Saturday, November 2, 2013

Paris Pied-a-Terre 101

The Paris Apartment
(click on images to go to that apartments individual webpage with full details and more images)

The term Pied-a-Terre’ literally means ‘foot-on-the-ground’ - it is the term given to Paris Apartments; seen as a small living unit that is secondary to an individuals primary residence. Though these days they are simply occupied full time by many Parisian…our B&B hosts…who offer Australian guests their Parisian Pied-a-Terre! 

What’s the lure a Paris Apartment? … The image of a Paris apartment brings the thought of intrigue, romance, and European beauty to mind. Walk through the lobby of a 1800s building, through a delicious quaint courtyard, where you’ll see the original French tiles on the floor. Step into the small elevator and up you go to the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th floor. Rooms have high ceilings with grand architectural details. A small balcony with a wrought iron railing overlooks a quaint street or the River Seine. Windows are tall. Pedestrians bustle on the streets below. Hardwood flooring, often found authentically uneven and creaking underfoot, is stained dark and covered with old oriental carpets that add a grounding pattern, color, and age.  Think rich, gilded and luxurious, albeit ‘Petite’.

Would you like upstairs or downstairs? Centuries ago, the most desirable apartments were located on the lowest floors because people had to take the stairs to access their apartment.  The cleaners and maids’ rooms were in the top/attic studios. All of this changed about the time that Gustav Eiffel built his famous tower, with the invention of the elevator.  Over the decades and centuries, elevators have been fitted into most Paris buildings … but definitely not all.  This reversed apartment values due to the ease of access ad now upper floor apartments are more valuable than lower floor ones. 

What’s with the tiny elevators? Visitors to Paris are often surprised at the size and shapes of elevators. This is because they are individually designed around the shapes of each lobby and staircase.  In order to fit, they come in all shapes and sizes. But one thing is common; they are often smaller than small with many guests finding their suitcases will not fit … and having to pull them up the stairs to your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, help, 5th,or 6th floor apartment. 

 (this pied-a-terre above, has a lift that opens directly into this lounge room - c'est magnifique, it's like being a celebrity in your own penthouse :) Top floor spectacular views too)

To Dine or not to Dine?
Paris apartments do not have dedicated dining rooms.  Well most…and excluding those that are our grand B&B apartments). The apartments are simply just too small. Not to mention expensive according to square meters. You will find a small basic kitchen; with a space large enough to jam a tiny round café table and 2 stools.  This explains why the Parisians eat out/go out a lot! 

Size me up!
Paris apartments are not measured in square feet, but in square meters. The following sizes are a good rule of thumb:

                Studio: 16-25 m2
                1 BR: 20-45 m2
                2 BR: 45-80 m2
                3 BR: 70-100 m2

There is nothing sacred about these sizes, but if you see a 2-bedroom apartment at 35 m2, you can be pretty sure the second bedroom has you sleeping vertically; conversely a 1 bedroom that measures 60 m2 will be palatial by Parisian standards.

What’s inside our B&B Paris Apartments? Step inside and you’re immediately struck by the sparkling sunlight that streams in from the French doors in the living and/or dining room and bedroom/s. Step out and savor sunny Paris skies, rooftop, Eiffel, arc de Triomphe, Notre dame, or seine views. Rich and ornate furnishings, comfort and authentic Parisian style, courtyard privacy, private bathroom separate from the toilet – another quirky characteristic of le apartment – and the smell of fresh crisp baguettes and croissants in the morning. Voila, Petite Paris B&B Apartments. 


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