A trip to Paris typically involves days spent strolling through the city’s many galleries and museums – a task that often goes hand-in-hand with jostling crowds and over-excitable tourists. But hidden down one of the oldest streets in Paris sits a unique holiday apartment available to rent on Plum Guide (a highly curated Airbnb alternative) that feels like you’ve got an entire portrait gallery all to yourself.
Original stone flooring, dark wooden beams, thick floor-to-ceiling velvet curtains and black lacquered cabinets fill the interiors, but it’s the vast art collection adorning sage-green walls that is most impressive – think power stances from French noblemen in poofy shorts, cardinals in vermillion red and ceiling frescoes of armoured soldiers preparing for a feast.
The owners are John Coury and Florent Maillard, partners and co-founders of CM Studio Paris, an interior design company dedicated to “alchemising a property in its surroundings” by “harmonising the time period and style of a building’s façade with the interior architecture and design.” When coming up with design blueprints, they assign each property a character, creating stories and fabricating tales to bring the idea to life. For this apartment, they drew inspiration from the life of the Marquis de Sémonville, an 18th-century French diplomat.
Imagining the marquis’ journey from France to the Ottoman Empire, they curated a collection of artwork blending French style with Eastern European influences. The walls are covered with 16th-century paintings by Andrea Vicentino and other iconic 17th- and 18th-century pieces. Up a period staircase is a mezzanine office space, complete with an antique wooden desk and chairs, a divan with gold-hemmed red cushions, and stacks of ancient books acting as side tables for bronze lamps and sculptures. Peek over the wooden balcony to gaze down to the living area, which stretches up to a ceiling height of five metres (unheard of in Paris), crisscrossed with beams listed by the French Historical Monuments Society. Look for hidden quirks throughout the apartment – trick doors, covert cupboards and clever storage spaces are dotted around.
Among the antique and historic are a few modern twists: a bespoke lightbox artwork from artist Agnès sits atop the 17th-century fireplace, while two frog-like gargoyles by sculptor Stefan Rinck sit on either side of the grate. The style seems to veer off-piste in the bedroom – think more of a boudoir with soft pink walls, royal-green throws and crushed velvet blinds. Above the bed hangs a rather salacious photograph by Chinese photographer Shen Wei, and further monochrome photographs of cityscapes are hung around the room. Open a secret door in the bedroom to discover the Ottoman-inspired ensuite, where an aesthetically incongruous automatic Japanese toilet adds a touch of modernism, whirring and waving hello as you enter.
The flat is in the Marais, a cutesy right-bank neighbourhood known for its shops. Formerly an aristocratic area, potter around the streets to stumble upon hole-in-the-wall restaurants, Parisian bars and traditional brasseries – try Miznon for moreish Israeli dishes, L’As du Fallafel for the best falafel in town or L’Ambroisie on Place des Vosges for a Michelin-starred meal. Le Marché Des Enfants Rouges is a covered food market dating back to 1615 where you can grab a table and try a range of food from different Mediterranean, North African or Asian stalls.
The aptly named Portrait of Splendour apartment is bookable via Plum Guide, a holiday home rental site with high standards – just three per cent of homes that apply for listings in each destination featured on the site are granted the Plum Award. A concierge team is available to help you with your stay in Paris, from booking taxi transfers to securing tables at the city’s best restaurants.
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