Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 914: Perfectly Paris, Villa des Platanes
2bed apartment in Montmartre, Paris
31 May - 13 June 2003, 2 weeks
The apartment is located in the Montmartre area, up Rue Lepic from the Moulin Rouge. There are a number of apartment buildings surrounding a private parklike courtyard. The external windows (bedrooms, living room) overlooked a small, quiet section of the internal courtyard. The internal windows (kitchen, hallway) opened into an "air shaft" (i.e., it was outside, but the only view was of other apartment windows and the elevator shaft).
The apartment was peaceful and quiet except for one night when a wedding reception was held in the main part of the courtyard until around 11:30 pm at night. It was not annoying, i.e., no loud garish music, just surprising that the event lasted so late into the night (I think it was around 2 or 3 pm when we arrived back at the apartment - I figured everyone would be gone by 10 pm.) It was also "noisy" around dinner time when the Parisian apartment dwellers arrived home from work and began cooking meals. The "noise" of family life added to the simulation of pretending to be someone who actually lived in Paris. Every once in awhile we would here the pitter-patter of little feet toddling across the floor above us, but this was not disturbing and again helped us pretend we were citizens of Paris.
Although initially taken aback by the security measures needed to enter the private courtyard, I never felt unsafe during our stay. And it gave me goosebumps to think I was living in Paris just up the street from where the Impressionists artists hung out (i.e., the Moulin Rouge).
There are many little cafes along Rue Lepic on the way toward the Moulin Rouge (we never did walk up the opposite direction past Rue Robert Planquette, so I don't know what is up that way). There are small general stores nearby, with a large department store/supermarket at the bottom of Rue Lepic (across the street from the Moulin Rouge). The hardest part for us was buying too many groceries at one time and having to lug them up the incline of Rue Lepic back to the apartment.
The apartment is in the Villa des Platanes complex, which was built in 1896. The building is a historical monument. I have no idea how many other apartments are in the building. There were never too many people around when we were coming or going (probably since we went out after everyone had already left for work and returned before everyone arrived back home). The building did not appear run-down, just old (i.e., historical). There is an elevator in the building, but it is very small. The stairway was dimly lit.
There was a nice parklike private courtyard for the few apartment building that surrounded it. There were some sitting areas in the courtyard. The courtyard did not have a pool.
The furniture was in good shape, comfortable, and consistant with the historical nature of the building. There were enough chairs for everyone. Note that the "dining room" is actually a corner of the living room.
All of the bedrooms and bath "rooms" are off a long hallway. The beds were comfortable, but low to the ground. The bedrooms were pleasant and roomy, with relaxing, peaceful views onto a quiet section of the private courtyard. There was a a toilet and short sink in a little room off the hallway, and a bathtub/shower and full sink in a bigger room a few feet down the hallway. The bathtub/shower room had a towel warming rack. The short sink in the toilet room was hard to use, and there was not that much clearance between the sink and the toilet. The bathtub/shower had a very high side which made it a little difficult to step in and out.
The kitchen was usable, but tiny, with not much counter space. It was well equipped with a microwave, toaster, coffee-maker, two-burner cooktop, tiny sink, dishwasher (which was out of commission when we were there), and washer/dryer. There were enough pans and dishes; they were of good quality. I enjoyed cooking in the kitchen mostly because I could hear the sounds and smell the wonderful aromas as the other apartment dwellers prepared their meals. Our meals were mostly one dish simple things (burgers, BLTs, spaghetti)that did not require extended preparation or many pots and pans. A "real" cook used to a typical American large country kitchen America might find the kitchen somewhat constraining. (The cooking area was probably similar to what you would encounter in an RV.)
Problems or Bonuses
Problems: - Learning how to unlock the door to the apartment took some getting used to. - While the pictures on the web site accurately reflect what the apartment looks like, you don't really get a true sense of the "closed-in" nature of the small kitchen (which may be just fine by Parisian standards, but was tiny in comparison to kitchens in our detatched, single family houses back home) nor that the dining "room" is simply a table with 4 chairs in the corner of the living room. - I was somewhat dismayed by the graffiti on Rue Robert Planquette, and the fact that the building was behind locked gates (i.e., buyer's remorse). - The incline of Rue Lepic was tiring at the end of a day of sightseeing. - I didn't expect all the sex shops between the Moulin Rouge and the post office where we went to exchange our money (I was somewhat embarrassed to walk past them with my MOTHER along!).
Bonuses: I loved all the little food shops along Rue Lepic. One night I "made" dinner by just obtaining edibles at the various shops - the best part was walking into the bakery to buy a baugette! The apartment had a laptop with high speed DSL which was very handy.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We booked with the owner, Gail Boisclair. She spoke excellent English and was extremely helpful (even recommending what cheese I should use for my omelettes, since cheddar was so hard to come by). She answered all emails in a timely manner. She met us at the courtyard gate at the arranged time. Cost was $1575 USD for 12 nights in June 2003.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
YES! I would love to stay here again, and would recommend it to my best friend.
The only warning is to avert your eyes when crossing the street to the metro station across from the Moulin Rouge - there is a peep show on the corner which we had to walk by two times a day almost every day. Families with young children might not want to stay in this area.
Also, Rue Lepic does not look like that much of a hill, but after walking the streets of Paris all day long, the walk from the metro station back to the apartment can be tiring.
The courtyard does have steps, so I would not recommend it for anyone with limited mobility.
Things to do in this area
The Moulin Rouge is just down the street (but we never went to a show there). Also, if you want to visit the Sacre Cour, take the metro and then the funicular up the hill. It is really quite a hike to walk from the apartment (although on the map it didn't look that far) - and A LOT of steps too!
I would have liked to visit the Salvadore Dali Museum, but did not have the time. Of course, any part of Paris is easy to get to - the closest metro station is only about a 10 minute walk. Be sure to visit the Musee Marmottan and the Picasso Museum.
Day trips to Giverny and the Loire Valley are options also. Don't miss Saint Chapelle, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, or the d'Orsay. And plan on visting the Louvre over parts of three different days (it's too big to take in all at once, and sections are closed on various days).
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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