it seem airy and pleasant. Good beds. Really nice owner just a minute away. Probably ideal for a family of four with younger kids, since then you wouldn't have to put the pull-out away each day.
We'd probably stay here again if we were economizing, though we're five adults, unless it was at a warmer time of the year (though it was unusually warm in Paris during our stay, I think), just because we wouldn't want to have to have those big front windows open. (But I should add that we are a bit noise-adverse: we kept noticing while out on the streets how noisy Paris traffic is; and how much construction is taking place EVERYWHERE, adding to the yowls of motorcycles, the roars of trucks going by, and the rather belligerent and frequent car-horn exchanges).
Things to do in this area
Ile St. Louis and of course Ile de la Cite are RIGHT THERE; Place des Vosges is about 15 minutes' walk; the Jardin des Plantes is closer; the Bastille area is 10 minutes by foot -- great location!! Restaurant comments to follow separately.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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