January 10, 2012
After having made the huge, scary, glorious decision to quit my plum entertainment job of 14 years to move to Paris, all I could picture was drinking rosé in fabulous cafes in St. Germain and strolling with my soon-to-be-named French lover along the Seine. It was going to be all storybook romance and Parisian perfection, right? What could possibly go wrong?
Finding an Apartment
The first big task on moving to Paris was finding an apartment. I felt like a Parisian kid in a confiserie as I set out to look through all the online listings. I was picturing my new, highbrow, literary friends meeting in my salon and debating whether Anna Karenina was due society’s scorn or the victim of a double standard. And then there would be the lavish, multi-course creations that would appear out of my kitchen and people would say, are you sure she’s not French-trained or a descendant of Julia Child?
As I dug into the apartment search further and started to learn the meter to square feet conversion, a rosé hangover started to kick in. How was I supposed to entertain the French literati in a space the size of a parking spot? Would my culinary creations have to come from a hot plate in my Betty Crocker play kitchen? Oh, no, this wouldn’t do. I decided an in-person visit would be best because I was sure there were some things that weren’t translating on the web page.
December 16, 2011
As soon as our timetable lets us go, my husband and I move from our base in Amsterdam to our tiny apartment in Paris.
We’ve lived here in Paris part time for more than 4 years now, but I still discover new places, neighborhoods, and restaurants every single time we go on a stroll. Paris is inexhaustible when it comes to surprising me in any unexpected ways.
My dear friend, stylist, photographer and author Pia Jane Bijkerk, used to live here too, and she wrote a wonderful guide that everyone should have when they go to Paris. It’s a little book that takes you on a tour of Paris’ best shops and ateliers for handmade goods. So that’s right up my alley, of course.
October 12, 2011
Navigating the real estate scene in France can be tricky — even more so when you are unfamiliar with the labyrinthine bureaucracy and unusual quirks the French can be known for. Adrian Leeds, who specializes in helping Americans negotiate the market to secure their dream pied-à-terres in France, just recently ventured into the market in Nice. She shares a few anecdotes from her colorful experiences here. -Geneviève
The beach in Nice: Marisa Williams
Years ago I set my eye on the goal of purchasing a “pied-à-terre” in Nice for a long list of reasons:
1. Nice is nice. Let’s face it, it’s the Riviera, the Côte d’Azur, the land of the rich and famous with the blue Mediterranean Sea, balmy weather, palm trees and Italian flavor. What could be so bad?
2. Property in Nice and its environs is increasing in value on a steady basis. With an international airport and an active port, the blue coast is France’s second hotspot after Paris. This makes Nice, and just about all of the coast, an excellent real estate investment.
Nice – Marisa Williams
3. R and R…the moment one lands at Nice’s contemporary and easy airport, and you head toward Nice down the Promenade des Anglais under the swaying palms with the sea at your side, the stress just melts away. Traveling to Nice from Paris is fast and inexpensive, making weekend getaways about as easy as it gets — a perfect antidote to the cold, gray, rainy winters in Paris.
4. Rental potential of vacation apartments, particularly for the North American market, is ripe for business. While the British and Italians are well served by their own compatriots, Americans have been overlooked. Americans want and expect a higher standard of luxury and service than their European counterparts know how to provide. From a business perspective, Nice was looking awfully nice.
July 8, 2011
Summer is here and the crowds are starting to flee Paris for the coast. As I tend to do things in reverse and will be staying in Paris this July to enjoy all of the amazing summer festivals and events, I hit Brittany for a two-week jaunt in May, just before the summer throngs descended upon its lovely shores.
After searching long and hard, mere days before our departure, for last minute lodging that would be not only earth-friendly and green, but appealing and available, I stumbled upon two different eco-homes in Brittany that were, amazingly, available for our dates. Note to self: Planning in advance can be helpful, but if you are willing to chance it, great places that are still available are often ready to discount in the spring. Plus the weather is fabulous and the beaches are empty!
Our first week was spent in the Ground House , located in the center of Brittany’s rolling green farmland in the town of Mellionnec, one hour from the ocean. This completely self-sustaining eco home, built into the earth on one side and full of huge windows overlooking the garden on the other, was just the thing we were looking for. Built by its English owners and featured on the famous UK show ‘Grand Designs‘, this passive solar house was built with salvaged materials and features an organic garden, a compost heap, dry/composting toilets, and solar heated rainwater for hot water.
Not well known, the center of Brittany (Centre Bretagne) offers an abundance of hiking, walking and biking options. Additionally, we were pleased to discover that the area immediately surrounding the Ground House is a serious haven for bio (the French word for organic) fans, with an organic grocery store, a couple of organic restaurants, local artisans, organic shops, and markets where local farmers sell their produce, meat and dairy directly.
May 30, 2011
Miranda Bothe can make dreams come true — if, like us, your dream is to own a property in France, that is. Although the obstacles can seem daunting (for French and foreigners alike), Miranda shares with us here the story of how her own mother made it happen. If she can, so can we! -Geneviève
When my mom found herself suddenly single at 45, she nearly took a year away from her medical practice in Boston to move to Paris with my little sister. She wanted to sip coffees in the late morning sun and read French poetry and eat confit de canard for dinner and take French classes and learn Serge Gainsbourg songs on the guitar… Her dream revolved around a small top-floor apartment on the Ile Saint Louis with a tiny balcony overlooking the Seine – the kind of balcony you see in a Sempé drawing of Paris. Life got in the way and she never made that trip – we have often wondered how all of our lives would have been different if she had.
May 20, 2011
Adrian Leeds is an experienced flathunter who has helped many dreamers find their perfect home in Paris. Over time, she has also become something of an expert in navigating residential building etiquette, but some quirks particular to Parisian neighbors continue to amuse her, 14 years later… -Geneviève
When you move into any new house or apartment in North America, you might expect the neighbours to drop by, introduce themselves, bring a small offering or just let you know that if you need anything, they’re there for you… Or you would do the same, just to introduce yourself to them. This is common practice, standard procedure and, in essence, what we hold to be the ‘right thing to do.’ That’s in North America.
If you do this when you move into your new house or apartment in France, particularly in Paris, you certainly should not expect the same treatment, nor would your new neighbours look kindly on such ‘friendly’ efforts. “Au Contraire.” This behaviour is considered aggressive and intrusive…at least it has been for quite a long time. For many traditionally-minded French,“étranger” = “danger” [foreigner = danger]. It seems, though, with the influx of foreigners actually settling in Paris, things are (luckily) starting to change and the neighbours are getting friendlier.
When I first moved to Paris, I heard a great story from an Italian friend living in the chic 7th district near La Tour Eiffel. She had a neighbour living on the same floor opposite her who never said more than “Bonjour Madame” for several years. One day they both entered the elevator at the same time and the neighbour, not wanting to seem presumptuous, actually asked, “Quel étage, Madame?” (“What floor?”), as if she had never seen her before. My friend was shocked!
March 21, 2011
Haven in Paris and Apartment Therapy’s cooking and kitchen blog, The Kitchn, recently came together to discuss the differences between French and American kitchens. We were thrilled when The Kitchn decided they wanted to feature some of Haven in Paris’ kitchens on their fabulous and oh-so-inspiring blog! Already one of our favorite reads, we’re sure you can imagine our delight in sharing our Paris apartments with The Kitchn’s wonderful readers… We’re happy to share the article with you today here. -Geneviève
Oh, Paris! How I would love to scoot over there for a day or two this Valentine’s weekend! Paris is a classic destination for lovers, and with very good reason. The light, the romance of the city, and above all the wine and food make it such a wonderful place to wander on a romantic weekend. But if, like me, you won’t be visiting Paris any time soon, here’s a bit of eye candy and some thoughts on what makes a Parisian kitchen different from the average American kitchen.
These thoughts are from Maggie, a member of the team at Haven in Paris. Haven in Paris is a lush little collection of Paris apartments for rent — all quite beautiful and tempting. We chatted a bit about Paris kitchens, and how they tend to differ from American kitchens. These are all things to be aware of if you are indeed lucky enough to spend a Valentine’s weekend in a real Paris apartment!
February 25, 2011
It’s still cold in New England and we’ve managed to get another light coating of snow this week. When it’s this cold, there’s really nothing else to do but daydream of warmer times… in France. Remember when I did that last month? I shared my little trip to Mont Saint Michel, where I was amazed by the towering abbey on the ocean.
This time around, my thoughts are drifting further south, way south, down to a tiny town near the coastline. This time, I didn’t just SEE the towering almost-other-worldly structure in the distance. This time, I got to LIVE there. Erica, the founder of this very blog and my very favorite company (where I also work), whisked her team away to the Chateau de Raissac in the small city of Beziers, just a short drive to the Mediterranean, to unwind, do a bit of brainstorming and meet the fabulous couple who own the chateau and run a local vineyard of the same name.
What do I remember?
I remember getting to know the friendliest little dogs who stood watch over their enormous home. The structure was astounding and unlike anything I had ever seen. I’m typically not a chateau sort of lady, but as I kept whispering all week to my colleagues, “I could adjust to this.”
September 10, 2010
Last Spring, Maggie was lucky to spend some time in Haven in Paris’ gorgeous Rue du Bac 2-bedroom. A relative newcomer to Paris, she made the most of her expat status by seeking out the hidden gems her wonderful neighborhood had to offer. She shares a few of her favorites with us here…
I adopted the Saint Germain neighborhood up and down Rue du Bac as my home away from home earlier this year. Eventually, to my delight, the neighborhood started to adopt me in return! After seeing my smile amidst the sea of scowls over and over again in the long lines in their shops, the local merchants actually started to smile back, even if it was ever so slightly.
Each vanishing grimace assured me it was okay to start feeling at home. And I did, quickly. As an American girl in Paris, I knew the quickest way to appear even remotely French would be to build up my arsenal of Parisian necessities, all within the few blocks around my apartment. To that end, I hereby share what I think every aspiring local Parisian woman needs:
Paul Louis Courier Apartment, near the Rue du Bac (One & Only Paris Photography), Erica Berman
September 3, 2010
It can be hard to get Parisians out of Paris for a weekend. We think we want to go somewhere, but when push comes to shove it just seems so complicated that we prefer an apéro, a resto, or a leisurely dinner with friends. We save our energy for big trips to exotic and far away places. Also, being snobs, we think that anything close to Paris won’t be interesting or worth the hassle of the drive.
Bikes by Sharon’s French Country Home
This weekend I managed to make an exception to this rule. The lure of a French cottage in Normandy, a walk in the forest and a few early morning flea markets was calling me since Sharon, the cottage owner, promised all of this at less than an hour’s drive from the center of Paris. Could it be true?