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Apartment or Hotel? How's a diner to choose?


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Apartment or Hotel? How's a diner to choose?

mangeur | Aug 4, 2012 03:14 PM

The subject of renting an apartment pops up frequently during thread-drifts but is seldom addressed by itself. Perhaps we could share some of the various aspects of apartment life.

As an avowed apartment-curmudgeon, I'll start this out by saying that having an apartment, going native short term, is a long held dream of mine. I have called it having "a stove with a view". And we've done it a fair number of times with varying success. What works is having a space to make a simple breakfast or to put together or enjoy picnic stuffs, chilled drinks, very simple meals, midnight snacks.

First, there is the delegated croissant shlepper. Someone has to dress and go out for breakfast bread or else eat day-old. And find a morning paper. (Don't look at me. I'm having oatmeal and surfing the net.)

We, personally, have not found that apartment dinners are worth cashing an evening in France. Cooking market product from scratch is, for me, not realistic, often messy and labor intensive. Half the time, I wind up cooking in my gown or robe to save street clothes, having forgotten to bring a smock or apron. And there is cooking odor.

And there is the general unease of cooking in someone else's kitchen, extra care not to make a mess, concern with garbage, learning to cook on an entirely different kind of stovetop (i.e., not leaving something on an electric or glass burner when you are used to just turning off the gas!).

But the biggest drawback for me is deciding what to eat. Most of the time, what I find the most exciting thing at the market is something that my husband has no interest in. Or won't eat. At home, this isn't an issue. But when I am in France, I want to enjoy those things that are particular to the area, that I can't source at home, that require expertise to prepare and, not the least, stuff that my husband won't touch (andouillette, rognon, tete de veau gribiche, bunny, squiddy things). In an apartment, to enjoy these things necessarily requires preparing two main courses. So we settle instead on things that are simple to prepare; reheated mains, fresh pasta with a simple sauce, a fast seafood saute. salads. But this is merely getting the job done, not enjoying the things that I come to France for. And, routinely, my husband realized that the extraordinary looking dish that he saw in the traiteur's window doesn't taste as good as it looks.

Time of year may have an influence. In Dijon, we enjoyed not only a superbly outfitted apartment but because it was very warm, contented ourselves with cold soups, pasta and salads which we enjoyed on our shaded private patio. This was the kind of food that we would have sought anyway at a restaurant in the heat, and very different from a snowy December visit in Paris when shopping was more difficult and appetites ready for more substantial fare.

These problems are mine, not necessarily yours. But they are something to consider beforehand so that your apartment stay has fewer surprises. I look forward to hearing from our expert pro-apartment hounds. We can help each other have the best experience possible, regardless of apartment or hotel.

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