Finding a Paris apartment with a spectacular view

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View of Paris

by Julie Skurdenis, Bronxville, NY

I’m not a surfer in any sense of the word, certainly not in the electronic sense, but one bleak, rainy Saturday I found myself surfing the Internet. Without knowing exactly why, I sat at my computer searching for short-term rental apartments in Paris — but only those with terrific views of the Eiffel Tower — ‘just to see if anything is available,’ I told myself.

The living room of our apartment at 211 rue de l’Université.

I’d been to Paris at least a dozen times (most recently in July 2006). I wasn’t particularly thinking of taking another trip so soon, but some things are meant to be.

There on my computer screen appeared an elegant apartment in the 7th arrondissement, one of the city’s most upscale neighborhoods, bordered by the Seine on its north and rue de Sèvres on its south, with the Eiffel Tower as its anchor. The apartment looked beautiful, but what made me fall in love on the spot — and made me want to pack my bags immediately — were the views.

This apartment was blessed with not one but two terraces, and from one of them loomed the most spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower — not in the distance but up close. That settled it! My husband, Paul, and I were going to Paris.

So it was that in October ’09 we found ourselves at 211 rue de l’Université, a block and a half away from the Eiffel Tower.

The apartment

How did the reality of the apartment measure up to the love-at-first-sight computer images? Very well! The apartment was quite elegant, with a huge gilt mirror, leather sofa and gold silk brocade armchairs lending an antique French look to its living room. The plasma TV screen that dominated one wall was decidedly 21st century.

Paul enjoying breakfast on our apartment terrace.

The kitchen, which was tiny, modern and well appointed, included a combination washer/dryer (preferable to doing laundry in a hotel sink or tub). There were two bedrooms, one with a queen-sized bed and the other with a single that could be turned into a double. Both bedrooms were small by American standards but suited the two of us well, having enough storage and closet space.

With floor-to-ceiling windows and no highrise neighbors, the flat was flooded with light during the day and very private at night, even without drawing the drapes.

The apartment had two terraces — not small balconies to barely step out on but large terraces with outdoor furniture for dining or relaxing. And the views? In a word, spectacular!

From one terrace, high above everything, we could see the Quai Branly Museum, church spires and, off in the distance, Sacré Cœur crowning Montmartre. From the other terrace we saw the dome of Les Invalides, gloriously lit at night, as well as one of the world’s most famous sights, the Eiffel Tower, “our” Eiffel Tower, so close that it seemed to be part of our terrace. 

We couldn’t get enough of the view. Whether it was raining, cloudy or sunny, the tower was glorious, and even more so at night. It was lit from sunset to 1 a.m. — a lacy fantasy against the night sky.

The apartment was a jewel, but its setting, the surrounding neighborhood, was also impressive. Wide boulevards, narrow side streets, elegant turn-of-the-century buildings with tiny wrought-iron balconies, spacious parks, upscale restaurants, atmospheric bistros, brasseries, cafés, boulangeries and patisseries: it was all there just outside our front door.

Foodie discoveries

Eating well was a priority for us on this trip. This was, after all, Paris, offering some of the world’s best dining.

We had decided in advance of our trip that we would not dine this time in any of the Michelin-starred restaurants, as we had on previous trips, but concentrate instead on bistros, brasseries and cafés, partially for their more local atmosphere and partially to eschew the astronomical tabs for dinner at places like Le Grand Vefour, La Tour d’Argent and Taillevent, where dinner for two can easily cost well over $500 or $600. Not that dining in a Michelin-starred restaurant isn’t worth it — it is — but we weren’t indulging on this trip.

Inside the Musée d’Orsay.

We have a good friend in New York, Gena, who adores Paris. She has visited often and knows the city well. And if there’s anyone who knows how to eat well in Paris, it’s Gena.

She supplied us with a list of her favorite restaurants before we left, but, more importantly, she told us about rue Cler, a 10-minute walk from our apartment.

Rue Cler is a gourmand’s paradise, two blocks of “foodie heaven.” Shoulder to shoulder stand a fromagerie (cheese), a charcuterie (meats), a poissonnerie (fish), a boulangerie (bakery), a chocolate boutique, green grocers and wine shops. There’s even a store (Oliviers & Co.) that sells luxury olive oils. Not to mention all the cafés, restaurants, bistros and brasseries!

In two deliriously happy hours we loaded up on everything from truffles and caviar to baguettes and six varieties of chèvre, somehow hauling it all back to 211 rue de l’Université.

We had purchased enough food on this one expedition to rue Cler to create four wonderful dinner buffets for ourselves “at home,” out of a total of 11 nights in Paris. To these buffets we added candlelight and the Eiffel Tower — and awarded ourselves three Michelin stars.

When we did dine out, we didn’t have to go far in a neighborhood loaded with restaurants. Our two favorites were Les Deux Abeilles (189 rue de l’Université), a tea salon located a few steps from our apartment that served wonderful omelettes and eggplant tarts (meal cost, €40, or $55), and Le Sketch (131 rue St.-Dominique), 15 minutes from our apartment, with a rustic elegance and outstanding bistro food. (Our cost for two, without appetizers or coffee, was €78, or $107.)

Neighborhood sights

Children at play in the Luxembourg Gardens.

We ate well, but when we weren’t eating or imbibing we took in the sights and museums in our immediate neighborhood. At the top of the list was, of course, the Eiffel Tower. Although we could step out on our terrace and see it anytime we wanted to, one day we did the tourist thing and stood in line for 90 minutes to take the elevator to the top. It was worth the wait, especially when we saw the terrace of our apartment from 899 feet up.

Other do-not-miss sights in our neighborhood included the fabulous new Musée du Quai Branly, located just across the street from our front door, with its collection of tribal art from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas; Les Invalides, where Napoleon rests in a monumental tomb; the Musée d’Orsay, housing one of the greatest collections of Impressionist art in the world, and the Musée Rodin, displaying his sculptures in a beautiful, early- 18th-century mansion, Hôtel Biron, and in the extensive, manicured garden.

We could have spent our entire trip in the immediate vicinity of our apartment, but Paris is a siren and we responded to her lure by visiting neighborhoods beyond our own.

Venturing out

We meandered in some of our favorite neighborhoods from past trips: Île St-Louis, Montmartre, Palais Royal, Luxembourg Gardens and St-Germain, stopping for leisurely, late, wine-infused lunches in each neighborhood.

Les Deux Magots café in St-Germain.

Most memorable was the very elegant Le Grand Colbert (main course and wine, for two, €46, or $63) in the Galerie Vivienne, across the street from the Palais Royal, and Les Deux Magots (6 Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés)

and Café de Flore (172 boulevard St-Germain), both only a block apart from each other — we had aperitifs and appetizers at one (€20) and wine and main courses at the other (€50).

Coffee and dessert were back in our 7th arrondissement neighborhood at our favorite pastry shop, Pâtisserie de la Tour Eiffel (21 avenue de la Bourdonnais).

As for our favorite do-not-miss sights outside our own neighborhood, there was Notre Dame Cathedral and the incomparable Sainte-Chapelle, both on the Île de la Cité; the Louvre, where we bypassed the “Mona Lisa” in favor of the museum’s Mesopotamia collection, which superbly condenses thousands of years of Iraq’s ancient history (don’t miss Hammurabi’s law code, c 1792-1750 BC, inscribed on a seven-foot basalt stele, and the winged bulls with human faces from the throne room of Sargon II), and the Musée de Cluny, built on top of second-century-AD Roman baths and now housing the medieval “The Lady and the Unicorn” tapestries.

We added a new sight on this trip, the Basilica of St-Denis, a half- hour Métro ride from central Paris. There, dozens of French royals lie in exquisite stone sarcophagi. Louis XVI and his queen, Marie Antoinette, lie there too, although their graves are marked only by plain black marble slabs.

One last recommendation

One final stroll no visitor to Paris should miss is along the Champs-Élysées, from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde, and, if there’s energy left, on to the Louvre by way of the Tuileries. We saved this walk for our last day in Paris. Although it drizzled steadily all afternoon, we spent three hours strolling from end to end.

Most sensible Parisians and tourists huddled indoors or in cafés on this chilly, rainy Sunday. We’ve never been sensible, however, so we strolled in the rain, having Paris practically all to ourselves. It was one of the highlights of our trip. 

It was also wonderful to return to our nest at the end of our walk knowing that it would be warm and cozy, that champagne was chilling in the fridge, that there would be paté and chèvre to go with it and that the Eiffel Tower was just outside our terrace door.

If you go...

Notre Dame cathedral

The apartment we rented can be seen at www.parisapartment7eme.com, and reservations can be made directly with the American owner (phone 610/353-7374 or e-mail pgbmaloney@aol.com). Photos can also be found on www.

rentalfrance.com; click on 211 rue de l’Université.

All will give a good idea of what the apartment looks like plus show you that fabulous view.

The rental rate was €225 ($317) per night or €1,500 ($2,115) per week. The apartment is available to rent for four or more days, nonsmokers only.

The owner also has an apartment available near the Luxembourg Gardens; it can be seen at www.parisapartment6eme.com.

Both the apartment owner and her representative in Paris, Pascal, were extremely accommodating. I had tons of questions in advance of our trip and they patiently and expertly handled them all, each also supplying me with a list of favorite restaurants and shops. That was how we found Michel Chaudun (149 rue de l’Université), which sells the best chocolate in Paris (if not the world).

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.
View of Paris

by Julie Skurdenis, Bronxville, NY

I’m not a surfer in any sense of the word, certainly not in the electronic sense, but one bleak, rainy Saturday I found myself surfing the Internet. Without knowing exactly why, I sat at my computer searching for short-term rental apartments in Paris — but only those with terrific views of the Eiffel Tower — ‘just to see if anything is available,’ I told myself.

The living room of our apartment at 211 rue de l’Université.

I’d been to Paris at least a dozen times (most recently in July 2006). I wasn’t particularly thinking of taking another trip so soon, but some things are meant to be.

There on my computer screen appeared an elegant apartment in the 7th arrondissement, one of the city’s most upscale neighborhoods, bordered by the Seine on its north and rue de Sèvres on its south, with the Eiffel Tower as its anchor. The apartment looked beautiful, but what made me fall in love on the spot — and made me want to pack my bags immediately — were the views.

This apartment was blessed with not one but two terraces, and from one of them loomed the most spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower — not in the distance but up close. That settled it! My husband, Paul, and I were going to Paris.

So it was that in October ’09 we found ourselves at 211 rue de l’Université, a block and a half away from the Eiffel Tower.

The apartment

How did the reality of the apartment measure up to the love-at-first-sight computer images? Very well! The apartment was quite elegant, with a huge gilt mirror, leather sofa and gold silk brocade armchairs lending an antique French look to its living room. The plasma TV screen that dominated one wall was decidedly 21st century.

Paul enjoying breakfast on our apartment terrace.

The kitchen, which was tiny, modern and well appointed, included a combination washer/dryer (preferable to doing laundry in a hotel sink or tub). There were two bedrooms, one with a queen-sized bed and the other with a single that could be turned into a double. Both bedrooms were small by American standards but suited the two of us well, having enough storage and closet space.

With floor-to-ceiling windows and no highrise neighbors, the flat was flooded with light during the day and very private at night, even without drawing the drapes.

The apartment had two terraces — not small balconies to barely step out on but large terraces with outdoor furniture for dining or relaxing. And the views? In a word, spectacular!

From one terrace, high above everything, we could see the Quai Branly Museum, church spires and, off in the distance, Sacré Cœur crowning Montmartre. From the other terrace we saw the dome of Les Invalides, gloriously lit at night, as well as one of the world’s most famous sights, the Eiffel Tower, “our” Eiffel Tower, so close that it seemed to be part of our terrace. 

We couldn’t get enough of the view. Whether it was raining, cloudy or sunny, the tower was glorious, and even more so at night. It was lit from sunset to 1 a.m. — a lacy fantasy against the night sky.

The apartment was a jewel, but its setting, the surrounding neighborhood, was also impressive. Wide boulevards, narrow side streets, elegant turn-of-the-century buildings with tiny wrought-iron balconies, spacious parks, upscale restaurants, atmospheric bistros, brasseries, cafés, boulangeries and patisseries: it was all there just outside our front door.

Foodie discoveries

Eating well was a priority for us on this trip. This was, after all, Paris, offering some of the world’s best dining.

We had decided in advance of our trip that we would not dine this time in any of the Michelin-starred restaurants, as we had on previous trips, but concentrate instead on bistros, brasseries and cafés, partially for their more local atmosphere and partially to eschew the astronomical tabs for dinner at places like Le Grand Vefour, La Tour d’Argent and Taillevent, where dinner for two can easily cost well over $500 or $600. Not that dining in a Michelin-starred restaurant isn’t worth it — it is — but we weren’t indulging on this trip.

Inside the Musée d’Orsay.

We have a good friend in New York, Gena, who adores Paris. She has visited often and knows the city well. And if there’s anyone who knows how to eat well in Paris, it’s Gena.

She supplied us with a list of her favorite restaurants before we left, but, more importantly, she told us about rue Cler, a 10-minute walk from our apartment.

Rue Cler is a gourmand’s paradise, two blocks of “foodie heaven.” Shoulder to shoulder stand a fromagerie (cheese), a charcuterie (meats), a poissonnerie (fish), a boulangerie (bakery), a chocolate boutique, green grocers and wine shops. There’s even a store (Oliviers & Co.) that sells luxury olive oils. Not to mention all the cafés, restaurants, bistros and brasseries!

In two deliriously happy hours we loaded up on everything from truffles and caviar to baguettes and six varieties of chèvre, somehow hauling it all back to 211 rue de l’Université.

We had purchased enough food on this one expedition to rue Cler to create four wonderful dinner buffets for ourselves “at home,” out of a total of 11 nights in Paris. To these buffets we added candlelight and the Eiffel Tower — and awarded ourselves three Michelin stars.

When we did dine out, we didn’t have to go far in a neighborhood loaded with restaurants. Our two favorites were Les Deux Abeilles (189 rue de l’Université), a tea salon located a few steps from our apartment that served wonderful omelettes and eggplant tarts (meal cost, €40, or $55), and Le Sketch (131 rue St.-Dominique), 15 minutes from our apartment, with a rustic elegance and outstanding bistro food. (Our cost for two, without appetizers or coffee, was €78, or $107.)

Neighborhood sights

Children at play in the Luxembourg Gardens.

We ate well, but when we weren’t eating or imbibing we took in the sights and museums in our immediate neighborhood. At the top of the list was, of course, the Eiffel Tower. Although we could step out on our terrace and see it anytime we wanted to, one day we did the tourist thing and stood in line for 90 minutes to take the elevator to the top. It was worth the wait, especially when we saw the terrace of our apartment from 899 feet up.

Other do-not-miss sights in our neighborhood included the fabulous new Musée du Quai Branly, located just across the street from our front door, with its collection of tribal art from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas; Les Invalides, where Napoleon rests in a monumental tomb; the Musée d’Orsay, housing one of the greatest collections of Impressionist art in the world, and the Musée Rodin, displaying his sculptures in a beautiful, early- 18th-century mansion, Hôtel Biron, and in the extensive, manicured garden.

We could have spent our entire trip in the immediate vicinity of our apartment, but Paris is a siren and we responded to her lure by visiting neighborhoods beyond our own.

Venturing out

We meandered in some of our favorite neighborhoods from past trips: Île St-Louis, Montmartre, Palais Royal, Luxembourg Gardens and St-Germain, stopping for leisurely, late, wine-infused lunches in each neighborhood.

Les Deux Magots café in St-Germain.

Most memorable was the very elegant Le Grand Colbert (main course and wine, for two, €46, or $63) in the Galerie Vivienne, across the street from the Palais Royal, and Les Deux Magots (6 Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés)

and Café de Flore (172 boulevard St-Germain), both only a block apart from each other — we had aperitifs and appetizers at one (€20) and wine and main courses at the other (€50).

Coffee and dessert were back in our 7th arrondissement neighborhood at our favorite pastry shop, Pâtisserie de la Tour Eiffel (21 avenue de la Bourdonnais).

As for our favorite do-not-miss sights outside our own neighborhood, there was Notre Dame Cathedral and the incomparable Sainte-Chapelle, both on the Île de la Cité; the Louvre, where we bypassed the “Mona Lisa” in favor of the museum’s Mesopotamia collection, which superbly condenses thousands of years of Iraq’s ancient history (don’t miss Hammurabi’s law code, c 1792-1750 BC, inscribed on a seven-foot basalt stele, and the winged bulls with human faces from the throne room of Sargon II), and the Musée de Cluny, built on top of second-century-AD Roman baths and now housing the medieval “The Lady and the Unicorn” tapestries.

We added a new sight on this trip, the Basilica of St-Denis, a half- hour Métro ride from central Paris. There, dozens of French royals lie in exquisite stone sarcophagi. Louis XVI and his queen, Marie Antoinette, lie there too, although their graves are marked only by plain black marble slabs.

One last recommendation

One final stroll no visitor to Paris should miss is along the Champs-Élysées, from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde, and, if there’s energy left, on to the Louvre by way of the Tuileries. We saved this walk for our last day in Paris. Although it drizzled steadily all afternoon, we spent three hours strolling from end to end.

Most sensible Parisians and tourists huddled indoors or in cafés on this chilly, rainy Sunday. We’ve never been sensible, however, so we strolled in the rain, having Paris practically all to ourselves. It was one of the highlights of our trip. 

It was also wonderful to return to our nest at the end of our walk knowing that it would be warm and cozy, that champagne was chilling in the fridge, that there would be paté and chèvre to go with it and that the Eiffel Tower was just outside our terrace door.

If you go...

Notre Dame cathedral

The apartment we rented can be seen at www.parisapartment7eme.com, and reservations can be made directly with the American owner (phone 610/353-7374 or e-mail pgbmaloney@aol.com). Photos can also be found on www.

rentalfrance.com; click on 211 rue de l’Université.

All will give a good idea of what the apartment looks like plus show you that fabulous view.

The rental rate was €225 ($317) per night or €1,500 ($2,115) per week. The apartment is available to rent for four or more days, nonsmokers only.

The owner also has an apartment available near the Luxembourg Gardens; it can be seen at www.parisapartment6eme.com.

Both the apartment owner and her representative in Paris, Pascal, were extremely accommodating. I had tons of questions in advance of our trip and they patiently and expertly handled them all, each also supplying me with a list of favorite restaurants and shops. That was how we found Michel Chaudun (149 rue de l’Université), which sells the best chocolate in Paris (if not the world).