Nothing used to confuse me more than someone telling me they didn’t like Paris.
My immediate reaction was to get as far away from this person as I could. Fast. In my opinion, if you don’t like Paris there must be something very, very wrong upstairs. Someone who does not like Paris and I would not get along. They probably also hate puppies, and prefer their cookies on the crunchy side. I have no use for someone like that in my life.
But after listening closer to a few of these types attempt to explain themselves, it began to make sense. These people, the ones who (gasp) hate Paris, did not visit it correctly. Paris is city that is best explored like a local. In order to truly fall in love with France, you have to assume the part of a Parisien. That means no guide books, no tourist traps, no guide-book restaurants you think you need to visit, and in my opinion, NO hotel.
While I hate to complain about anything Parisien, I must when it comes to hotels. They are either wonderfully elaborate and wildly expensive, or semi-affordable, but so small that you won’t be able be open your suitcase on the floor. No matter what your budget, if you are a tourist in a hotel at some point someone French is going to be rude to you. It’s inevitable. You will think to yourself how awful the French are, and decide they are a bad bunch. If you’re staying in a hotel, you will also likely be on a street that is far too big, in a neighborhood that is probably too busy.
Paris is about the quaint, the small, the charming. Most large hotels a tourist would visit are everything but this.
This year I decided to return to France for a week and my sisters came along, who had long been dreaming of seeing Paris through my wide and sparkling eyes. I didn’t give a hotel a second thought, but instead set my sights to Air B&B, and that’s how I found Venture2Paris.
A decade ago, I lived in a tiny apartment in the Marais, on Rue Francois Bourgeois. It was five, spiral flights up and at least two hundred years old. All of the floors, doors, and windows were wonderfully warped, thick, elaborate molding and tin-ceilings remained in tact, and the bathroom was carpeted. A few weeks in I realized the apartment was plagued by mice, and the heating system was busted. It was SO Paris, and I loved every inch of it.
I felt like Hemingway during that time. I spent my nights writing my first ever blog over all I could afford for dinner: a crust of baguette, a lump of cheese, and a bottle of two euro wine from the Franprix. I was young, and poor, and cold, but I was happy – because I was in Paris.
While I adore truly ever corner of the city, this particular neighborhood has a special place in my heart. And so when I return on holiday, I have to stay nearby; for the 4th is MY Paris, and just the sight of the boulangerie on the corner makes me giddy.
Venture2Paris has three lovely units on Rue Tresor; a mere twenty feet from the door I used to live behind, on what is possibly the cutest little street in all of the Marais. Apartment Degas is a fully renovated two bedroom, one bath flooded with light, color, and charm.
The apartment underwent a full restoration; everything is modernized and convenient, without compromising the style of old Paris. French windows look out onto Rue Tresor, hardwood floors throughout gleam, crisp white linens, a modern kitchen and bath fully equipped with all the essentials, and there’s even a washing machine. There was orange juice in the fridge, coffee in the Keurig, and MIR laundry detergent, which if you don’t know, smells heavenly. I still haven’t worn a shirt I washed there because I don’t want to scent to fade.
Christine, effortlessly chic in her Hermès neckerchief, manages apartment guests and know Paris inside out. She met us on arrival to give us keys, show us everything we needed to know, and then took the time to share all her favorite places in the area and make restaurant recommendations. She also pointed out the stack of fashionable books and city guides on the shelf, in case we needed further inspiration. She’s a patron saint for tourists and when I grow up I want to be her: filled with a vast knowledge of all things wonderful and delicious about this city.
For the three of us, the space was more than comfortable. It was also spotlessly clean and wonderfully maintained – right down to the bright, white cozy bath towels. It has all the perks of a hotel without any of the drawbacks.
After settling in, we instantly headed downstairs to have a toast to our amazing luck at finding this true trésor. It wasn’t just the apartment that I loved, but the entire building, filled with locals who lived there. Instead of getting breakfast in the hotel, we picked it up at the local boulangerie, and our nightcap happened at Au Petit Fer du Cheval, surrounded by the chain-smoking Parisiens. Sitting among them, sipping my congac and trying to hide my massive grin, I felt like a resident of the Marais once again.