Villa Louis Pasteur: A Primer

I’ve had this post as a draft for quite a while. It’s been a few months since we left Paris, but I wanted to post a little primer to make day-to-day life at Villa Louis Pasteur, the faculty housing that was our home away from home in Paris, a little bit easier and a whole lot more enjoyable for other academics who will stay there in the future.

Most guests at Villa Louis Pasteur, we gathered, stay only for a few days. We were there for two months. Thus, we had time to become regulars at our favourite haunts. One of our favourite bakeries is the Artisan Boulanger, just down the street and around the corner, at 243 Rue Saint-Jacques:

His sourdough baguettes are out of this world, as are his croissants and brioches. He also makes killer fruit tarts and tarts salés for lunch. The bad news is that the boulangerie is closed on the weekends.

If caught without fresh baguette on a Saturday morning, you are generally out of luck. Later, perhaps around 1pm, you might try Chants de Ble on Rue Mouffetard (at Rue de la Abalete; ignore the signage for “Les Panetons” on this older photo from Google Maps):

For foodies, Rue Mouffetard is a sensory delight. Fromagers sell cheese that artisans make; fromageries sell their own creations. A fine culinary distinction, we learned. There are regional cheese specialties to discover (e.g. Mont D’Or from Franche-Comte) that cost a fortune back in Toronto, but are completely reasonable here. The wine is also much cheaper here than in Canada, and quite acceptable, even if you have limited selection to choose from at a mini mart or discount supermarket. Of course, you could visit a wine store or check out the wine specials at Monoprix (the French version of Target, but with a lovely food section). Be sure to get a Monoprix card to feel like a native. There is a certain satisfaction to be able to respond, “Oui,” when the cashier asks you for your membership card.

On Sundays, and on weekend evenings, our favourite boulangerie was L’Epi D’Or, on the corner opposite Val du Grace:

The baguettes are baked throughout the day. There is nothing quite like breaking into a warm, freshly-baked baguette on your way home. Tatiana garnered much attention for noshing on a piece of baguette in her stroller.

Eating baguettes or other baked goods on the way home is quite common in France, but forget about getting takeout coffee! Servers will give you a quizzical look if you ask for coffee to go. It is simply not done in Paris. You must sit at a cafe and savour your espresso in a china cup and saucer. None of this rushing about with a large double-double from Tim’s or a Grande latte from Starbucks in a paper cup with a leaky lid.

We ate a lot of baguette and cheese with far too much red wine. There are lots of attractions nearby, most within easy walking distance. The famous museums are, of course, the Louvre and perhaps Musee d’Orsay. But I would recommend checking out Musee nationale du Moyen Age for the incredible medieval tapestries and Centre Pompidou for the works by who’s who in modern art. One advantage of traveling with an infant is that you are invited to bypass the queue. The museums are surprisingly kid friendly and accessible. Tatiana especially loved the sculptures and stained glass, and we had fun spotting her favourite animals in paintings (e.g., dog, duck, and horse).

On a more practical note, after visiting famous attractions and cultural icons, we often shopped for groceries. This was a daily chore for me because we only had a bar fridge in which to store perishables, two stove-top burners (with no numbers or other indicators), a sink, one saucepan, one frying pan, and one dutch oven in our kitchenette. The closest supermarkets are the two Franprix locations across the street from each other on Saint Michel and Ed on Rue Pierre Nicole:

Unfortunately, we did not realize that the two Franprix locations were very different. The one on the west side, closer to the Jardin du Luxembourg, has a higher-end feel to it, with wider aisles (important when you have a toddler in an umbrella stroller who likes to touch everything), nicer displays and better wine selection. The east side one has things like drano and other household necessities, however! Ed is quite the supermarket experience. Loblaws shoppers beware! Ed is more like a no frills No Frills or bare bones Food Basics. Even the locals, the Parisiennes, are startled by the surly cashiers who bark at you for not weighing your own vegetables and affixing the appropriate price tag sticker on your produce. One cashier, a kindly sort, will continue to yell out the cost of the purchase as you dig through your coins to find the correct Euro coin. Eventually, exasperated, she will switch to English. Alas, the problem is not in comprehending the amount of the bill, but rather figuring out the value of the coins! She will pick out the right coins for you if you surrender your wallet to her. A kindly soul!

I will save the adventures of the French laundrette for another post. Having survived the French laundry experience has prepared me to figure out the Danish one, by the way..


18 responses to “Villa Louis Pasteur: A Primer”

  1. Cupertino Miranda Avatar
    Cupertino Miranda

    Dear dreff,

    I have just arrived to Villa Louis Pasteur so … Thanks for this very, VERY useful post.
    Although you really ended at my current breaking point.
    I have no idea how laundry works around here since I forgot to ask to the gentleman in the front-desk.

    Can you please send me an email or comment on that. 😉

    Once again … thanks a lot !

  2. […] an earlier post, I described some things that makes staying in visiting faculty accommodations in Paris more […]

  3. Hi,
    May I come to Villa Louis Pasteur next month. Can I ask any one who was there about the apartments and studios itself, are they good, capacious, clean,…etc. Thanks a lot to help me in that.

  4. Hi,
    May I come to Villa Louis Pasteur next month. Can I ask any one who was there about the apartments and studios itself, are they good, capacious, clean,…etc. Thanks a lot to help me in that.

    1. dreff Avatar

      I’m sorry for the late response. You probably already know that you can look up the size and layout of the suites at

      In general, these are small flats with a kitchenette (two burners, microwave, pots and pans, dishes and cutlery, bar fridge, sink), murphy bed, cupboard/closet space, small dining table and 2 chairs, bathroom with shower, desk, reading lamp, small table with chair, windows. The view from most of the flats is into the courtyard/wall of the next apartment. Cleaning staff come twice a week for a quick sweep and bathroom clean. Clean sheets and towels are offered once a week. Not exactly luxury accommodations, but extremely well priced for the location in the 5th and very close to the 6th, just by Jardin du Luxumbourg. It is a very nice neighbourhood, quite safe.

  5. I’m heading to Paris to be a postdoc at a CNRS lab and the Villa looks like it might be a good place to stay, but their website is down! Do you have any contact information for them? Do you know if they are still open?


  6. You can contact Le Richemont for info on Villa Louis Pasteur and other places that might be suitable. The other place suggested for us was Le Récollet, which is further north, in the 10e. We didn’t think that was as nice for a family with a toddler, but might be good if you want to be close to Gare de l’Est

  7. Brian Gygi Avatar
    Brian Gygi

    Hi, I am coming to Paris in September for six months to work at the ENS and I would really like to try and stay at the Villa Louis Pasteur. I spoke to my sponsor there and he said i would have to arrange that myself. I looked at the Le Richemont site and my French is not good enough to determine if I can arrange a stay through them. Should I write an email to the address listed on the website? Also, do you think it would be suitable for a couple for six months?


    1. I’m sure that the contact for Le Richemont or Villa Louis Pasteur (Monsieur Aloui) will be able to respond to your email composed in English. I would arrange to stay at one of these residences for a little while until you can find more comfortable long-term accommodations. One thing we’ve learned from living abroad is that you really need to make these sort places as comfortable as you can, as quickly as you can. For example, we should have bought a coffee maker and thermal transporter mugs, as well as a mattress topper to make the murphy bed a little softer. Living out of a small bar fridge and shopping daily or every other day can get tiresome pretty quickly. It’s less of an issue if you plan to frequent bistros (there are many nearby) and/or get take out regularly (there’s a lovely gourmet Italian Traiteur or Trattoria around the corner; also a rotisserie down the street on Rue Saint-Jacques). The sitting chairs are not comfy to hang out on, but then you may enjoy evenings out. The French tend to sit down for dinner around 8pm and the main entree may come as late as 10pm. It was a bit late for us with a toddler, but quite enjoyable and romantic for a couple! You’ll find that many shopkeepers will speak English and are quite helpful if you apologize for not speaking French!

  8. Hi: My wife and I will be spending a month at ENS in September. I have a couple of questions that it would be really great if you could help with. Firstly, I know nothing about the Villa Louis Pasteur except what I have learned from your blog. I have been invited to stay the upcoming month and the flat has been arranged for us.
    You have mentioned that there was no coffee pot in your flat. Is there an espresso pot? Is there any exercise equipment in the facility or accessible on the ENS campus? Most importantly of all, is there WiFi in the units? If so, what is the cost for a month?
    Thanks very much. Your blog has been extremely helpful to us.

    1. There’s no coffee pot in the flat. We bought a Bodum French press and an espresso pot–both are readily available in nearby shops. I think we bought them at Monoprix on the corner of Boulevard Saint-Michel and Rue des Ecoles, and there is a Starbucks just beside it if you want something familiar. We tried various pre-ground coffees from the supermarket, but the grind is usually too fine for the French press, so we switched to an espresso pot and warmed milk for cafe au lait. There are coffee roasters (les bruleries) on Rue Mouffettard and on Avenue de Gobelins, which we never got around to checking out. I’m not sure about the exercise facility on ENS campus, but there is a wonderful jogging/running trail around Les Jardins du Luxembourg. There is high-speed internet in the unit, included in the rent, but I think we had to plug in. The speed drops around 6pm, when everyone comes home, so watching videos/digital tv episodes is frustrating. Hope this helps. September is a wonderful time to be in Paris. Enjoy!

      1. Thanks, this is extraordinarily helpful.

        Harry Green

  9. Karin Tauber Avatar
    Karin Tauber

    thanks for all the information and pictures you provided. We stayed at the Villa Lois Pasteur 2 years ago for about 3 weeks and enjoyed the quiet and clean apartment. it is a bit sparsely furnished.
    We are planning to stay there again for 6 months starting July 2012. So this time we will have to face the laundry problem. You mentioned a French Launderette. Would you be so kind and describe your experiences a bit more and maybe add your tips and tricks? Judging from that I assume that there is no laundry facility in the Villa.
    Thanks for all your incredible help.

    1. Hi Karin, I talked in great detail about my laundry experience in another post:

      I have to say that after living in Denmark and figuring out dual-purpose washing machine/dryer units there with instructions in Danish, the French laundrette seems like a piece of cake. Enjoy your stay next year–what a great time of year to be in Paris!

  10. “Villa Louis Pasteur: A Primer DrEff’s Weblog” was a superb
    post, can not wait to read a lot more of ur blogs. Time to waste a
    little time on the web lol. Regards -Margo

  11. Michal Hochhauser Avatar
    Michal Hochhauser

    I will be coming to Paris this fall for my post- doctorate for 6 months and was offered accomodations in the Villa Loui Pasteur. I couldn’t figure out from the web site- Is the sleeping area part of the living room or is there a separate bedroom with a door? Is there a sofa bed which opens up in the living room? This is very crucial for me upon deciding if to take this apt. or look for something else. Thanks

    1. Sorry for the late reply, Michal! I did not get email notification about your comment. Likely ended up in my spam folder. We had a studio apartment, so sleeping area is in the same room as the living area. No couch, just a couple of sitting chairs in our studio. Hardwood floors. There’s a desk by the window. The kitchen is a two-element stovetop, microwave/toaster oven, refrigerator, dishes, cups, cutlery, saucepan and flying pan. The bed is a hidden, pull-down murphy bed. Bathroom is a shower stall, toilet, and sink. Laundry is off site, but housekeeping is included, usually every other day or so. Linen change every week?

      It is in the 5th arrondissement in Paris, which is a very, very nice location in the famous Latin Quarter. You will be hard pressed to find a nicer, central location for the price. It is much nicer than some other locations that our colleagues were staying in. If you’re at ENS Paris or Sorbonne, you can just walk down the street. If you’re at ENS Cachan, it’s a 20 min train ride, with Luxembourg station just around the corner. You can jog or saunter around the Jardin Luxembourg and the posh 6th arrondissement.

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