We were recently contacted by Habitat Parisien, an agency that rents apartments for short-term stays in Paris. Would we, they asked, be interested in staying in one of their apartments for a weekend in November in exchange for a blog about the experience?
Seizing an opportunity to explore a Parisian neighborhood that we knew little about, we replied affirmatively. We selected a large (68m2) apartment on rue Vivienne in the 2nd arrondissement, an area in which we rarely venture.
One of the charming aspects about the apartment that we selected is that rue Vivienne, lined with shops that trade in bullion and gold coins, doesn’t look like a street on which anybody lives. The façades look old, and we learned later that the street and a number of buildings on it date from the 17th century. An acquaintance, whom we happened to bump into on our last day and who lives in the neighborhood, affirmed that he likes the area precisely because it looks uninhabited. “You push through old doors, climb creaky stairs, and find yourself in a beautiful apartment.”
Mathias, who works for Habitat Parisien, greeted us at 5:00 o’clock on Friday evening in front of the building and ushered us two flights up a well-worn, wooden stairway to the second-floor landing. There, two heavy, imposing doors stood directly in front of us. Mathias unlocked one of them, we pushed through, and voilà!…we stepped into a large, handsome apartment.
Mathias presented Monique with the key to the apartment and followed by giving her two long-stemmed roses. A lovely gesture! He walked us through the apartment, pointing out its features, and took care to explain how the different appliances worked. He helped us connect our computer to the apartment’s WiFi and tested the phone before leaving us to enjoy our evening.
“Vivienne,” as the apartment is called, is equipped with a dishwasher, clothes washer, Jacuzzi tub, and wide-screen television. There is also a large enclosed balcony that provides a lovely view of rue Vivienne and its intersection with boulevard Montmartre. We didn’t use it much, but that first evening we learned that it serves as an effective buffer against traffic noise. The apartment was quiet and we slept well.
The bare, hardwood, herring-bone floor made wonderful creaking noises as we stepped on it — it was a pleasure to walk across in bare feet. Because of the high ceilings, we were concerned that we might not be warm enough, particularly because the weather was cold and damp on that first day. We were pleased to learn that two electric heaters on the wall adjacent to the balcony worked extremely well — we were quite warm and didn’t need to turn on the third heater located near the kitchen.
The Jacuzzi gave a great massage and we appreciated the towel warmer in the bathroom. The open kitchen was adequate, with a dishwasher, coffee maker, microwave, and toaster. Although we chose to eat out rather than prepare our own meals, we noted that there were plenty of plates and glassware.
Tomorrow…the party that we threw for our friends.
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