Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 4046: Drawbridge to Europe, Rue de Birague (#338)
1bed/1bath apartment in 4th arrondissement, Paris
May 2008, 7 nights
The apartment is located on the second floor (American) of an old building on Rue de Birague, in the Marais neighborhood of Paris. The street dead-ends into the Place de Vosges, so does have some foot traffic but very limited vehicle traffic. On the ground floor of the building next door is a restaurant, across the street is a small market, a number of little boutique stores, and a little bar (which was generally pleasantly lively without being irritatingly loud). This apartment is right between two Metro stops on Rue de Saint Antoine - Saint Paul and Bastille - which are each about three to five minutes in either direction. Really, I cannot say enough about this location. It was absolutely fabulous. The area has a lot of shopping - clothing, shoes, housewares - as well as a number of eateries - bakeries, cafes, fast food - and even a supermarket. Walking to the Jewish district for the famous falafel and myriad of shopping options was very easy and we spent a great deal of time wandering this area. The location is really one of the winning features to this apartment!
There are bakeries and many cafes very close - in fact, there is a restaurant right next door which was pretty tasty. If you want groceries, there is a supermarket down the street, between the apartment and the Saint-Paul metro stop. There is also a pharmacy on that same stretch. I believe there were a few Internet cafes in the area, though we never used one. There are restaurants everywhere - the trouble is not finding one, it is deciding which one to stop at!
The building is charming. You enter through a heavy, blue, wood door, and there is a glass security door on the inner lobby, which is nice. It has a spiral staircase; I don't remember there being a lift. The apartment is on the second floor (American), right off of the stairs and is accessed through an outer and then an inner door. The apartment is small, but very bright, as the side facing the street has two large windows. The windows are double-paned, so the sound from the street can be shut out if desired. I have no idea how many other apartments there were in the building, or how many of them were rentals, because I don't remember really coming into contact with any other tenants/occupants.
You can view the property directly: Rue de Birague.
There is no outside sitting area, or a garden, or a pool. However, a few buildings down, the street dead-ends into the Place de Vosges, which is a large park, so we picnicked there a few times, along with school-children, teenagers, runners, students, and others enjoying the lovely day.
As for the apartment itself, I found the window-seat to be an enjoyable place to sit and watch the street come to life in the mornings.
My one complaint about the apartment was the quality of the furniture. It really needs updated furniture and decorations. The hangings on the walls are just plastic-framed posters, the couch is getting pretty faded, and I have no idea what is going on with that basket-like coffee table.
That said, the linens were all clean, and the apartment itself was very clean. It has lovely hard wood floors, and I love the French doors sectioning the bedroom off from the rest of the apartment.
The bed is two singles that can be pushed together to be a double.
The bedroom has a useful little closet where you can store all of your clothes and still have room to stow your suitcases.
The bathroom is fine. The shower is a stall shower (no tub) so it may be a little cramped if you are a larger person, but I suppose that is the story with all stall showers. The shower is new and clean and there was plenty of hot water.
There are enough pots and pans and dishes and utensils. You will probably need to stock your own spices. We cooked a few dinners there for the two of us and thought it was fine. It is a small kitchen, so only one person fits inside comfortably, but others can assist in preparation from the other side of the bar.
Problems or Bonuses
Good surprises - a washing machine! And a drying rack. And an iron!
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Karin, with the Agency, was extremely helpful. We'd actually purchased our plane tickets just a week in advance, so we had contacted her at the last minute about an apartment, which was not available. She gave us a few choices in our range and was able to provide useful information about the neighborhoods surrounding each apartment, so we could make an educated decision. Since the agency is located in Oregon, language was not a problem.
If I remember correctly, I believe payment was made through Paypal, which was efficient, and the security deposit was refunded within a few weeks of our return.
I think the information on the website accurately reflects the apartment. I think the pictures may make it look slightly larger than it is, but not so much that it was too small for our needs. Just pay attention to the square footage - 430 square feet is not large, but it works fine when the space is efficiently utilized, as in this apartment.
For us, the key was left with the grocer across the street. I'm not sure if that is the custom, or if that was the arrangement due to our late notice. Either way, it worked just fine. He didn't speak English, but knew exactly what we were talking about. There was an information binder that had contact information for someone who did speak English. That person called to make sure we arrived OK and that we understood about how the electric metering worked, and also called again to see how our stay had been on the night before our departure.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would certainly stay here again, and I would recommend it to my friends. I think the location was fantastic. The apartment was cute. And the agency was pleasant to work with. These things combined to make an excellent rental experience.
I would say, it is probably best as a two-person apartment, or maybe a couple with one child. I think more than two or three would feel cramped. So - definitely recommended for couples, but as it is really more of a studio, not so much for families, just based on the space. Though, some families are close, so whatever!
Overall - I was very pleased with this apartment!
Things to do in this area
In this area, we tended to wander aimlessly quite a bit. We ate everywhere. We window-shopped a lot. Also, the immediate proximity to the Metro made getting anywhere else in town a very easy event, which is a huge bonus when you feel like you have walked and walked and walked and walked and walked...
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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