One of the best parts of our Paris Perfect Shared program has been meeting so many incredible owners from around the world and helping them realize their dreams of owning a home in Paris. Just like the owners of our Paris vacation rentals, our fractional owners have quickly become part of the Paris Perfect family. To share more about our fractional co-ownership program and the advantages of owning your own home in Paris, we're sharing a conversation with Jennifer Balmadier, who works closely with our fractional sales, and Angela Johnson, a longtime owner of our fractional apartments in Paris.
Jennifer: Thank you for chatting with us, Angela. What first drew you to the fractional lifestyle and Paris Perfect?
Angela: My travels to Paris started back in 2013. A group of my friends, in fact, three of us in that picture just above, had never been to Europe and decided to plan a grand European tour. We each got to choose two places to visit. I somehow had always been drawn to Paris and instead of choosing two places I chose a longer stay in Paris for my wing of the trip. We then continued on to Salzburg, Munich, Bruges and Amsterdam. But I just wanted to go back to Paris! So that started it and in 2014 I went once and 2015 I went once again. And since then, I've been going twice a year.
So I found Paris Perfect first through social media and when you started posting on Instagram about the fractional offerings that caught my eye. However, I was always frustrated that they sold out so quickly. So finally, I think that's when I met you, Jennifer, and said, “Hey, I really want to get on this waiting list.” And it just so happened that the Conti apartment was coming up for availability. The minute I saw it, I knew that I needed to purchase it. And I loved Conti! Although I love Syrah now, I still believe that living area in Conti is the most beautiful that there is!
Jennifer: Your timing with Conti and then Syrah has always been perfect! What drew you to Syrah?
Angela: On my first official trip to Conti, my friend Renae was with me and we met you for breakfast. And I just happened to make the comment that the only negative I had about Conti was the fact that it was only one bedroom. I often come to Paris with a friend, so I realized having two bedrooms would just be so much better for me. Of course, the sofa bed was really, really comfortable, but it just was sort of a pain to put it back together every morning and make it look as elegant as it should. During that fateful breakfast, you mentioned, “Well, it just so happens that we have a two-bedroom apartment that's going to be available – right across the street.” We all walked over to see it and that's when I fell in love with Syrah and decided to make that change.
The funny thing was Renae and I talked about it throughout the day. And then that night, I sent Jennifer a note and meant what I said, “I love Conti and I don't need to leave Conti, but I'm willing to give it up for the two bedrooms.” Because, again, if I got to stay in Conti, that was going to be perfectly fine. So I gave Jennifer the go ahead to sell my share of Conti and, I think, within 24 hours it was sold, wasn't it, Jennifer?
Jennifer: Yes, it was very fast! Because Conti is so very charming and our supply is so much less than our demand, our resale program has been very successful for our owners – most of whom have decided to move to another fractional, like your experience, or realized that they love the Parisian lifestyle so much that they decide to upgrade to their own place. In many cases our property search team has been able to help them find the perfect place.
Angie: Yes, you've done that for me twice now with fractionals. In April, I got to come and stay at Syrah for the first time and absolutely fell in love with it too. It's very cozy and homey – extremely comfortable. While the living area is a little smaller than Conti, having two bedrooms more than makes up for it. And, as it turns out, we're not there much during the day. We get up and we leave for the day. And it was really nice to come home in the evening and be able to have a drink or watch television. It's just perfect for our Paris lifestyle.
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Jennifer: You mentioned you're often out and I'm always so impressed at the really unique things you're doing and all the fun people you're meeting in Paris. You've shared a great list of you favorite dining spots we've shared at the end of this blog post, but tell us a little bit about how you cultivated this amazing list of ideas?
Angie: Well, honestly, a lot of it was going back to the very early days, just joining Facebook groups of folks who really like Paris. That's how I met Corey Frye, from A French Frye in Paris, who was one of the sort of pioneers in that he is a tour guide in Paris, but he started these groups that are called frites (French for fries) because his last name is Frye. So over the years, I've really come to know these people and consider many of them friends now. Essentially what happens is that every Wednesday at Le Hibou—a great brasserie in Saint-Germain-des-Prés—anyone who belongs to this group who's in Paris meets at four o'clock for drinks. It's shocking that very seldom is there a Wednesday that there's not some group of people there to meet.
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So that was how I started cultivating some of these friendships. Then I met Oliver Gee, who has the podcast the Earful Tower, and his wife Lina from Parisian Postcards and their cute son Otis. They are just wonderful – and write wonderful children's book set in Paris, too! Recently, they have been embarking on a great trip around Paris where they go to a different arrondissement every week and spend 24 hours. So those are just some ways I pick up different things to do not just the normal, touristy things. So we try to pick just really different things every trip to do.
And then Claudine Hemingway is another person that I met through Facebook and Instagram, who I swear knows more about Paris history than many Parisians. She is the person you want to go to the Louvre with on one of her private tours since she knows the museum inside and out and knows how to bypass all the crowds and take you directly to whatever it is you want to see. So along the way I've just met so many fascinating people and they've now become friends. So every time I go to Paris I have to meet up with Claudine and Oliver and Lina and I have to see Corey. Having friends there now makes me feel even more at home in Paris.
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Jennifer: Can you share more about the dinner club you discovered in Paris?
Angela: Yes – it's remarkable! If my understanding is correct, this will only be through the end of this year, but there's still time to experience it. So the folks who own the restaurants Verjus and Ellsworth in Paris happened upon an apartment in the Palais Royale where the owner is going to do a huge remodel but isn't going to start it until 2023. He allowed them to rent an apartment in the Palais Royale and they serve dinners on Friday and Saturday nights. And it's called the 22 Club because there's a table that fits into the dining room where 22 people can sit. So it's this communal table with this exquisitely planned menu that starts with hors d'oeuvres while you're mingling and meeting everyone and drinking champagne. Then there's a wine pairing with every service. I've done it twice now and we'll do it again this fall. What's really funny about it is that Ina Garten just had dinner at the 22 Club. So everybody now knows about it, I was always sort of proud that it wasn't really widely known so it was easy to get in. That may not be the case, but it's worth trying because it is exceptional!
Jennifer: Some people are intimidated about a foreign language, or if they are traveling alone, but you seem to have no fear. You just take it by storm and find all these great things. How have you managed to make the city your own?
Angela: Absolutely. I always start by being really courteous. I always say Bonjour whenever I enter any place. And I do try to speak, but my French is very, very limited. I do still make the effort but as soon as someone hears my midwest accent they just automatically revert to speaking English. And so it's simple. I just have never been intimidated anywhere in in France. Once you get to smaller cities, that language becomes more of a barrier. But in Paris, it's not. It does help to try to learn and speak as much French as you but, but mostly to be open and engaging with people.
Jennifer: Do you feel like being an owner brings you a different level of comfort or a different connection to Paris?
Angela: Well for years I've been coming to Paris twice a year, and I was staying in different apartments. But it's undeniably different when you own a place and can say, “This is my place and I have a place in Paris.” And it's just so nice and convenient: I know exactly where I'm going to stay each visit and that hassle has been taken out of the planning equation. Because it's Paris Perfect, I'm really comfortable knowing that it's going to be clean, it's going to be well maintained – those are really important things. Owning my own apartment in Paris just removes any concerns. When I arrive I know I'm staying at Syrah, I know it's clean, I know, it's maintained, I know how to get in and out of the building. I know the neighbors now. I know what boulangerie I'm going to in the morning. I know what restaurant I'm going to for lunch. I have my go to grocery store. Say if at 10 o'clock at night we don't want to go have dinner I can just run to the little grocery store and pick up a few things for dinner in the apartment. That’s just such a comfort. It takes a lot of the stress out of the planning so I can instead spend it planning the fun things I'm going to do.
Even though I have been traveling to Paris regularly for years, one of the biggest perks is knowing my apartment is there waiting for me. I have to go to Paris twice a year. Right now I still work so staying in Paris longer really isn't an option. But four weeks a year is sort of the sweet spot. I really do feel that sense of ownership and it makes a difference. There is just such a level of comfort, again, and knowing it's mine. I have a piece of Paris.
Jennifer: A big thank you to Angela for sharing so much about her experience with Paris Perfect Shared! She has shared even more with our readers with this excellent list of her favorite addresses for dining and coffee in Paris:
Cinq Mars – 51 Rue de Verneuil, 75007
Favorite, I visit every trip!
Twenty-Two Club – Palais Royal (you get the exact address a week before your reservation)
Overlooking Palais Royal, wonderful experience.
Milagro – 85 Avenue Bosquet, 75007
Bistro St Dominique – 131 rue Saint Dominique, 75007
Especially a great experience for breakfast.
Linnette – 16 Avenue Rapp, 75007
A bit touristy but excellent onion soup and wonderful French coffees made with Cognac.
Holybelly 5 – 5 Rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010
American style breakfast right off the Canal Saint-Martin.
Robert et Louise – 64 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75003
Food is prepared on wood burning stove in dining area.
Josephine Chez Dumonet – 117 Rue du Cherche-Midi, 75006
Beef bourguignon and the Grand Marnier Souffle' are fantastic.
Treize Bakery Paris – 5 Rue de Médicis, 75006
Café overlooking Luxeombourg Gardens, great brunch. Try the carrot cake!
Le Saint Regis – 6 Rue Jean du Bellay on Île Saint-Louis, 75004
Good food and drinks, great place to people watch.
Café Le Nemours – 2 Place Colette, 75001
Lovely café and great location, sit on the terrace if weather allows.
Bonus – great coffee spots in the 7th arrondissement and beyond:
Zia – 22 Avenue de Tourville, 75007
Coutume – 47 Rue de Babylone, 75007
Bleu Olive – 184 Rue de Grenelle, 75007
Terres de Cafe – 67 Avenue de la Bourdonnais, 75007
Le Peloton Cafe – 17 Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe, 75004
La Caféothèque – 52 Rue de l'Hôtel de ville, 75004