Margot Royer-Boquillon – Paris Marais Sotheby’s International Realty 

Nothing signifies elegant, effortless sophistication quite like a pied-à-terre. These properties signify worldliness, leisure, and a globe-trotting sensibility, and demonstrate the means and impeccable taste an owner must have to maintain a “foot on the ground”—the literal translation of pied-à-terre—in their favorite cultural capitals.

Typically compact, comfortable apartments conveniently located in major metropolitan centers, a pied-à-terre enables its owner to conduct business in town or indulge in the aesthetic and culinary amusements the city has to offer. Here are three examples of how they represent the pinnacle of ease and luxury, and how the classic, essential pied-à-terre differs from conventional vacation homes.

Bridging the Way to Lovely Lower Manhattan

Karen Heyman and Alan Heyman – Sotheby’s International Realty – Downtown Manhattan Brokerage 

While a vacation home is traditionally a full-sized house or estate, a pied-à-terre is scaled to the individual; a personal condo that’s available on a whim, whenever the owner fancies a sojourn into town. That’s why many luxury consumers opt for a pied-à-terre in a full-service building, where they can enjoy a private flat and still feel like they’re staying in a five-star hotel.

Karen Heyman and Alan Heyman – Sotheby’s International Realty – Downtown Manhattan Brokerage 

That ambience exists at Olympia, a deluxe development perched atop the highest peak in Brooklyn’s historic Dumbo neighborhood. Residents can access more than 38,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor amenities across three floors, including picturesque gardens, fabulous recreation facilities, and a spa level featuring a lap pool, cabanas, and tennis courts looking right out onto the iconic Brooklyn Bridge.

In fact, the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges are essentially on Olympia’s doorstep—meaning that a pied-à-terre in this exceptional building is a stone’s throw to the Financial District, Tribeca, Chinatown, and the Lower East Side.

In the Center of Parisian History and Culture

Margot Royer-Boquillon – Paris Marais Sotheby’s International Realty 

People often purchase vacation homes to get away from the frantic pace of city living. Pieds-à-terre are the perfect opposite; these homes are ideal for those who prefer to be in the center of the action, with the thriving hustle and bustle of the streets surrounding them.

Margot Royer-Boquillon – Paris Marais Sotheby’s International Realty 

This glamorous heritage apartment grants the best of both worlds. Set in the third arrondissement of Paris, it’s literally in the center of the prestigious city—yet this area is known for being green and serene, with ageless churches presiding on the corners, galleries and museums housed in historic buildings, and luscious gardens that liven the landscape. With its lofty ceilings and west-facing windows, there’s no place more enchanting to spend a tranquil evening.

But during the day, or after dark, the nearby fourth arrondissement is the pulse of the city. Cultural institutions like the Centre Pompidou constantly find new ways to illuminate and enlighten with cutting-edge exhibitions, while Le Marais, despite its ancient architecture, is anything but medieval with its incandescent nightlife.

From the Beach to the Boutique in Barcelona

Barcelona & Costa Brava – Sotheby’s International Realty

When retreating to a vacation home, there’s normally an expectation that the owners will be relaxing there for weeks, even months, at a time. A pied-à-terre is highly sought-after by those who will fly to a favored destination for an event, a concert, or a coveted restaurant reservation—and then promptly depart.

Barcelona & Costa Brava – Sotheby’s International Realty 

Situated directly above the ever-popular shoreline of La Barceloneta, this nautical haven delivers proximity to some of the best places to dine and shop along the seafront, as well as efficient access to the soul of Barcelona—Ciutat Vella, which is Catalan for “Old Town.” The condo’s corner position means it has not one but two spacious balconies, as well as its own panoramic terrace.

The renowned Las Rambla promenade, with its vibrant street vendors and colorful cafés, leads right to the heart of the city and radiates into the oldest neighborhoods—including El Raval, El Gòtic, and La Ribera—with all the legendary landmarks and lesser-known gems they offer.

Such is the beauty of the pied-à-terre. Since they’re nestled in such fabulous locations, the homes can be simple, utilitarian, and focused on providing a short-term rest stop that delivers long-term returns. For the urban traveler, this is the peak of practical luxury.

Eager to escape the cacophonous chaos of metropolitan living? Beat the bustle by capturing your own slice of island paradise.

Melissa Couch

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