Your perfect Parisian experience begins with where you stay. While hotels and hostels are always an option, renting an apartment in Paris is the first step to living like the locals and embracing the culture.
A vacation rental gives you an opportunity to live in a space curated by a local. Even though a vacation rental does not come with the same services as that of a hotel, it does give you the flexibility to plan your trips and day-to-day activities, and it can save you money!
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Why are Vacation Rentals the Best Choice for your Holiday in Paris?
Just like home!
A rental apartment means you’re essentially living in someone’s home so have access to all the household amenities – an equipped kitchen, dishes and cutlery, laundry facilities, entertainment options such as books or television, and most importantly, space and privacy.
Vacation rentals are usually a condo or an entire apartment, unlike a single hotel room where you have restricted space and lack of privacy.
Have a flexible schedule
Being able to plan your time on trips is a big deal for most travelers. Unlike a hotel or a hostel where timings are strict, in a rental apartment, you’re free to plan according to your schedule, and not worry about meal times or sleeping in.
Thanks to fully functioning kitchens, you can cook and eat whenever you please. Sleeping in after a fun night out, and not worrying about breakfast timings alleviates a lot of stress. Furthermore, if you make friends in Paris, you can easily welcome them into your space without having to think twice about hotel policies and rules.
Living Like Local
Finding a hotel that fits within your budget and is in a great locale can be tricky. A vacation rental, on the other hand, is usually located in a residential neighborhood, allowing you free access to the quartier, its streets and shops, hidden gems, and popular hangout spots.
It gives you a sneak peek into a resident’s life as you walk on their paths, shop in their stores, and experience and explore the neighborhood as they would.
Variety of rental apartments
Every rental apartment is different, depending on the owner’s choice of decor or the neighborhood it’s located in. This is different from a hotel where the design and the layout are pretty much standard.
This means you get to live in unique places that are cozy, and designed with comfort in mind. When you hop through rentals in different arrondissements of Paris, you also get to explore the different neighborhoods and understand the subtle differences in the living habits of locals.
A home away from home experience
Traveling with a family requires heaps of planning and organization, but it can all be worth it in the end when you get to spend the vacation time together. And a rental apartment can easily make that happen.
With individual rooms for privacy and central spaces for hanging out for meals and entertainment, a rental apartment ensures your entire family can stay under the same roof.
Are vacation rental apartments suitable for a short-term stay?
The cost-saving advantages of renting holiday apartments in Paris multiply with time. If you’re spending a weekend or just a couple of days in Paris, a rental apartment might not be such a good idea as it can cost extra money for services like cleaning and other fees.
Anything less than a week or even less than four days, you’re better off staying in a hotel.
How to Find an Apartment in Paris?
There are plenty of companies and French rental forums to browse through to find the ideal holiday apartment. Some of these cater to foreign travelers (like us Americans!) and take care of most of the things, providing a seamless, luxury experience. Others will only provide a place and expect you to know how things work.
Here are some of the best Paris apartment rental sites:
- Airbnb: One of the most popular sites, Airbnb offers a variety of accommodations, from a spare room in an apartment to a luxury house in a fancy neighborhood. I have stayed in many Airbnbs in various arrondissements around the city and it is my go-to site for rentals.
- Homeaway: A rental site with listings all over France. The properties are private, giving you the place all to yourself. Be sure to check out the reviews and contact the owners before finalizing a place.
- LeBonCoin: Also known as the French version of Craiglist, Le Bon Coin has some great finds that might not be listed on the vacation rental apartments. You might have to search thoroughly and be able to speak French to get the best deals here.
- Haven in Paris: I met the founder of HiP when I was living in France and know that she has created an absolutely fabulous collection of curated luxury apartments.
- Plum Guide: Another luxury collection of beautiful rental apartments in Paris.
What do you need to know about apartment rentals in Paris?
Do thorough research
Before booking a rental apartment, make sure you do your due diligence by checking all the photos and the reviews, especially the fine print such as various guest policies, pet-friendliness, family-friendly apartments, and feedback from previous tenants.
Not everyone on the internet is set out to trap you in a scam but it doesn’t hurt to be extra careful. Keep an eye out for things such as the floor area of the apartment, the lighting, and the size of the living spaces, as beds tend to be slightly smaller in France.
Some neighborhoods allow loud noises until midnight even on weekdays, so ensure the area you’re booking in, doesn’t affect your sleep schedule.
Ask questions! Mr. Misadventures always asks about the WiFi bandwidth speed, it is super important for remote working (if you are going to be doing that too). We also asked what the nearest metro station is and how far. Most places will not list the address and you won’t get it until after you book, but ask for the nearest cross-streets.
- What floor it is on?
- What is on the street level? It can be noisy depending on is what is on the street level (like a restaurant or bar)
- Is there an elevator?
The difference in layouts and settings
Paris apartments are built differently and can have space constraints so it is essential to do your research before finalizing a holiday rental. Beds do not equal bedrooms!
Often, you will find the washing machine in the kitchen (or bathroom), either without a dryer or a combo that barely dries anything.
The toilet is usually situated in a different room than the shower and the sink. You may not get a shower, but a tub with a hose. Or a shower with a half-door.
The bathrooms can be slightly darker and may not have a window to let in natural light. This can be a bit of a pickle for makeup and getting dressed.
The charming old Haussmann buildings that everyone loves to stay in often don’t have an elevator. You’ll have a staircase, usually circular and narrow, and hauling your luggage up and down can quickly become tiring.
The hallway lights are either motion-censored or have a button in the corner to switch them on (trust me, you will have problems with this!). The main door of the building will usually have a code to enter and a button to exit. Also, there may be a security gate where you will have to do the same.
The ground floor is known as the rez-de-chaussée. It is level 0 and is not considered a literal floor. The first floor or the first story is the floor after the ground level, unlike in America where the ground floor is usually the first floor, and after that is the second floor.
The landlord will usually explain the different appliances in the apartment when you first check-in but often, after a long flight, it can be exhausting to pay attention and retain every bit of new information. Make a habit to note down or take pictures of everyday activities like:
- Codes for the door!
- Where the garbage goes
- How to separate it for recycling
- Connecting to the wifi (actually try it before they leave!)
- How to use the television!
- Opening and closing doors, etc.
Paris is not a small city, therefore location is everything! It has 20 different neighborhoods, each with its pros and cons. The city has an excellent transport system but it’s always a good idea to not waste an hour on the metro if you have the option of living closer to the places you wish to visit.
Like any other big city, Paris has its fair share of ghetto areas, and it’s best to avoid living in unsafe areas of the neighborhood.
Cleaning fees are extra costs that can catch you off-guard. Usually, they are included in the booking price but always make sure you’re aware of the incurred cost to avoid surprises.
You could be expected to pay for the electricity (especially for the heat in winter). The charges can be significant if the rental has poor insulation. Read the fine print in the contract and double-check with the rental agency if in doubt.
Minimum stay, cancellation policies
Although rare, with some rental companies, you can only book from Saturday through Saturday, especially in the summer and during peak tourist season. If you’re arriving mid-week, you might have to book a hotel until you can check in to the rental. Make sure you discuss the contract terms before signing it.
Also, ask for the minimum number of days that you can stay. A holiday rental is worth it if you’re staying at least for a week, anything less than four days and it can get expensive as compared to a hotel. Keep an eye out for cancellation policies and refunds.
Air conditioning is not common
Hotel rooms will have an air conditioning unit but apartments and private homes are not equipped with one, and you might not even have a fan. If you can’t stand the heat, make sure to look for a property that has A/C.
Cracking open the windows is also an option but Parisian windows don’t have a mosquito guard and keeping them open throughout the night can invite a whole family of bugs.
Check-in and Check-out times, baggage room after check out
Like hotels, rental homes will have a standard check-in and checkout time. Ensure you don’t have a lot of time to spare while waiting to check in. Often, you will have to check out earlier in the day and might not have travel plans until later.
Always check with the host if you can store your luggage after check-out and come back and collect it when it’s time to leave. This way, you don’t have to carry it around town and will still be able to enjoy some time discovering the city.
There are lots of ways to store your luggage temporarily while waiting to get into or after you depart your apartment. You can rent by the hour, half-day, etc. Or find a hotel you are a member of with a big lobby and hang out there (I have done that so many times at the Le Méridien Etoile!)
There are trips where staying in a hotel makes sense and trips where renting an apartment is a better option. Since I am usually staying for more than a week in Paris, we have been renting apartments and only staying in a hotel as needed for a day or 2.
We love the freedom of visiting the marché and boulangerie and having meals at home with a nice bottle of wine.
How about you? Have you rented an apartment in Paris? Where did you stay? Have any additional tips to add? Do share!
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