Beaming with Paris Poutres

Bare and Beautiful Beams on Rue Debelleyme

“Beaming” with Paris Poutres

Parler Paris…

Your taste of life in Paris and France
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Paris, France

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Choose Charming, Luxurious Parler Paris Apartments for Your Next Trip to Paris!

Le Provençal Studio

This delightful studio is located on the quiet courtyard of a very charming 18th-century building in the heart of Le Marais. It is fully equipped with high-quality beds and appliances, plus Internet, free long distance phone service and more! This bright and cozy studio makes a perfect Parisian home for one or two. Click here for more information and photos.

Reserve now! Visit /parlerparis/apartments
or email: [email protected]


Dear Parler Paris Reader,

“Poutres.” It’s not a ‘pretty’ word in French. At least, not to my ears. It reminds me of the sound one might inadvertently make having indigestion. (Wink.)

Never mind. “Poutres” are “beams.” The kind of beams you find holding up the ceiling…exposed wooden beams…old, original beams, from the 17th or 18th centuries. According to the authorities, they add value to a French property.

Walk around Le Marais and look up into the apartment windows. Can you see some apartments with exposed beams? If they’ve been painted (often painted white) and are no longer the natural wood, they lose value — at least in the eyes of the appraiser, if not the purchaser.

There are 17th-century beams under my newly painted white ceiling. The appraiser who recently wrote an evaluation of the property advised to open them and gain height. I decided against that — for time, money and decor reasons — it simply wouldn’t have fit the style of the apartment. But in most other situations, there is nothing that adds more charm than exposing the ancient beams (except perhaps, exposing the original stone walls — but that’s another story!).

I once heard an American boast of the ‘fake’ beams he had installed in his U.S. home and how beautiful they were. A Frenchman in the party responded with, “Oh Lord. If I were you, I’d

never admit that to anyone!” That drew a big laugh as we witnessed the obvious culture clash.

One of our clients recently signed the title deed on an apartment a stone’s throw from me at the corner of rue Debelleyme and rue de Bretagne. The walls and ceiling were clearly hiding poutres, some of which hinted of being large and substantial. From first sight of the apartment, the plan was to remove the ceiling and expose the beams, but you never know what you’re really going to find unless you take a peak.

A demolition crew was sent in, first to open a few points to verify they were there and in a good-enough condition to go ‘all the way!’ ‘All the way’ means fully removing the old plaster, sanding, sandblasting, removing embedded nails and decayed wood and then finally treating the wood against insects. Even if the beams look pretty dismal from having been in the ‘guts’ of the apartment, they can still be very solid and result in a beautiful state.

Beams can be made of different kind of wood, but are mostly of oak. Poplar beams are softer and more vulnerable to being eaten right through by insects. There is an art to testing the condition of the beams and knowing whether they are solid for support and worth refinishing. The refinishing process can take quite a long time and add quite a lot of expense to a renovation project, but be well worth it.

Le Provençal,” my little rental studio, was just a plain box with no character until we opened the ceiling and exposed the beams. Most of them were old, but a few were new, for what reason we didn’t know. Even so, the contractor did an impressive job of refinishing them all to match each other and it’s hard to see the difference between them. There is no question that it totally changed the look and feel of the apartment, adding 1000% more old-world charm.

The apartment on rue Debelleyme, once the ceiling was removed exposing the 18th-century beams, drew gasps of delight from all those who witnessed it! One enormous beam ran the length of the apartment and others crossed in a variety of directions. They were stunning, even in their raw state. Once the work is done, about six inches in height will be gained, even though new insulation and plaster will be set between the beams. So the result will be beautiful, natural original wood beams, striped and crisscrossed punctuated by a white ceiling between them.

The owner is planning to decorate with a “wine/vignoble” theme — with the colors of grapes and the oak of the barrels. How beautiful to discover what had been hidden for so long…and guess what? They’re the real thing. She will have no problem admitting it to anyone.

Adrian LeedsA la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

P.S. If you would like to learn more about having your own “poutres” in Paris(!), visit /frenchproperty/consultation or contact us at [email protected] about our Property Consultation Services. Don’t forget, you can take advantage of the old U.S. dollar rates just by booking any service by March 31, 2008 and scheduling it prior to June 30, 2008.

Getting a mortgage in France is easier than you think…

Let us show you just how hassle-free it can be to get a French property mortgage for your dream Paris pied-à-terre or villa in the country!

Visit /frenchproperty/loan or contact Mortgage Manager John Rule at [email protected]

This Week in French Property Insider…

Paris escargotHow to Choose Where to Own Property in Paris…What District Suits You Best?
By Adrian Leeds

In the next couple of articles, you’ll find some fascinating facts about the city of Paris. One thing you won’t find among these facts however, is how to choose a district that suits your needs or personality best…Subscribers Read On…

Learn how to buy property in France!

French Property Insider is a weekly e-zine, sharing insights, recommendations, tips, and discoveries about Paris real estate and French property. Each information-packed issue is devoted to educating its readers on how to effectively, efficiently and profitably purchase property in France.

For more information visit /frenchproperty/insider or email [email protected]

Judith MeriansScreenwriters: “Plot the Perfect Crime and Find Fame and Fortune” with Judith Merians
April 12, 2008, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
La Pierre du Marais

Throughout film history crime films have provided some of the most successful movies ever made from Rififi to present day American Gangster. Learn how to write and sell a script that encompasses the conventions of three of the most popular sub-genres of crime stories: the detective tale, the crime saga, and the heist.

Led by Judith Merians, who has been an entertainment lawyer and studio executive, literary agent, and film school professor in Los Angeles for over 25 years.

Join us for this 3-hour workshop session sponsored by Adrian Leeds and Parler Paris Upstairs at La Pierre du Marais in Le Marais. Only 30€ per person!

Places are limited. For more information and to register email [email protected]

The Writing Salon’s
Writing from the Imaginative Storm
A creativity retreat held in collaboration with Asheville WordFest 2008

Black Mountains Center for the Arts
Black Mountain, NC
April 21-27, 2008

In this 24/7 world of cell phones, email, and wireless internet, imagine how enriching it would be to take a week off to write, to engage in dynamic conversations with other writers and indulge in an imaginative exploration that will carry your writing forward for years to come.

Whether you’re just beginning your writing life, or you’re well-established and seeking new inspiration, The Writing Salon will reunite you with your sources of inspiration and help you discover wells of imagination you didn’t know you had.

Join poet James Navé, memoirist and screenwriter Allegra Huston, of the Hollywood Huston family, and poetic novelist Allan Wolf for this multi-genre spring fling in the mountains of North Carolina.

Cost: $695.00

For more information on The Writing Salon, contact James Navé at [email protected]

We wanted better guides. So we wrote them.

Insider Paris Guides are written for people who love the City of Light. You’ll get a Paris insider perspective on Good Value Restaurants… Making a Life… Black Culture… Expat Writers…plus the newest guide, Practical Paris!


Email: [email protected]

Welcome to your home in Paris. Home is how you will feel in a private apartment in Paris that has the “seal of approval” from Parler Paris Apartments and me, Adrian Leeds.


One-Bedroom, Sleeps up to 4

L’Aubergine sits tucked away on an historic and quiet Marais “cul de sac,” making it an oasis of peace and calm. This second floor apartment (two flights) has two large bright windows that face a classic Parisian courtyard. With digicode, intercom entry system and elevator, it has been completely renovated and professionally decorated to the height of luxury, with a soothing “aubergine” (eggplant) and taupe color scheme. Everything in the apartment is new, from the designer linens and towels, to the appliances and electronics.

Reserve now! Visit /parlerparis/apartments/rentals/aubergine.html
or email: [email protected]

Parler Paris Après Midi

Come for a drink and to meet and chat with other readers in Paris…

The next gathering is April 8, 2008 and every second Tuesday of the month.

Parler Parlor French-English Conversation Group

Practice speaking French and English. Make friends, discuss interesting topics, learn about other cultures, progress in understanding and speaking, naturally and easily. Meets three times a week — come as often as you like!

Parler Parlor meets Tuesdays 6:30 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

23, boulevard de Sébastopol (at the corner of rue de la Reynie), 1st arrondissement
3rd Floor on the Left (read notice on door to obtain entry code)
Métro Châtelet, Les Halles

Wednesdays 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
14 rue Mabillon, 6th arrondissement
(at rue Guisarde and Le Marché Saint-Germain) 1st Floor
Métro Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Mabillon, Odéon

For further details, visit

Subscribe to the PARISMARAIS monthly newsletter FREE…

The Art of Living Guide to Le Marais.



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