Quiet and picturesque in this famous Parisian neighbourhood where most modern art movements were born, the Bateau Lavoir too, is a chef-d’œuvre of its own.
Entering it means consciously leaving the common pedestrian world for the exciting realm of marine expeditions. Designed like a cabin on a luxury passenger ship, the studio is conceived of 3 independent levels with the comfort of a charming little home. The interior design combines classical ambiance and daring, innovative ideas. However, this elegantly furnished suite did not always look like that.
How so, we asked Gerard Homburger – a true Montmartrois and the studio’s proud owner.
Thus, he hereby revealed the secrets of his unique property.
How did the whole story start?
When I found the apartment in the summer of 2009, it was totally different. You wouldn’t even recognize that it’s the same studio it is now. There were three little rooms, connected only via an incredibly small staircase. It wasn’t nice or practical at all. So I started to think about the possibilities how to change the concept and to create a special and livable space out of it.
What did you like about it in the first place?
Well, the location was perfect. Mont Cenis is a pedestrian street with nice big stairs, so it is very quiet. Yet, the MontmartroBus is just one minute far and so is a Vélib station. I have been living in Montmartre for quite a while and the apartment is within walking distance from my home. I also really liked that it’s a private house. The door on the street is the actual entrance of the flat. The apartment itself was not very special at the time, but it showed a lot of potential.
Did you do all the renovations by yourself?
I bought the apartment with my friend and he helped me during the whole construction site. First of all, we demolished the walls to open the rooms together. Then we got rid of that small, invisible staircase and started to build up the new one. Seriously, even a slightly chubby person could hardly fit in that staircase! After the new stairs were done, we gained some extra space in the middle to place a nice dining table for four. We only kept the kitchen as it was, except adding some extra appliances. The previous owner has already dug down the floor to increase the height and we have followed his example.
So are you an architect?
No, it’s kind of a hobby to me, renovating apartments. I’ve already done around six or seven. One functions as a restaurant in the Marais now. As a retired man, I really wanted to work on something interesting and special. Construction sites are always a big challenge. It took us three months to finish the Bateau Lavoir.
Some people do gardening, others knit pullovers… and you renovate apartments?
Did you plan to rent out the property after it has been finished?
Not in the first place. I was a little afraid of renting it out by an agency, to be honest. Some people just come and go without paying attention and respecting the apartment. At first I got in touch with another agency, but it turned out that they don’t provide services and they only operate online. There was no real office to go to if you had any questions. But chance had it I came across Les Studios de Paris (still called Les Studios de Montmartre at the time). So I decided to give it a try.
Apparently everything went well. Since 2009 you are renting out with Les Studios de Paris.
Yes, we signed the mandate in like five minutes. I really appreciated the difference between them and other vacation rental agencies. In “Les Studios de Paris” nobody was commercial-like or pushing me to buy things I didn’t need. On the contrary, people were very nice, professional and helpful and they found me a tenant right away! I felt that special atmosphere, which was classy and artistic, not like the others. Their office was great too, very stylishly designed. Later Les Studios de Paris decided to name my studio “Bateau Lavoir” and I agreed with the name at once, because the Bateau Lavoir is very Montmartre-ish and actually my initial idea was to create a cabinet deluxe.
Tell us a bit more about the studio’s name “Bateau Lavoir”?
Actually, it’s a very curious story. Originally, Le Bateau Lavoir was the nickname of another building in the same Montmartre district. It was a strange conglomeration of artists’ studios in the early 20th century, where Picasso, Modigliani, Matisse, Cocteau and other famous artists used to live. The place was a gloomy heap of dark and dirty premises made of beams and planks. Those swayed and creaked so dangerously on a stormy day that they reminded one of the washing-boats on the Seine. That’s how the French painter Max Jacob coined the name Le Bateau Lavoir (meaning “a wash-house (on a river)” in English). “The world’s first modern art factory”, as they called it, was destroyed by fire in the 70s. Sadly only its façade remains today on Place Emile Goudeau, just below Place du Tertre. However, we decided to name my studio “Bateau Lavoir” in honour of this amazing piece of art history. And also, because we thought it would be a cute pun to have the word “bateau” (boat) in the name of a studio actually conceptualized like one!
You chose to have a ‘Gestion Complète‘ too, which means that the agency provides all the services.
I prefer to spend this little money to be reassured that my apartment is taken care of. Good care, in fact. I have total trust in the agency, their personnel does a really great job! I let them decide on the tenants, too and if I have a booking request from another friend, I always pass the cycle to Les Studios de Paris.
You’ve mentioned that you’ve lived in Montmartre for a long time. How do you like living here?
Oh, very much so. It’s like a little village here. The streets, the roads, the stairs and the stores are nice and familiar like close friends. We all know each other here, I say ‘Hi!’ to the florist, the grocery owner and the waiter in the café. I know most of the people on the right side of the hill, so if I wish to have a chat with somebody I just go this way and find a friend in a minute. But when I have something urgent to do I choose the other direction, otherwise I would be in a big delay. Once you’ve lived in Montmartre, you wouldn’t leave it for anything in the world.
See more pictures and features of Bateau Lavoir studio on our website.
 Montmartrois : from French, a Montmartre inhabitant
 MontmartroBus: A local bus running only in the Montmartre hill.
 Vélib: Paris Bicycle rental services.
 Marais: The historic part of the 4th district in Paris. The restaurant referred to is ‘Caffé Boboli‘, located on 13, Rue du Roi du Sicile, 75004 Paris.
The BLACK PEARL Studio – a handful of rare beauty
Ever wondered how to tell a real pearl from a fake one? Well, now you can stop guessing! Your sojourn in the Black Pearl Studio will surely provide you with one real gem of travelling experience to legally transport over borders!
Shimmering, iridescent, exotic and rare, black pearls are the ultimate symbol of chic and extravagance. A hundred times less common than white ones, they are considered one of the rarest gems on Earth.
One such rare gem, shining in the heart of Montmartre, is the Black Pearl studio. This charming suite, with a fantastic view over the Eiffel Tower and the south of Paris, has been fully renovated in 2012. Located on the 4th floor of a typical Montmartre street, just a few steps away from “Amélie Poulain’s favourite grocery”, it is the perfect starting point for exploring the genuine district of Abbesses – one of Montmartre’s hotspots, where most typically Parisian trades can be found (cafés, bakeries, groceries).
The studio’s interior mirrors the natural beauty of a real black pearl itself. Inspired by its intense “rainbow of colours”, the suite’s colour palette plaits a crafty braid of rich purple and lustrous black.
Elegantly refurbished, contemporary looking and stylishly designed, the space reassures that – when talking beauty – size doesn’t have a say in the matter! Despite being only 9 m² in surface, those 9 are something to be remembered! The luxury of their shine proves that even something as small as a pearl can make a powerful impression.
The Black Pearl Studio sleeps 2 inside its cozy shell. It offers WiFi network, cable TV, phone and a fully equipped kitchen corner (with an espresso machine for your first sip of morning coffee with a view of the Eiffel tower)!
And remember, it takes up to a few years for an oyster to form a pearl.
But it might take an eternity before you forget your Black Pearl experience!
We leave the “Englishman in New York” to Sting, because we have a better song to sing to you – the one of the “New Yorker in Paris”. Read on to learn the lyrics!
There was the usual hustle and bustle in the office. A tenant just phoned in utter panic because the lamp in her living room had gone off. The Booking Department was industriously typing important emails at the speed of light. And the accountant was making infinite calls to property owners in order to clarify some financial figures. One of the architects walked in unannounced to share the happy news. A little newborn baby studio – just a stone’s throw away – was recently refurbished and immediately available for rent. In the meantime, an owner waved hello from a distance, a scooter almost crashed into a car in the street corner and some excited tourists took numerous pictures of ‘Collignon’s Grocery store’, better known as “the store from the ‘Amélie-movie’”.
It was a normal day in this little village, called Montmartre…
When suddenly, he walked in. A young man with quite an adventurous look in his eye and some backpack, carelessly flung over his shoulder. Smiling brightly, like the first settlers of America could have done, while treasuring the few dimes left in their pockets as much as the idea of a new world in their hearts. The office froze for a second, mesmerized by this sudden incarnation of the American Dream. He broke the momentary silence by asking for an available studio. The booking girls looked at each other. All the apartments were rented out and the calendar disclosed no immediate availability. He took the time to explain his extraordinary situation. He came to Paris to get lost and to wander from one hotel to another, in search of all those new experiences that could be wrung out of a city visited many times before.
No, he hadn’t booked any hotel rooms in advance. Yes, he did know that it was highly unlikely to find one now, at the height of the season. And yes, he was looking for a flat from tonight. For how long? He couldn’t tell. “A few days or a week, maybe?” he said with the smile of a kid, who hoped to be giving a serious, adult answer.
“So when, a few minutes later, I spied a storefront called Studios Paris advertising short-term rentals, I made a decision. Wandering Paris was fun; carrying all my belongings with me, rain or shine, was less so. But an apartment would be more than a glorified storage locker or a spot for an afternoon nap — it would be a little corner of Paris to claim as my own. Into Studios Paris I walked.”
And then, in the same casual way as he walked into our office, a solution magically appeared.
A little new studio had come along this morning, waiting to meet its new tenant. It was not even in the database yet and was unusual enough with its small size and 7th floor location, but just like him, it was so out of the ordinary, so different and special, that the match seemed perfect!
“ONE hour later, I was looking out from the sole window of The Eagle’s Nest, my newly renovated seventh-floor garret, at what might be the best view of Paris in Paris. From Montreuil in the east to the Bois de Boulogne, it was unobstructed: the towers, the domes, the mansard rooftops, the slight sinuous suggestion of the Seine. For the next six days, I would look at this view every morning as I drank my coffee. I’d look at this view at sunset, after returning from my wanderings for a shower, a rest and a glass of wine. I’d watch it in the driving rain, and at midnight, when searchlights spun around the Eiffel Tower. The apartment itself might be only 150 square feet, with a private toilet out in the hall, but my living room was all of Paris.”
The six days of his Parisian visit passed quickly, however. So now he was standing downstairs, waiting for his local host to return to him the sole key we had to the apartment. He was dead punctual. Not a hair of a second late. But – as in every curious story – in this one too, there is a tiny, little game-changer.
“When at last the morning came to check out of The Eagle’s Nest, I took one more look at the sunlit view and could see almost nowhere I hadn’t set foot. No doubt secrets remained, but they would be revealed in time. It was 11:30. The rental agency’s rep would be downstairs, waiting for me to let her in. I patted my back pocket, heard the reassuring clink of my keys and walked into the hall, closing the door behind me. Then I froze. That clink was not keys but coins. I was locked out, just as my wife and I had been 13 years before.”
So there he was, sitting on the old wooden staircase, smiling apologetically while explaining that he never really puts coins in his pockets. On the bright side, this amusing accident opened up some time for us to chat in the empty staircase. It was there and then that he first mentioned he was a writer for The New York Times. In fact, getting lost in different cities and writing about it was, sort of, his specialty. Our chat was interrupted by a phone call announcing that a second pair of keys has been surprisingly found! Matt Gross, the New York Times writer, offered right away to go get them himself and to hand them to us later, because…
“…until then there was nothing to do but walk out — as I’d done a hundred times before, as I hope to do a thousand times more — into the streets of Paris, with no clear idea of where I was going, or what I would do when I got there.”
That was the last time we saw him. Or was it? One month later, we received a big envelope with 10 copies of The New York Times Travel magazine, where Matt’s article, titled “Lost in Paris”, hit the front page. Shortly after, random people started pointing at our office, whispering ‘That’s the agency from ‘The New York Times’. Some were even happy enough to take that famous peek from The Eagle’s Nest after…
Right now we have no idea which invisible cities is Matt presently getting lost in. But with all our heart, we wish him even more inspiring accidents all over our enchanting globe. Because he knows how to make the best of them!
Hello, I’m Anna. Enchantée! I’ve been charged with the unique responsibility of knowing Paris inside out and handing you the captivating details. I go where chance takes me – from futuristic skyscrapers to time forsaken curiosity cabinets… Adventures and discoveries are my specialty! So, get ready! On today’s agenda: one entire street, bathed in art…
Well, here we are. Meet rue Cavallotti. Birthdate: 1897. Width: 120m. Length: 12m. These measures officially make it the smallest open-air art museum in Paris!
A workaday street during the day, rue Cavallotti begins its second life after dusk… It’s when the shops roll their heavy iron shutters, that this narrow street really comes alive! All beautified by vivid paintings (old-time commercials), the images on the stores’ shutters act together to constitute a walk through Parisian history. Moulin Rouge, the public baths, the famous theatre Cigale, they’re all there…
The history behind this curious art project is just as noteworthy. For years, the merchants on rue Cavallotti saw nothing beyond their grim grey shutters. Until one day, two young artists actually did. Canvasses! Inspiring, permanent canvasses! Despite grabbed by the idea, none of the merchants could actually afford the street’s “complete makeover”. So the artists petitioned the city of Paris, winning most of the financing, then a paint company donated the materials… et voilà! Drab old rue Cavallotti became the “Gallery of Art of the Open Sky”!
Today each painting matches the unique personality of the store behind. They’re all like beautiful hand-drawn business cards, inviting you to drop by and celebrate life sometime during shopping hours. There’s a painting each for the florist, the pharmacist, the fruit vendor, the baker, the restaurant owner…
However, if you want to pay a visit to this unlikely museum, don’t waste your time coming here during the day. Because, as a common rule of thumb, if the shops are open, “the museum” is closed! So wait for the “happy hour”, pass by in the evenings or wait for the weekend, when all stores are asleep and the area allows for thorough and peaceful examination.
Rue Cavallotti is the best open book of Paris, because there all the history is written down in colourful paint. Once you’ve seen it, you can also prolong your trip to the nearby Montmartre cemetery. But this charming steep street is just as pleasant to get lost in on its own…
How to get there : Metro line 13 / metro station: La Fourche
Metro line: 2, 13 / metro station: Place de Clichy
STARWAY TO HEAVEN
An avant-garde project, combining art vision, domotic architecture and ecological concern
“At the dawn of the new millennium, I designed Starway to Heaven, as one creates a world. Conceived like a domestic prosthesis to my own body, the house has little by little taken its place among living works. Whether you hire it for one sole night, for a shooting set, or for a weekend retreat, Starway to Heaven will be your ally for living a little piece of Heaven on Earth”
Jean-Paul Lubliner, creator of Starway to Heaven
Starway to Heaven, a 3-floor loft with more than 400 m² of surface, is located in the heart of picturesque Montmartre, near Sacré Coeur, where many famous films were shot.
The triplex benefits from an exceptional 180° panoramic view over the French capital on all three levels and up to a 360° panorama from the roof terrace. It’s like Paris, this film in Technicolor, is sitting over the sofa, right in front of you.
Defying gravity, this luminous space of radically contemporary design, features all latest materials and technologies of our time. Bio-communicating, with constantly purified air, vegetal walls, photovoltaic cells, this model of uncompromising ecology is a manifesto of holistic architecture, where art, cutting-edge technology and comfort harmonize and exalt each other.
Jean-Paul Lubliner, a contemporary art conceptor, has decided to create this “futuristic project of Heaven” with one major commitment – the harmonious existence of mankind and nature. To the smallest detail, the loft is a piece of unique work, preaching the poetic vision that living sane & humane in the century of advanced technologies is a cause not yet lost.
A real living organism, Starway to Heaven is the culmination of two years of research on bio-communication in living spaces. Thus, the house integrates the most advanced technologies: air-purification by real time sensors, a rainwater harvesting system, a Canadian well in the basement regulating the apartment’s temperature through geothermal energy. Not consuming more than it produces and using the force of natural elements, Starway to Heaven lives in peaceful harmony with its environment.
Latest innovations in home technology were put into practice in this Bio House. Level 1 has an ultra-equipped kitchen, where corian, one of today’s most unique and versatile materials, is used.
Particular attention was paid to the bathrooms, present on all levels of the apartment. Jacuzzi, power showers, automatically dimming smart glass walls, fully transparent bathroom floors and light showers all work to create a magic moment of reunion between them and their occupants.
The hi-fi equipment, designed specifically for Starway to Heaven, is omnipresent without being ostentatious. It reigns over the space at level 2, when the room is converted to Home Theater.
Other points of interest on Level 2 include Stanley Kubrick’s movie inspired set (the design of the work table, the bar and the fireplace is a wink to Kubrick’s 2011) and La Bocca Obra (a playful artistic piece, conceived by the artist Toni Selgi, represnting a daring and passionate mouth that opens like an insatiable cave to swallow a virtual aquarium right in the middle of the wall).
One of Starway to Heaven’s major symbols is The Stairway Of Time. This DNA helix transpierces all apartment levels, divides the living spaces, marks the hour and flickers to the rhythm of the lights of the Eiffel Tower (through a system of diodes controlled by a computer).
Climbing this spiral masterpiece (the number of its stairs matching the number of the hours in a day) is like defying gravity and travelling through time. Until you reach the top and end up on the roof terrace, where the city warmly welcomes you on its flying carpet of neon lights. There, it’s all stars, you… and Paris. Beyond, no pictures or words. You’re the captain of a boat, swimming in a sea of light. The calm is olympic…
Starway To Heaven can accommodate three couples, each with an own bedroom, around ten guests in the dining room and up to thirty participants in a seminar setting, press conference, cultural event or management meeting.
Cats are allowed and have their own playground and place for rest, designed by the conceptor. Throughout the whole duration of your stay, a butler will be at your disposal, 24 hours a day, to satisfy all your whims and meet the extravagance of all your desires…
Learn all about the landmarks that make Paris what it really is with our Paris ABC section! Today’s alphabetical tour will take you on a walk over the Parisian bridges.
They say the Seine is the soul of Paris. This is why a visit to the city would be incomplete without a promenade along its famed bridges. Not to mention that often the spectacular views seen from their spans are as rewarding as the bridges themselves. So, go on, bridge along!
The meaning: “pont” = “bridge”
The history: They’ve been depicted in novels, they’ve been painted in pictures, they’ve been captured in movies… And now you can walk on them! 37 bridges cross over the river Seine and many of them are worth taking a stroll on!
Not to be missed: Pont Alexander III, the king of all bridges, is regarded by many as the most extravagant and beautiful in Paris. Built for the 1900 World Fair as a symbol of friendship between Russia and France, it was named in honour of the Russian tsar, Alexander the Third. With its exuberant Art Nouveau architecture, glorious gilt lanterns and sculptures of sea monsters, winged horses and nymphs, a walk over this bridge is like a flip through a dictionary of mythological creatures. Feast on a stroll over this incredible piece of architecture, which has never ceased to enchant the passerby and the aesthete alike!
For “the full HD experience” of Parisian bridges, admire their reflections not only in the water, but in some pieces of art, too!
The song: Hop in the time-machine to enjoy the otherworldly melody of the 1914 popular song “Under the bridges of Paris” (“Sous les ponts de Paris”)!
The movie: It’s night on a bridge in Paris… that’s the thrilling beginning of the unconventional love story in the movie “The girl on the bridge” (“La Fille sur le pont”). Starring: (the footbridge) Passerelle Debilly & (the actress) Vanessa Paradis.
The poem: This is how Baudelaire saw the morning twilight from his window at 17, quai d’Anjou, meters away from Pont Marie: “The shivering dawn, in her pink and green dress / Advanced slowly over the deserted Seine…”, “Morning Twilight” / (“L’aurore grelottante en robe rose et verte / S’avançait lentement sur la Seine déserte…”), “Le crépuscule de matin”
And to end up on a light note, here’s an entertaining fact for you to ponder on:
The oldest bridge in Paris is now called New Bridge (Pont Neuf). Go figure!
Drop by our website and plan your next dream trip to Paris!
We would like to share with you our tenants commentaries from past years in our fan page Les studios de Paris in Facebook, you can take a look at it by clicking this link: Guestbook Les Studios de Paris 2007-2009