Une Petite Histoire about Cobblestone Paris

Cobblestone Paris Rentals is a small, customer oriented, Vacation Rental Company.

It all began in 2004 when Ryan and Jennifer took a vacation to Paris and chose to rent a furnished apartment instead of staying in a hotel. They chose an apartment in the 4th Arrondissement on the charming Rue de Petit Musc, in the amazing Marais quarter of Central Paris. The apartment was in a 350 year old house built for a local 17th Century Parisian nobleman. They stayed on the 4th floor, with no elevator of course, in what was probably the servant quarters. Ryan and Jennifer may have been living like servants, but felt like royalty.

They walked the streets of this wonderful city for a week and explored every quiet park, magnificent building, and cobble stone street. Upon returning home to Los Angeles, California, the magic of their Paris memories stayed with them. They dreamed of one day buying an apartment in Paris and moving there permanently. It was only a dream, something for retirement perhaps, but it never left them.

One day in 2006, while he was on a business trip to Paris, Jennifer sent Ryan a listing of a studio apartment that she had seen for sale on the internet. To kill some time Ryan made the visit. Without a second thought he made an offer to purchase the apartment that very day. It was an impulse purchase, totally unplanned, and completely influenced by emotion but Ryan and Jennifer never regretted their decision.

Studio La Fontaine became the name of the studio apartment that Ryan purchased that day. It was located on an adorable cobblestone square with a small Parisian fountain in the center. From their home in Los Angeles, they began to advertise and rent the apartment to tourists from around the world. Little Studio La Fontaine still makes many Parisian dreams come true. Ryan and Jennifer used their love of Paris and their understanding of North American customer service to create magical Parisian holidays and to help guests experience Paris as locals. 

One at a time, new apartments were added, and Cobblestone Paris Rentals was born.

Less than two years from their first trip to Paris, Cobblestone Paris became a full time job and their dream became a reality, and Ryan and Jennifer moved to Paris.

Cobblestone hopes to help you have a wonderful holiday by providing you with a lovely apartment, great service, and Parisian memories that will last a lifetime. 

Bon Voyage and See You in Paris Soon!

Merci, Ryan & Jennifer

Get Ready To Live Like a Real Parisian !

Ryan & Jennifer, Paris 2013

WE ARE PROUD TO BE INCLUDED IN RICK STEVES' PARIS GUIDEBOOK. MERCI FOR MAKING THIS POSSIBLE!

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Friday, January 7, 2011

Hip + Urban Girl of the Week: Jennifer in Paris.

Imagine your life: waking up in Paris every day and checking-in on the multiple French apartments you own, while sipping an espresso and eating a fresh-baked croissant. Maybe you'll pack your bags and check out a Greek island on the weekend or wander around a local market. Yeah, we thought it was a pretty awesome time too. This week, we chat with a hip + urban girl who does just that - Jennifer, Co-Owner of Cobblestone Paris Rentals.

Tell us about your business!

My husband and I own and operate a short-term vacation rental agency in Paris, France. Tourists come to us for great value, service and an authentic Parisian experience vs. a hotel.
We also assist buyers looking for their vacation rental purchase in Paris and also decorate and equip the apartment for tourists.

How did you get into starting a vacation rental company?

My husband and I bought our very own small studio apartment in the 11th arrondissement of Paris near the Canal St. Martin (the one that Amelie uses to skip stones in). It was really just a spur of the moment decision, and kind of crazy when we think about it now, but it changed our lives more than we ever could have imagined. We were still living in Toronto, so we decided to share our love of Paris with other travelers by renting it out to tourists when we were not there. We had no idea it would be such a success. As time went on, we started meeting other international owners and they shared their horror stories about leaving their properties in the hands of rental managers that they didn't trust to take care of their apartments. We envisioned a need, and decided to provide a service that would make both the owners as well as renters happy. It was a labor of love, so it was not a big surprise when our plan worked. This is the story of how Cobblestone Paris Rentals was born.

What brought you to Paris?

Everyone wants to go to Paris. We were no different. As a couple, in love, with a passion for travel, we didn't wait too long before booking flights and taking off. Of course, we rented an apartment instead of staying in a hotel, so that first trip planted the seeds of the idea that we would one day like to buy something of our own there. I think we were both surprised by how quickly that happened. That has turned out to be a recurring theme, we get an idea, and before we knew it, Voila! It’s a reality. We are now thrilled that we can share our joy of Paris with others.

Are you fluent in French?

Every day I learn a little more, that's just a benefit of living in Paris as a local. You find yourself in all kinds of situations that a tourist would never encounter. 

What is your typical week like?

We spend most of our working hours answering inquiries and making booking arrangements online, including organizing the arrivals for our guests in Paris. Most of our business is done online, which is great, because it means we can live or travel anywhere in the world. For the last year we have been living in Paris where we could train and supervise staff to do many of the tasks that we once did ourselves. The confidence that we have in hiring the correct people has allowed us to travel more and work anywhere a Wi-Fi connection is available.

How often do you get to travel?

Sometimes it feels like we live out of a suitcase! When we are in Paris we take advantage of the close proximity to many great countries. This year we visited Spain, Italy, South of France, Turkey and Greece. 

Your apartments are gorgeous! Did you have a background in design? How do you approach decorating a room?

I don't have a background in design, but I have learned what people like and what they are looking for in their perfect French apartment. We are very conscious that what we are selling is the "mystique" of Paris, and this means that we have to tap into people's inner vision of the perfect French apartment when coming up with a design for a new apartment. Of course, the reality of how French people actually live is totally different, but the tourist has another idea and that is what we are trying to capture. We are closer we get to recreating a "dream apartment" that people are imagining, the more successful the apartment will be. 

Besides design, what do you do to get an upper hand in marketing your apartments?

> Because we travel so much, we have a good idea of what travelers appreciate in their accommodation. We try to keep all of our experiences, good and bad, in mind when furnishing and equipping an apartment. 
On one visit to a coastal village in Spain, we rented a beautiful little villa on the cliffs above the Mediterranean. Even though we booked it for a last minute discount, it wasn't cheap, so we were not happy when we discovered that there were absolutely no basic amenities like shampoo, paper towels, oils, or spices. The closest store was in a village on the top of a mountain, and it was closed most of the day. We remember experiences like this and go to the extreme in the opposite direction when equipping our apartments. We want to overwhelm people and leave no chance for disappointment. We offer free amenities that hotels don't offer such as free Wi-Fi internet, free long distance calling, hundreds of TV channels, Paris themed DVDs, Paris Guidebooks, and French Cook Books. We also offer coffee, tea, sugar cooking oil, spices, paper towels and more so you don't have to shop for these basics when you arrive. The kitchen is ready for you to shop at a local market and try a new recipe.

What is the best part of your job?

When we hear that we have made someone’s dream come true! We get emails that gush over our apartments and services, and know that we are doing something right.

What has been worst part of your job?

When something jeopardizes a customer experience that is beyond our control is the worst part of our job. Some examples are regular transportation strikes, stolen wallets, and building problems that we have no direct ability to repair. We must wait for the building's unenthusiastic management to handle things in their own good time, which is sometimes a lot longer in France than you would expect in Canada or North America.

Top three destinations of all time and why?

Paris of course, because it is the most magical, romantic and historic city in the world. Santorini, Greece, as it is the most serene and enchanting place I have ever been, and Barcelona for its vibrant and modern style and because my husband and I got engaged there.

What did you study in University/College? Would you have done anything differently?

I studied Marketing Management at Sheridan College in Oakville. It was a well-rounded choice and I use aspects from marketing every day.

Where are your favorite places to hang out in Paris? (Restaurants, Bars etc)

My favorite neighborhood is "The Marais", which encompasses the 3rd and 4th arrondissements near Notre Dame Cathedral and the famous Pompidou Modern Art Museum. You get a good mix of historic architecture and trendy cafes and boutiques. It is always active and has many gorgeous mansions built by the French nobility before the French Revolution. It is still an "original" Parisian neighborhood because Napoleon ran out of money before he could demolish it like many other Paris neighborhoods.

Best place to shop in Paris?

Open-air markets always offer the best produce and also a good mix of affordable clothing, shoes, scarves and sometimes furnishings. Rue de Bretagne in the Marais is also a fun shopping street

Tell us about your neighborhood and what you like best about it.

The 11th arrondissement is an up and coming neighborhood on the border of the trendy "Marais". It is very residential, so you see a lot of real Parisians, and not so many tourists. It offers authentic bakeries, restaurants and boutiques and you don't see any souvenir shops. My favorite places in the 11th are the Canal St. Martin and the Popincourt Open Air Market on Blvd Richard Lenoir.

What do you wish someone told you when you were younger and just starting out?

I wish someone had taught me knowledge of finance and investing. Schools do not educate people enough about smart investments and how to avoid the pitfalls of poor financial planning. Most people have to learn through trial and error, losing valuable time.

What life advice do you have for hip + urban girls out there trying to figure out what they want to do?

Take risks! Do not just do safe things because everyone else is doing it. You only live once, and you don't want to be someone who looks back and wishes that they had done something more interesting. My motto is “JUST DO IT”. Don’t spend too long thinking or talking about it, because it may never happen.

Check out Jen's great apartments:
Website: www.cobblestoneparis.com
Facebook: Cobblestone Vacations Paris

The hip + urban girl of the week is someone who encompasses a fabulous attitude, job and lifestyle. We will feature a mix of entrepreneurs and urban professionals who are inspiring to follow. Know someone we should meet?