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“Paris in Three Parts: Dust, “”Dinde”” and “”Des Affaires”””

Someone recently asked me how easy is it to find things to write about…and I chuckled. In Paris, there is an endless stream of life to write about. If it were possible, you’d be hearing from me daily. So, in lieu of ‘daily,’ today’s Parler Paris is split in three ‘chapters’:

I. Knee Deep in Dust, Neck High in Elegance
II. More Talkin’ About Turkey by the Travel Oyster…We all stand to be corrected!
III. The New French Auto-Entrepreneur: “Work More to Earn More”…Now’s your chance to learn all about it.

It may be a lot to digest, so pick and choose or take the plunge and read it all. Meanwhile, I am happy to report that the long awaited new episode of House Hunters International, titled “Vacation Home in Paris,” is scheduled to air on March 27th — although that could change, so be sure to check the Web site page for the latest details at

This is the story of Mary Schiller and Jeff Ballinger, who decided to take the plunge themselves, purchase a “pied-à-terre” in Paris, renovate it to the ‘nines’ and put it on the rental market. You will know it as “Le Beau Marais” — designed and decorated by our staff architect, Martine di Matteo, and
booking like crazy since the moment it landed on our Web site. When you view the program, pay close attention to the other apartments in the episode…as you may recognize them, as well!!!

Now, read on…


Knee Deep in Dust, Neck High in Elegance

Last week it was knee-deep in dust, yet neck-high in elegance at number 9 Place des Vosges. This is the little corner of Paris’ 400-year-old apartment complex where we are the developers of a Fractional Ownership apartment, appropriately named “Le Palace des Vosges” offered to 13 shareholders, each with four weeks of usage.

The two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath, 81 square meter apartment sits on two levels of the back corner of the second courtyard at number 9, sharing this address with the three-star Michelin-rated restaurant, L’Ambroisie, and the Galerie Nikki Diana Marquardt. Title was taken at the end of January and the demolition of the apartment is underway, breaking up the old and worthless stone floor, taking down the unwanted walls and ceilings to discover what lies under it all. The piles of broken stone and plaster were impressive, and there was no escaping the dust, but well worth it.

There are always surprises when uncovering what lurks behind old walls, particularly those from the 17th-century. We found curved walls and space we didn’t know existed. We found centuries-old beams and plumbing no longer used.

Interior Architect, Martine di Matteo, and I met to discuss the furnishings details and make important decisions. With a clean slate before us we further confirmed our plans to decorate the lower bedroom in a masculine style, while the upper bedroom will be a bit more of a feminine “boudoir.” The lower bedroom will have parquet flooring while the upper bedroom will have plush carpeting.

The bathrooms in both, “en suite,” will be absolutely luxurious — the lower bathroom with a large tile shower, the upper with both a spacious shower and free standing claw-foot bathtub. Both will have plenty of closet space, air-conditioning, elegant furnishings and beds that make into twins or one queen/king.

A powder room will be added to the lower level so guests need not go through a bedroom and will be adjacent to the château-like French fantasy kitchen — large and completely equipped and functional for even the most elaborate gourmet cooking. It is planned to be fully equipped with the finest appliances: stove/hood, microwave/oven, refrigerator, dishwasher, washer, dryer and outfitted with a marble sink and counter top set in white distressed wood, adorned by copper pots and all the necessary utensils close at hand. A zinc bar will separate the kitchen from the dining area and will act as a great place to chat with the cook.

(Sunday at a “brocante” (rummage sale), thanks to Martine’s ‘inside information,’ there were heavy and authentic copper pots once used by the Restaurant Jules Verne, engraved with their mark! I snatched them up!)

Under the balcony which leads to the upper bedroom, a buffet-server will be built in for easy access from the kitchen to the dining table filled with serving pieces, bottles of wine, glassware, etc.

At a specialty tile shop in Le Marais, “Ambiance Cramique,” at 2, place du march Sainte-Catherine, we chose tile flooring for the living room/dining room and bathrooms — all made of beautiful stone, slate and baked ceramics in the pale creamy color of natural stone and the gray of natural slate…to be as authentic to the 17th-century period as possible, as will be the entire luxury apartment.

At a meeting Friday morning of a committee of the “Copropriété” (homeowners association) with the director of a well-respected real estate agency among the mix of representatives, we looked out the tall windows onto the elegant Place des Vosges and discussed the price of property in Paris.

Emmanuel de Poulpiquet, director of Féau Marais, remarked that while prices in the district have come down by as much as 15%, property in the Place des Vosges was selling between 15,000€ and 20,000€ per square meter, and on the average 18,000€ per square meter, with no sign of softening. This, of course, is due to the fact that there is virtually no available property on the Place and property of this stature will forever retain its value.

We were seated around a long glass table in a newly renovated apartment of the second floor, with exposed 17th-century beams and freshly painted pale blue walls. With members of the “Syndic” (management firm) and owners, there was a sense that they were overseeing much more than just a residential building. In the way that they spoke of each apartment…who owned, who sold, who renovated…there was a very personal and emotional side to their discussion.

They all came to see the apartment, even with all the dust — and were not intimidated. They were amazed at how the large space, once the stables for the horses, cows and chickens, was in the process of becoming a luxurious apartment for foreigners. M. Poulpiquet that about three out of four residents in the Place are international…yet I found that hard to believe!

Stay tuned for more developments as the renovation progresses. For more information about Le Palace des Vosges, visit frenchpropertyfractional.



More Talkin’ About Turkey by the Travel Oyster…We all stand to be corrected!

A loyal reader and very old friend, Geraldine Kaylor, who spends two months a year here every year with her mathematician husband, who is one of the world’s greatest story tellers and who has a blog online called “Travel Oyster” couldn’t help but reduce the insult and injury of last week’s turkey blunder by adding these comments:

“I did see your dinde mistake. On the other hand, you were
not that far off. The origin of the word ‘dinde’ comes from ‘coq d’Inde’ or ‘poule d’Inde,’ a name that was given in the 14th to 15th century to a ‘pintade’ (guinea fowl) from Abyssinia and then applied to the turkey of Mexico: ‘The dinde is the female of the dindon, which is what the French would say if there were a whole flock of turkeys, male and female. In English, we say turkey because the bird was confused with the guinea fowl, which was thought to have been come from Turkey. That guinea fowl would be that same pintade that the French said came from India (d’Inde) and whose name they later applied to the turkey. The turkey itself is native to North America (Meleagris gallopavo in Latin.) So you see, you are part of a long and honored line of people who have got the bird all wrong!”

Geraldine Kaylor
Travel Oyster


The New French Auto-Entrepreneur: “Work More to Earn More”…Now’s your chance to learn all about it.

You may recall this past November, a discussion in Parler Paris about the new French initiative to create more small businesses and instill more of an ‘entrepreneurial’ spirit into the French called “Auto-Entrepreneur.” The idea is that finally, taxes and social security charges will not be levied if there are no profits! Prior to this initiative, starting a business has been both difficult and expensive, thanks to bureaucracy and high tax obligations, without consideration of profits, creating a huge black market industry as well as deterring those who might want to venture out on their own in business.

Have a reread if you like at

In the first 15 days of the new program, more than 20,000 people had registered. Yet, from a American capitalist perspective, the program seems riddled with problems. We hope to clear all that up for all of you readers interested to finding a way to earn a living in France…the legal way!

On Saturday, March 28th, Ann Cary Dana, an American-born French immigration lawyer specialized in foreigners working in France (work permits, temporary assignments, students working or applying for a change of status), who assisted me and my daughter greatly to obtain her Carte de Résident several years ago, has agreed to give a presentation and open discussion about the program — in English!

Scroll down for the details and be sure to register in advance as places are limited. The cost is 30€ and please expect to order at least one beverage at the café.

A la prochaine…Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

P.S. Mark your calendars for March 10th to visit us at Parler Paris Après Midi, where readers will have an opportunity to get to know one another. Visit for more information. Hope to see you there!


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