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Bonjour! I’m Erin.
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An Apartment in Paris
I’m obsessed with the Paris real estate market, and scour the internet for the most beautiful, aspirational, and swoon-worthy apartment listings. I’d move right in to any of these.
The Île Saint-Louis, that quaint little jewel box of an island, still retains some of the ancient, original charm of old Paris before Haussmann bulldozed his way through: smaller, shorter stone buildings, narrow streets where there were once fields for grazing cattle (and, of course, Berthillon and Le Saint Régis). Whenever I picture living on this thin strip of land on the Seine, my mind immediately conjures up images of apartments with dark wood beams running across the length of the ceiling, burnt sienna tile floors, rough, cave-like walls leading along the passageways to the tiny courtyards. Entirely lovely, more authentic, even, but different than the classically Parisian Paris apartments, with their herringbone floors and decorative moldings, and large rooms.
So imagine my surprise when I found the listing for this apartment. “But, but, but! That’s simply too big to be an apartment on the Île Saint-Louis!” (The listing agent seems to agree, as they’ve listed the ceiling height as being 55ft. Pretty sure they meant 15?) And indeed, the wood-paneled bedroom, the black & white patterned floor, and the gorgeous stairwell are, to my mind, something out of a grand Haussmann building on the other side of the river, which makes them all the more spectacular here in this apartment. I know that there is no “perfect place” to write, but I have a feeling I would write like the wind at that desk with the view of the Seine out the window.
Do you think I’ll ever have ceilings high enough to warrant such extravagantly long curtains? Oh, but to dream!
Price Upon Request, bien sûr, but based on Sotheby’s search listings it’s somewhere around $3m.
August 23, 2016 / home design /
A few Christmases ago, Jamal bought me a bottle of Hermès Un Jardin Sur Le Toit perfume, which translates to “A Rooftop Garden.” It was a spicy, strong scent, with notes of apple, pear, and magnolia. The description from Hermès: “This perfume describes a secret garden, nestled in the heart of the city in Paris. A hanging garden, perched on the roof of the house of Hermès, at 24 faubourg Saint-Honoré.” I loved it. And I imagine this apartment smells exactly like it, despite the noticeable lack of greenery or plants, and the fact that it’s located on the Île Saint-Louis (I’ve recently become obsessed with the tiny island), and not along the famous shopping street in the 1er arrondissement.
The lofted bedroom upstairs may not be tall enough to stand up in, but would make a perfect writing nook. I love the casement windows into the bedroom off the living room, as well as how much gorgeous natural light this place gets. The light! That liiiight. A rooftop apartment usually implies a dingy studette with no private bathroom, and this apartment blows that expectation out of the water. It’s a sign of how desensitized I’ve become to Parisian real estate that I’m totally at ease with the fact that the living room is so small that you can’t walk around the sofa without turning sideways. Yours for just $700k/€635k!
When my book becomes a bestseller (obvs), this place is at the top of my wishlist. For reference, here’s all of the great apartments in Paris I’ve found so far.
March 11, 2016 / Travel /
Whenever I show Jamal a listing for an extraordinary property, be it in Philly or Paris, his first response is always, “Publish your book!” As if that is the secret to affording €1m flats on the Île Saint-Louis, like this number. It’s simultaneously flattering that he thinks so highly of my writing, and charming in how clueless he is about the realities of publishing these days, so that to him, the answer to being able to buy dream flats in Paris rests squarely on the shoulders of my little-novel-that-could (I think I can, I think I can!). Not even I am that delusional, though if I had to pretend, this would be a perfect apartment to pick, non? Nestled in the heart of the Île Saint-Louis, this two bedroom apartment is fully updated, including an American kitchen, and designer marble bathroom (which is good, because plumbing on the little island has been known to be a doozy; I guess that’s what happens after a few hundred years). I could really be satisfied with one bedroom, though having a space to turn into an office so I can keep cranking out the bestsellers wouldn’t be a bad thing either. A girl, er, husband can dream!
February 16, 2016 / home design /
I love classically Parisian apartments –replete with herringbone flooring and giant windows and ornate crown moldings– as much as anyone (maybe more, if we’re being honest) but there is something to be said for the tinier, more charming and…old apartment, like this one. Sure, it’s in a double-eaved attic with no real living space and carries a price tag of over half a million dollars, but is anyone else imagining all the stories this place has seen over the years? Located along the Place des Vosges, this little nook could be something out of a Victor Hugo novel (minus, of course, the iMac and, like, indoor plumbing). Those beams! There must be hundreds of years of secrets and lives and outbreaks of cholera trapped inside those walls. I’m not even being facetious. But then, you guys knew that.
Countdown update: 41 days!
February 3, 2016 / home design /
I know I tend to only ever wax poetic about Paris and its many luxurious, drool-worthy apartments (see: here) but it’s not because I’m unaware of the grim reality of the affordable real estate available there. If anything, it’s precisely because I’m aware of how many absurdly small, one-room hovels (that will still cost you €100k!) the city has that I instead choose to focus on the unattainable, multi-million euro sprawling ones. But for a change of pace, I thought it might be fun to see what I could afford, right now, without mortgaging myself to the hilt or robbing a bank or becoming the next JK Rowling. The results were…less than stellar.
For those of you unfamiliar with Parisian real estate, the top floor of nearly all Haussmann buildings were at one time maids quarters, often referred to as a chambre de bonne, chambre de service, or a studette, which are single-room living spaces, usually under 100ft2, with a shared toilet in the hall. For someone like me, the daughter of an architect who championed small-space living, I get such a thrill at a seeing smartly renovated chambre de bonne. The challenge of designing and living in a space barely larger than most powder rooms is one I’d happily take on, especially if it meant, you know, being in Paris. Which is good, because apparently this is all my savings can buy me. So while these apartments are, shall we say, terrible, there is so much room for improvement that all I can see is potential.
1. First up we have this 6m2 (65ft2) room in the 10eme, near Canal Saint Martin:
It’s listed as a “one bedroom” but really, it’s one empty room, with one teensy (but cute) window. The toilet is in the hallway, the sink is on the landing, and it appears there’s a water hookup line available in the apartment itself, but no shower or kitchen sink.
2. Next, we have…whatever is happening here:
Located in the 10eme, near Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est, the listing says it is about 10m2 of living space, with a shower, a well-equipped kitchen, and a toilet in the hall. “Ideal pied-a-terre,” it says! The only thing I can see is a twin mattress shoved under a skylight, with a water tank floating precariously above it.
Yours for only €52,500!
3. Moving right along, we have this apartment, also in the 10eme:
It is a whopping 9m2, with a small balcony you probably shouldn’t stand on, a small but functional kitchen (who is cooking in Paris with some of the best restaurants right outside your door?) and a lofted bed. Smart space solution! Bathroom is in the hall. I want to scrub this entire place down with bleach.
Price: €79,000, jfc.
4. This charmer is a spacious 15m2, in the 9eme:
It features a separate bedroom (!), a shower right next to the kitchen, and a murder-y looking hallway and stairwell. It also features a shared toilet you’d need both tetanus shot and a regular shot of the highest proof vodka you can find to actually pee in.
Price: €129,000, and the saddest part is it still seems a worthwhile splurge.
I’ll let the pictures do the talking (and the selling) for this incroyable apartment, located in the 16eme near Trocadero. The views are, simply, breathtaking, and if there were ever an excuse to get me into the kitchen (a room I generally ignore) it would be the promise of la Tour greeting me from the window. I love everything about this place, from the floors, to the original mouldings, to even the vintage Louis Vuitton suitcase in the office. Even the stairwell is perfection! My first act though, once I’d moved in and claimed the space as my own, would be to move the desk chair to the other side of the desk so it’s facing the window. Who in their right mind wants to sit with their back to Paris? Though now that I think of it, talk about a writing distraction.
Price? An astronomical, never-going-to-be-affordable-except-in-my-wildest-dreams: $9,368,338 / €8.350.000
We can all stop searching, I’ve found the nicest apartment in Paris. Quite the bold statement, I know, but of all the apartments in Paris I’ve posted over the years, this one is by far my favorite. It doesn’t even have views of the Eiffel Tower, or a wrap around balcony overlooking the Seine, and it’s not even located in an arrondissement I’d consider in my top five. But! But out of all of those apartments, this one is the nicest I’ve ever seen. Something about it –the muted tones, the collection of plants, the blue bathroom door, the intentionally peeling wall in the bedroom– just speaks to me on an entirely different register. It feels the most authentically Parisian, despite its lack of classically Parisian views. This apartment is all about the interior, and it is like something out of a dream. I know, I know: there is no geographical cure for unhappiness, but tell me you wouldn’t feel instantly perked waking up in that bed? At a cool €735,000 ($800k), it better come furnished, especially because I don’t think I’d ever be able to decorate it better than the current owners have. Mon dieu.
I want to thank you each so much for your kind words of support on this post, kiddos. You can’t know how much it means to me to have such a rallying group in my corner. Thank you for letting me vent honestly, too; I know blogs are “supposed” to be light and cheery all time, but that would be disingenuous. The fog is starting to thin out a bit for me, and I feel buoyed by your thoughtfulness. Merci beaucoup, mes amies.
Well, temporarily, anyway.
We’re making good progress on accommodations for our upcoming trip to Italy (80 days!), having nailed down where we’re staying in Rome for the first few days (I’ll share that apartment soon!). We still need to find a place to stay in Florence, Siena, and somewhere in the Tuscan countryside between Florence and Rome (any suggestions, friends?), so naturally I’ve been devoting all of my energy into finding an apartment to rent in Paris for the last three days of the trip. Bien sûr. I’m nothing if not helpful and focused on the task at hand. We’re all set on the bookends of the trip now. After flirting with staying in the 7eme, close to the Musée Rodin, or in the 17eme near Ternes and Parc Monceau again, we couldn’t resist the siren call of Montmartre. I don’t even know why we tried fighting it. It’s where I lived for two months and where we stayed in 2013 when we got engaged. Jamal even stayed there on his own for a few days on a trip back from India. I would’ve loved to stay somewhere new, find a new little pocket of the city to explore. And we still will, but Montmartre will kind of always be our “home base” in Paris. And when we found this apartment? Well, the decision was made for us. It’s the perfect blend of modern and artist’s atelier. The windows! The raised dining room! The green tile in the kitchen! The floor tile in the kitchen! The lofted bedroom! I wonder how the owners would feel about us moving in indefinitely?
Doesn’t the term “apartment” denote something quaint and small? What’s more, “garden apartment” conjures visions of a precious little studio, facing an interior petit jardin, non? This maison —mansion, truly– defies the simplicity implied in the term “apartment,” for there is nothing simple or small about it (including, unfortunately, the €4.8M list price). Located in the 8eme arrondissement, the apartment boasts three bedrooms and two bathrooms, a separate “beautiful artiste workshop”, with original chevron floors throughout, and windows so large and so abundant I am at a loss for words. What truly took my breath away is that wonderful, decorative covered balcony with separate winding stairwell, inside the apartment. The current owners have made it a reading nook, which, if I’m not mistaken, is precisely how the Real Estate Gods intended it. I know there’s truth to the idea that happiness can only come from within, but I have to contend that it would be fairly unlikely to have a bad day in this place. The windows alone would ensure eternal joy. The listing ends with a one word sentence that most accurately describes this 4700ft² stunner: “Rare.” I’ll say.
(Did anyone else catch the meat slicer in the dining room? Or were you too busy staring at that fantastic skylight?)
Admittedly, I haven’t spent much time in the 10eme, the neighborhood in central Paris that encompasses Canal Saint-Martin and Gare de L’Est. With the exception of our two trips to La Tête Dans Les Olives and an afternoon stroll around the Canal, my only other experience with the neighborhood comes from mostly ignoring its existence. Which sounds mean, I know, but it isn’t typically a must-see arrondissement in the city. It’s nestled south of Montmartre, and north of the hipper Marais, so the 10eme has sadly flown under my radar. It’s assuredly more local and quiet than the neighborhoods surrounding the major tourist spots elsewhere in Paris, but, as I learned when I saw this apartment for sale, equally as rife with resplendent real estate (say that three times fast). The detailed ceiling medallions, beautiful moldings, and unbelievable chevron floors in every room aren’t overshadowed by the more modern updates. That eat-in kitchen is the stuff of dreams, with the nook bookshelf and exaggerated floor lamp. I’d sort of assumed that apartments this classically detailed only existed in more storied neighborhoods, like the 7eme or the 17eme, but I stand happily corrected. The only downside? The price tag, bien sûr. (€1.390m. Oof.) Well, and that strange painting in the living room.
November 5, 2014 / home design /