Saintonge Apartment

Marais, Paris, France Book from Eur165

Reviewed by Kate Erith
Unpretentious Parisian pied-à-terre apartment in the trendy 3rd arrondissement, offering an authentic experience of local life (sleeps 2-4)
The first thing you’ll notice on entering 22 rue de Saintonge is the peeling paint and worn wooden stairs of the communal hallway. If this worries you, it probably isn’t the place for you. However, if you see this as the allure of an authentically old Parisian building, then keep on reading. Three floors up (yes, no lift) sits a simple but delightful 1-bedroom apartment, charmingly decorated and incorporating original features such as exposed wooden beams and glossy parquet floors.

High ceilings and full-length windows in the large living area create a light and spacious feel, while the cosy bedroom at the rear faces onto the internal courtyard and has double glazing and black-out curtains, promising peaceful sleep. Quirky touches and individual pieces – designer chairs, custom-made furniture, an upright Bechstein piano – combine to create a fun and functional apartment that reflects how the capital’s citizens really live –and it’s all yours. Venture outside and the calm street gives way to the teeming bustle of the arty 3rd arrondissement, full of cafés and culture to be explored and absorbed.

Highs

  • Excellent location on a quiet street in the centre of town that manages to avoid the traditional tourist traps
  • Spacious (50m²) in this notoriously cramped city, and at a price that won’t induce a crise cardiaque
  • Well-designed and decorated to combine individual flair with functionality
  • Better value – and far more private – than a hotel, offering an opportunity to experience Paris through residents’ eyes
  • Ideal for couples or a small family

Lows

  • The communal entrance, while typical of Parisian apartment blocks, can be disconcerting at first
  • No lift to the 3rd floor – but look on it as a way to work off the croissants, éclairs and fromage....
  • There are a few minor imperfections – a wobbly door handle, an under-watered balcony plant – but we found them easy to overlook given the genuine charm of the apartment
  • The bathroom is well-equipped and functional, but just not as chic as the rest of the flat
  • The bedroom looks onto the internal courtyard, so no great views on waking up, and we would advise keeping the curtains closed....

Best time to go

Paris is a city for all seasons. Spring offers riverside strolls past sights and alfresco aperitifs; the heat of summer allows park picnics and the perfect excuse to cool down in the air-conditioned boutiques; autumn encourages museum visits interspersed with saunters through the tree-lined streets; and winter calls for shopping in the sales (usually from the 2nd week of January for 5 weeks) combined with cosy café stops.

Our top tips

For a true taste of the real Parisian life, on a balmy evening pick up baguettes, cheese, and a chilled bottle of rosé from the market and join the post-work picnickers unwinding on the banks of Canal St Martin (15 min walk).

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
City Style
Family
Foodie
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Apartment
  • 1
  • Self-catering only
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
Room:

Rooms

Your apartment (yes, it feels great to say that) is the epitome of Parisian functionality, with bespoke space-savers incorporated in the most unlikely of places, designed by owner Christian and his artist wife. And there is so much cupboard space that we defy even the heaviest of packers to fill it all.

The living area is open plan, with kitchen and dining area, giving onto the roomy and airy lounge. The high ceilings, lack of vis-à-vis, and huge French windows ensure that this is a light and tranquil space. We loved the upright glossy black piano and the thoughtfully provided sheet music, although we’re not so sure that the neighbours were big fans of our musical endeavours. There’s a comfy (and stylish) leather sofa, and a comfy (but not so stylish) sofabed, suitable for 1 adult or 2 kids. A flatscreen TV (French channels only when we visited), a selection of DVDs, and an eclectic mix of books and magazines are supplied for rainy days, and there is a work area (complete with desktop computer) for anyone unfortunate enough not to be in Paris for leisure alone.

The bedroom is cute and cosy in red hues, with a small but comfy low-slung double bed replete with plump duvet and emblazoned cushions (Embrasse moi, Cerise). Through a semi-arch is a cleverly compartmented dressing area with large wardrobe and a Louis XIVth-style chair. The ensuite bathroom takes a gently nautical theme, with blue and white tiling and even a model lighthouse. Look out for the Parisian skyline adorning one of the windows, and ponder the existential questions posed on various surfaces while soaking in the full-sized bath.

Features include:

  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • Cots Available
  • Dishwasher
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob stove
  • Internet access
  • Iron
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Piano
  • Toaster
  • Tv
  • Washing machine
  • Wifi internet

Eating

The colourful, open-plan kitchen and dining area has custom-made cupboards painted in bright purples and pinks, and is fully equipped with pots, pans and utensils, and settings for 4. There’s an oven and 4 hobs (complete with stove-top coffee-pot), microwave, large fridge-freezer, dishwasher, kettle, and espresso machine. Basic cooking products are provided (condiments, cling film, dishwasher tablets etc.), and there is a wealth of food shops within a 2-minute walk.

We also recommend – in fact, insist on - a visit of the Marché des Enfants Rouge on rue Bretagne, a typical French market open Tuesdays to Saturdays and on Sunday mornings. Pick up fresh fare to consume back at the apartment, watching the world go by from the open French windows.

For those wanting a break from cooking, you are in one of the food hotspots of the capital. For a true gastronomic experience, we particularly recommend Le Pamphlet on rue Debelleyme, run by chef Alain Carrère. While the à la carte menu adds up quickly, the 3-course set menu offered at lunch and dinner (€30-35 in 2010) is excellent value. Just make sure that you have a good appetite, since the south-western fare is notoriously heavy, and portions are generous. We enjoyed a huge plate of meltingly tender jarret de porc and aligot (a south-western specialty of cheesy mash potatoes), and struggled to fit in a fluffily light millefeuille. Another south-western inspired restaurant we’ve had recommended, but not yet had the fortune to try, is the cosy Le Réconfort, on rue de Poitou.

For a change of cuisine, head to Le 404 on rue des Gravilliers, where delicious Moroccan flavours are served up in sumptuous surroundings; then pop next door for post-dinner drinks in the eclectically designed Andy Wahloo bar. Or just saunter the streets, and take your pick from the hundreds of restaurants in the area; the hardest part will be making a choice.

Features include:

  • Coffee maker
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Toaster
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • If you’re new to the 3rd, start by strolling the streets of this medieval part of Paris, discovering narrow passageways stuffed with delectable - and dangerous - boutiques and art galleries. Just don’t expect to move fast, since the pavements are tiny and teeming

  • Wander down to the peaceful Place des Vosges, where Victor Hugo used to live: a pretty contrast in architecture and ambiance. There is a free museum containing the life and works of Hugo (closed on Mondays), but you’ll have just as much fun picking a café from which to people-watch for an hour or two.

  • Unfortunately we had to forego the Musée Picasso (just around the corner from the apartment) since it is closed until 2012 for renovation. Instead we really enjoyed the Musée Carnavalet on rue de Sévigné, a 16th century mansion illustrating the history of Paris through ‘Objets d’Art’ (closed on Mondays).

  • Venture further afield on foot or bike - for the latter, go to Velib and click on the English flag in the top right-hand corner for more details. Go south for the lively Marais, and pick up a bateau mouche (river boat) from Pont Neuf to see sites such as the Eiffel Tower, Hotel des Invalides and Notre Dame (unravelling the tour guide's English explanations is part of the fun). Or head north to the more branché 10th, jam-packed with young Parisians in bars and bistros, concentrated along the Canal

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Museums / galleries
  • Shopping / markets

Kids

Children are very welcome, and there is even a custom-made child-sized chair and table. The sofa bed in the lounge is adequate for two kids on cordial terms, and a travel cot is available for babies. The bathtub (rare in Parisian apartments) and washing machine are big bonuses. Parents of particularly inquisitive toddlers should be aware that although the floor-to-ceiling windows looking onto the street have iron railings, an alert eye is advised. The apartment is on the 3rd floor with no elevator, so be prepared for buggy-lugging, or leave it at home.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Baby equipment:

Child's chair and table in the dining area

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Distances:

  • Airport: 55 minutes
  • Shops: 1 minute
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
8/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

{{ review.firstName }}{{ review.countryName ? ', '+ review.countryName : '' }},
Feedback is only from guests who have booked and stayed through i-escape

Rates for Saintonge Apartment