Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 4529: Owner, 4 Avenue Rodin
1bed/1bath apartment in 16th arrondissement, Paris
April 2010, Three nights
The apartment is located in a pleasant, residential neighborhood in the 16th arrondissement. While the area was nice, it was a bit removed from the center of things for my taste (others may find this to be a plus).
Everything was nearby. There was a Paul bakery on the same street as the building as well as an independent bakery, both of which had coffee to go. There was also a Franprix supermarket a few doors down. Although I did not frequent them, there were also multiple cafes and restaurants within easy walking distance.
The building dates from the 1930s and is in good shape. The apartment is a maisonette (i.e., ground floor apartment accessible directly from the sidewalk) so I never had to walk over to the main lobby and therefore have no idea how many other apartments there are in the building. The layout was unusual, but very functional. On the ground floor of this duplex there was a dramatic double height living room, dining area, full kitchen and guest bath.
Climbing up the grand, art deco staircase one arrives at a mezzanine office/library area that is quite usable and loaded with every imaginable book on France and the French. There is also a television in this area with two chairs in front. Also on this second floor is a full bath and the bedroom.
The apartment was peaceful overall, however the bedroomís window is on an active street which caused issues with sleeping (see ďproblemsĒ below).
No garden or common outside areas that I could see.
The apartment gets an A+ in the cleanliness and interior design departments. The furnishings were stylish and reflect the art deco design of the building. The sitting areas were well thought out, and there were plenty of chairs.
As for the bedroom, the bed was very comfortable and there was plenty of closet space. There was also sufficient lighting, a telephone and another television. The bathroom was probably the nicest that Iíve ever had in a vacation rental. It was huge and had both a tub and a walk-in shower Ė a combo that is normally only found in five star hotels in Paris. There were hand-milled French soaps and an abundance of thick towels as well as a towel heater.
The kitchen was completely tricked out. There was a washer/dryer combo unit, dishwasher as well as full fridge and freezer. I donít cook when Iím on vacation, but if I wanted to I certainly could here. There was every type of appliance you could ask for, as well as a full compliment of high quality pots, pans, dishes, utensils, yada, yada. There was also a good supply of kitchen staples such as olive oil, spices and condiments.
Problems or Bonuses
Alrighty then, here we go. Letís start with the good surprises. First and foremost the apartment did not have the usual soulless and vacant vibe that many vacation rentals do (i.e., no artwork, basic furniture, no supplies) but rather you felt as if youíd arrived at the apartment of a good friend who had just stepped out. It really felt homey, comfortable and lived in. There was a cheese plate, bottle of wine, oranges, bananas and fresh bread on the dining room table, which was a nice surprise. There was also bottled water in the fridge. Another surprise was that one could make free calls to the US. Finally, when I inquired about a computer, the owner had the on site person set up a laptop for my use. I really appreciated that.
Now we get to the bad. When I checked-in, the lock on the front door broke when I tested it out (this is why I always make sure to try everything out while the caretaker is still present). The caretaker, Mona, earnestly tried to get the locksmith who had installed the lock to come and fix it as it was under guaranty. It appears, however, that in France guarantees do not apply to occurrences that take place on a Saturday. The choices were to either pay the locksmith some exorbitant amount to come fix the lock immediately, or wait until Monday for the lock to be fixed whereby Mona would in the interim stay in the apartment while I did whatever I had to do in Paris (one could lock the apartment from the inside, but not gain access to it from the outside with a key). At some point, it became obvious that Mona and the owner decided on the more thrifty (and more labor intensive) option. On paper, this looked fine from my perspective because it didnít stop me from doing what I wanted to do. It did not, however, put me in a particularly gallant position to make a woman who could be my mother wait for me to return from dinner until midnight or 1:00am (which in fact happened on both Saturday and Sunday night). It actually felt pretty lousy to tell you the truth, and deprived me of my privacy.
The other thing which prevented me from fully enjoying this apartment was the fact that my sleep was disturbed every single morning of my stay there. On the first morning, a loud drunk decided to howl by the bedroom window for several minutes at around 5:00am. Cheers monsieur! Then on the next two mornings a garbage truck woke me up at around 7:00am. These events might not have been issues had the apartment been on a high floor, but when youíre right on top of the street on the second floor, trust me, theyíre issues.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The owner, Alex P., was courteous and responsive during the booking process. Also, my deposit was returned to me only a few days after I returned home. That was impressive. The on site person, Mona, was helpful and, obviously, very accommodating. I paid US$295/night in April 2010 (see website for rates during other periods).
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Ah, hereís one of those moments in life that is not black and white. Would I stay here again? No, because while the broken lock could be viewed as a one-time event, that window in the bedroom ainít moving anytime soon, and any noise issue on that street is going to be a noise issue in the bedroom. To be fair, I was well aware that the bedroom window faced onto an active street, but I guess I allowed myself to be seduced by the other noteworthy features of the apartment. Would I recommend this place to someone else? Maybe, if the person was an early riser and didnít mind the guaranteed 7:00am wake-up call. If one could make oneís peace with that, then I think this apartment presents a very good value.
Things to do in this area
I didnít do a whole lot in this area because I was busy elsewhere with friends and appointments, but there were plenty of shops and restaurants nearby and you could easily walk to the Bois de Boulogne.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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