It's not every day that we find such a perfect apartment as this seductive little flat on the rue Verlomme, a few steps north of Place des Vosges in the Marais district of Paris. Even rarer still is to find such a petit bijou that is air-conditioned.
First, the neighborhood. The Marais is known as one of the most lively quartiers of Paris, a place of smart shops, chic wine bars and galaxy of restaurants, among them the three-star L'Ambroisie, which regularly entertains heads of state from important nations. The Marais has the feel of a busy little village, and one can spend the whole day just window-shopping and people-watching, or marveling at the fire-eaters, jugglers and other wizards of the impossible who perform daily in front of the Centre Pompidou, France's leading museum of modern art.
Situated in the heart of the Marais is the historic Place des Vosges, one of the oldest and most enchanting squares in Paris. The Place was created in 1605 for Henry IV, and its arcaded ground floors and noble buildings have endured through the centuries as one of the most striking architectural features of old Paris. Professional musicians come here to set up impromptu string quartets. All manner of cafés, galleries, tiny museums, libraries, antique shops and rare bookstores abound along its covered sidewalks, while the benches and gravel walkways of the square are filled with lovers, chess players, playing children and smartly dressed women pushing strollers. The entire neighborhood lends itself to leisurely, concentrated attention, all within the space of a half-dozen streets.
Three minutes away by foot, on a small street with virtually no traffic, is 7-9 rue Roger Verlomme. A few discreet taps on a digicode keypad opens large heavy doors that issue into a courtyard. This space is beautiful in its classic charm: the cobblestones are kept clean by the resident gardienne, and the stucco is fresh and bright with glossy black trim. Around the perimeter are shrubs and flowerbeds. From this quiet and well-kept courtyard, on the right, a single flight of stairs leads to the apartment.
The living room, dining area and kitchen occupy the front space of the apartment. Each section has its own distinct identity in an open-plan arrangement that allocates just the right amount of space to each function. Burgundy-colored fabrics and rich dark wood furniture in the living and dining areas balance the brightness of the custom-made cabinets in the all-new kitchen. A writing desk, ideal for writing postcards back home or setting up a laptop computer, is nestled between two tall windows that overlook the courtyard. The fireplace (it does not function, in compliance with local ordinances) adds a classic touch to this comfortable and attractive space.
The beautiful hardwood floors that extend throughout the apartment are indicative of the care with which this apartment has been refurbished. The original wood sections were removed, entirely restored and then refitted to the floor. The result is a gleaming parquet floor, warmed by colorful areas rugs, that complements the undeniably Parisian ambiance of this apartment.
The kitchen, where the chef can chat with company or watch TV while making sure the sauce velouté doesn't develop lumps, is equipped with a full array of top-quality appliances, including a four-burner halogen cooktop, dishwasher, three-quarter-size two-door refrigerator and conventional and microwave ovens. In the bathroom there is a combination washing machine-dryer.
The bedroom, immediately past the living room, overlooks the courtyard through two tall windows. The queen-sized bed is firm and of top quality, and for clothes storage there are an armoire and closet for hanging items. The windows have sheers for privacy and heavy drapes to block out the morning light. In the ensuite bath are a tub with Jacuzzi jets, wall-mounted shower and tiled counters brilliantly illuminated by recessed overhead lights. The WC is in a separate space within the bathroom.
In addition to the many classic decorative touches, such as the large mirrors over the fireplaces and original landscape paintings on the walls, this apartment has a luxury that is rarely important in Paris, but always welcome when needed: air-conditioning. The temperature is regulated by independently controlled units in the bedroom and living room-kitchen area. Because of the air-conditioning, in the June through September period there is an extra charge above the rental price for consumption of electricity over the normal usage rate.
Because it overlooks a courtyard, this apartment is especially quiet even though the building is in one of Paris' most animated neighborhoods. Guests will find it is conveniently situated for getting around Paris, with the Chemin Vert Métro a short walk away. Only a few minutes further is the Bastille station, which goes to the Palais Royal, Louvre, Place de la Concorde, Etoile and all the way to La Défense on Paris' western perimeter. Place des Vosges is less than a 15-minute walk from the Ile Saint-Louis, beyond which lie Notre Dame, St.-Germain-des-Prés and the vibrant quartiers of the Left Bank.