We arrived in Paris with the intent of staying a week, then taking ‘flight’ to discover the country. Change of plans. We couldn’t bear to spend so little time with our friends. We wanted more, more, more of our City of Light.
We were ‘covered’ for that first week with stays in 3 different apartments of friends, and that gave us some insight about our preferences. The first and second apartments were in nicely secluded little passageways. BUT. One was relatively spacious with nice windows but poorly equipped. The next was quite small, though well equipped. The hunt was on.
Through local ads, we connected with a couple of potential apartments to rent on a monthly basis. Though our preference was the Latin Quarter, we were open to other locations. We nixed one well-located apartment, because there was an unusual set-up with a part-time renter occasionally sharing common quarters. Not our cup of tea.
We went to see another apartment in the 10th arrondissement under somewhat unusual circumstances. We received a call at 11:00 p.m. from the lady renting the apartment. Could we come to see the apartment now? Well, why not, as long as we could make the Metro to and from the location. So off we went into the night to meet a stranger and see the apartment.
We entered a door into an interesting, windowless, seemingly subterranean area. From there, we entered the apartment. The space was open enough. The furniture seemed comfortable, and the equipment sufficient; but the sleeping area was a visible, rounded cave-like alcove reached by a ladder. One window looked out at ground level on the street. We simply didn’t like the overall feeling, a kind of dark retreat in our “City of Light”.
It was then we realized that, while we didn’t have a formal list of preferences; we had instinctive desires – for light, comfort, cleanliness, relative quiet and, of course – safety. We were not ‘spoiled Americans’ in search of some kind of duplicate to the space and convenience we enjoy at home.
Our friend accompanied us to look at another apartment in the garment district. Like me in many ways, she embraces the overall charm of a place, while dismissing negatives. The apartment was crisply white and entirely charming with nice windows, but we could not get past the labyrinth of hallways past workroom doorways, up darkened stairways to reach the apartment.
Finally, we received a personal recommendation from a friend for a place in Montmartre – not our favorite location, but let’s take a look. The apartment was as charming as the owner (who lived in the same building) – an executive headhunter for the cosmetics industry in Paris. She had entirely converted the first floor apartment and blended genuine convenience with salon-style charm. A high-ceiling entry included a large, bright window, fireplace flanked by tall bookcases and cabinets and a grand mirror. The Pullman-style kitchen included every possible appliance and assortment of dishes. The sitting area was stylish and even included a piano – a nice touch, though we don’t play.
We then became Montmartre residents for a month, then for another week after our return to Paris. “Seek and ye shall find.” More about hints for discovering your perfect vacation rental next week!
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