Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Greasy fun at the Great Apartment

As a rule I don't comment on people who have stayed with us. I think it's slightly rude. Although there are a handful of stories to be told about people who've done odd things to the place, the overwhelming majority of people are very clean, respectful and - ultimately - super super nice.

And yet, some people's behaviour does make you scratch your head and wonder what they were thinking. For example, enough time has now passed for me to be able to tell you about one couple that left the apartment in a bit of a state (the vacuuming hadn't been done, the clear glass shower door was opaque, etc.). So far, nothing serious. That bathroom's a bi*** to clean and I can understand people finding it hard (although one lady made such an effort once, she even folded the end of the toilet roll into a triangle, like in those posh hotels!).

Anyway, we don't need to know what you've been up to at the apartment, we just hope you have a great time. Paris is the city of love after all. However, above the bed, the couple in question had left two very obvious greasy handprints on the wall that spoke volumes. The hands were spread apart in a position as if one of them was being frisked. Only they very probably weren't.

I'm not a prude, but - darn it! - it took me a full 10 minutes to get those prints off the wall so that the next guests wouldn't be shocked ;-)

However, the next discovery a few minutes later surprised even me. While cleaning the shower, I realised that the cover on the water outlet had been lifted and not put back on properly. When I opened it, I found... the remains of a vegetable salad, including quite a lot of grated carrot. What were they thinking? I do tell people not to put anything down the toilet apart from toilet paper (explained here), but perhaps I should also be telling people that vegetables - even little chopped up bits of vegetables - are probably not the best thing to put down a shower. And also - in passing - that greasy handprints will leave indelible proof of nocturnal gymnastics?

Anyway, don't worry: as I said, you can do what you like at the apartment as long we retrieve it in the same state as when you arrived. The funniest part was that a later e-mail from the couple said that they hoped they had cleaned the apartment OK. At the risk of seeming rude (but actually out of politeness) I preferred not to reply.

Photo of a greasy handprint by EraPhernalia Vintage. Grated carrot photo photo by dolmansaxlil.
Both used under cc licence.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The secret angel of rue de Turbigo

The whole feeling of Paris changes once the leaves come out on the trees. The harsh edge of winter becomes very palpably spring as everyone starts enjoying the warmer weather and lighter evenings. However, winter does have its up side in the city. For example, having no foliage on trees can reveal some surprising architectural details, such as this one at Art-et-Métiers (57 rue de Turbigo, to be exact), just one minute from the Great Apartment. In fact, it's so huge that I'm sure most people don't even notice it...

Starting two floors up and standing three storeys high, this angel has always been a bit of an enigma. Some may think it's a caryatid, but here it doesn't seem to have any structural significance, being very obviously ornamental. Seen from close up, it's pretty impressive.

Until now, I almost thought that I was the only person to have noticed it, but trolling around the web proves otherwise. Indeed, there's a long article about it here, in which I learnt that:

-the building was once referred to as La Maison du Génie (the Angel Building)

- the sculpture is 9 metres high

- apparently, it was inspired by an original design for a lighthouse, and

- the angel celebrates its 150th anniversary this year!

Some decorative elements of it may be a reference to the local passementerie (trimmings) industry, although this is just supposition. The article finishes off in rather fanciful style, stating that the sculpture is "a serenely vigilant guardian angel radiating happiness throughout the neighborhood." I'm not sure about that, but it's certainly an beautiful oddity that I'm glad to see whenever I pass by on my way to the Great Apartment.

Yep, it's on rue de Turbigo! You can also see it on our map of all things cool: www.tinyurl.com/nearthegreatapartment

Friday, 16 April 2010

The Great Apartment welcomes a sports star!

Alright, perhaps not a famous sports star, but one of our most recent guests did come to stay in order to run the Paris Marathon: Sharon Afek from Israel. I didn't know that the Paris marathon was such a major event, but Sharon told me that it's the third most important in Europe.

You have to admire his devotion; running a marathon means months and months and months of training, getting up ridiculously early every morning to run tens of kilometres, eating a special diet, putting up with pains in various parts of your body... and all this while holding down a full-time job too. Definitely not for me.

So how did Sharon do? Amazingly well! 286th out of over 30,000 participants. That's in the top 1%! And the result adjusted for age places him 87th in his class! I think that's incredible. Sharon even managed to shave a few minutes off his best ever time, finishing in 2 hours 45 minutes and 53 seconds. Here he is crossing the finishing line (you'll see him about 40 seconds in, on the right, wearing sunglasses, a cap and a dark blue top...

Shame Paris didn't win the Olympics this year. The Great Apartment could have been the locker-room for all sorts of sporting types! Anyway, well done again to Sharon. Amazing result.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Les mille feuilles. Not cake. Better.

We've been past Les Mille Feuilles quite a lot over the years. It's on our bike route from the centre of town back home (and now just a few minutes from the Great Apartment). For a long time it was a rather posh (i.e. expensive) florist, but a few years back it transformed into a boutique selling decorative items for the home. Funnily enough, until about a year ago I'd been past it a thousand times and never gone in.

The building itself is actually something spectacular, especially after having been cleaned not long ago. The windows have some amazing detail around them, quite unusual for Paris.

Entering the shop for the first time, I was surprised by the other-worldly atmosphere of the place. It's a sort of cornucopia of the pleasingly odd, with things you can place (glasses, candle-holders, paperweights) things you can hang (pictures, mirrors) and things you can use to beautify (cushions, lampshades, artificial flowers, knick-knacks). If we had a bit more room at the Great Apartment, some of this stuff would be lovely.

Perhaps it's a sign of ageing, but I really like the quirkiness of some of the stuff, the almost kitsch details. For instance, I'm not a fan of fake flowers, but the porcelain orchid is kinda cute. And the fake pile of coins is almost exactly the same as one my grandfather gave me many, many years ago.

And it seems you have a choice, either an outrageous cavalcade of colour...

...or mostly black and white and silver.

Although a subtle mix of the two or a touch of gold work too, as long as you've got a taste for the daring and a sense of humour.

We love Les Mille Feuille's devil-may-care over-the-topness. It's refreshing to find something a bit different, and the prices aren't excessive at all. They've just opened a 2nd shop too, a little further into the Marais and slightly larger with a slightly more contemporary feel. Haven't been yet, but it's on my list.

Les Mille Feuilles is at 2 rue Rambuteau (here). There are more photos in our Flickr gallery here. And they're also on our maps of all things amazing here: www.tinyurl.com/nearthegreatapartment.