Posts Tagged ‘Paris Vacation Rentals’

Timing Your Trip to Paris

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

“How far in advance should I book my trip to Paris?”  This is one of the most asked questions we receive and it is a great one!  The answer varies depending upon your situation.  The more “musts” you have, the farther in advance you should book.  These “musts” include staying in a particular area of Paris, during a particular show at a museum, during Fashion Week, on Bastille Day, when the flowers start to bloom, during the department store sales……  If you want to be in Paris on a specific date like your birthday or your anniversary you should plan your visit as soon as you get your dates set in stone.  Of course, if you are more flexible with your “musts”, last minute deals can be found but you may have to compromise on a few details.  For the average traveler coming to Paris, these are our suggestions for timing everything just right.

1.  You should start shopping airfares about 90 days before you plan to travel.  Depending on the season, you can get a gauge for what the fare will be and we suggest consulting with a travel agent for their take on  whether the fares will go on sale anytime soon.  If you are using airline “points” start inquiring about those flights the moment you decide on a date.   Reward travel is very limited, especially to Europe, and the flights sell out fast.  We have often booked airfare with points almost a year ahead of time just to make sure we got what we wanted!

Our Marais Magic Property

2.  Booking your airfare and finding an apartment can be done at the same time.  Especially if you are falling in love with a particular property, you should check that it is available around the dates that you are shopping for your airfare.  Our easy to use calendar that is on the same page of each property makes that very simple.  We find that people who start booking about 90 days prior to their arrival have the best selection to choose from.   For those last minute travelers, the online calendar makes it very easy to see what is still available.

3.  Check your passports!!  You should give yourself a 90 day cushion to make sure that passport is in your hands and up to date!  Really look at the date and make sure that is doesn’t expire during your trip.   It has happened but we won’t name names!

4.  As your trip gets closer, you will want to make any “must see” reservations or event ticket purchases.  Our experience is that most restaurants in Paris won’t book a table more than 30 days in advance.  There can be exceptions but this is the general rule.   It is also a great time to secure some Euros.  At the time we are writing this, the Euro is dropping!!!  This means it is the perfect time to go to Paris!

5.  Your trip is about a week away!  It is time to start pulling things to pack, buy a couple of things you might need and don’t forget to make arrangements for your pets!  We have written about packing for Paris before and we love to get creative packing tips from Pinterest.

We hope you have a fabulous trip to Paris!  Bon Voyage!

First comes love…..

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Photo Credit: Love Gracefully

It must be every little girl’s dream to commemorate some aspect of her wedding with a trip to Paris.  On Twitter, hundreds of tweets are sent out each day saying, “I want to honeymoon in Paris” or “One day, I will get engaged in Paris”.  We are used to it now but at first it really struck us.  ”Paris is for Lovers” really is true!

As an American couple, getting married in Paris isn’t viewed as a legal marriage in the United States.  You will have to tie the knot here in one place or another.  But wow!  We have come across some amazing stories of romance from people who make capturing special moments for lovers who travel to France.

Getting Engaged…

We have many guests travel to Paris to get engaged.  It is such a great idea, especially when it is a surprise!  We loved reading about a surprise engagement from one of our favorite Paris-based photogs, Lindsey Kent of Pictours Paris.  We think she hid out in the Champs de Mars park near the Eiffel Tower to capture the “Big Ask”.  The pictures were adorable.  Lindsey met up with the couple later in the week for some more pictures around Paris.  Tres adorable!

Getting Married and Vowel Renewals…

We came across Love Gracefully on Facebook.  They specialize in officiating breathtaking ceremonies all over Europe but when we saw what they did in Paris, we wanted to share them with you.   Like we mentioned, we as Americans cannot legally marry in Paris but how about doing a civil ceremony in the states and then having a “Destination Wedding” in Paris?  We also adore the idea of celebrating a milestone anniversary with a vowel renewal in a Paris jardin.

Honeymoon in Paris…

Newlyweds flock to Paris for their honeymoons.  We have so much fun helping couples choose the ideal Paris vacation rental for their post-wedding rendezvous.   We also think working with a “Honeymoon Expert” is a smart way to plan your trip.  So much goes into planning for the Big Day, your special trip often gets left to the last minute.  Katie Frederick from Ever After Honeymoons  creates magical itineraries for her couples.  After all of the wedding work you do, it is so wonderful to hand over your honeymoon to her!

Romance is one of the big reasons that Paris is such a destination spot for lovers.  We have a full section devoted to it in our “Insider’s Guide”.   If you are thinking of popping the question, putting a ring on it or celebrating after you tie the knot, we hope that we have inspired you to do some of it in Paris!

Do you know who CobbleStay is? I mean, do you REALLY know who we are?

Friday, May 25th, 2012


CobbleStay was founded in 2008 by Drew Graham.  Born and raised in Southern California to a travel agent family, Drew spent over a decade in Europe working for Internet media companies including holding the position of Director of Marketing for Yahoo! Europe in Paris.  Like most entrepreneurs, Drew started CobbleStay to solve a problem.  As a businessman, traveler, vacation rental owner and adventurer in Paris, it was often a hassle to find suitable accommodations for friends and associates visiting the city.  There were booking nightmares, less than desirable customer service, wasted hours searching, coupled with a sense of being an outsider in such a beautiful place.  As a private rental owner, Drew struggled to find a North American focused travel agency to rent his private property in Paris.  Most Paris vacation rental agencies are based in Paris and US travelers and property owners find this difficult to work with due to language barriers, time differences and currency exchange rates.

CobbleStay’s mission is simple.  We provide a sophisticated alternative to hotels in Paris for travelers seeking adventure, romance and business.  We transform international travelers into “Paris Insiders”.  We have simplified the process of booking out private rental properties to international guests.

So why are we taking up precious screen space to share this with you?  As a company, we are in our next big phase of growth and we have the opportunity to win a grant from Chase and LivingSocial to help us realize some pretty amazing goals.  What do these goals look like?  Everything from hiring more scouts in Paris to help uncover unique apartments for you to the ability to create stunning yet informative video tours of each property.  And now, we need your help.  We are promising that this takes less than 3 minutes to do.  Not only will you hopefully be assisting us in winning the grant, your vote will increase the number of grants that Chase and LivingSocial award to small businesses all over the United States.  Here are the steps:

1.  Click this link: https://www.missionsmallbusiness.com/

2.  Click “Log In and Support” in the bottom right corner

3.  Under “Vote Local”, enter “CobbleStay” and click “Search”

4.  Click “Vote”

Our dream is to continue to grow CobbleStay by offering exciting properties in Paris and superb customer service.  Merci for taking the time to help us and other small businesses realize their dreams.

A Bientot!

Drew and The CobbleStay Team

Recipe: Salad Nicoise

Monday, May 21st, 2012

 

It is my favorite time of the year!  The days are longer, the temperatures are warmer and the food gets lighter.  I am a salad girl.  I am a BIG salad girl.  Salad Nicoise is the perfect dish to kick off the warm days of summer.  Even though the recipe was developed in Nice, I always feel very Parisienne when I prepare it.  I think it has to do with using the freshest vegetables and that a true Nicoise is as visually appealing as it is tasty.  The salad Nicoise is considered a “composed” salad.  This means that the ingredients are arranged neatly on the plate instead of tossed together in a bowl.  If I know that I will be serving this, I always try to cook some of the vegetables the night before to make it a little easier.  Bon appétit!

INGREDIENTS

Vinaigrette

    • 1/2 cup lemon juice
    • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 medium shallot, minced
    • 1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves
    • 2 Tbsp minced fresh basil leaves
    • 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves
    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salad

      • 2 grilled or otherwise cooked tuna steaks* (8 oz each) or 2-3 cans of tuna
      • hard boiled eggs, peeled and either halved or quartered
      • 10 small new red potatoes (each about 2 inches in diameter, about 1 1/4 pounds total), each potato scrubbed and quartered
      • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
      • 2 medium heads Boston lettuce or butter lettuce, leaves washed, dried, and torn into bite-sized pieces
      • 3 small ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into eighths
      • 1 small red onion, sliced very thin
      • 8 ounces green beans, stem ends trimmed and each bean halved crosswise
      • 1/4 cup niçoise olives
      • 2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and/or several anchovies (optional)

METHOD

*Marinate tuna steaks in a little olive oil for an hour. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat, or place on a hot grill. Cook the steaks 2 to 3 minutes on each side until cooked through.

1 Whisk lemon juice, oil, shallot, thyme, basil, oregano, and mustard in medium bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

2 Bring potatoes and 4 quarts cold water to boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and cook until potatoes are tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer potatoes to a medium bowl with a slotted spoon (do not discard boiling water). Toss warm potatoes with 1/4 cup vinaigrette; set aside.

3 While potatoes are cooking, toss lettuce with 1/4 cup vinaigrette in large bowl until coated. Arrange bed of lettuce on a serving platter. Cut tuna into 1/2-inch thick slices, coat with vinaigrette. Mound tuna in center of lettuce. Toss tomatoes, red onion, 3 tablespoons vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste in bowl; arrange tomato-onion mixture on the lettuce bed. Arrange reserved potatoes in a mound at edge of lettuce bed.

4 Return water to boil; add 1 tablespoon salt and green beans. Cook until tender but crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain beans, transfer to reserved ice water, and let stand until just cool, about 30 seconds; dry beans well. Toss beans, 3 tablespoons vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste; arrange in a mound at edge of lettuce bed.

5 Arrange hard boiled eggs, olives, and anchovies (if using) in mounds on the lettuce bed. Drizzle eggs with remaining 2 tablespoons dressing, sprinkle entire salad with capers (if using), and serve immediately.

We’d love to see your pictures of your pretty, composed salad; send them to us at Community@CobbleStay.com.  Have you signed up to become a “Paris Insider” yet?  Click the box below! 

Paris After Dark

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

 Guest Post by Daniella Carrese      

 La Ville-Lumière. The City of Light, Paris got its nickname from all the lights that illuminate the night sky. During the evening in Paris, the streets light up with the lamp posts and lights from around. All the lights make the city seem as if it is always awake.  Along the Seine, there are beautiful lights that seem as though they have been there forever. Due to the lights, you can take a nice stroll along the river at night. Looking down from the Eiffel Tower in the evening is magical.  The streets are light up beautifully.  Along the Champs Elyseès the trees are strung with lights that make the night seem as if it day.  Although you cannot see the stars in Paris, due to all the light pollution, the sky is normally covered with a navy blue blanket. The city dies down a bit, but there are still a number of things to do during the evening.

You can take a tour of the Seine and explore all of its canals at night. You can visit the Moulin Rouge. The Moulin Rouge is a cabaret and music hall, built in 1889 by Joseph Oller this building has seen many stars including Edith Piaf and Frank Sinatra. Today it is still used, there is a nighttime cabaret show. You can see shows at this historic concert hall at most times of the day. Le Procope is Paris’ oldest cafe that was established in 1686. Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Hemingway and Picasso were some of the few who regularly ate at this establishment. Closing at 11:30, this cafe is a great place to hangout for the night. Walking around the streets near your Paris vacation rental is a great way to get a feel of the city and what it is actually like all the time.

To read more from Daniella, click “here

For even more tips  and tricks to make Paris travel easier, ask for our “Insider’s Guide to Paris”! 

 

The Walkability of Paris

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

July Column, Place de la Bastille

A guest post by Matt Davids

As a city, Paris is notorious in terms of traffic and holds a reputation as one of the toughest cities to drive around in Europe. This is often typical of such historic cities and it more than makes up for this by providing a decent underground train network (Metro), as well as wide pavements for walking, cycling and roller-skating, and plenty of excuses to want to take your time and explore on foot.

There are several approaches to walking around Paris that are dependent on the type of traveller you are. For experienced visitors to the city, you can use your prior knowledge, French skills and the handy help of the many metro stations nearby to figure out where you are. Ambling along in this way, without a specific map helps facilitate the discovery of new side streets and shortcuts and travelling on a whim, guided by a loose sense of knowing where you’re going, and the many distractive sights, sounds and smells along the way.

For those less experienced, there are plenty of maps both print and online to help you get around and perhaps plan your route before you leave. Furthermore, booking an escorted tour is an excellent option if you’re a newbie to Paris or want to supplement previous trips with a little extra knowledge. These can be themed as well, so if you’re interested in a certain period of French history such as the French Revolution or WWll then go for one of these options.

Great locations around Paris for ambling around:

Due to its layout, with the Seine winding its way from East to West, a standard walking route can take in all the most famous parts of Paris, either as an action packed morning, or stretched out leisurely throughout the day, with walking time between 3 and 4 hours a good guide. For a few suggestions, or a less demanding stroll, the following areas are great places to focus:

The Marais

The Marais is a district in Paris very much a part of the city’s history. Full of buildings that were built by Parisian aristocrats as well as many dating back to the 16th century, it has an amazing historic feel as well as fashionable restaurants and a strong art scene. These buildings, as well as immaculately kept outdoor areas make this one of the most expensive places in Paris to live, and it is conveniently close to many museums, including the Carnavalet Museum which reveals the history of Paris.

Montmartre District

The Montmartre District is another area that is well represented by the art scene. Spending a few hours strolling around the Place du Tertre which is a square where artists paint and sell their works is delightful, and there is also the Montmartre Cemetery which is a popular tourist attraction and the resting place of famous artists. There’s also the Moulin Rouge, a cabaret that needs no introduction.

Les Bouquinistes, Paris 

Les Bouquinistes

For an authentic cultural experience, the Bouquinistes along the river Seine are stands that sell books, photos and various other unique souvenirs for tourists, that having been around since the 16th century consequently offer an authentic location for purchasing a little something to take home. Hours can be whiled away strolling amongst these with the River Seine as your backdrop, conveniently located in the Latin District which is home to Notre Dame, has a strong student presence and many winding, charming streets.

General

To orientate yourself generally with Paris, then make your way to the square in front of the Notre Dame, which has a bronze plaque which represents the point to which all distances in France are measured. From here, the Eiffel Tower is to the West and the Place de la Bastille, a square where the July Column stands lies to the East. Zigzagging between these two points will take you across Paris, allowing you to see the Louvre, Notre Dame, Champs Elysees, Parc du Champ de Mars, Parc Luxembourg and many other tourist sites, whilst discovering the little hidden delights along the way that you would miss on the Metro or tour bus.

About our guest blogger:

Matt is a frequent traveller who has just returned from travelling round the world. He plans this summer to explore much of Europe, starting in Paris and finishing with his Greece holidays.

We love to have posts written by our CobbleStay guests and other travel experts.  Feel free to share your insights about Paris and travel with us.  You can send your ideas to Cassie at Community@CobbleStay.com

Day Trips from Paris – Épernay

Monday, April 30th, 2012

What a street name! Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Getting out of the city for the day is a great idea!  You can leave your Paris apartment rental early in the morning, travel for an hour or so and be back by dinner.  Many of our guests like to visit Épernay, the center of the Champagne region.

Getting There:

Épernay is 100 north-east of Paris.  Renting a car is not ideal since you will probably be doing a lot of tasting!  You can take a private car and driver but this proves to be very expensive.  Insiders know that taking the short train ride from Gare de L’est to Reims or Épernay is the best way to travel.  The ride is about 1-1 1/2 hours long.  You can book your tickets with www.sncf.com and pick them up at any station.


What To Do:

Taste and buy champagne, of course! Two popular houses to visit are Pol Roger and Moet & Chandon but you can see an extensive list here.  You can also opt for a more structured day and book a Champagne Tour with Viator.  The minivan tour includes transportation from Paris to the region and an English speaking tour guide.

Where To Eat:

There are some great restaurants in Épernay and the Pol Roger website has a wonderful listing.  There is one restaurant that seems to be on everyone’s list and that is La Cave a Champagne (16 rue Gambetta, 51200 Épernay, 08 73 20 05 31).

What to Buy:

Champagne!  Buying bottles of champagne at the major houses can be pricey but they may also offer easy shipping and handling (peace of mind).  Many blogs and books on the region recommend that you listen carefully to the tour guides and then go into one of the wine shops in the town and purchase your bottles there, perhaps from a lesser known company.  Using all of the information that you learned on your tours will help you purchase good bottles.

What to Know:

Check with the champagne houses that you want to visit before you go.  Some have no entrance fees and some charge a nominal fee.  Also, depending on the time of year, they may be closed to tours because they are harvesting (September and October).  Some houses require appointments.  You can also visit our Épernay board on Pinterest to see some lovely pictures.

After spending the day in Épernay, it will be nice to be able to return to your Paris vacation rental, put your feet up and celebrate a fun day with a bottle of really good champagne.  Cheers!

 

Breton Stripes

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Audrey Hepburn 

As the tulips start to bloom in the spring, I always find some version of the Breton striped shirt on the racks of my favorite stores.  Every time I see one, I am reminded of Paris and I was curious about its history.

In 1858, the striped, knitted shirt became the uniform for all French Navy seaman in Brittany.  The original design had 21 stripes, one for each of Napoleon’s victories. It eventually became a popular article of clothing to wear for fishermen and sailors because the stripes were easily visible in the waves if they were thrown overboard.  In 1889, the Saint James company  became the main manufacturer and still sells the traditional version today.

James Dean

In the 1950′s, the Breton sweaters and shirts were fast becoming stylish among the “beatnik” community.  Hollywood followed suit and the celebrities began wearing similar versions of the striped shirt.  It began to take on different shapes and proportions as fashion houses including Jean Paul Gaultier, Gucci and Balmain created their version of the sweater.  Once the big fashion houses started showing the navy and white tops, they became more mainstream and are now sold in J. Crew, The Gap and other American department stores.  They can be found in the traditional style and in very stylized versions like dresses, tank tops, with French blue stripes or in red and white stripes.  Yes, Parisians do wear them.  Typically, they are worn by women and usually under a trench coat or blazer.

I know I’m bringing my Breton stripe top with me the next time I go to Paris.  I have just the right black capri pants and khaki trench coat to wear it with.  And, now that I know the history behind the shirt, maybe I’ll wear it while I cruise down the Seine.  That way if I fall off the boat, they will have no problem finding me!

Another Look at Paris from Bill L’Herault

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Another Look at Paris from Bill L'Herault on Vimeo.

French Art Through the Ages

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Monet’s Lilies

By Daniella Carrese

            From Eugene Delacroix to Claude Monet, the world has seen a countless number of French artists. Throughout the ages, art has gone from Classicism to Modern.

The Renaissance (15th to 16th century) pushed forward a new age of expression. Artwork from this period sought after a subject that told a story, most popular was the story about how the world was created. Realism, shading, and symmetry were seen in the paintings for the first time. Oil paints were first introduced during this period.  During the 17th century French Baroque and Classicism were seen during the time of Louis XIV and the Scientific Revolution.  The paintings from this period were associated with the religious tensions between the Catholics and the Protestants.  Many portrayed biblical scenes with rich colors and sharp details. Rococo was introduced in the 18th century.  Compared to Baroque, Rococo was lighter and more decorative art. The French Revolution was going on toward the end of this period, and a portrayal of liberated subjects and hardships were popular.  The Romanticism period expressed a connection to nature. The “realists” wanted to get away from the industrial innovations and get back to all that is not man-made in the world. The focuses were emotion, imagination, and passion. This was a revolt against Classicism of the Enlightenment. Between WWI and WWII there were a various assortment of styles from Impressionism to Surrealism. The artists expressed the uncertainty and disillusions of the time through disoriented figures and mysterious backgrounds.

All of these types of art are displayed throughout the city of Paris in various museums. The Louvre houses many types of artwork from the periods. Some other museums include the Musée d’Orsay, the Pompidou Center and the Musée du Montmartre. These museums are within walking distance from your Paris vacation rental or just a short metro ride away.

Daniella is a frequent guest blogger for CobbleStay.  She recently wrote about street art in Paris and Coco Chanel.