Val de Grace Apartment

Latin Quarter, Paris, France Book from Eur295

Reviewed by Robyn Hodson
A contemporary 1-bedroom apartment, perfectly situated for the Latin Quarter and the beautiful Jardin du Luxembourg (self-catering; sleeps 2-5)
If the original oak flooring in this light-filled apartment could talk, it would thank owner Olivier for rescuing it from dull, functional obscurity and turning it into the polished focal point it is today. A clever refurbishment has seen previously small front rooms opened up to create a smart living space, along with an airy bedroom, a stone-clad bathroom and a sleek kitchen. The whole place appears to be designed entirely around the view: catching a first glimpse of the spectacular façade of the neighbouring Eglise du Val-de-Grâce through the tall French windows is almost cause to high-five yourself.

This immaculate pad is the ideal base for launching yourself on the famous Latin Quarter. Once the bohemian centre of Paris, it’s a fascinating neighbourhood with an arty vibe, a sense of humour, and some excellent bars and restaurants for foodies. The Panthéon and the leafy Jardin du Luxembourg are both nearby, and you’ll find classic Parisian chic just up the road in the boutiques and bistros of the Boulevard Saint Germain. It's also a short walk to the RER, which will whisk you straight to Notre Dame, the Pompidou Centre, the Gare du Nord and the airports, putting the whole city within easy reach.

Highs

  • A wonderful bolthole for a couple or small family, with a kingsize double in the bedroom, 2 sofabeds (one queensize, one single) in the lounge and a baby cot on request
  • The kitchen is kitted out with everything you need to cook (including basic ingredients to get you started), and the patisserie is so close you could pick up croissants in your PJs
  • The understated décor is the perfect showcase for interesting and original artwork - and that view
  • Gadgets galore: a Nespresso machine, internet-enabled 3D TVs, sound systems, films on demand
  • Thickened glass windows mean you won’t be disturbed by street noise

Lows

  • Refurbishment work means the church opposite is currently covered by scaffolding, but it's done very elegantly
  • The living area can feel cramped if both sofabeds are pulled out
  • The address is unknown to most taxi drivers. Say it’s on rue Saint-Jacques so they can place it, and take detailed directions (sent to you when you book through i-escape)
  • The rain shower could have a little more gusto
  • Door codes complicate entry but are a bonus when it comes to security

Best time to go

Cole Porter wrote it and Frank Sinatra sang it: “I love Paris in the spring time, I love Paris in the fall, I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles, I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles”. We couldn’t have put it better: this is an exciting, vibrant and interesting city in any season. That said, bear in mind that many shops and restaurants close during August when their owners head off on holiday.

Our top tips

  • Whatever you do, find Ladurée (there are several branches in the city, the nearest on rue Bonaparte in the 6th arrondissement) and get stuck into their world-famous double-decker macarons
  • Our favourite day out in Paris involves taking the metro to the incredible food market Le Marché des Enfants Rouges, tucking into brunch at nearby L’Estaminet, and then walking through the medieval backstreets of Le Marais to the Place des Voges
  • Watch your handbag everywhere, especially around Montmartre and the Sacré-Coeur

Great for...

City Style
Family
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Apartment
  • 1 bedroom
  • Self-catering (restaurants nearby + chef on request)
  • 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
  • Guest information
  • On-demand films
Room:

Rooms

As soon as you enter the apartment, you can see why guests love staying here. It’s big by Parisian standards (80sqm), and the main living space is dominated by French windows looking out over the Eglise du Val-de-Grâce. It's also filled with light, even on grey winter mornings - a real pleasure if you’re reading the paper over your croissants.

The décor is understated, with a pair of designer Italian sofas, a dining table seating up to 8, sleek lamps, a scattering of antique Louis XV chairs and a Napoleon desk. The art is mostly contemporary - a quirky mix of prints, Art Deco pieces and modern Japanese sculpture, with a 3D metal design by up-and-coming Parisian artist Stevens Dossou Yovo on one wall.

The bedroom is very comfortable with plenty of cupboard space, lovely linens and heaps of soft towels (Ralph Lauren, we noticed). The bed is sized for a big, fat king and has one of those marvellous memory-foam mattresses that mould to your sleeping form.

The bathroom is off the bedroom and has a large wash basin, a deep bathtub with an overhead rainshower, a magnifying mirror, organic bodywash, cleanser and shampoo, and a separate toilet. There’s also another toilet off the entrance hall, which is handy if you have kids or friends making use of the 2 sofabeds in the living area (one a queensize double, the other a comfortable single).

Features include:

  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dishwasher
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob stove
  • Internet access
  • Iron
  • Microwave
  • Nespresso coffee machine
  • Oven
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Smart TV
  • Toaster
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • Washing machine
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

It’s always great to come across an apartment where the owner has put so much thought into the kitchen. It’s fully stocked with every conceivable pot and pan, spoon and spatula you could wish for, as well as crockery, glassware and an array of culinary instruments (a chef’s knife set, a fryer, a state-of-the-art food processor). There's an oven, a hob, a microwave and a fridge, plus a Nespresso machine with a range of pods to help you design your perfect morning coffee. Best of all, the dishwasher means you don’t have to worry about washing up.

The cupboards come with basic ingredients - pasta, a couple of sauces, oil, vinegar, tea bags, salt, herbs and bottled water. You can also pre-order additional groceries to be waiting for you on arrival, or hire a chef for the evening if you're celebrating something special. And outside your door awaits a city of extraordinary culinary diversity - to help you make the most of it, Olivier has put together a book filled with information about markets, speciality stores, supermarkets and corner shops in the area.

He has also listed recommended restaurants if you fancy eating out. Check out L’Auberge du 15, a classic French bistro that’s a homely hangout for locals, or don your finery and head to Paris institution La Tour d’Argent for a memorable night out (be warned: it’s pricey!). We were absolutely delighted to discover that one of our favourite restaurants, Le Cosi on rue Cujas, is a mere 7-minute stroll away. It’s ideal for a tasty but relaxed meal, with lots of fresh produce and twists on traditional French recipes.

Features include:

  • Basic ingredients
  • Chef on request
  • Children meals
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Shopping service
  • Toaster
Eating:
Activity: Jardin du Luxembourg

Activities

  • Explore the studenty side of Paris, meandering from Place de la Contrescarpe down rue Mouffetard, where there are lots of shops and cool bars. The area was the young Ernest Hemingway’s hunting ground during the '20s
  • Stroll down the Boulevard Saint Germain for a hot chocolate and a Croque Monsieur at the famous Café de Flore or neighbouring Les Deux Magots - touristy but fun
  • Walk across the Jardin du Luxembourg to rue de Sevres, where you’ll find Le Bon Marché, Paris’ oldest department store (opened in 1848). Its ‘Grande Epicerie’ is one of the best places to buy top-notch nibbles
  • Visit the Panthéon, a grand mausoleum that houses the remains of Rousseau, Voltaire and other notable French citizens, as well as a huge Foucault pendulum demonstrating the Earth's rotation
  • Get the Eiffel Tower in your photos and bypass the dreadful queues at its base by heading up the Tour Montparnasse (a 5-minute walk from the apartment) instead. Then explore the beautiful cemetery next door - the final resting place for Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Samuel Beckett and other famous names
  • The eerie catacombs are also nearby. They contain the bones of more than 6 million Parisians and played an important role as a Resistance hideout during the Second World War
  • Walk (or take a boat) as far along the Seine as you can, taking in the views of Notre Dame, Ile de la Cité and Ile Saint-Louis
  • See the impressionist paintings and turn-of-the-century sculpture at the Musée d’Orsay (on the Left Bank), then cross the river and head to the Louvre. For contemporary art, take the RER to the Pompidou Centre, famous for its striking architecture

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cycling
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets

Kids

Families are most welcome at the apartment and the sofabeds (1 queensize, 1 single) mean it can sleep up to 5 in total. It's particularly good for parents with a child under 3 - cots and other bits of baby equipment are available free of charge, and Olivier can toddler-proof the apartment in advance, with plastic edging for sharp tables and covers for plugs.

The Latin Quarter is a great place to wander with kids, and the Seine is a 15-minute walk away.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Babysitting:

Olivier can organise an English-speaking babysitter (on request).

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cot
  • Baby bedding
  • Changing mats
  • Baby bathtub
  • Bottle warmer
  • Child's toilet seat
  • Booster chair

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

Children's meals:

Olivier can buy anything you might need in advance, and there’s a microwave for heating up baby food. There’s a shop next door to the apartment, and you’ll find crêperies all over Paris (the nutella and banana options are like catnip for kids).

Kids Activities on site:

  • Internet-enabled 3D TVs with on-demand films

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Boating lake, carousel rides and playground in the Jardin du Luxembourg
  • The catacombs
  • Boat rides on the Seine
  • Children’s cinema L'Entrepôt (10 minutes away by taxi)
  • Paris has the world's first children's bike-share scheme

Families Should Know:

The apartment is on the second floor and there’s a tiny lift for your pushchair, though you may have to send it up on its own and take the stairs with your little one. The windows are low, so keep an eye on adventurous toddlers if you leave them open.

Distances:

  • Airport: 30-45 minutes (Paris Charles de Gaulle or Paris Orly)
  • Hospital: 5 minutes' drive
  • Shop: a 1-minute walk
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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