Jean-Pierre met me at the front of the building on a cobblestone street in the 3rd arrondissement. He smelled of cigarette smoke and was dressed very professionally. He introduced himself and preceded to walk me through the lovely cobblestone courtyard and upstairs to my little studio apartment I was staying in via Go With Oh. This was my 4th trip to Paris, and I had decided to stay in an apartment to have a more homey, local experience in Paris.
So far everything was pretty typical – but then he opened the door to the studio and that’s when things went from average to great. Normally when you see pictures of an apartment online it always seems more spacious than it is really in person. Mainly because of the trickery of wide angle lenses. But I was pleasantly surprised when the studio was much more spacious that what I was expecting.
It had lovely afternoon light streaming through the sheer curtains as Jean Pierre started going through the apartment explaining things to me. You could tell it was recently renovated however they left a rustic feel with exposed ceiling beams. Jean Pierre opened every cupboard and showed me where things were. He showed me how to use the appliances, including the washing machine (which always seems to trip me up in Europe). In all of my 8 years of traveling the globe and staying in apartments, I had never had an apartment owner be so thorough before. Most owners I had come across don’t really care, they fill the apartment with the Ikea furniture and outfit it to the bare minimum in order to get it out there on the market. They give you keys and say goodbye leaving you to figure stuff out yourself.
I do love staying in holiday apartments as I travel around the globe – I’ve written about their numerous benefits many times – but I don’t always write about the frustrations I have with them. My frustration normally stems around the fact that the owners try to do as little as possible to make it a real ‘home’. They have a bare minimum of items in the home, and don’t even furnish condiments, paper towels, or cleaning supplies typically. It drives me insane to be staying at a holiday apartment for a week and have to buy a whole container of salt or a bottle of olive oil in order to cook in the kitchen. When you are forced to buy all of the staples of the apartment you lose the benefit of the short term apartment rental as you spend more money just outfitting the place to cook than you would going out to eat over the course of 3 to 5 days. The owners also seldom provide you information on your surroundings such as markets, shops, transportation, etc. I always felt these things would be easy to do – yet people have disappointed me time and time again. Until now.
To my surprise the cabinets were stocked with condiments – salt, pepper, oil, vinegar, tea and coffee. Not only did I have the necessary staples for cooking, but I also had them for housekeeping – dish soap, laundry soap, and paper towels!
Jean Pierre then walked me through a folder of information about where the nearest markets were, restaurants to try in the area, the TV channels, how to use the phone and make free overseas calls, and the wifi. I could tell that all of the neighborhood recommendations in the book he spoke of were personal as he told me about each and the owners there and why he recommends them.
As soon as Jean Pierre left – I started a load of laundry (because there was soap available!) and took my little shopping bag to go out to the nearest market on Jean Pierre’s map and start to settle in. I was so excited that I was in such a well cared for and run apartment – I was already kicking myself that I wasn’t staying longer than 3 nights!
And to top off my apartment experience, as I went out to explore the neighborhood I realized that it was a perfect location – nestled in the heart of Paris near the Seine, Pompidou, Notre Dame, Louvre, cafes, shops, bars, and metro stops. I spent my three days mainly staying in my neighborhood exploring the Pompidou Center’s contemporary exhibitions, wandering around the Seine, and eating my fill of crepes at cafes watching the world go by. In fact it was so centrally located I didn’t even come close to using my 10 pack of Metro tickets I purchased when I arrived!
And I’ve saved the best for last – all of this for $82USD a night.It left me wondering why anyone would ever stay in a hotel in Paris when you could have all of this in the center of the city – plus laundry!
It’s rare I meet apartment owners who understand what a traveler is really looking for in a holiday rental –but this one was spot on – making it the best places I’ve ever stayed in Paris.
A big thanks to my internet provider TelecomSquare who once again saved me as I arrived in Paris and had to find my directions and communicate with the apartment owner to meet them. I love that when I arrive in a new country my mifi device works seamlessly!
Disclosure: My stay was hosted by Go With Oh. However this really was the best holiday apartment I had ever stayed in and would have gladly paid my own money to stay there. All opinions on this site are mine.