When our friends, the wonderful photographer and model Bonnie Strange and her boyfriend, actor and musician Wilson Gonzalez, told us they were going to Paris for a few days, but were still in need of a good place to stay, we told them about Wimdu.com, a platform that provides private rooms and apartment rentals. They picked a place they liked, Bonnie took lots of photos of it and of their time in Paris and kindly wrote a blogpost for Travelettes about their experience.
A Strange weekend in Paris by Bonnie Strange
Going for city shopping trips is big fun. It’s a bit like treating yourself to a huge, cherry-topped ice-cream while being on a strict diet. My ice-cream was called Paris and after craving it for the past few months, I finally got myself some last week. 5 days full of shoes, dresses, glitter, gold and all the other things that make the eyes of any shopping addict light up, mine in particular.
While shopping is a top priority on trips like these, it’s equally important to rest your head on a cosy warm bed after running around the city all day. Surely you have a few options here. You might wonder whether you should splurge on a chic Parisian princess bed at a centrally located hotel or go with the budget option of staying at a hostel that’s a bit further out, but easy on your wallet.
Normally, when I go to Paris I don’t have to consider either of those options, because I can often sublet a holiday apartment of a friend of mine. Unfortunately this time, her place was already rented and I had to come up with a new idea. Hotels are nice but impersonal, hostels can be cool but I went with my boyfriend and the two of us wanted to have some quality alone time.
Good thing my friends at Travelettes.net pointed out Wimdu.com to me, which offers listings of private rooms and apartments around the world, suiting every budget. You even get to choose the style of the apartment, crazy, pretty, spooky, one room, two rooms, lots of rooms, hip area, arty area, gay area – you get the picture. Naturally there were a lot of great options for places in Paris and after a few minutes browsing I had made my decision!
I went for a gorgeous and romantic 80m2 flat with 3 bedrooms in the heart of le Marais, the best place for vintage shopping in Paris. The Marais is easily one of the most popular neighborhoods in Paris, down to its pretty cafes, cute shops and central location. Whenever I come to Paris, this is by far my favorite neighborhood to stay in.
Upon arrival at our sublet, we were greeted by the friendly owners who handed us the keys and explained everything we needed to know. Supersweet extra: we were gifted six classy, internationally stamped post cards of Paris to send to our friends PLUS a game of cards AND a bottle of red wine. I mean, how nice is that? Definately an upgrade to the complimentary mint I usually find on hotels bed pillows.
Speaking of pillows – ours were lovely, just like the bed. We slept like babies royals in it.
The entire apartment had lots of classical elements, as is typical for Paris. The real upside to staying at a private place like this, rather than at some swanky hotel, is that you do get to feel what it would be like to live in Paris. For 5 days, you’re a local. Or do these people look like tourists to you?
Apartments like ours can accomodate up to 6 people, something that drives the price down considerably, if a few people share. While financials are one reason to opt for Wimdu, another is inspiration. As a photographer, I constantly look for inspiration in everything. I love the idea of living in a place that was decorated by a stranger to suit their personal taste. It might meet mine or it might not, but it may well inspire my own ideas for home decorating when returning to my own apartment or it could even give me new ideas for photo shoots.
But even the nicest apartment is no excuse to stay inside when you’re visiting Paris. So much to do, so much to see. No matter how many times I come here, it never ceases to amaze.
When you’re a tourist, it’s OK to do touristy things such as visiting the famous “Triangle”, the glass pyramid right by the Louvre. We went, not for the first time, and loved it lik we always do. Later that day, a crazy soccer artist climbed up a street lamp and showed off his ball-playing skills high above the roofs of Paris. Nuts Impressive. All the tourists loved him.
Moulin Rouge+Sacré Coeur = holy things for nasty boys and nasty things for holy girls.
Trading high class tourist spots such as the Louvre for trashy fun times at a temporary fair near the Jardin des Tuileries. The good thing was that we got to cross an ultimate must-have off our To-Do list: eating a crepe!
Finally, we did our share of running around, hunting down the best vintage in town. No shop was safe from me and my boy. In the Marais, there seems to be a second hand shop on every corner and many are open till midnight, by far the best opening hours for me. My lovely Mister bag carrier was very busy all these days, carrying home loads of vintage finds for his lady. Tough jobs for tough guys, I say.
We had a wonderful time in Paris and we thank Wimdu for allowing us to stay in such a gorgeous apartment.
For more about Bonnie Strange and her time in Paris, we recommend you check out her blog.
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