If you're looking for any of the following, now's the time to get the best choice:
Any rental in June
Large houses with a bathroom for each bedroom.
Charming houses that are priced inexpensively(they book up fast).
Paris rentals in the spring.
Country houses that are walking distance to a village.
Email or call
us to start your search now.
Open Saturdays and Sundays from 9am to 6pm.
Open Mondays, too, but mostly for merchants with appointments.
Some Choices for a GPS in Europe
Many larger rentals cars are equipped with GPS. If so, there is no extra charge. A built-in model will “talk” over the car radio—a nice advantage.
Bring your iPhone with you and use that being use to download the appropriate maps. Remember to bring your car charger so you don’t run down the battery.
Order a GPS through AutoEurope with your rental car. It will be mailed to you to bring along. Currently the GPS is free—you only pay the shipping costs.
Bring your own GPS unit with you. Be sure it has the appropriate maps downloaded.
Bring your Michelin map anyway. You will need it to get an overview for drives.
Other Places to Eat in Barcelona:
Quimet y Quimet--Gourmet tapas. Carrer del Poeta Cabanyes
25, +34 93 442 314
La Cova Fumada--Traditional fare/family atmosphere. Carrer Baluard
56, +34 93 221 4061.
A CLASSIC PARIS APARTMENT-- OUR NEWEST
I have just added a wonderful new two bedroom/two bath apartment PA067 to our selection. Located on the stylish Rue de Grenelle, it incorporates all the Parisian design elements I adore:
- Parquet floors in the living room.
- Wainscoating in the main rooms.
- Fabric on the walls (instead of glued-on wallpaper--hard to describe, but that’s in fact what it is …and it is lovely! Soft to the touch.)
- Doors “papered” to match the walls, so that when shut they fit integrally into the wall and become almost invisible. (Now you see it, now you don’t.)
- Ornate fireplace mantel in the living room with a gold-framed mirror above.
- French windows in the living room with wrought-iron balustrades.
- And the pièce de résistance---fabric draped over the inside entry door that matches the “wall paper” so that the aesthetic isn’t disturbed by the utilitarian door! How charming is that?
The reason the apartment is so very “classic” is that the owner is a European who decorated the apartment for her family’s own use. It was not renovated as a rental. So in additional to being beautiful,
it is very comfortable. Ideal for two couples or a family with older children.
As for the location, that is superb. It is in the heart of the stylish 6th arrondissement with many beautiful shop windows to enjoy and perhaps tempt you. There are cafes, restaurants, bakery, chocolate shops, and wine merchants nearby. It’s a great spot to feel like you’re a Parisian and not just a tourist, while still being centrally located for touring.
Availability is currently excellent, so visit the website and contact us to book your Paris vacation. PA067 Rue de Grenelle
Les Puces—The Parisian Flea Market by Marianne
One of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday or Sunday in Paris is the flea market at Porte de Clignancourt, what we Parisians call Les Puces (de St- Ouen). Maybe you are an antique collector? If so, you will be in heaven. And if you are not, still there is something for every one. I, myself, like to shop for beads, old china and unique clothing. I just love the atmosphere of the flea market with its open stalls and can spend hours wandering around, finding everything from the fabulous, extraordinary, odd, unique, one-of-a-kind item…. to a pack of batteries from China or contraband cigarettes.
I could spend an entire weekend there and, yet, not see it all. Les Puces now spreads over seven hectares. It is the largest antique market in the world. Each weekend, it welcomes between 120,000 and 180,000 visitors, and the large majority of them are not antique buyers.
Les Puces is divided into 14 separate markets. To see antiques, visit Le Marché Serpette and Le Marché Paul Bert. Both offer a huge selection of furniture, prints, paintings, mirrors, vintage clothing, hardware, etc. It is a combination of traditional dealers and more kitsch ones who sell 50’s and 60’s treasures. Other markets specialize in records, musical instruments, African crafts, and more.
Besides “window shopping”, I really enjoy the food experience as well. Gastronomy at Les Puces is similar to its merchandise: eclectic to say the least! When the weather is nice, I go for “fast food” such as crepes, waffles, or a merguez (north African spicy sausage) sandwich. I buy one at a café and sit at the terrace watching the many colorful characters stroll by. But in winter, I love going to a traditional brasserie, and have a nice andouillette sauce moutarde, mussels, or a pot-au-feu. There are many places to choose from, and the ambiance is always fun. One special place is La Chope des Puces, rue des Rosiers. In addition to its food, it is a spot for jazz Manouche or gypsy jazz which starts in the late afternoon. In the past the famous Django Reinhart used to perform there. It’s a great way to end your day at the market.
If you go to Les Puces, be prepared for crowds and dust. Dress casually, wear comfortable shoes, and be cautious about your personal belongings putting your wallet and IDs in a good safe place on your person. Getting there is very easy: just jump on the metro line #4 (Porte d’Orléans to Porte de Clignancourt) and exit at the last station. From there, walk a few blocks, through the clothing and African markets to get to the flea market main street, rue des Rosiers. Just follow the crowds through this colorful and diverse neighborhood.
Finally, if you are in the mood to purchase a large piece of furniture, it’s nice to know that most vendors can arrange shipping to the US.
BEING POLITE IN FRANCE
I just heard on NPR radio about a small town French mayor who has made it a requirement to be polite in his city hall. People who don’t say “hello” or “thank you”, etc. will be asked to leave.
That reminded me of a delightful experience I just had on my fall trip to France. I was visiting a small restored mas (or farmhouse) in Eyguières and had arrived a bit early. The family was still busily cleaning up…and after saying hello to the husband who was in the yard, to be polite I occupied myself outside taking some external photos. Through the windows I could see the mother and 3 children putting away toys, washing the last dishes in the sink and taking out the garbage. The father then greeted a family friend who had just arrived. When all was settled, I was greeted again, and introduced to the family friend who had come to take the children to his house. (Naturally so that the house would be quiet when I toured it.) But before they all left, I was introduced to the children ages, 5, 9 and 11, who lined up in a row and each said “Bonjour Madame” and gravely shook my hand. What a pleasure! The French are taught as children to greet properly. You are to look the person in the eye, you say “Bonjour Madame or Monsieur” and you shake hands…firmly. I love it!
So it is no surprise that if an American enters a small shop and doesn’t say “Bonjour” or doesn’t say “Merci” when receiving a package, it is so obviously impolite and can evoke a negative response from the people in the shop.
FLORENCE – The City of Dreams
Florence is a city for romantics, for dreamers and for strollers. Its romantic setting on the banks of the Arno with the 12th century Ponte Vecchio bathed in subtle light has been captured by artists for centuries. And it’s a city where we offer an excellent selection of apartments for our clients. Renting an apartment in the heart of this lovely city is a terrific part of any trip to Italy.
Once settled in your apartment, you can easily go everywhere on foot and you might never have to cross a major road or thoroughfare. No need for a bus or taxi, just for good shoes. From the Duomo to the river Arno, you can wander through pedestrian-only streets exploring the many architectural wonders of the town. It is a magical experience.
Whereas visiting the art inside the museums, is of course, inspiring, I love starting by just enjoying the beautiful architecture without even having to pay admission to enter a single structure. I start at the Duomo admiring its white, green and pink marble walls. Then I stroll on the Via Cavour passing elegant shops until I reach the Piazza della Signorina with its Neptune Fountain. I stand in front of the massive David, a copy of Michelango’s original which dominates the square in front of the Uffizi Galleries. Then I turn and view the Loggia della Signoria with its graceful arches. Then I may circle back and visit the Mercato Nuovo, the ancient market where merchants gather in the morning to hawk local crafts. And often I end at the Piazza della Repubblica, a large public square usually filled with street performers.
Along the way, I love to stop at one of the elegant cafes on the Piazza della Signorina, and order a prosecco. The waiter, in crisp white shirt and black apron, brings out my drink and the accompanying small bowl of chips or nuts. I sit and watch the crowds in front: tourists taking photos; elegantly dressed men in well-fitted suits; lovely Florentine women in stylish dresses and high heels; shop girls with a cup of espresso on a tray for their boss; nuns and priests on their way to the Duomo. The afternoon passes, and there is always more to see. I sip my drink.
But wait. I have to buy something. Each store offers a promise of some elegant Italian ware. Perhaps it will be a new leather wallet for my husband? Or maybe some stationary as a gift for my aunt? A Florentine beaded bracelet for my daughter? Or some gloves for my son? Looking in the windows, browsing through the shelves, the search is as much fun as the actual purchase.
Another of my great treats is to leave this island of elegant piazzas and cross over to the Borgo San Lorenzo, a narrow street filled with restaurants and small shops. I continue walking through and end up at the Mercado Centrale, the indoor food market. . Here are all the stalls selling fresh vegetables, fruits, fish and meat. I like to have lunch here at the counter where the local shop workers eat. This is the other side of Florence, where few tourists go.
We are fortunate to offer rentals through a Florentine woman whose family owns two buildings right in the historic center. We’ve offered these apartments for nearly 15 years now, and they offer a reliable, comfortable and attractive accommodation—regularly updated and freshened. They are in two different buildings—one right in the historic center and one just outside it. They offer a choice of one, two, three or four bedrooms apartments… all attractive and comfortable in a variety of floor plans. The Borgo apartments are on a pedestrian-only street just across from the Duomo—a great location. These apartments are on the 4th or 5th floor without elevator. Their excellent location compensates for the walk up, and they always get great reviews. Just a few blocks further from the Duomo, we have the Colonna apartments which are slightly more spacious, and are all on the 2nd or 3rd floors thus a much shorter hike up. Rentals at both can start any day of the week and accept a minimum stay of 3 nights. So next time you plan your trip to Tuscany, be sure to include a stop in Florence.
Click here to visit these apartments:
Borgo Aparments. Bright and clean apartments in the heart of the city.
FL100 - FL101 - FL102 - FL103 - FL104 - FL105 - FL106 - FL107
Colonna Apartments. Spacious and pretty apartments on a quiet street.
YES – GET A GPS IN YOUR RENTAL CAR
After nearly 20 years, going to visit houses in the south of France each fall, I know my way around by car pretty well. I drive to most villages without even checking a map. I zig zag around the countryside daily from one appointment to the next.
This year, however, I decided to move into the modern age and took the plunge renting a GPS in my rental car. Since, I don’t even have one in my car at home, it was a stretch for me. Well, I am here to say, I LOVED IT! There is no doubt that it reduced my stress, saved me time and was even fun. And although it cost me an additional $10/day, it was worth the money.
For those who are not yet of the converted, I’ll tell you that it does take a bit of time initially to learn a new system. Fortunately, the agent who checked me in when I picked up my rental at Europcar (one of the French agencies used by AutoEurope) asked if I was familiar with the system. She then walked me to the car and spent at least 20 minutes helping me set up my preferences and showing me how it worked. I’d recommend asking your check-in agent to do the same. Even though I speak French fluently, I did select an English language voice for the unit. That certainly was helpful when having to make last minute decisions in high traffic situations. However, that also meant that the city names were all pronounced with a literal English pronunciation! So Mougins (normally pronounced Moo JAN in French) was pronounced “MOW jins” in GPS –speak! The first time I heard it, I had no idea which exit to take!
So why did I like it even though I know my way around?
1. As you all may know, when you’re driving in France, you pass innumerable rond points (circles) where you need to look for the right exit to continue. These speed up traffic, but do require being alert over and over again. Having the GPS advise you which exit to take, especially at night, really helps to avoid accidentally missing a turn and going out of your way.
2. Although I know how to get from, for example, Sablet in the Vaucluse to Gordes in the Luberon Valley, the GPS was able to select the shortest route saving me lots of time. In addition, it would show how long that route would take which was very helpful in planning my trips. And sometimes the route was a side-road I didn’t even know had existed. A nice learning experience for me.
So I still had my trusty Michelin map with me which is especially helpful to get an overview of the route, but the GPS, once in the car, definitely was terrific.
BARCELONA AND ITS FOOD
The city of Barcelona has always been a popular destination in Europe. Most visitors are attracted by its architecture, its museums, its night life, its fashionable boutiques, beaches and parks, but Catalan cuisine just by itself is another reason to go. The city is one of the food capitals of the world, known for its traditional tasty fare and even nouvelle cuisine. We’re fortunate to have a great selection of apartments to offer right in the heart of the pedestrian-only area. So our clients can not only enjoy the restaurants and cafes, but also take advantage of the markets to bring home food and enjoy a meal or two at home.
Even travelers who have been to France can be surprised by the different times the Spanish eat their meals. So it’s helpful to be aware. They have longer working days, but incorporate a more relaxed schedule. Since breakfast is a light meal, they have the merienda, usually bocadillos (small sandwiches) around 11am. Lunch usually starts at 1:00 pm where many restaurants provide a menu del dia, by law a 3 course fixed price meal. After lunch many stores and restaurants close. Locals go home and take their siesta or rest. Really! Work resumes around 4pm and usually ends around 8pm or later. Spanish people go for the equivalent of our happy hour and enjoy tapas (small plates) while having a glass of wine. So diner, the serious meal, does not start until 9 or 10pm. Really! If you’re at a restaurant at 9pm, you may be among the few folks eating. The adjustment to this time frame can take a few days, so be sure to take advantage of the mid afternoon rest so you can enjoy a later dinner and thus be part of the vibrant Barcelona “scene”.
And now for the food. Catalan food is flavorful. A few examples are the butifarra (spicy sausage), rabbit with chocolate, or a fideua (paella with pasta). Crema catalana, a local version of crème brulée is a must for dessert. One place that we like a lot for diner is the famous Los Caracoles which since 1835 is known for its snails but also has all sorts of meats and seafood roasted in a wood burning oven.
In addition to the restaurants, many of our clients are impressed at visiting La Boqueria, the legendary 13th C marketplace located on Las Ramblas, the tree-lined boulevard in the town center. With over 200 stalls selling any kind of fresh food from fish and meat to vegetables and fruit, it is a lively and colorful place. Some stalls have more exotic food – such as beetles, worms or snails - while others cater to tourists with food–to-go, refreshments and snacks. For an authentic experience, head for the tapas bars, where you can eat typical Spanish and Catalan snacks while standing. The market attracts many people, both locals buying their daily groceries and tourists looking for something healthy, cheap and unique to eat. Visit the market early in the morning to avoid the largest crowds.
Click to see some of our rentals in Barcelona:
BA011 - A Bright Three Bedroom
BA034 - A Comfortable Four Bedroom
BA044 - An Immaculate Three Bedroom.
And when you’re planning your next trip to the Mediterranean, consider Barcelona.