Thursday, 26 March 2009

Aliens will be destroying Paris this summer

Americans love Paris, and hopefully Paris loves them right back. Why then is Hollywood is currently planning the city's destruction... by ALIENS?

In the trailer for new movie G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra a large green fart (?) eats away at one side of the Eiffel Tower and makes it crash into the Seine. Darn that cassoulet!

Then the trailer for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen goes one better. One shot has two fireballs speeding over the place de la Concorde and past the Eiffel Tower - now conveniently situated next to the Madeleine (er, it's actually on the Left Bank, Hollywood doofus)...

...then the following shot has the fireballs coming past the Eiffel Tower (again!) and hitting a not-very-Parisian-looking building.

I'm guessing the double shot of the Eiffel Tower - defying both geography and the laws of physics - is to ram home to 12 year-old Transformers nerds that the attack is happening in Paris. In France. Paris is in France. Oh forget it.

Amusingly, the French title for the film is simplified to "Transformers: Revenge", which I imagine is what France will have one day by making a film where the Hollywood sign is smashed to pieces by giant spinning baguettes and berets.

Visual proof of the damage done below.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Guide de Charme 2009-2010

Some would say that this blog is all about us blowing our own trumpet. Not so, at least not always so. Here's the proof that other people are quite prepared to blow our trumpet for us, if you will.

Guide de Charme ( is a guide, or rather a series of guides for smart, chic, cool, elegant hotels, and their latest Paris edition has just started listing apartments too. Guess what? We're in there!

As only three apartments were selected this year (and we are number 1) we are rather pleased, and of course honoured. It is, after all, a very posh guide book. Also, the guide's front cover is a photo by our pal Jérôme d'Almeida who took some photos of the apartment that you can see here.

So, what do Guide de Charme have to say about the Great Apartment Paris (that they call Studio Montmorency-Beaubourg fo some reason)? Well, have a look (translation below):

"Very design, very graphic, this 18m² studio two minutes from the Pompidou Centre has been careful to pay attention to a myriad of details concerning comfort and space. Situated on the 1st floor, looking onto a paved courtyard, there's lots of natural light. Period parquet, beautiful wallpaper, designer furniture, a fresh bouquet of flowers, art books, CD and DVD at your disposal, window boxes... a really welcoming atmosphere that gives you the impression of being "at home".

The hi-tech kitchen and bathroom fit into just a few square metres at the entrance, and are cleverly placed so as to leave the maximum amount of living space with a bed (top quality) is a sofa that unfolds. There are numerous cupboards and the place is fully equipped: flatscreen TV, wifi, iPod dock, CD/DVD player... On the day of your arrival, the owners - who will give a personalised welcome - can order (with prior notice) food to be ready for you, prepared by the restaurant downstairs. For breakfast, tea, coffee, milk and little cakes are waiting for you in the cupboards. A smart little nest in the heart of Paris."

What a lovely review!

You can buy the Guide de Charme - Hôtels et Maisons d'Hôtes de Charme Paris (try saying that after a few glasses of wine) here at Amazon.

The official Guides de Charme site is here, and their Great Apartment Paris page (or Studio Montmorency-Beaubourg if you prefer) is here.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Yodelling in the kitchen

When the renovation of the apartment was finished, there was no plan to add anything else to the kitchen. We were pretty happy with it. Sober, mostly black but with a wild touch of colour from our specially-designed Spanish cement tiles, it was fairly minimalist but we were happy with it.

And yet, coming out of the bathroom and being greeted by a blank white wall seemed a little odd. Here was a space begging to be filled. The question was, what should we put there? That space is very much a corridor and any frames on the wall risked being dragged off when passing through. Then one day, at Chez Jeannette, I had a revelation.

Never been to Chez Jeanette? It's a great bar about 15 minutes walk from the apartment that looks like this:

(You can read more about it on my other blog, here. Walking map - dead simple - here.)

Anyway, I was having a beer at Chez Jeannette, and there's a quincaillerie (hardware shop) opposite. Outside, they sell plastic table cloths by the metre with all sorts of hideous designs. Fruit, flowers, pastels, bleuh. Then I saw it. My revelation. One of the table cloths was a giant mountain scene with exaggerated purple colours, saturated trees and a huge swathe of blue sky. I'm not very good at visualising things for interior decorating, but I knew immediately that this is what our blank kitchen wall was crying out for. After spending thousand of euros having the place renovated, the final touch cost... 10 euros. Add a few euros for extra-wide double-sided sticky tape, and our tablecloth had become a giant poster.

Stepping from the white of the bathroom into the black of the kitchen, I think this blast of outrageous colour does the trick. However, the jury is still out on whether it's an inspired, daring piece of kitsch or just simply in poor taste. Personally, I think it's equal parts ridiculous and wonderful, something that makes you go 'Oh my god... actually that's not bad!'. I like to think it takes the chintzy edge off the apartment and shows that we don't take ourselves too seriously. Other people may look at it and think it ruins the effect of the whole place. I say (under my breath, obviously), screw 'em. I love it. I knew straight away that I loved it, and that doesn't happen to me often.

So, it may not be a permanent feature, but as a last-minute near-zero budget final touch, I'm really (very) happy with it.

Friday, 13 March 2009

New season, new flowers

Flowers. Don't I go on about them? Why is that?

Well, when we initially planned the apartment, I didn't realise that the biggest everyday overhead would be... flowers. They bloom, they die, they dry out, they get too wet, they look great and then - all of a sudden - they look like I've sprayed them with bleach. Add to that inclement weather and my gardening skills (i.e. zero) and I suppose I should have realised that I'd be down at Vilmorin every couple of weeks picking up more.

Secretly of course, I love it. I'm much happier buying plants for the apartment than I am for my own place, for some strange reason. Here's a quick look at what we'll call the 'early Spring collection'. By the way, the lavender that was in there didn't make it, and the heather didn't pull through either, so I've replaced them with jasmine and, er, ranunculus? Is that the right word?

Full gallery (9 photos) can be seen here.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

The Paris Métro and The Great Apartment

photo by wallyg used under cc licence

People often contact me through the site (you can do so here) with various questions, and I'm always happy to reply. Some questions come around fairly frequently, and consequently I'm currently trying to find the time to get a decent FAQ section together. I think it will come in handy for a lot of people.

In the meantime, let's deal with one of the most frequent questions: "Are you far from the metro"? Fair enough, if you don't know Paris. So here's the reply. The long (but informative) version.

Practically nowhere in Paris is far from a métro station, and as we are slap bang in the centre of town, we have quite a few to choose from.

The nearest (only just) is Rambuteau (ligne 11) although you wouldn't think so from the map. In fact, whereas one exit from the station is just next to the Pompidou Centre, there's another at the other end of the platform that is just near our street (at the corner of rue aux Ours and rue Beaubourg). Yep, that's how close we are to the Pompidou Centre!

The second nearest station is Arts et Métiers, only two minutes away, and has two lines running through it, 3 & 11. Line 11 has the most amazing design, made to look like a Jules Verne-like submersible.

photo by dennis and aimee jonez used under cc licence

5 minutes away from the apartment there's Etienne Marcel on line 4, which is cool because line 4 is direct to Gare du Nord (Eurostar, Thalys), Gare de l'Est (soon to get the new high speed airport link) and Gare Montparnasse. Handy!

And less than 10 minutes away you have the bubbling (some would say festering) hub of Châtelet Les Halles, the motherlode of métro stations. Three RER lines (direct links to both airports, Disneyland Paris, the Arc de Triomphe and La Défense) and five métro lines (1, 4, 7, 11, 14). Careful though: some links beween lines mean long walks down some rather grim underground corridors...

Let's add to all that the buses that leave from just near the apartment, and a quick list of places you can get to with them:

- lines 20 and 29: Gare Saint Lazare, Gare de Lyon, Opera, Bastille
- line 38: Gare du Nord, Saint Michel, Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris Catacombs, and
- line 47: Gare de l'Est, Gare du Nord, rue Mouffetard, La Manufacture des Gobelins
- line 75: Les Buttes Chaumont (great park), La Villette (note that for these you'll have to walk down to the end of rue Rambuteau to hook up with the northbound part of the line)

Manufacture des Gobelins, a pretty crazy tapestry and furnishing museum that has recently been renovated and reopened.

So, to answer the question (short version), yes we are near a metro: 3 lines right near by, 3 more not too far (together with 3 RER lines) and 5 bus lines at your disposal. Should make getting around town that much easier.