Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 4043: Vacation In Paris, Historic (#1)
1bed/1bath apartment in the 2nd arrondissement, Paris
March 2009, 1 week
The location of this apartment is terrific. It is in the 2e, very centrally located to sights such as the Louvre (a 15 minute walk) or Notre Dame. This apartment was on a small, cobblestone pedestrian walkway off of Etienne Marcel. It was located one floor above ground level up a very old, circular stairway. The access door at ground level was accessed by digipad code or by key. To enter the apartment, you needed to pull the door firmly toward you while turning the key clockwise two times.
I loved the cobblestone road below the apartment. It was very pleasant to hear school children being walked to school each morning by their parents. Best of all, it was also one block away from rue Montorgueil, a wonderful pedestrian-only shopping area full of wonderful places to eat, shop, and buy food to prepare back in the apartment. There were two metro stations close by - Sentier at the end of rue Montorgueil and Etienne Marcel. A post office was right across the street and around the corner.
You could easily walk to rue Montorgueil. Just turn to the right when leaving the apartment. Walk about 50 steps to rue Montmarte, cross that tiny road, and walk one block down rue Mandar and voila - there is rue Montorgueil. Rue Montorguiel has many, many restaurants and cafes as well as quaint little specialty shops - one for cheeses, another for fish, another for cold cuts. Stohrer's, a famous pasterrie, is on rue Montorgueil. There is also a Monop for buying ready-to-eat food. There are also two little marches (grocery stores) for buying any other food. Our favorite boulangerie was Paul's. We went there every morning for our cafe creme and pain au chocolat. Also, be sure to purchase one of those wonderful rotisserie chickens and the little potatoes at the bottom of the roaster. They are excellent!
The apartment was a historic building. It was the home of the Countess duBarry, mistress of King Louis XV. Since the walls to the apartment were exposed stone and we were there in March with cold weather, we were at first concerned that the apartment would not be warm enough. But there are heaters in front of the windows and that kept the apartment cozy and warm.
The apartment was entered through a door that had very old, massive, medieval hinges. There was also an iron bar that went from the very top of the door to the very bottom of the door. When entering the apartment, there was a large, curtained window off to the right. The room contained a dining room table, a trundle bed that could be made into two beds, and a cabinet with all the cutlery. To the left of the entry room, was the small kitchen and also the small bathroom. Entering into the room and taking steps forward would put you into another room, the living room/bedroom.
Overall, things were in good shape. The walls could benefit from a fresh coat of paint but other than that, I thought the apartment was clean. There were five other apartments above us and we rarely heard noise from the occupants. I don't know what it is about the police cars in Paris but they seem to like to run their sirens a lot so we were treated to that unique sound of Paris on occasion. We only heard noise from the children walking to and from school and from the cobblestone-scrubber each morning around 7:30am. Oh, and on Saturday night, there was a lot of loud drunken singing from somewhere down the road. So, if you're there over a Saturday night, better bring earplugs or be a very sound sleeper.
There was no garden. The apartment overlooked a cobblestone pedestrian street.
The furniture was in good shape. The armoire in the living room was a nice piece of furniture. The red leather couch was very comfortable, which my husband claimed right away. I used the other chair and found it to be comfortable. The apartment was clean. There was a very unique piece of art hanging on the wall - a huge wooden carving. The TV worked well. My husband was thrilled to see that there were several TV stations in English - BBC news and Skynet. There was no Internet available but there were many, many books on Paris and France as well as paperback novels to read.
The bed was slightly bigger than a double-sized bed. It was very firm but comfortable. The bedroom was part of the living room area, which meant that my husband could stretch out on the couch to watch the news while I relaxed on the bed.
The bathroom was very small but adequate. It had white tile floor and a nice telephone-type shower. There was no storage area around the sink but there were three shelves where we stored our toiletries in an alcove next to the toilet. The bathroom was clean and we were pleased that enough toilet paper was there for our entire week's stay.
The kitchen was very small but completely usable. It had a microwave, oven, a two-burner range, a tiny refrigerator/freezer, sink and drainer, etc. There was a coffeepot, electric tea kettle, and toaster. The kitchen had all the pots and pans, cutlery, and utensils that I needed in order to cook some meals. In addition, there was salt, pepper, olive oil, sugar, seasonings, etc. in the cupboard as well as dish washing liquid.
Since we like to have a cup of coffee as soon as we roll out of bed, it was very convenient to be able to do that. Also, we shopped for food daily at rue Montorgueil so I would either cook meals in the kitchen or assemble a meal from ready-to-eat items that we purchased at the Monop or the Marche.
Problems or Bonuses
The only bad thing was the noise on Saturday night. That did make it hard for us to sleep but the other nights, it was very quiet.
One other thing - although this is a very safe area, Paris is indeed, a "big city" and as such, suffers from crime like any other big city. Someone did attempt to break in to the apartment. We had taken the Eurostar to London for the day. When we returned, late that evening, it was evident that someone had taken a crowbar to the door to try to get in. They hadn't counted on those heavy medieval hinges nor did they know about the metal rod in the inside, so their attempt was unsuccessful. I called the VIP contact person right away that evening to let him know. He was absolutely shocked and said that nothing like that had ever happened before. In fact, at first, he was rather disbelieving until I described exactly what the door looked like. He then sent out an insurance person the next day (while we were gone) and then he called us the next evening to apologize for the whole situation. He, in fact, apologized at least four times during the conversation.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We were treated very well by the representatives of VIP. Most of our contacts were by email. They were very professional and answered my questions promptly. I asked for references and they promptly emailed me a list of people who had stayed there before. I also liked having the key in my hand when we arrived.
In addition, the two times I spoke to their Paris contact, he was extremely polite. It was nice that he could speak English and it was reassuring to know that I could call him if I needed to.
The price we paid for our one week in March 2009 was :
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Yes, I would stay here again. I'd be prepared for the Saturday night noise and I'd feel secure that the heavy door is adequate to keep out any would-be thieves. I would also suggest this apartment to my friends after letting them know about problems we had. The location just can't be beat.
Things to do in this area
We shopped on rue Montorgueil as well as walking down to the Louvre, taking a Vendette Pont Neuf Seine river cruise, Notre Dame, St. Chappelle, etc.
A further note - we had our netbook with us and since our apartment didn't have WiFi, we went to the Starbuck's on rue Montorgueil and bought Internet time. It was reasonable in cost and you could buy 30 minutes or an hour's time. The time was good for a whole month so if you didn't use it all up at once, you could come back again and use it. A further note about WiFi - the parks have free WiFi but we never could get a strong enough signal in order to connect. We found many sandwich shops around Paris that would give you 20 minutes of free time if you purchased food.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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