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.”
February 8, 2011
Michael Herrman, a successful American expat architect and veteran Parisian real estate savant, has helped more than one star-eyed owner convert their Paris pied-à-terre into a dream home. We’ve invited him to help educate us on the traps to sidestep on the way to purchasing your ideal Paris apartment, from the (apparently sometimes pajama-clad) hunt all the way through until you are “Home at Last”. In this installment: The Hunt.
Breakfast in a Saint Germain 2 bedroom apartment (St. Germain Luxe)
Buying a little piece of the City of Light is a rite of passage in and of itself. Before becoming the owner of a beautiful 19th century apartment in the heart of Paris with original oak floors and marble fireplaces, or converting a floor of maids’ rooms into a penthouse haven, you must first begin with an apartment hunt and all of its uniquely Parisian idiosyncrasies.
The first thing to understand is that like few other cities in the world, there is always intense competition to buy an apartment in Paris. At the worst of the recent financial crisis, Parisian real estate prices didn’t even make a small dip. The crisis actually increased the demand for apartments as people took their money out of bank accounts with nose-diving interest rates and invested in the ever-reliable Paris housing market. Another good thing to know is that the average cost of real estate in Paris is still below the average price in London, Rome and numerous other European cities, making Paris an even more attractive place to invest.
Saint Germain 2 bedroom apartment, with balcony and view of Notre Dame (Ecoles)
What this means for your apartment hunt is that good properties are sold within a few days and the best ones within just a few hours. Apartments advertised at 9:00am may have an offer accepted by lunchtime …
Once the hunt is on, the first obstacle is finding an honest, reliable real estate agent. Although this may hold true internationally, fanciful exaggerations are especially commonplace in Paris. After finding the perfect apartment, for example you might be worried about the fact that it is on the 7th floor with no elevator. Your agent may reassure you that an elevator is going to be installed next year, guaranteed. This, however, may have been in the works for over 10 years and it may be another 10 until it actually happens.
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?
August 25, 2010
Hip Paris blog friend and fabulous resource on all things Paris, Parisien Salon, recently stayed in our little Montmartre studio and published this article about our very own Erica Berman and her amazing job renovating Pilleux, Haven in Paris’ cozy Montmartre studio. We are pleased to share the story and the before-and-after shots here.
Erica Berman has a gift. She can look at a crumbling shell of a hovel and see its potential as a beautiful apartment. This gift has served her well over her 18 years living in Paris, as she’s renovated upwards of 15 apartments that started out as “blah” (at best), only to be transformed into “wow.”
Her most recent project really put her abilities to the test, as she and her partner Alain renovated a small studio overlooking the Cimetière de Montmartre. Having stayed in what is now a fantastic apartment, I was stunned when Erica shared the story of its evolution.
“There was nothing there but the bones when we bought it,” explains Erica. “Just a shelf.” Looking at some of the “before” photographs also reveals peeling walls, unremarkable floors and an enclosed bathroom that cut the space dramatically. “There was nothing in there we wanted to keep,” she adds.
August 6, 2010
Haven in Paris has just added a gorgeous new apartment to its portfolio – this lovely Servandoni 2-bedroom. Located on a quiet cobble stone street directly between the historic church of Saint Sulpice and the glorious Luxembourg Gardens, the apartment has its own private roof deck, complete with couch, armchairs and table — perfect for relaxing entre amis after a long day of sightseeing. The best part: it’s still available for parts of August and September!
The living room has a pull-out couch for extra guests, and a flat-screen TV and professional sound system for entertaining on nights in.
The eat-in kitchen has everything you need to cook up a delicious French feast gathered from a day’s worth of market shopping, and the pull-out dining room table conveniently makes room for an intimate dinner served chez vous.
The two bedrooms both include queen beds and en-suite bathrooms with rain showers. I can’t think of a better way to cool off after a long day of shopping…
Well, maybe an apéritif on the private terrace wouldn’t be so bad!
Planing a last-minute trip? Click here for the Servandoni apartment’s availability calendar. We also have some great deals going on many of our other fabulous flats for those last dates available in August and September.
PS: Be sure to also check out our brand new luxury two bedroom flat on the rue des Beaux Arts. We are also in love with this wonderful apartment situated in the heart of the St Germain des Pres neighborhood. Happy traveling!
- Last minute special offers on many of our Paris apartments – limited dates available in August and September!
- Haven in Paris vacation rental flats in Paris
- Reviews of past HIP guests