Tuesday, 27 October 2009

It's 'great' too! Introducing our latest venture:
The Canal Apartment Paris

Yep, we've been hiding things from you. With the Great Apartment going pretty well (can't complain) we were unexpectedly presented with the opportunity of getting another place to renovate and rent out. It was an offer we couldn't refuse, and although we had always thought that we would eventually look for another apartment (after a couple of years), we really didn't think it would happen quite so quickly.

We signed off on the place in August 2009, work started almost immediately (there was a lot to do as it hadn't been touched since the 1950s) and the now it's ready to rent! We've called it The Canal Apartment Paris. Because it's by the canal. Sometimes I really think we should have worked in advertising.

The Canal Apartment is markedly different from The Great Apartment. To start off with, it is twice as big (35m²) and has a proper bed instead of a sofabed. Although the kitchen is fairly small, we've been able to fit in a washing machine and a dishwasher, neither of which was possible at the Great Apartment.

The style of the place is less, er, purple, and more home-y than designer. There's quite a lot of restored furniture, old traditional French objects and - of course - a hint of kitsch. Here's a quick tour..

The living room is big and bright and has a sofabed so that the apartment can sleep four people if necessary. There's a surround sound system, just like in The Great Apartment, except here it has a Blu-ray player. Woo-hoo! There's also a proper sit-down table for eating dinner and even a working fireplace (we plan on providing wood to burn when the weather gets properly cold).

One wall has a selection of various images on it (it's a work in progress), and the striped wallpaper on one wall glows in the dark! (Don't worry, it's safe...) Oh, and I've piled some of my old vinyl in there with a miniature record player. If you like early nineties divas and deep house, you'll be in heaven. If you don't (understandable) you can always use the iPod dock that's integrated with the stereo system.

The bedroom has a proper double bed with smart reading lights (and bed head that we found and stained grey) and wallpaper that we fell in love with as soon as we saw it. We eventually ordered it from the Netherlands: half the price, even with postage included! France is expensive for almost everything...

The stone tiles were hidden under concrete, which was itself under a carpet (much as the parquet at the Great Apartment was hidden too). We had it restored and I think it looks kinds regal. The lamp that looks a little like a tree adds a nice touch in the corner, and the chairs were restored using fabric we chose.

This is the tiny entrance to the apartment that includes an art déco coat rack that we brushed off and varnished. It's really sweet.

This is the kitchen, pretty packed as I mentioned before. The lino has wine corks printed on it and the plaques on the far wall have been re-purposed from the Hôtel Ferrandi, currently closed for renovation.

The bathroom has two doors, one from the hallway and one from the bedroom, so when you're sharing the apartment with others (a friend, a child...) you don't have to disturb them by going through their room. The bathroom was finally my chance to display the 3D Alsation and rabbit picture I bought at a flea market in Brussels years ago. Cost me nothing. Looks great. Dey so cute!

The apartment also has free broadband access, cable TV, central heating and double glazing. Hopefully, you'll be really comfortable.

And what about the area? Well, it's just off the canal Saint Martin, meaning you get all the benefits without the noise. In the summer it's a wonderful place to stroll, especially on Sundays when the surrounding area is pedestrianised. There's also a large park nearby, loads of great restaurants, and for some reason the nearby streets have filled up with designer clothes shops in the last few years (including a cavernous Agnès B, large American Apparel, APC, lots of other shops beginning with the letter A...). There's also a wicked boulangerie that won the award as Paris' best last year (in the GaultMillau guide). You can have a look at it here.

This is the view from the window followed by a few shots of the canal. The first photo is a bit soft focus on the right. I was trying to trick the eye into not seeing the lines of bins placed on the pavement for emptying, but I think it has the opposite effect; you look at it and think 'why are all those bins out of focus?'

And here's what the apartment looks like when you're chilling out in the evening. We were lucky enough to spend a few evenings there before the first guests arrived, and I have to say it was rather lovely.

And that's The Canal Apartment Paris! We already have several bookings for November, and there's been a lot of interest and kind words about it. When the Great Apartment is full and we have to turn people away, hopefully they will consider this one. Prices are pretty similar: as low as 97 euros per night if you stay a week.

The one thing the Canal Apartment doesn't have is... a blog: I don't really have the time for the moment, even though I would love to tell you all about the great area the apartment's in. There is however a presentation page at www.canal-apartment-paris.com that contains a full description, more photos, links to the map and - as always - simple and secure online booking with an availability calendar and prices. Check it out and tell your friends, OK? We've tried to make another apartment that has character and charm, and we hope you'll love it as much as we do.

See you soon at The Canal Apartment Paris or The Great Apartment Paris!

BONUS! Here's the video tour with the wonderful Erykah Badu as the soundtrack...

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

The Great Apartment on Paris Incognito

We were recently contacted by a new site called Paris Incognito, as they liked the Great Apartment and wanted to add it to the site. It's always nice to get a bit of love like that. Especially free love.

Their article starts "There is nothing cooler than staying in a chic Parisian flat during your visit to the City of Lights," which is hard to argue with, unless of course you think winning the lottery would be quite 'cool' too.

Anyway, the site is actually pretty sleek and has some very decent info on it for English-speakers who need a few ideas before arriving in Paris. For instance, they mention new restaurant Les Enfants Perdus, which isn't half bad, and my favourite bar Chez Jeannette (that we told you about here). Obviously we give you as much info as we can, but you can never have too many good insider tips I suppose...

The site seems to be more about quality than quantity (updates can be sparse) but that's a good thing, surely?

You can check out Paris Incognito here. Many thanks to them!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Paris, the city of love. And grunties.
And boomshakalak (etc.)

WARNING: this article is not safe for prudes.
There's nothing very racy in it, but if you are offended by mild sauciness
then you may prefer to look at these pictures of unicorns and rainbows. G'bye!

The French have a reputation (and I'm not talking about the one involving smelling of garlic). Fiery French passion and French kissing are famous throughout the world, and the cliché of amorous French couples smooching in public places is to be seen in many a film, from An American in Paris to Ratatouille.

Although canoodling has never gone out of fashion here, the art of canoodling has become big business, and three shops just near the Great Apartment have a host of objects - from the cheeky to downright saucy - to help you out. Boutiques 1969 and Passage du Désir (love that name) are both very relaxed, classy, sleek establishments that proudly say that there's no shame in pleasure.

Here's Passage du Désir. They call it "The ♥ store" and the products range from postcards to vibrating eggs and (obviously) a lot more. Its huge window display and bright interior are miles away from the dingy, dodgy sex shops of the red light district in Pigalle.

They also have a large webstore with star products such as the Hitachi Magic Wand (presumable not the same Hitachi that makes televisions), 24h or 48h discrete delivery and - above all - a panic button marked "my boss is back!" that instantly brings up a page looking very much like a Word document (with the Google homepage displayed behind it). Very smart/handy.

Passage du Désir is at 11 rue Saint Martin (here, and on our great Google map of everything cool near the Great Apartment), with another branch not far in the Marais (although I haven't been) at 23 rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie (here). Both are open every single day of the year from midday to 9pm (2-8pm on Sundays and public holidays).

1969 (with the tagline "desirable curiosities") is in a very similar, er, vein. Their main store is much bigger than Passage du Désir and they are also manufacturers of various silicone and rubber items that are longer than they are wide.

Once again, this is a highly respectable, bright establishment with lots of space to show off its wares, some of which I found surprising, others a little puzzling. Seems I have some learning to do.

There is also a decent selection of books, fragrances, underwear, scented candles and a large selection of objects for the man in your life.

1969 have not only the obligatory webstore, but also what they call a pop-up store just round the corner (which was actually their first location until they moved to larger premises). It's a concept store which changes every 69 days to showcase a new product or brand. Currently they are introducing their own range of 11 different love aids in juicy colours, presented in surroundings that look much like a sweet shop...

1969 even has its own YouTube channel and Facebook page, plus a special delivery service that can get your goods to you anywhere in Paris within 45 minutes. Handy for emergencies!

The 1969 main store is at 69 (obviously) rue Saint Martin (here) and the pop-up store just round the corner at 5 rue des Lombards (here). Both are on our great Google map of everything cool near the Great Apartment. They're open weekday midday - 8pm and Saturdays from 11am - 8pm.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

We are 1 year old!

Gratuitous, not to say incongruous baby otter photo by Loutron Glouton, used under cc licence

It was our oneth anniversary yesterday! The Great Apartment was rented out for the first time on 1st October 2008, and although the bathroom sink arrived a day later (!) things started off pretty swimmingly. And frankly, we can't complain about everything that happened next either.

The place has been busy since the very start and we've met a whole bunch of lovely people from all over the world (and not a single French tenant yet, which is slightly odd). We'd like to thank all our guests: you've helped us make our project work. We're so grateful and you've all been wonderful! Erm, apart from the man that left some very grimy underpants behind, but we've almost forgotten that unfortunate incident.
And what better way to finish off the first year's rental than with this lovely surprise? The last guests to check out left us this wonderful present of smart chocolates and posh champagne to say 'thanks'. We were bowled over! It's a topsy-turvy world: we should be thanking you!

So once again, the Great Apartment in Paris says thanks to all of you, for everything. Sincerely. It's been a great year and we are truly, truly grateful.