I had a hard time finding reviews of A la Carte Paris Apartments last year when I was trying to book a trip to Paris, so I'm posting my own review of one of their apartments here. At the end are some tips I wanted to pass on.
I stayed at A la Carte Paris’ Marais Delight apartment for two weeks in early December 2013 and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. The apartment was very clean, which I appreciated after arriving in Paris from dusty Jordan. I loved all the storage not only for what I brought with me, but for the things I accumulated on my trip as well. There was not a designated large suitcase storage space, but there was room on the other side of the bed for luggage. I was there alone, however; I don't know what a couple would do with their bags if someone was using the other side of the bed every night. It all worked fine for me though and I'm sure a couple could figure it out. One of my favorite things about the apartment was all the easy-to-access electrical outlets for my phone, tablet, Kindle, curling iron, camera battery recharger, etc. I was never without a space to have things charging all at once. I also really appreciate the good lighting and access to lights from the sofa or the bed. It's little things like that that make me feel like I'm *living* in a place and not just passing through. Having a washing machine was fantastic. There is no dryer but if you put your newly washed clothing on the drying rack overnight or when you leave for your day in the morning, you'll be good to go the next time you see it. The bathroom is tiny. Well, the room itself was fine for me (more storage in there), but the shower is really small. ALCPA provides little travel soaps.
The apartment has great security: one locked door to get into the building, a locked gate to get past the mailboxes--and requiring a different code than the first door's code, and then serious locks in the apartment itself, not to mention a very solid apartment door. I can’t imagine anyone getting in that you didn’t invite.
I stayed at Marais Delight in December so had no need for air conditioning, but the heating system was great. All appliances were easy to use and in perfect condition (dishwasher, microwave, toaster, washing machine, hairdryer, stove--I didn't use the regular oven). It was great to have the availability of the phone to make free calls back home. There are no English language TV channels that are not dedicated to news. Bring DVDs or stream online if you want to see a movie or non-news TV shows. (There are also a couple video stores down the street if you want to pick up something to watch for those nights when you just want to rest from all the touring.) One downside not related to the apartment itself: The apartment's wifi network name includes an underscore ( _ ). If you have Microsoft hardware, a Surface tablet, for instance, you will not be able to access the internet due to the special character in the network name. My iPhone worked just fine, as did my Kindle, but my MS Surface did not. It worked fine at the Starbucks down the street and at other places, but not in the apartment. This is a Microsoft issue. I called them twice from the apartment and they finally confirmed the inaccessibility was due to the underscore in the network address. I did work with A la Carte's super nice tech guru, Jean-Erik, and he eventually got me some access but it was slow and intermittent. Still, much better than nothing and he went above and beyond to get me connected.
The neighborhood is perfect. There’s a lot to see and do and the Metro is very close (several stations). It’s about a four-minute walk to the Seine. Too, there are several grocery stores very close by (small and large), not to mention the many patisseries and cafes. The binder that A la Carte Paris provides has all kinds of great information about the apartment, the neighborhood, and anything else you'll need during your stay. This seems to me to be a real Parisian neighborhood. There are no large hotels nearby. In fact, I don't remember seeing any small ones either. If you want to come to Paris and feel like you're living in Paris while still being in the heart of things, this is a great location.
One of the best things A la Carte Paris Apartments has going for it is its staff. They always answered my emails quickly. I had several opportunities to work with them during my stay and even after, and it was still the same. They are quick to help with anything. There was another apartment agency I had initially hoped to rent from but I was not pleased with their lackluster service. Maybe I asked too many questions, I don’t know.
One item of negativity and the reason for downgrading my review by one star, maybe one and a half: the street noise is loud and constant. Cars, trucks, buses, sirens. It doesn't end but it does slow down late at night. The apartment is on the street side, so there's no real way to escape the noise. It didn't bother me at all during awake hours, but if you're a light sleeper be prepared to work through this, as it really is unceasing. And the other residents in the building are constantly banging up and down the stairs at all hours, with little regard for others in the building. Marais Delight is the first apartment you come to so everyone that enters the building or leaves goes by your door. It was more usual than not to be awakened at 2, 3, or 4 in the morning by heavy footfalls, loud laughter, and talking. If you can sleep with earplugs, great. (I can’t.) But even though the street is a small street, it is in fact not a quiet street. Heads up.
Places in the vicinity to visit:
*Ann’s Cookies - 60 Rue Saint-Louis en l'Île, 75004 Paris. About 10 minute walk from Marais Delight. Best cookie in all of Paris.
*First time ever seeing the Eiffel Tower? Take the Metro to Trocadero and walk through the plaza at Palais de Chaillot (I think I read about this in Rick Steve's book, but it doesn't make it any less true). Go at sunrise for a spectacular scene. (Not in the neighborhood but worth passing on anyway.)
*Boulangerie Heurtier for the perfect baguette ham sandwich, hot chocolate and fabulous pastries - 2 Rue de la Verrerie, 75004 Paris. 3 minute walk from Marais Delight. Though not the closest boulangerie to the apartment.
*Monoprix grocery under the department store – rue Saint Antoine. A great larger grocer for all your snacking and eating and cooking at home needs. They have the original Double Stuf Oreos with the the trans fat! Not like what we get in the U.S. now that the fat police have taken over.
*Shoah Memorial - 17 Rue Geoffroy l'Asnier, 75004 Paris. Not to be missed and very close to Marais Delight.
*A classical music concert at Sainte-Chapelle could be the highlight of your trip – it was mine.
* I happened upon a fabulous Brassai photography exhibit at Hotel de Ville one morning. I didn’t even know they had art installations there. And it was free! But truly fantastic. Check to see if anything good is going on. It’s just 3 minutes from Marais Delight.
*Musee Marmottan Monet - 2 Rue Louis Boilly, 75016 Paris (not in the neighborhood). Not anywhere near the main tourist areas but that's what makes this place so special. It houses a collection of some of Monet's favorite works (given to the museum when Monet's youngest son dies in the late 1960s). When I was there the temporary exhibit was about Napolean's sisters. Fantastic. Make the effort and visit and then roam around the this lovely neighborhood in the 16th.