To travel is to take a journey into yourself

Bonjour tout le monde, ca va? If you’re here you probably want to talk about our favorite topic: Paris of course! It’s just an obsession for some of us, isn’t it? How is it that Paris never gets old? It’s one of the few places you can go over and over again and never see it all.

If you’re anything like me, you love to think about WHO created Paris…the vision that the people all had to have shared to build a city that would still be the benchmark for beauty and culture. And they did it dressed to the nines. With no electricity, just their imagination and determination they erected a place that we stroll sometimes without a second thought. But there are some of us who still want to see the Paris of the Parisians of the Past and experience what they had in mind for future generations to enjoy.

I’m talking about the Paris where you feel at home. Not going to monuments but instead going to the special parts of the parks, to the homes of artists, visiting the ateliers and workshops where they lived and worked and sweated and created. It’s like going to visit old friends for some of us. Maybe we were there together in a past life!

image: Parc Monceau by Adam Gopnik

What about you? Is Paris on your bucket list? Maybe you’ve gone once, or even twice. I hear a lot of people say they just didn’t get it, that it didn’t resonate with them. Or that it’s changed. That’s because they didn’t get to see the real Paris. The intimate, exquisite, quiet, elegant and usually overlooked Paris. I continue to explore, and it seems the more I do the more there is to discover. Maybe the fact that you can never finish is part of the allure.

Even with my blog there are so many topics to get into that sometimes the vastness of its depth and beauty is incomprehensible. From the parks and gardens and passages to history, architecture, cabaret and follies, fashion, photography, food, shops, cafes, music, galleries, art, perfume, culture, wine, chocolate, cinema, museums, picnics, parks, gardens, ateliers, brocantes and of course the flea markets, there’s so much to see and do and taste and touch it’s like a banquet of beauty. In fact it’s a moveable feast, Hemingway was so right! And the buffet is endless.

And so, once again I’m heading back in September and have been putting together some new adventures, and you’re invited to come along. I like to share a different Paris than the one in the guide books, one that’s beautiful and serene. One that the Parisians of the past knew well and where they went to get away from the crowds to stroll and languish, paint, write and get inspired.

Lately there’s been interest in a lot of activities along with the usual trek to the fleamarkets, including off-the beaten path places like the vineyards of Montmartre, cooking in a private apartment, walking tours, jazz clubs, thrifting for designer fashions, restoration techniques, and lots more! We’re combing a little of each into our trips, creating an experience you won’t find anywhere else.

So take a look at what we’ve got simmering. If you’d like to join us, contact us and we’ll set it up. I want you to experience the Paris you’ve always dreamed about. Our trips can either be booked one on one (flea market shopping) or with a group which includes airport transfers, hotel or apartment, transportation to events, tickets and more. If you’re interested, contact me and let’s discuss your dream trip this fall. Below are the cliff notes and just a fraction of what’s in store. You’ll get a detailed itinerary with specific events and destinations when you book.

Sept 1-6

First Timer’s Trip

Joachim Hiltmann / Getty Images

I can’t begin to tell you what this trip entails but suffice it to say you’ll see a Paris that’s beyond magical. All the little streets you’ve seen IG’d, the picnics, the day trips, the cobblestone alleys and of course the places that can’t be missed, but from an angle that’s unexpected and unusual. 

Sept 6-12

Decor Tour:

image: Connaissance des Arts

This incredible week will be filled with treasure hunting and shopping for home decor. We’ll take you to find everything from mantles and doors to chandeliers and textiles at the flea markets.  We’ll also go to the world famous trade show, the Maison et Objet. You’ll go inside auctions and warehouses in and out of the city. It’s the perfect trip if you’re decorating a home, stocking a store or stocking up for shows and want to find linens, decor and home accessories at wholesale prices. 

Sept 13-19

Artist’s Ateliers & Workshops in Paris:

If you love going into private homes and workshops of artists who lived in Paris, this is the one for you. Parisians have had incredible foresight to keep certain places just as they were when the artist in residence lived and worked in the city. Many of these homes are tucked away right in the center of Paris. We’ll go on our tour to explore these homes and it truly feels like we’re going to the visit old friends and acquaintances from the past. 

September 21-26

Parisians of the Past – Salon Hostesses:

“Portrait de Juliette Recamier, femme de Lettres Francaise”. Francois Gerard 1805

We’ll visit the homes and haunts of the women who made Paris the center of the universe in the Age of Enlightenment. When there was nothing but dirt and oppression, these women decided they’d create a new world for themselves filled with beauty, culture, manners and etiquette. They designed clothing and interiors and gardens that are still the benchmark for good taste today.

Together we’ll walk in their footsteps enjoying the homes and salons that still stand in commemoration of their epic legacy by day and have evenings in our own modern salons that include cooking, music and dance.

Well that’s it for the moment! Bottom line is there’s a Paris that’s just for you, not a cookie cutter tour but an adventure that’s full of fun and discovery. A journey and experience that will leave you with a new appreciation for this truly magical place that’s just waiting to be rediscovered…by you!

If you’d like to schedule a day together in July, email claudia@theparisapartment.com. Et alors, ciao for now…à bientôt!

June 23, 2019. Ateliers, Auctions, Brocantes, Carnavalet, Clignancourt Market Paris, Day Trips, Decorating, Design, Design Show, exploring, Fashion, flea markets, Fleamarkets, French Chocolate, French Interiors, Friends, Furniture, Gardening, Going Green, Green, Hotels, Interiors, Paris, Paris Trip. 6 comments.

movin’ on up

bonjour tout le monde! i’m still in paris and have moved from the pretty little apartment in my last post to a more masculine, chic sort of modern place. as opposed to the one we just left which was on the first floor, this one is on the 6th and gives an entirely new perspective of the city.

it’s got a great view of the eiffel tower and windows that have caught both a full moon and setting sun.

as promised i’ve been talking with madelyn, the founder of paris perfect apartment rentals to learn more about what it’s like to live, work, renovate, restore and deal with the ins and outs of life in the city of light.

while digging through their website, i’ve come to realize that although we’ve been colleagues and friends for years, she is a treasure trove of information. i also came across an interview she had done previously with Paris Property Group which was really thorough so i thought i’d share it before the interview of our own:

An interview with Paris apartment rentals company Paris Perfect

Continuing our series of interviews with collaborators, we talk to Madelyn Willems of Paris apartment rentals company, Paris Perfect. 

1. Where do you come from, how long have you lived in Paris and what brought you here?

My father was a US Air Force pilot, and we were posted to Naples and Rome in Italy, and Wiesbaden in Germany. My five sisters and I dreamt of returning to Europe one day. While working as a research analyst in London, I met my future French husband Philippe. He owned a small apartment on rue St. Dominique in the 7th arrondissement (district). When he joined me in London we rented it to family and friends and Paris Perfect was created.

2. What is your profession and how did you get into that line of work?

Before we founded Paris Perfect, I was a buyer for a California department store chain, got an MBA at Stanford, and then became an equity analyst and institutional banker. Philippe was a cardiac surgeon.

We got into remodeling and managing Paris apartments by accident, when we rented out Philippe’s apartment to friends who were keen to experience the Paris lifestyle. We owned the first two apartments. But then former guests asked if we could help them find an apartment in Paris with the same wow factor and to help remodel and manage it while they were away. In keeping with my very high standards, I want every home to be warm and welcoming, with impeccably clean linens, warm duvets, and thoughtful gadgets such as Nespresso machines.

Both guests and owners appreciate the way our team maintains and manages the apartments. We’ve invested in our own laundry, a fulltime maintenance person, and an office that is open seven days a week. Since it’s hard to handle every little detail for our guests, we limit our family of owners and retain our cleaning and maintenance services exclusively for them.

3. Had you done/do you do the same kind of work in a different part of the world? If yes where, and how is working there different from working in Paris? 

We’ve done similar work in the UK but the quality of builders and finish is consistently better in Paris. The purchase prices and building costs are higher in London. We’ve also found that the purchase process is more straightforward in France than in the UK.

Part of the advantage of Paris is personal, however, because we’ve been remodeling in Paris for decades and have a trusted team. We’ve remodeled more than 50 apartments in the past few years. So we’ve learned how to squeeze in a second bathroom without losing the sense of space, the best lighting, just how many is enough electric sockets, well-placed storage, and comfortable, attractive furnishings.

4. What were the biggest challenges Paris had in store for you, both in terms of working here and living here?

We commute between London and Paris every other week, just over 2½ hours door to door, which is easy thanks to the Eurostar. Doing business in France is always a challenge, with the administrative rules and paperwork, but we’re fortunate to have a brilliant team on the ground. For all the frustration, nothing beats the quality of life in Paris.

In managing apartments in Paris that were already finished or remodeled with the owner’s own builders, we’ve seen our share of disasters – from inaccessible hot water tanks to unsafe wiring. It really pays to know you can trust your builders when tackling an apartment renovation project in Paris.

5. In terms of your profession, how has Paris real estate changed over the past 10 years? 

Despite the internet it’s the same as 10 years ago if you’re looking to buy an apartment –difficult. There is still no multiple listing service and over 3,000 small agencies who don’t share listings. If you’re not here on the ground or don’t have a diligent search agent, the search takes longer and is more difficult.

Prices have gone up over ten years, but had lagged other major cities for the previous 25.

6. Which neighborhood do you live in and what made you decide to live there?

When we’re in Paris we stay in the 7th arrondissement where Philippe spent almost 20 years. We love the village-like atmosphere and close proximity to the boutiques and museums of other favorite neighborhoods, the fabulous open-air markets, and the top-notch food shops. Our children have known the pharmacist, cheese shop, local pastry shop and favorite boulanger since before they could walk. We picnic or go jogging in the Champ de Mars Gardens, where our two children used to play.

7. If you could live in a different Parisian neighborhood, which one would it be, and why?

Place Dauphine on the Ile de la Cité! It’s truly the heart of Paris, known as kilometer zero. Founded in the 1600s by Henri IV, this quiet square has remained unchanged for centuries and is full of excellent restaurants. On one side of the Seine you’re in the 6th arrondissement of the Left Bank with first-rate eateries and boutiques. On the other, you’re shopping on rue de Rivoli, enjoying walks to the Louvre and the Tuileries

8. What would you miss the most about Paris if you were to move away?

There’s so much I miss when we’re not in Paris: early morning jogs or walks along the Seine, especially in winter when the light is magic; the sunrise behind Notre Dame; seeing the bridges in sunlight and how the light changes throughout the day.

We can’t go for long without visiting our favorite restaurants, like Café Constant and Au Petit Sud Ouest in the 7th, or buying our favorite baguettes on rue Saint Dominique and the best croissants on rue de Grenelle.

9. Is there one hidden treasure (specific fabric store, website, a certain booth on the flea market, etc.) or resource that you find indispensable to your work here? Please share.

A spot you must experience is Dreyfuss fabrics and Reine below the Sacre Coeur in Montmartre. Go soon because this neighborhood is changing fast. It was the old fabric quartier, but is now converting to souvenir shops. Bring your curtain sizes since you’ll even find a shop to make them up immediately so you can carry them home.

10. If you could offer one piece of advice to a first-time buyer in Paris, what would it be?

Can I share three? First, get a good licensed search agent. They dig through hundreds of listings published by thousands of agents each day to find the gems. They know all the streets, the desirability of certain buildings, the unknown problems a buyer may be unaware of.

Second, if you walk in and your heart soars – and the property has the no-budge essentials such as an elevator – go for it. If your agent tells you the apartment will be grabbed up, make the asking price offer on the spot. Don’t negotiate because you may lose it to a higher bid.

Third, if the property is almost perfect but not quite, give it the 24 hour rule and see how you feel the next day. For example, it might be on a lower floor when you wanted to be higher up; it may have no elevator but is only on the 2ndfloor; or it overlooks a courtyard but you wanted a street view. “Needed a gut job” is rarely a constraining factor for us, since we prefer to know how the electricity and plumbing were installed.

so there you have it, the truth from Madelyn, an american who is a really living the dream and sharing her knowledge and experience as well as expertise. i’ll profile her a bit more later but want to get out before the rain comes this morning although i have to admit it’s as hard to get out of this comfy bed as the last one.  have a bonne journée!

 

September 7, 2017. Decorating, Interiors, Kitchens, Layon apartment, Living, Madelyn Willems, Paris, Paris Apartments, Paris Perfect Apartment Rentals, Paris Trip, Real Estate, Travel. 4 comments.

friends in the city

bonjour ma chere amis, ça va? it’s been awhile and i hope you’re winding down your summer. i’m working in paris right now for a few weeks and am staying in a beautiful apartment i’d love to share with you.

it’s not only gorgeous but i’d like to introduce you to who’s behind it.

when i’m in town i stay with my friends Paris Perfect. i say friends because staying at their flats is truly like having a friend in the city. one of the things i’m working on while in town is interviewing some of my favorite people who make the city great. i know you’ll love the founder, Madelyn Willems and she’s going to be one of the first interviews i’ll be posting.

not only does she have exquisite taste, but the apartments are completely updated with all the modern conveniences yet she’s kept the charm of a traditional paris apartment whenever possible. (i adore these pressed flowers that she got at the paris flea market above).

the kitchen has everything from a traditional and convection oven to a dishwasher, microwave and coffee machine (not to mention they’re stocked with a welcome bottle of wine, milk and oj)!

the bathrooms are completely renovated with spectacular state of the art tiles and fixtures (again, not to mention, heated towel racks, washer and dryer, and their own line of delicious smelling soap, shampoo and conditioner)!

i’m staying in the Beaujolais, which is a two bedroom that sleeps 6 people (there’s a pullout sofabed in each apartment). it features two bathrooms so there’s plenty of room and privacy.

as we learn more about Madelyn i’ll share some of her story with you from how she got started to what she has planned for the future. as an american it probably hasn’t been an easy road for her, especially dealing with the bureaucracy of paris renovating 90 apartments! she is truly a force to be reckoned with and someone i admire greatly for her perseverance, dedication and attention to detail.

et alors, i have clients in the morning and it was hard enough tearing myself out of bed today (yes she even has her own line of butter soft sheets) so i better get to bed.

more coming soon, but for now, bonne nuit!

September 2, 2017. Paris Apartments, Paris Perfect, Paris Perfect Apartments, Paris Trip. 8 comments.

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