Sunday, January 31, 2021


I first ran across this term in Madame Lautrec's French class my freshman year of high school. Translated, the term means 'foot on the ground'.

Pied-à-terre. It was (and is) a fun term to pronounce, but back then I didn't quite get it. Mme Lautrec explained that a pied-à-terre is a small, rather compact unit located in the heart of the city, ideally just steps to everything, and used quite often as a second home. I grew up in suburbia Portland in a small lake community. We had large homes on large lots. At 14 I couldn't figure out why anyone would need a second home in the city, especially when my city was only 20 minutes away.

After traveling the world on business, I understood the 'necessity' of having a small unit in the city. Due to my length of stay and/or lack of any hotel rooms, I stayed many times in charming pied-à-terre in Luxembourg, Paris and Manhattan.

Perhaps the sweetest part of a pied-à-terre is how beautifully appointed they tend to be. I am not sure if it has to do with the modest size of these units (less square footage to decorate well) or the fact that the owners tend to be in the social-economic stratosphere. Either way, they are jewel boxes of (first, second or third) homes.

Here are some of my favorites from around the globe. These wee homes pack a punch way above their weight in size.

Paris Left Bank
Paris Right Bank

Sao Paulo

Pied-à-terre have many similar characteristics.
  • The city center is on its doorstep
  • Small in size ... Big on style
  • Lots of windows maintaining the illusion of lots of space
  • Lovely city views
  • Compact and well appointed
  • In a secure building
These characteristics combine to make for an ideal second home (simply lock-and-leave) or as a flip key (short term vacation/business rental). 

But let's not forget the beauty of living large in a small space. Less square footage to clean, decorate, heat and pay taxes, mais oui! Many books have been written on the health and benefits of living in smaller homes!

Until next time,

la chasse au bonheur

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