Experience Paris Like a Local with Your Own Picture-Perfect Pied-à-Terre
A version of this story appeared on The Huffington Post, JustLuxe and Medium Our Parisian apartment was the middle door on the second floor of a residential building on the Left Bank. Right around the corner from the picturesque open-air market on Rue Cler, where true Parisians shop for flowers, croissants and coffee on Sunday mornings, the greeter told us. We could also walk to the Eiffel Tower, or see the very tip from the living room window. Our make-believe pied-à-tierre was part of the Paris Perfect collection, the website that curates only the most immaculate apartment rentals.
Paris is one of the top travel destinations, so it's no surprise that the City of Lights has some of the best hotels ever built and more Airbnb listings than any other city in the world. With so many options to choose from, finding the perfect place to stay in Paris can be daunting. And there is no guarantee that the hotel or home rental will live up to its listing, even with authentic photos, a lengthy description and seemingly-glowing reviews.This traveler's dilemma is why services like Paris Perfect are in such demand, offering only approved apartments that meet a certain, selective criteria: impeccable decor, modern amenities, a coveted location, and perhaps a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. Paris Perfect combines the local experience of Airbnb with the attention-to-detail of a five-star hotel.
As a luxe alternative to Airbnb, Paris Perfect has grown to over 100 rental properties – from an elegant studio near Jardins du Luxembourg to a two-floor penthouse in the heart of hipster haven Le Marais. Then there's the newest gem in the Paris Perfect portfolio: A 17th-century mansion right on the Île de la Cité, the historic island on the River Seine, that's been converted into six luxury apartments with views of the Louvre and Notre Dame. And that's just in the City of Lights. Paris Perfect also has sister sites that operate properties in Provence, London, Italy and Bali.Every property on Paris Perfect and its sister sites have been personally designed, renovated or vetted by founder Madelyn Willems, an American expat who lives in Paris and London and has cultivated an eye for an apartment's wow-factor.
"In keeping with my very high standards, I want every home to be warm and welcoming, with impeccably clean linens, warm duvets and thoughtful gadgets," Willems said in a recent interview. Paris Perfect also offers concierge services and can help guest find cooking classes, market tours, and French language courses during their stay.
Renting a place from Paris Perfect can range from EUR 110 a night to EUR 1,032 a night, depending on the apartment and the time of year. After booking, guests will arrange a meet-up with a Paris Perfect greeter who will hand over the keys, give them a tour of the apartment, a rundown of the neighborhood, and instructions on how to operate the Nespresso machine, the air conditioning, the free Wi-Fi and other amenities.
Our Paris Perfect pied-à-terre was located in the 7th Arrondissement, a quaint yet posh neighborhood where tiny dogs and stylish strollers share the winding, narrow cobblestone streets. Staying in a part of Paris where locals choose to live, dine, shop and strut around made us more eager to continue exploring the rest of the city like a true Parisian. Here are a few of our recommendations, approved by our favorite, fun-loving locals.
Coffee, First Thing
Ten Belles - Coffee enthusiasts can pick up their cappuccino while listening to rock music before strolling around the equally-hip Canal St. Martin.
CREAM - This tiny coffee spot in the heart of the trendy Belleville neighborhood is bringing the third-wave coffee movement to Paris.
Ob-la-di - The most Instagram-worthy coffee in Paris that's delicious to boot, with an in-house bakery specializing in vegan and gluten-free desserts.
Fondation Cafe - A closet-sized, fun-loving coffee joint serving espressos, lattes, and artisanal lemonades for non-caffeine drinkers.
Fragments - This cool and cozy hangout embraces coffee culture from Sweden to Brooklyn, and offers just as wide a selection of roasts.
KBCaféShop - Diehard coffee lovers swarm to this unpretentious shop in South Pigalle, perfect for people-watching.
Lockwood - From breakfast to happy hour, this warmly-lit coffee bar is always right: Serving coffee in the a.m. and Negronis and craft beer at night.
West Country Girl - Best crêpes in Paris, period.
Aux Deux Amis - This no-frills cantine turns into one of the rowdiest dinner spots for Parisians who spend the night sharing Spanish tapas and wine.
Septime - Make a dinner reservation three weeks in advance (or, try to anyway) at this coveted bistro with flawless ingredients.
Bistrot Paul Bert - This authentic Parisian bistro has only been around for less than two decades, but it has since become an classic.
Philou - Another authentic Parisian bistro near Canal St. Martin where it's a lot easier to score a reservation.
52 Faubourg St Denis - This friendly restaurant has a simple but meticulous menu: Offering fresh, creative, healthy, seasonal dishes.
Frenchie Wine Bar - Unlike the impossibly-hyped Frenchie restaurant across the alley, the Frenchie Wine Bar will have you seated within an hour, and the food is equally delicious all around.
Derrière - One of the most eccentric restaurants in Paris is a mix between the Chelsea Hotel and the Chateau Marmont, plus a secret door leading to a shabby-chic smoking room.
Mary Celeste - Paris may not be located seaside, but that's hasn't stopped this breezy restaurant bar in Le Marais from serving some of the finest wild oysters in town.
Rue Dénoyez - This alley in Belleville is the city's defacto street art gallery, where everything – including flower pots and garbage bins – has been turned into works of public art by spray paint.
Point Éphémère - This hyper-cool live music venue and creative hub on the edge of the Canal St. Martin has welcomed Sonic Youth, Animal Collective and Sam Smith.
Wanderlust - This multi-functional space on the river serves as a nightclub, a yoga studio, a concert venue and outdoor cinema, or cinéma en plein air.
Le Mots à la Bouche - One of the last remaining LGBT bookstores in the world, this charming and cheeky shop in Le Marais has novels, comic books, greeting cards and blush-inducing art books in the basement.
Musee d'Orsay - A Parisian's favorite museum, it's recommended to buy tickets at the kiosk outside to avoid waiting in line.
Centre Pompidou - Modern art grabs the spotlight at this cultural institution in the heart of Paris.
Palais de Tokyo - Eccentric artists and interactive exhibitions find a home at this tiny museum, which has featured nightclub designers, dazzling light shows and provocative performance art.
Silencio - Director David Lynch’s secret members-only club with film screenings and live music shows.
Experimental Cocktail Club - The original swanky speakeasy that sparked a mixology renaissance in Paris.
Prescription Cocktail Club - Following ECC, this two-floor lounge has the craft cocktails that attracts the it-crowds.
Beef Club - The third outpost from the ECC crew, this speakeasy cocktail club is a ballroom and steakhouse, too.
Andy Wahloo - Next door to Derriere (and owned by the same people), this eclectic club serves strong cocktails and has a live DJ on the weekends.
Le Syndicat - Underground club where you can order a cognac cocktail while listening to American hip-hop.
Le Barav - Intimate wine bar that feels more like a friend's living room, perfect for meeting up before dinner.
Pavillon Puebla - Located inside the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, this woodsy venue has fruity cocktails, ice cream, a splendid terrace, a photo booth and a DJ playing Prince well in to the wee hours.
Le Pointe du Grouin - This unpretentious bistro serves magnum-sized bottles of natural wine, in case you get really thirsty.
Molitor - The most refreshing way to experience Paris, this renovated piscine now serves as a hotel, a luxe spa and a swanky swim club.
Printemps - Grab a drink on top of this luxury department store and enjoy some of the best views in the city.
Sacre Coeur - This church in Montmartre may be tourist-y, but even locals can't deny how stunning it is during sunset.
Jardins du Luxembourg and Jardin des Tuileries - For a picture-perfect picnic on the grass.
Marché des Enfants Rouges - Located in Le Marais, this is the oldest indoor market in Paris where you can find the best vegetarian galette.
Canal St. Martin - This trendy canal has become the defacto beach-style hangout in Paris.
Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise - The historic cemetery is home to some iconic graves, including Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and Gertrude Stein.