This lovely apartment, the former residence of a famous French film actress, is one of the most impressively large properties that JUST FRANCE has ever visited in Paris. Constructed in the last years of the 19th century, it is so evocative of what life must have been like in Belle Epoque Paris that one can almost imagine the entire 300m2 (about 3,300 sq. ft.) apartment being home to elegant nobles with an army of servants. For discriminating guests it offers a correct amount of modernity (including an air-conditioned master bedroom suite), a comfortable decorative scheme based on pale colors and homey touches, and a central Left Bank location that is only a stone's throw from the Seine. The apartment is a remarkable opportunity for those who desire a spacious, quintessentially Parisian environment for an unforgettable visit to the City of Light.
The apartment building, situated on rue Danton between Place Saint-Michel and boulevard Saint-Germain in the 6th arrondissement, is entered with a security code through a massive wrought-iron door that opens into a stone-and-marble hallway. At the end of the hallway, opposite the concierge's residence, is another security-controlled entrance to a second lobby. Here there is an elevator (large for Paris) as well as a wide marble staircase with an oriental runner that winds to the upper floors.
The elevator opens directly beside the double-door entrance to the apartment, which occupies the entire fourth floor. The atmosphere of classic elegance created by the marble-floored landing, the ornamental wrought-iron staircase railing and the high ceilings is an apt prelude to the experience this classic apartment offers.
The apartment foyer is dominated by an immense oil painting, some 2m (about 9 ft.) long and illuminated by overhead lights, that depicts a French country woman going about her household duties. The polished parquet floors and oriental area rug, well-placed antiques and natural light from windows overlooking a courtyard combine to set an ambiance of traditional yet cheerful formality.
From the foyer the dining room and kitchen lie to the right, the sitting room and bedrooms to the left, and the living room, which covers some 55m2 (about 560 sq. ft.) and overlooks rue Danton, directly ahead.
The living room, where white walls are offset by the warm tones of wood antiques and fabrics in rich colors, has deep-pile white wall-to-wall carpeting, high ceilings and mirrored doorways that open to adjoining public rooms. There are two separate seating areas, both with comfortable sofas and armchairs. One seating area is grouped around a marble fireplace that is flanked by arched doorways to the dining room. A round table with chairs, perfect for a game of bridge, occupies another part of the room. The long east wall of the living room has two wide windows that are framed by flowing floor-to-ceiling drapes.
The dining room is an especially elegant space, with parquet floors brought to a high polish, white walls, wainscoting in an aristocratic pale blue and a rectangular table where up to eight guests can dine comfortably. A plush Chinese rug under the table and an American quilt in a delicate floral pattern again compliment the mood of light-hearted formality. Light flows in from a tall window overlooking rue Danton. Like the living room, the dining room has high ceilings with light sconces and beautifully sculpted patisserie molding at the edges. Arched mirrored doors to the foyer and kitchen emphasize the natural brightness of the room.
Adjacent to the dining room is a suite of rooms that includes a pantry with ceiling-high cabinets for storing china and utensils, an anteroom with a sofa and television, and a spacious kitchen. The all-modern appliances include a big refrigerator (a separate freezer is mounted in the wall), four-burner electric stove with ceramic cooktop, and a top-grade washing machine and separate tumble dryer. The kitchen has white tile floors and receives natural light from big windows overlooking the building courtyard. A pretty breakfast table can accommodate up to six. Generous counter and cupboard space, as well as a full array of kitchen utensils and countertop appliances, make this a satisfactory workspace for preparing family meals. A back door from the kitchen provides access to a service elevator, as well as to a staircase to an upper level where, if necessary, guests may store their luggage in a utility room.
From the living room, on the side opposite the dining room, a large arched doorway opens into a sitting room that continues the motif of wall-to-wall white carpeting with oriental area rugs for color. In front of a floor-to-ceiling window is a top-quality Stickley leather sofa that converts to a queen-sized bed. The white marble fireplace in the sitting room forms a perfect line of sight with the virtually identical fireplace on the far side of the living room, with each being reflected in the mirrors above their respective mantles. An antique card table, bookshelves and two armchairs make this an especially inviting room for a family to relax after dinner.
From the foyer a long hallway, illuminated by overhead sconces and lined with light blond wooden shelves, leads to the two bedrooms. (The sitting room, mentioned above, can also be entered from the corridor.) In the hallway, near the sitting room, is a powder room, finished entirely in gray marble, with a WC and lavatory.
The first bedroom, large at about 30m2 (about 310 sq. ft.), is a simply decorated room with pale yellow walls, white wall-to-wall carpeting and a full window overlooking rue Danton. This room has a king size bed (that can also be made into two twin beds), an in-wall armoire with antique door, and an elegant loveseat in a fabric that matches the wall covering. The ensuite bath, done in a tasteful rose marble, has a full-sized bathtub with overhead shower, and a WC. This bedroom can also be entered directly from the sitting room.
The master bedroom suite - huge, air-conditioned, and impressive - lies at the end of the hallway. The suite is comprised of three rooms: an enormous bedroom with queen-sized bed, an adjoining dressing room with mirrored walk-in closets finished in a light maple, and a large, beautifully appointed bathroom illuminated by recessed overhead lights and wall sconces. A hallway just outside the bedroom provides additional storage space.
The master bedroom, about 60m2 (around 620 sq. ft.), is bathed in light from five windows that open on three sides of the room. One set of windows looks southwest toward the spires of Saint-Sulpice, which lies on the other side of the boulevarrd Saint-Germain. The windows have double-pane glass for soundproofing, and are framed by silk floor-to-ceiling white drapes. One part of the room, curved like the prow of a ship, has a sitting area with an antique desk, and a round table and chairs on an area rug. A shelf that forms the headboard of the bed has two lamps for reading. One of the most striking pieces in the room is a Japanese screen, some 3m (about 9.5 ft.) tall, with exquisite etchings against a black enamel background.
The master bath, reached through the dressing room, is finished in small white tiles with blue accents. The countertops and rim around the oversized tub are of a pale gray marble. From the bathroom a mirrored door opens onto a room with WC, lavatory and bidet. (As this room also may be entered from the hallway without passing through the master bedroom suite, it provides an additional WC for the apartment.)
Rounding out the warm character of this friendly, luminous apartment are a host of amenities that, along with its old-world charm, place it squarely in the modern age. Among them are telephone jacks in virtually every room (a boon for laptop users), rheostat-controlled lighting in some rooms and a sophisticated alarm system.
Veteran travelers to Paris, especially devotes of the Left Bank and Saint-Germain-des-Prés area, will recognize immediately the fashionable and highly desirable address of this apartment. Rue Danton could not be more centrally located for exploring all of Paris. The Saint-Michel Métro and RER station, which lies almost at the center of a map of Paris, is two minutes away. Perhaps a minute further is the Cluny-La Sorbonne Métro on boulevard Saint-Germain. The vibrant sixth arrondissement, which abounds with restaurants, cafés, open-air food markets and historic sites going back to the earliest days of Parisian civilization is virtually at one's feet, all of it (as well as the unsurpassable Luxembourg Gardens) reachable by a pleasant stroll through streets punctuated by galleries, bookstores and boutiques. A séjour in the Saint-Germain quartier is always a joy, but when spent in an apartment of such size and charm, it is transformed into a memory for a lifetime.