In our latest interview with a VINGT Paris client, we meet American ex-pat Richard Price, who says that buying an apartment in the City of Light was the best decision he ever made. Here, he invites us into his beautiful home to share the story…
For Richard Price, the thing he loves most about living in Paris is what he calls the ‘glimpses of grandeur’ – and anyone who has spent time in this beautiful city will know exactly what he means.
“It’s when you’re simply going from point A to point B, perhaps on some simple errand, and you turn a corner and are suddenly confronted with a dazzling view of the Eiffel Tower or the Alexander III Bridge or an utterly charming square,” he explains. “It literally takes your breath away.”
Originally from Philadelphia, Richard went on to run an international tour agency, which he sold in 2015. Now retired, he lives with his husband Joe and they divide their time mainly between Paris and Los Angeles. Having spent time in both countries for many years, they finally took the plunge and bought their own Parisian pad in 2008.
“Initially, we intended to use it as a holiday home,” says Richard. “But now that we’re both retired, we use it as our primary residence, spending about six months a year in Paris, three months a year in Los Angeles and three months each year cruising on Crystal Cruises.”
Although they know the city well, navigating French property law can be quite daunting for even the most fervent Francophile, which was why they enlisted the help of VINGT Paris in their search.
“Having them assist us in the process was invaluable,” continues Richard. “We couldn’t have done it without them. They handled everything and made things very easy for us.”
Although the pair went to view a number of apartments during their search, in the end they settled on the first one they had seen – not least because of its wonderful location. Tucked away in the elegant 7th arrondissement, which is home to the Eiffel Tower, they have everything they could wish for right on their doorstep.
“Our apartment is located in the heart of our favorite neighborhood in Paris, the Gros Caillou, bordered by rue St. Dominique, boulevard de la Tour Maubourg and the Champ de Mars,” says Richard. “We utterly adore it, because it feels like a little village and it’s very quiet.
“It’s close to the Eiffel Tower, but not so close as to be overrun with tourists, and we can walk to our local cheesemonger, butcher, boulangerie and cafés. The market street rue Cler is also just two blocks from our apartment. We love all of Paris, but this is where we always feel most at home.”
Another thing that appealed about their apartment was the all-important floor-plan – which can sometimes be a bit of a challenge with Parisian apartments, as Richard goes on to explain.
“Many older apartments were built without bathrooms or kitchens,” he says. “As a result of more recent renovations and additions, their floor plans are not very workable. However, our apartment has a wonderful floor plan that allows easy flow from one room to another.”
That’s not to say that their apartment didn’t require work when they first moved in – in fact, au contraire, it required a total renovation – which was another reason they were glad to be assisted by VINGT Paris. As well as helping them through the move, the team also connected the pair with their trusted interior-design contacts to guide them through the process.
“They were amazing throughout,” continues Richard. “We leafed through magazines and showed them photos of designs we liked. Based on this, they determined that we should go with a traditional theme with classic but understated touches. The result is that we have a modern kitchen and bathroom, but we kept the charming original features like the parquet floors and the crown moldings.”
Having their help during the renovations also made the whole process a fun one – and they would often head out together to antiques markets around the city, seeking out the perfect finishing touches. It also meant the interior-design team could ensure everything was in keeping with the apartment style.
“They politely but firmly steered us away from items that would not go with our theme, such as art deco,” laughs Richard. “They also provided unique and personalised touches, such as an antique sewing table that they re-finished to become our bedroom dressing table.”
Needless to say, the pair love their Parisian life, and like to make the most of their vibrant home city at every opportunity.
“We walk and jog through the Tuileries Gardens every day,” says Richard. “And my favorite afternoon activity is to ride a bicycle from our neighborhood to the Luxembourg Gardens to read a book in the shade and nibble on macaroons from Gérard Mulot and then bike home. I like to think that the bicycle-riding burns any calories in the macaroons.”
Come the evening, the pair can often be spotted out and about at one of their favourite restaurants across the city, such as Auberge Bressanne (see below), or at the legendary Bar Hemingway at The Ritz where they have become regulars.
“Their famous bartender, Colin Field, takes excellent care of us, and we find that we meet extremely interesting people at the bar there,” says Richard. “Colin has a knack for understanding which of his regular clients will enjoy meeting other clients, and he conducts the introductions discreetly.
“In fact, one of our favorite things about living here is our social life. We have wonderful friends in Paris and we treasure the time that we spend with them.”
So, having made the move so successfully themselves, what advice would they have for anyone else wondering about taking the plunge?
“If you’re thinking about buying a place in Paris, that probably means that you should buy a place in Paris,” confirms Richard. “Just remember that you will most likely have to renovate the property from top to bottom. However, in France, you can add the cost of renovations to your mortgage, unlike in the US. Buying our Paris apartment is the best thing we’ve ever done.”
Auberge Bressanne, located at 16 avenue de la Motte-Picquet in the 7th arrondissement. This is a warm and cosy place for classic French cuisine featuring things like Gratin d’ Ecrevisses, Ouefs en Meurrette and their famous Poulet à la Crème. Web: http://auberge-bressane.com.
Le Malabar, located at 88 Rue Saint-Dominique, also in the 7th. Web: http://www.lemalabar.com. We like the people-watching from their sunny, corner location. And after the thrill of coffee has worn off, they have a full bar and cocktail menu.
The market street rue Cler, just around the corner. It’s packed on Sunday mornings, and we buy the provisions for dinner on Monday night (the only night of the week that we eat at home). Be sure to do your food shopping before 1pm when all the stores close. After making our purchases, we stop for eggs Benedict at Café Central (40 Rue Cler, 75007) or cheeseburgers at l’Éclair (32 Rue Cler, 75007).
WE Fashion in the Forum des Halles, found in the 1st arrondissement. Sure, it’s a chain store in a mall, but we love WE for their basics that make us look oh, so chic! http://forumdeshalles.com/en/
A la Petite Marquise, located at 50 Avenue de la Motte-Picquet, in the 15th arrondissement. This is an unassuming boulangerie and lunch spot that’s in desperate need of a makeover. But their tarte au citron is arguably the best in Paris, with its crispy brown meringue topping.