My images of the apartment I rented in the Pigalle neighborhood. For more and to see the agency’s pics go here.
During my most recent trip to Paris, I rented an apartment through Haven in Paris, a boutique, luxury, vacation rental agency. I have been to Paris a number of times, the first time being while in university and spending a semester studying in Strasbourg, France. Aside from an early stay at a hotel – more hostel – I have stayed with my best friend who moved to Paris not long after we graduated university. She has great taste, is a fantastic cook, and well of course we stay up to all hours talking and she is the best tour guide – I am always learning things from her about the art and architecture in the city, where to get the best coffee or Vietnamese food… However, now that she has a serious boyfriend and they live together (he is amazing, yay!), and because I knew I would be exhausted coming off of nearly four weeks in East Africa, I wanted to rent an apartment in the city where I could spread out. Several years ago I read about Haven in Paris and dreamed of staying in one of their gorgeous apartments and living like a Parisian – if only for a week and only sort of. This trip I wanted the authentic Paris experience and I got it!!
Having my own kitchen where I could make soup at night and put out a spread of French cheeses and where I could toast a baguette in the morning and slather with French jam. Divine. I shopped at markets, learned about boar pate – delicious – bought little tarts and still every day made my way to a cafe somewhere in the city for a cup of coffee – or a bowl of hot chocolate. Haven in Paris provides a greeter to give you the lay of the land of the apartment and neighborhood. Mine turned me onto a fantastic boulangerie a couple blocks away.
I never had to think about someone coming to clean the apartment. If I wanted to return mid-day there was no housekeeping staff whose way I would be in.
The balcony and view – the light in the morning and at night – a sort of burnt yellow or pink was incredible and even though it was too cold for me to sit outside I was able to open up the doors during the mornings for a couple hours to let in some fresh air and the sounds of the city. No way could I have afforded as nice a hotel room as this space!
Plus, bonus, I had wireless service and calls to the U.S. for no extra charge. After not hearing friends voices for a month that was a very welcome service.
Next time I travel anywhere for a month – where I am actually based in one town – I am definitely renting an apartment. The hotel experience is so impersonal.
Erica Berman, the creator of Haven in Paris, took time to answer a few questions I had about Paris – tips I hope those of you considering traveling there will find useful.
When did you first feel the pull of Paris?
After college when I went to France, and when I got to Paris I stayed there rather than traveling around Europe.
Describe the moment you knew you would be forever drawn to Paris.
Sitting in a café near the Luxembourg Gardens.
When did you decide you wanted to maintain rental apartments there?
(Erica described this as a twist of circumstances.) My parents came to Paris and stayed in a friend’s apartment and loved it so much. No one was doing it. That was 1994.
What keeps you going back (to Paris) now?
I love it, have friends there, and visit our properties.
Which season makes Paris feel most alive?
All of them. They are all wonderful in different ways.
What do you miss most about Paris when you are away?
The light and the food probably. There is a very particular light in Paris that is beautiful.
Where are your favorite places to go (in Paris) with friends?
Jardins du Palais Royal
Neighborhoods off the beaten path
Belleville/Menilmontant and the markets and shops there
Canal St Martin
Goutte D’Or (and its morning African market bi-weekly)
Le Bal Cafe (love the food too)
Hidden Garden in Montmartre:
Jardin Burq 18th
Garden in Marais on rue Payenne
Love – HolyBelly (amazing breakfast along with coffee)
For more on Paris check out the agency’s helpful blog here.