I'm happy to have my friend Betsy Kasha co-owner of A+B Kasha, a Paris real estate and apartment design company, as Parisian of the Month.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in Worcester, Massachusetts. New England born and raised. If anyone asks, I’m a Red Sox fan.
When and why did you move to Paris?
I moved here in 2004. My husband Alon and I had bought an apartment in Paris three years before, and we would come on weekends. It got to a point where we were spending so much time at our weekend place in Paris that we realized we needed to make it our permanent home. That process of buying and renovating and living in Paris was the inspiration for the business. We realized we could make a business work full-time doing that.
You lived in London for a period of time. What was the experience like and how did you transition moving to Paris?
We were in London for four years. As fun and cosmopolitan as London is, I never felt it was my home. When we would come to Paris on the weekends, I was more in my element. The energy, the design sensibility, the feng shui of the city, even—it was more me. That was sort of a surprise. Even though there was a language barrier, and I still felt more comfortable in Paris. It’s a matter of chemistry.
You used to work at Cartier. What was your job there and your working experience?
I was Director of Commercial Corporate Communications in the New York office. We were at the Fifth Avenue store, corporate headquarters. I was doing PR and special events for New York, but also for stores in Texas, Montreal, Las Vegas. When you’re there, you get wrapped up in the culture. You get sucked in, and it’s like there’s no other world than New York. We used to work a lot with the Paris office, and I remember one August, the entire Paris department shut down for vacation. I asked the head of PR there if she could give me a cell phone number, so I could reach her in case of an emergency. And she said, you know what, if there’s a PR emergency, you handle it. I’m going to be on the beach in St. Tropez!
What was the process like buying and renovating your first Paris apartment?
First, finding it was very hard, because the market is very fragmented and not the easiest to navigate as a foreigner. Buying something that is in good shape is difficult. You’d go see these properties, in beautiful buildings and beautiful neighborhoods. The apartments would have great bones but hadn’t been renovated in decades. We realized very quickly that if we’re going to buy something, we’re going to have to do a lot of work to it. But of course, doing the work yourself isn’t easy. At one point, the contractor we were working with had to fire his entire crew because he said they were cheating him. He told us he would keep on working, but he didn’t know when it would be done. And Alon said, Well, I’ll help you! So Alon finished installing the kitchen.
What made you decide to start a business to sell and renovate apartments in Paris?
After going through the process ourselves, we realized there was a need for someone to help make this happen for others. And we wanted to be in Paris. Our hearts were in Paris more than London.
Where are your clients from and what is their typical profile?
Our clients are coming from all over the world, but they typically all have a longstanding relationship with Paris. They know the city, they know the neighborhoods, and they want to be in Saint-Germain-des-Près.
How long is the process from searching for an apartment to the completion including the renovation?
Searching for an apartment is its own adventure. We might find one and close on it in one day, or it could take a year to land on the perfect place. Once we find the apartment; the renovation process usually takes nine months to a year.
What is the most difficult aspect of the process?
It’s the things you don’t see. For example: We were redoing the floors in an apartment on Rue de Seine, and when we tore up the old floorboards, we could see right into the bedroom of the apartment below! No one had ever built a sub-floor, so the downstairs neighbors were using our floor as their ceiling. We had to build a whole new sub-floor.
Is there a dream apartment you would love to renovate or keep for yourself?
The good part is that we fall in love with every apartment we do. It’s also the bad part, because we can’t keep them all! It depends what mood I’m in. One day, my dream apartment will be this cozy duplex we did on Rue de Seine, which has exposed beams and windows on all four sides, and the next I’d rather be in an apartment with the classic elegance of the one we did on Rue Bonaparte, with its high ceilings and grand reception rooms.
Why do you prefer Paris?
As Audrey Hepburn said: Paris is always a good idea.
Eye Prefer Paris Postcards
I am thrilled to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Postcards, a 3, 6 or 12-month subscription service where the subscriber receives three physical postcards of my iconic Paris photos every month. Each month will have a specific theme, from architectural street scenes to romantic outdoor cafes to beautiful gardens to unique shots of iconic monuments. Each mailing will include two postcards in color and one in black & white or sepia, beautifully packaged in a special French Blue postcard holder with a custom designed seal.
Each 6” X 4.25” traditional size postcard is printed on thick matte coated card stock, similar to traditional vintage postcard stock that enhances the vibrancy of every image.
Only $30 for a 3-month subscription plus shipping or
Only $60 for a 6 month subscription (plus shipping)or
$110 for a 12-month subscription (plus shipping)
Click here to order a 3-month subscription from my Etsy store
Come experience Eye Prefer Paris live with Eye Prefer Paris Tours, which are 3-hour walking tours I personally lead. Eye Prefer Paris Tours include many of the places I have written about such as small museums & galleries, restaurants, cafes, food markets, secret addresses, fashion & home boutiques, parks and gardens and much more. In addition to my specialty Marais Tour, I also lead tours of Montmartre, St. Germain, Latin Quarter, in addition to Shopping Tours, Gay Tours, Girlfriend Tours, Food Tours, Flea Market Tours, Paris Highlights Tours, and Chocolate & Pastry tours.
Tours start at 225 euros for up to 3 people, and 75 euros for each additional person. I look forward to meeting you on my tours and it will be my pleasure and delight to show you my insiders Paris.
Check it out at www.eyepreferparistours.com
Click here to watch a video of our famous Marais tour
New! Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes
I am happy to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes. Come take an ethnic culinary journey with me and chef and caterer Charlotte Puckette, co-author of the bestseller The Ethnic Paris Cookbook (with Olivia Kiang-Snaije). First we will shop at a Paris green-market for the freshest ingredients and then return to Charlotte's professional kitchen near the Eiffel Tower to cook a three-course lunch. After, we will indulge in the delicious feast we prepared along with hand-selected wines.
Cost: 195 euros per person (about $210)
Time: 9:30AM- 2PM (approximately 4 1/2 hours)
Location: We will meet by a metro station close to the market
Class days: Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday,Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Minimum of 2 students, maximum 6 students.
Click here to sign up for the next class or for more info.