|My Paris rental apartment|
I made plans a while ago to come to Paris for 10 days. With the loftiest of intentions, I investigated apartment rentals early on. There are so many excellent websites to choose from, and having lived here and not been in the position of looking for a rental, I was... a bit overwhelmed. How to choose the right place?
Somehow, I have good apartment karma -- mostly. This one is no exception.
My criteria: the 7e arrondissement, if possible. But I immediately dismissed any apartment ad that boomed "near Eiffel Tower!" or "proximity to Champs-Elysees!" I just wasn't interested in staying in (or paying for) a place that added a premium for being in a tourist area.
First stop: VRBO and a few other websites of locally-driven apartment rentals. I found that they were almost all over-priced, and more than one used bait-and-switch "That apartment isn't available but we have this really great one in the 18e." Don't get me wrong -- I love the 18e -- but for this trip I really wanted a place in central Paris where I could get around with a quick bus ride or a brisk walk.
Next, I moved to my two other favorite sites, abritel.fr and homelidays.com. No middle-man, direct from the owner, and the prices are about what I would expect. It helps to speak or understand French in some cases.
(By the way, there are many 2-star hotels in Paris which I also really love, which end up being about the same budget -- but for 10 days, I wanted a place where I could fix my own coffee in the morning and relax in my jammies before heading out to embrace the adrenaline-laced Parisian hustle and bustle.)
So I found what seemed to be just the right place -- a studio near the Invalides, just my budget. A few email exchanges with the owner and I was ready to roll. (An important step is making sure that if needed, there was an elevator. Totally key when renting a Paris apartment. In this case, the apartment is on the ground floor, so elevator wasn't an issue.) The only early challenge was doing the wire transfer of funds -- it would have been so nice to have been able to use PayPal.
Then, the following email from the owner:
I am so delighted that you will be renting the apartment. Also, you will have a large modern bathroom with bathtub and shower, and a large modern kitchen which are all delightful to be in. Plus the beautiful Haussmannian building... and room to live.
You'll have something to eat upon arrival, and I offer you some fruit, ham, a baguette, butter, sugar, coffee, a bottle of good wine (do you want tea?) so that you don't have to do shopping when you first arrive. If you want something special, don't hesitate to ask me.
Your bed will be ready. All you'll have to do is to fall into it to recuperate from jet lag; and I won't bother you you too much the first day except for a few essential questions. I'll come back the next day to go over the details.
Vivement la semaine prochaine!
Is that a dream, or what? And I arrived, and here is what I found:
The table set for me. Wine, baguette, jambon. Everything I could need for day one. I felt so welcomed and in such a fabulous setting. 1000 channels of French TV (I may never leave!)
I am happy happy happy in this little nest! Happy in Paris. Not much sleep -- too busy! -- but who said sleep was an important part of being in Paris?