Archive for the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ Category

What the Ladies are Wearing in Paris This Summer

Saturday, June 9th, 2012

Summer in Paris!!!  Yes, it can be very crowded but at least you have your Paris apartment rental to escape from it all.  From a fashion point of view, summer is the time when the Parisian girls, who normally stick with black and white, show off their colors.  Visitors to the fashion mecca should follow suit.  Here are CobbleStay’s top picks for what to pack this summer when traveling to Paris.

The temps in July peak at about 70 degrees, so wearing a long sleeved top can be a smart idea.  We also love this long skirt for the days that you might visit a church.  Keeping your limbs covered is a sign of respect.  The model’s platform sandals peeking out from the skirt are great for walking the cobblestone streets.

This outfit is perfect for visiting the museums and lunch at a cafe.   She can easily take off the cardigan when it is warming up outside and the bag…the perfect size for your cell, your camera, a journal and a bag of snacks.

We love this look because it is classic Paris style with a kick!  The Breton stripes thrown around her shoulders are perfect.  Her red pants are VERY à la mode and her shoes will keep her moving in comfort all day.

We can’t leave out the men!  We know it takes a special guy to get all fancy like these Paris locals.  But we can’t help but love them for their hats, touches of red and their argyle socks.

So…what are you packing this summer?

Jet Lag, Zombies and Your First Day In Your Paris Apartment Rental

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Hanging with the zombies in Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Landing in Paris after an extremely long flight can leave you feeling like you have been hit by a truck.  I live in California and try to take non-stop flights whenever possible.  While I get there faster, I always seem to land between 6am and 8am Paris time.  After several trips, I have finally mastered the top 10 things I do when I check into my Paris apartment rental to avoid jet lag and make it through the first day feeling somewhat human.

1.  When renting an apartment in Paris, you can receive your keys as soon as you get into the city.  I ALWAYS take a hot shower the moment I step into the property.

2.  Make yourself an espresso drink and don’t consume anymore caffeine the rest of the day no matter how sleepy you may feel.  You are going to be dragging until about 4pm and then you will suddenly be awake.  Avoid stimulants (caffeine and wine) the first day so that you can get to sleep at a decent hour and start getting on Paris time.  Drink loads of water!

3.  I spend the next hour unpacking and getting my computer all set up (free WiFi!).  It is barely 10am and the city still is waking up.

4.  Set out for a trip to the Pere Lachaise Cemetery.   The fresh air and the walking will keep you awake.  It isn’t too social so you don’t have to be “on”.  You already feel like a zombie so why not spend the afternoon with some?

5.  Eat a light lunch at lunch time and drink more water.    Even if you don’t feel hungry, this helps adjust to Paris time.

6.  Spend the afternoon roaming around the neighborhood of your apartment.  Find the market and go grocery shopping.  Pick up some fresh flowers for the bedroom.

7.  Resist the urge to take a nap!  Not on your first day, you will regret it later.

8.  You should be feeling awake by now and ready for dinner.  Remember, more than one glass of wine will keep you up later.  I know, I know…”It is Paris!”  You can drink tomorrow.  Take a nice stroll after you eat; I love the Place Dauphine.

9.  Despite your sudden burst of energy, head back to your apartment and go to bed at a reasonable hour (11pm).

10.  Set your alarm!  Better yet, set two!  And set them to go off before 10am (I prefer 7:30am).  You will be in your deepest sleep around 7am Paris time.  I can’t tell you how many times we slept half the day away on our second day.  Once we even slept through the alarm.

Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to being adjusted to Paris time with minimal jet lag.  Bon Voyage!

Using Apps on Your Trip to Paris

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

I am an old fashioned girl.  I like nothing more than a well used travel guide and a map from AAA to help me navigate while traveling.  Yet, over the last few years, I have become quite the gadget lover, too!  I’ve been planning and plotting for my next trip to Paris and have discovered a whole load of apps that are going to help me travel smarter and more efficiently.  The apps are going to take me places that are so new they haven’t even been printed in the travel guides.  I’ll (hopefully) never end up in an average brasserie on a Sunday night because that was the only one that I thought was open.  And, I will probably look even more like a local because I won’t be standing on the corner trying to refold a map!

Here is a list of a few apps that I already have installed on my phone:

Meet Me at Pere Lachaise

Learn about the cemetery, how to get there, must see statues and a map to customize your tour.

Museums of Paris

Everything you need to know about the Paris museums.  Hours, maps, exhibits, information on the artists…EVERYTHING!

RATP Premium

This app explains the whole metro system.  Trains, buses and subways. Super helpful and free.

YELP

I have never been steered wrong by the reviews of restaurants on Yelp.  I can’t wait to use it in Paris.

Paris Pastry

300 of the best pastry and chocolate shops Paris has to offer?  The list was curated by David Lebovitz and is a must have.

Paris Toilets

When you gotta go, you gotta go!

There a hundreds of other apps available.  Have you used one that you think enhanced your stay in Paris?  Please share!  I know that I can’t wait to leave my apartment and see where they take me.

Paris Packing Essentials

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Your packing for Paris. It’s exciting, daunting and at times frustrating. Parisians are famous for being put together, fashionable and very chic. This adds to the pressure. You want to be comfortable, confident and ready to tackle anything Paris throws your way. Whether you are a ” just a carry on” packer or a ” I packed my entire life in my  four suitcases” packer, there are a few essentials that are always recommended.

Black, black and more black. Black is always in fashion, always classic and never changes with the seasons. It is the best way to feel put together when you are traipsing around the city. It will match with the majority of your suitcase and can be perfect for sustaining the wear and tear of city life. Spilled a little wine? It won’t show up on your black pants. Depending on the season you can alter the fabric choices but stick to dark colors to really maximize your packing efforts.

It does rain in Paris. That being said, a travel umbrella is never a waste of space in your suitcase. The phrase ” Oh I’ll just buy one in Paris if I need it” has been said a million times.You will be far more comfortable if you do wake up to rain and can just grab and go. No wandering out in the rain, getting soaked and uncomfortable on the hunt for an umbrella. The best part is that ,normally, the travel sized ones can fit into purses or satchels that you might be carrying with you. If that unexpected shower does pop up, then you are covered. Same with a trench coat. Its versatile, can be worn in all types of weather and is perfect for layering.

A scarf will always come in handy. Men and women can be seen sporting scarfs around the city. If its chilly they provide warmth. If it’s a warmer time of year, they provide a chic accessory and a perfect cover up in case you decide to head into a church. You always want to be covered so a scarf can come in handy. They also are helpful to pack on the plane for when your seatmate wants the air conditioning blasting the entire 8 hour flight. Again, pick some neutral palates so they can be paired with anything and everything in your bag.

A journal and digital camera. You will want remember that little Bistro on Rue Amelot or that hidden museum in the Latin Quarter.  You can  share with family and friends, give recommendations and have your own tour guide if you head back to the City of Lights.  Paris is one of those cities where, especially your first time, you want to remember everything. The smells, the people, the architecture, everything. A journal makes the best canvas. A digital camera will be priceless. Unless you are a serious photographer, leave the large bulky cameras at home. A pocket sized digital will be sure to record all of your pictures in style.

Last but not least, pack a little flexibility. Its a city, you’re traveling, things can happen. We hope your plane isn’t delayed or strikes aren’t present but you just never know. Things do and might happen. You’ve got to roll with the punches and soak in the experience from start to finish. If the weather is poor, meander through the museums. If the trains are delayed, walking is the best way to see the city. Make the best of the situation and enjoy Paris!

Where does the lost baggage go?

Monday, October 10th, 2011

We hope that you never have to experience your bags being lost on your travels to Paris. It doesn’t make for a welcoming start to your trip. I’ve always wondered though, what does happen to all of the bags that never get claimed? The ones that are never found and the items people forgot they lost. I found my answer in the Unclaimed Baggage Center down in Alabama.

In 1970, Doyle Owens borrowed a pick up truck with $300 and headed out to Washington DC to purchase some unclaimed baggage from Trailway Bus Lines. He set the merchandise up on card tables and tried to sell the lost items. It quickly became apparent that this was a brilliant idea

Open for business Wednesdays and Saturdays, the store quickly sells out of items on hand each day. During off days, Doyle, his wife Sue, and their two young sons are busy sorting luggage contents preparing for the next customer onslaught. Doyle’s entrepreneurial spirit takes flight as he lands his first airline contract with Eastern Airlines. More unusual and exotic items from around the world start to find their way to the one-of-a-kind Unclaimed Baggage Center.

Once his first contract was in place, the business took off. Gradually, more contracts came, more luggage was acquired and more people got word of this new shopping experience. Everything is sorted and prepped for sale. Garments are dry cleaned, shoes polished and merchandise categorized. Currently, the store sprawls over 40,o00 square feet and is set up just like a shopping mall. There’s even a cafe to get a mid-shopping day boost. Over the years, the Unclaimed Baggage Center even got noticed by Good Morning America. In one of the suitcases, a 5.8 carat diamond ring was discovered! It really is amazing what they have found over the years; ancient artifacts, priceless jewelry and even a live rattlesnake once.

In case you are wondering how much luggage gets left behind:

A whopping 99.5% of domestic airlines’ checked bags are picked up by their owners at the baggage carousel. Roughly ½ of 1% don’t arrive with the passengers.   Five days later, an impressive 95% of those delayed bags find their way home.  That’s a great track record considering the 100’s of millions of flights and passengers that cross-cross the country and the globe every day.

Don’t worry, unless your bags go unclaimed for over 90 days, there is no chance of them being sold to the UBC.

The best way to eat your way through Paris

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Food just might be the most overwhelming thing about Paris. There are restaurants, bakeries, cheese shops, food stands and everything else in between. Deciding where to have your meals can make your head spin. Ahhh, what a good problem to have.  If you really want your Parisian food experience to stand out, then remember a few simple tips.

Eat what’s in season. Most of the time the chefs will only serve what they can get fresh and ripe.  If you see a restaurant serving vegetables that aren’t in season I would stay away. Chefs in France take a lot of pride in their cooking and prefer to serve you the best of the best. Don’t eat on an American schedule. Dinner at 7 PM in Paris is considered the early bird round. You will really get to know the locals and enhance your dining experience if you stick to a french schedule. Normally, take your lunch between 12 and 1 PM. Next, hit the restaurants between 8 and 9 PM. If you’re unsure of what the dinner protocol is for a restaurant you’re interested in, do a walk by at lunch and get a feel for the vibe.

When you do find a restaurant you like, order from the “menu”. This is one of the price fix options that is typically 3 or 4 courses. It is the best way to eat dinner in Paris. You typically will save some money, as even the pricier restaurants provide a deal this way, and you will get to experience the food as the chef intended you to. Things are paired to give you a complete dining experience. Have an apéro before dinner. It’s a very French thing to do, and makes your meal more of an experience. You can visit a bar of cafe, or have one at the restaurant. Either way, it starts the evening off right.

Finally, be brave! Try something you wouldn’t think you’d like. Have the Foie gras or Boeuf tartare. You just might be surprised what you fall in love with. The best part about a vacation rental in Paris is the fabulous kitchens. This allows you to dine out and try your hand at French cooking in your own “home”. Bon Appetite!

Long flight?

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Unfortunately, if you are coming from the US, your Paris apartment rental might be a long 10-12 hours away. When flying internationally, there are a few things you can do to make your trip easier.

1.Pack light and efficiently. This goes for your checked and carry on bags. There is nothing worse then traipsing from terminal to terminal during your connection lugging 20 pounds with you. A laptop, purse, carry on, etc. It all adds up. Really think about what you realistically will use in flight. The current rule is one personal item( purse, diaper bag etc.) and one carry on suitcase per person. Follow this rule. We’ve all been on those painful flights where boarding took forever. You know why? People brought too much stuff. Keep it organized and efficient.

2. Pick your seat wisely. Do you like to get up? Are you planning on sleeping? Do you want to be close to the exit for quick de-boarding? All things to consider when choosing your spot. Be aware of the pros/cons to all seats. Aisle seats make it easy to jet to the restroom, stretch your legs, reach into the overhead bin etc. You also will have to get up every time your seat mates want to do the same thing. The window seats are highly coveted on international flights due to the prime sleeping conditions. Well, as prime as you can get. Uninterrupted lounging. You will have to scoot around your friends who may or may not be sleeping to hop out.

3. Eat and drink. Staying hydrated with water is one of the best things you can do for yourself on a long flight. It will make it that much easier to hit the ground running when you get to Paris. The environments in airplanes can be dry and hot/cold. Getting your fill of water helps. Also, don’t be scared of the dreaded airline food. Many times they offer additional things, such as turkey sandwiches, chips, fruit or cheese plates. If you really can’t stand the thought, pack some snacks to enjoy while you are watching some in-flight entertainment. Fighting jet lag tired is one thing, but tired, hungry and dehydrated? No thanks.

4. Dress comfortably. You’ll want to keep in mind the length of your flight and your personal temperature preferences. It could be 100 degrees out but I always fly with a scarf. They airplane can be cold one minute then warm another. Layers are key. Depending on your schedule once you land, you might not be able to freshen up immediately. Keep an extra shirt in your carry on in case you have to hit the ground running. Comfortable shoes that will allow for easy on and off are a must as well. Not only will you have to take them off for security, a lot of travelers like to slip them off and put on socks for the long flight.

5. Be patient. It’s as simple as that. Everyone is tired, late for a connection or just ready to start the vacation. If you can stay patient and go with the flow, you might even have a little fun on the way.

You don’t have to break the bank in Paris

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

We’ve talked about some of the ways to save money when you’re headed over to Paris, but what about when you get there? Things are expensive and if you aren’t careful you could end up blowing your budget. Fast. A few smart things to think about could save you some much needed money.

Think outside the box when it comes to activities. Not everything has to cost a fortune. There are quite a few museums that are free on the first Sunday of the month. If you happen to be in the city, this is something to take advantage of. If you are under 26, every Friday night the Louvre is free from 6- 9:45 PM. It’s always free to visit Notre Dame. They will charge for you to climb the tower, but a look around won’t cost you anything. In addition to strolling the Champs Elysees, the Paris flea markets are worth a gander. Walking the banks of the Seine or lounging in Luxembourg gardens are a great free way to spend a day in Paris.

When you get a hankering for a meal, keep a few things in mind. Try to eat your largest meal of the day at lunch. A lot of restaurants have more affordable menus and it’s always nice to sit outside in the afternoon lingering over a baguette. When ordering a drink, remember that soda and beer is very expensive in Paris. Try a coffee, espresso or a bottle of the house wine. The wine if often cheaper than water. Speaking of water, its very safe to drink. No need for bottled, order a carafe of tap water and save a few euros. When you want to fuel up before a long day of sightseeing, think twice about breakfast at the hotel. Stop into a local Monoprix and purchase a few breakfast staples, bread, cheese, jam etc. If your Paris vacation apartment rental has a small kitchen, take advantage of this money saving opportunity.

Finally, use the public transportation. Taxi’s can be very expensive depending on route and traffic. Get to know the bus lines and the metro. The buses will have routes all over the city and will serve a few purposes. They will get you from A to B and you’ll get to enjoy the city sights on the way. It’s so easy to hop on and off. You can purchase weekly transportation passes in Paris that allow you to ride the RER, Metro and buses an unlimited amount of times. If you are staying for a longer period of time, getting one of these passes will make transportation seamless and more cost effective.

When you vacation in Paris, remembering a few little tricks might add up to more savings than you think.

Metro

We’ve got you covered!

Friday, July 15th, 2011

View from the living room!

When searching for the perfect Paris vacation rental, the last thing on your mind should be, “What if a wine glass breaks?”  “What if our kids get crayon on the wall?”  or “Will I even get my security deposit back?” The only thing you should be thinking is ” Paris, here I come!”

We understand that accidents happen. Here at CobbleStay, we’ve taken some steps in the right direction. You should feel confident in the booking process and with our services.  We want you to feel at home in our apartments and not worried about the “what ifs”. That’s why we’ve made the reservation process THAT much easier. No need to pay thousands up front in case something happens. No security deposits.

To make it smoother on our guests traveling and to protect our owners properties, each guest  pays a small non-refundable $49 damage deposit waiver. It’s that simple. With the $49 deposit you are covered for accidental damages of up to $5000.  If something does break, don’t worry. Just fill out the “Oops form” to report the damage and give it to the arrival manager when you leave.  (Don’t be afraid to report the damage- that’s why you get the insurance coverage!)  This cost is already factored in the rental price you are quoted online or over the phone. No additional taxes, fess or hidden costs. You always get the all inclusive price. No surprises.

Nothing makes us happier when we have a guest tell us they felt at home. The apartment was everything they hoped for and the booking process couldn’t have been easier. It’s why we do what we do. So, pick out your favorite Paris vacation rental, pour a glass of wine and relax. We’ve got you covered.

Happy Bastille Day from the Reservation Desk!

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Bastille Day macaron

Right now, the fireworks are probably just ending over in France. Bastille Day has come and gone, but surely not without a celebration. I was fortunate enough to actually be in France on the day in 2001. I watched an amazing show from the edge of the Mediterranean in Nice. It was fantastic.

The Bastille was a medieval prison and fortress in Paris. The large column in the Place de la Bastille now stands where it once was. In the late 1700′s the Bourbon Monarchy was in reign and , to say the least,  not very popular. They were oppressive, absolute and arbitrary. On July 14,1789, the French decided it needed to end. The troops stormed the Bastille and overtook the fortress. This was one of the critical first steps towards a constitutional monarchy in the French Revolution. A republic was born. The Fête de la Fédération was held on July 14, 1790. This was the first, unofficial celebration of Bastille Day.

July 14, 1879. Things really got started. They had the first military review and celebrations were hosted all over the country. Benjamin Raspail, a politician at the time, proposed that July 14th should become a holiday. The people listened. The law was enacted on July 6th and on July 14th, 1880 Bastille Day became a true public holiday for the first time.They’ve been celebrating ever since.

Today, in Paris, the city shone. The morning started off with a large military parade up the Champs Elysees with service men and woman from all units.  Even cadets from military school were represented. There were extravagant air shows, art festivals, demonstrations and concerts. As night took over, the sky was lit up with fireworks and sparkling lights. Sipping wine from the terrace of your Paris vacation rental watching the show, how perfect. Blue, white and red bunting  and flags hanging from balconies. Make that a sea of blue, white and red anything and everything. The Tricolor flag symbolizes the Republic’s three ideals Liberty, Equality and Fraternity for all the French. Sounds like a pretty good reason for a party to me.

Travel Tip: These museums are open and admission is free on Bastille Day: Branly, Cluny, Guimet, Louvre, Orangerie, Orsay, Pompidou, Rodin.

Many Bastille Day celebrations can be viewed from the balconies of our properties.  Ask the reservation desk which ones are available.