Monday, November 16, 2009

My Pied a Terre in Paris

I've always dreamed of having a pied a terre in Paris, and this Christmas I'll have this one. Isn't it adorable?

The thought of staying in a hotel during the holidays seemed kind of sad, but an apartment that I could decorate with seasonal greenery and where I could cook Christmas dinner sounded appealing. Friends in the know have long touted the pleasures of vacation apartment rental . More roomy than a hotel (although this is a relative term in Paris), apartments usually boast better bathrooms plus cooking facilities --- all for about the same price, or less than a hotel for 10 days. A reason to shop Paris' fabulous open air markets and actually be able to buy something! Twist my arm.

I went back and forth over whether to stay on the Left or Right Bank (love them both) and finally compromised by going with a place in the middle of the Seine on Ile Saint Louis. This little island is actually one of my favorite neighborhoods in Paris: great architecture, shopping food and a real village feel. My neighbors on the island will include the Baron de Rothschild and the pretender to the throne of France. Maybe I should host a pot-luck so we can all get acquainted!

Apartment rental is more of a hassle than booking a hotel room online -- at least on the front end. So far there's been a lot of paperwork and deposits flying back and forth. I would advise potential renters to check out various agencies online before signing with one. Trip Advisor is a good place to do this. From what I've read online if you have a good owner, you'll have a good experience. If the owner turns out to be a nightmare, the agency won't be much help. I'll let you know how my experience works out. I've heard good things about my little place.

If you're not up for the hassle or just want the amenities of a hotel, I recommend the charming Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais in La Marais district on the Right Bank. This boutique hotel is as enchanting as the web site promises, although like everything in Paris, very, very tiny. Long windows in the streetside rooms let in lots of light and will help make the place seem spacious and some have balconies; I've heard the "courtyard" rooms are a little claustrophobic. If you book early enough you can request a streetside balcony. I would forgo the breakfast at any hotel. There are bakeries and patisseries on every street in Paris where you can find the same fare for much less.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Let the Christmas in Paris Countdown Begin!

Hi, ya'll. I'm Cathy, and I'm going to spend this Christmas in Paris. This will be my third trip to the City of Light, but my first Yuletide visit. It's also going to be my first Christmas away from home. I'd like to invite you to come along with me so I don't get homesick!

I'm looking forward to revisiting favorite haunts -- and also indulging in some new -- and seasonal -- activities.

While researching this trip, I found a dearth of information on visiting Paris this time of year, so if you're thinking about spending Noel in Paree, consider me your homegrown source of tips and info on the good places to shop, stay visit and dine. I'll also fill you in on lessons learned like what (not) to wear, how to deal with Parisians, good values and getting around the city.

The apartment I'll be staying in allegedly has free wi-fi so hopefully, I'll be able to keep this blog updated regularly.
Are you getting excited? I sure am!