Since my earliest Paris sojourn in the late 1970s, I have long wanted to stay in an apartment in Paris, but that wish was never fulfilled as I never had a friend who resided in Paris. Or if I did have a friend living there, it would be too much of an imposition to stay with that friend because I was sure the apartment was going to be smaller than a walk-in closet in a New York Park Avenue apartment. As a result, I ended up staying for most of the time in a small hotel in the Quartier Latin in the 5th arrondissement. This time around, I decided it was time to change that old habit and to explore other options.
While searching for a short-term rental apartment, an agency was recommended to me: AbsoluLiving.com. I went to its site and had a look through its listing, and found one that I fancied. I inquired about the property, and within minutes I received a reply through e-mail. I was already impressed with its speed of service. After deciding on a studio, I had to put a 30% down payment as a guarantee that I would show up. I was asked to send my credit card numbers via either mail, fax, or e-mail (unfortunately they did not have a web-based reservation system, but the security issue of sending the credit card number could be solved by different methods). Per e-mail they sent me a contract that I had to sign and return back to them (by fax or e-mail), and that was it until I arrived in Paris.
As I arrived before their office hour, I stood waiting in the cold of winter (early January) until someone came to open the office, apologized for making me wait, and offered a hot cup of tea. There was no need to apologize, really, because I did not alert any of them that I would be arriving super-early. The owner, Hèrvé, was a young, no-nonsense but very fraternal gentleman. I just wanted to adopt him as a big brother; then again, he could be several years younger than I was. Guy (rhymed with “key”) was the person who handled Internet inquiries; most likely one would get an e-mail correspondence from him. He too was very informative and welcoming; then again, shouldn’t they all be?
Check-in actually would not be until noon, but my unit was already ready, so they processed me immediately. All I had to do was sign more receipts for the remaining 70% plus a deposit in the case that there occured any damage caused by moi while I was there. My particular apartment on Rue des Vertus was not too far from their office on Rue St. Martin.
The apartment was on the 4th floor of a 5-story building. The small compound was equipped with a security-coded entrance gate. Thank goodness there was an elevator, as I carried two heavy carry-ons (no checked-in luggage), and the stairwell was interestingly uneven and narrow. As a matter of fact, when I just entered the building, I was aghast at the public area, which consisted of nothing more than a corridor and a stairwell. I was afraid of how my unit would look like, BUT…
When I entered my apartment, it was just as the pictures on their website had looked: WYSIWYG, basically (What You See Is What You Get). This tiny studio had a full-size futon with surprisingly comfortable mattress and a warm comforter. Two sets of “towel sets” (bath, hand, and face towels) were provided. There was a sofa that could be turned into a bed for one skinny person; two nesting coffee tables; a television set (satellite dish feed), a DVD player, and a WiFi high-speed Internet cable modem (free of charge). The Internet worked well except for the last two days, when there was disruption in my section of Marais. When that happened, one could just go to the AbsoluLiving office basement and use one of their two available terminals there, also free of charge.
On the kitchen counter was a welcome-kit that consisted of mini guide-books and magazines, a fold-out map of Paris, guide to gay venues (rubbers included); and a bag of mints. Behind the counter lay a kitchenette with a range with two burners; a microwave; a coffee-maker; electric hot-water boiler; plenty of plates and dinnerware to entertain at least 6 people; a good mini-size refrigerator; and a washer (unfortunately, when I used it, it spun but no water was involved; I thought, hmmm…this could not be what they called “nettoyer à sec” or “dry-cleaning”, d’accord?). They also included a feedback survey of your stay.
The bathroom had one commode and one bath, but no shower curtain. If you take a shower standing up, you will splash water all over the floor. I did my best impersonation of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon:” crouching while showering, or hidden (immersed) during my baths. Hot water filled up the tub, but after that, one had to wait for some time for the water-heater to replenish. They provided a very small sachet of shampoo, conditioner, and soap that would last only for two showers/baths at the most. Treat yourself with local ammenities from L’Occitane, available in travel size.
My first experience of renting an apartment in Paris was extremely satisfying. I would highly recommend AbsoluLiving.com for a starter. I will definitely use their service again the next time I will do this. Prices varies from one apartment to another; discount starts being applied for a stay of at least 7-days.
236 Rue St. Martin
75003 Paris (Métro: Réamur Sébastopol or Arts et Métiers)
Tel: +33 (01) 4454-9700
Fax : +33 (01) 4454-9717