Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 5272: Frenchy Rentals, Fontaine Classic
1bed/1bath apartment in 18th arrondissement, Paris
April 2012, 10 days
This apartment is advertised as being in Montmartre, but it is two blocks south of Boulevard de Clichy, so is not in the 'village' part of Montmartre. The neighbourhood is unusual - residential above street level, but there are a many bars and sex shops around the area that may be off-putting for some tourists, particularly at night. We never encountered a problem, nor did we hear any street noise to disturb us. Given the price, this was an excellent compromise.
There are lots of restaurants in walking distance, but you need to search to find really good ones. The Picard on Rue Lepic was a frequent visit for good cheap frozen meals. So much selection that it took ages for my kids to chose their meal to take home. There is also a reasonable pizza takeaway down the road with pizzas at €10 (not the one opposite the apartment). We caught the bus most of the time, using the RATP iPhone application to plan our journeys. I can't recommend this application more. It made a huge difference to our stay in Paris and helped us avoid the subways.
There is a small supermarket downstairs for essentials and a larger supermarket on Bld de Clichy about a 10 minute walk away. There is a nice boulangerie down the road and a wine store. The owners have even provided a shopping trolley, but you need to carry it back up the stairs!
The apartment is up one flight of an old spiral staircase, via two security doors. There is around five floors in the building. The apartment is small but bigger than a hotel room! There is four rooms: kitchen, bedroom, TV/study and sitting/dining room. There is a separate toilet and a shower room - you couldn't describe it as a bathroom and larger people may find it difficult to maneuver. A fold-out sofa bed in the sitting/dining area was comfortable for my teens and the room big enough to leave the sofa bed open during the day and still eat at the small dining table. It was pleasant to eat breakfast by the front window and watch the street waking up. There was little street noise but there was low level noise from other apartments, which is to be expected in such an old building. The weather was cold and wet during our stay, so we usually kept the windows closed at night. The heating was good.
There was no garden, simply a small courtyard for bins, which acted as a light well for the back rooms.
The furniture was very comfortable and well chosen. It was definitely not the owner's left overs. The only problem was that the TV room only had two sitting chairs, so one of us had to use a chair or ottoman to watch the DVDs available. However there really isn't room for any more furniture. Lighting is all from lamps - not sure whether this is typical in old Parisian buildings - but sufficient.
The apartment was clean on arrival, with fresh linen and thick soft towels. Essentials like soap, toilet paper, dish-washing liquid and washing power were provided. The parquetry floors are old, uneven and noisy, and rugs seek to cover these, but sometimes the rugs moved and we tripped over them.
There is one small bedroom with a comfortable double bed. Although small, we were able to fit our three medium-sized suitcases on the floor of the bedroom, keeping the other rooms less cluttered. My kids found the sofa bed comfortable as well. There is a shower room, with a basin and small cupboard. A his dryer is provided. The hot water is limited, especially when traveling with a teenager daughter, so we rostered our washing.
The kitchen is small but renovated, with a cooktop, oven, microwave, fridge and washer/dryer. I didn't really cook as the pots and pans, and space, was limited. We tended to do our food preparation on and around the cooktop. There were some basic food stuffs in the cupboards, which was handy. The kitchen had one of those two way windows, which provided secure fresh air during the evenings. The washer/dryer was excellent and the washing powder provided which was terrific. There was a clothes airer to dry clothes.
Problems or Bonuses
The free WiFi was excellent and greatly appreciated. Using the WiFi, we were able to us the RATP iPhone application to plan our daily metro/bus trips, bookmark the metro/bus lines we needed, and were then able to access these without WiFi during the day.
The apartment is obviously a place where the owners stay themselves. The furnishings, linen and bed are comfortable and of quality. The neighbours were friendly and other than the occasional crying baby (there are four strollers parked in the foyer), and the dull hum of a TV in another apartment at night, the apartment is really quiet. The DVDs were a nice treat and my kids watched a series of 24 during the evenings. Even though there are four rooms, the apartment is small, but it is still comfortable and light.
There are lots of sightseeing and restaurant hints provided from previous renters and the owners. Several Paris books and French phrase books on the book shelves.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Frenchy Rentals are tailored for the US and English-speaking market. The website is in English and Paula, the agent, is an ex-pat. Paula was very helpful through the inquiry, booking and arrival stages. She provided us with instructions and met us on arrival to explain the apartment to us. She made herself available during our stay, although we didn't need her assistance. I booked with this agency because of the good reviews on SlowTrav. It probably isn't the cheapest, but I wanted to have confidence in what I would receive. I paid €135 a night, with half paid on booking, the remainder one month from arrival. A damage deposit was required, which was quickly refunded following check-out. The payment process was via PayPal.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I enthusiasticly recommend Frenchy Rentals to other travellers. The experience was very positive. An apartment is always more comfortable for longer stays and allowed us to relax without being on top of each other as in a hotel room. Would I stay at this apartment again? Yes, but noting that there are nicer parts of Montmartre, and Paris, to be located. We essentially travelled out of the area each day and so public transport costs were a reasonable expense. I prefer walking, but the bus network close to this apartment was more than adequate to get us around.
Things to do in this area
Rue Lepic is a few blocks away, however, the 'village atmosphere' is further up hill in Montmartre, as is the Sacre Cour. The Moulin Rouge is the closest 'attraction' which was of no interest to us.
We found a lovely French Algerian restaurant, L'Avenir, at 51 Rue Blanche; and a good Indian at a small square above Saint Georges, in Gustave Toudouze. The Picard frozen food store was also regular visit for cheap and good meals.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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