booking rentals in France

Old Jul 18th, 2021, 11:25 AM
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booking rentals in France


We are a family of four (daughters 15 and 18) planning a trip to France next summer. We will most likely be in France late June or early July. We are planning on 3 nights in each -the Loire Valley, Brittany, and Normandy, and about 8 nights in Paris. I have looked on websites such as VRBO for rentals, but it can be overwhelming. We are ideally lookng for two bedroom accomodations. Trying to save money, but also looking for piece of mind when renting. I have a couple of questions......

1 - Are there good rental agencies that you would recommend?

2- Is it much more expensive when going through an agency (10-15% more???)?

3 - When would you say we should book a place?

I know the question of budget comes up often. Is $300 USD a reasonable average budget?

Thanks for the help,
rmoore926 is offline  
Old Jul 18th, 2021, 01:38 PM
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For years, we've used VRBO for apartments throughout France (as well as in the US). In Paris, we have also used other agencies (Paris HomeStyle and Paris Perfect, for example). Usually we rent apartments for longer periods and never for less than a week. I would therefore use hotels in the Loire Valley, Brittany and Normandy. As you expect to be in Paris for 8 days, you could rent an apartment there. But, short-term rentals in Paris can be problematic. To be legal, they must be registered with the city. So, you should check to see if any listing that interests you contains a registration number. You will find that 2 bedroom apartments are expensive, especially if you want 2 bathrooms. You might look for a 2 bedroom/1 bath and a separate WC (toilet). I suspect that an apartment in Paris would be cheaper than 2 rooms in a hotel, but probably not by much. As for timing, I usually buy my airline tickets first (as much as 11 months out) and then start looking for my apartments. But there's an argument for the reverse, especially if the rental agency offers a liberal cancellation policy. Also pay attention to the payment terms. I like to minimize initial deposits, giving you more flexibility to cancel if need be. I think for an apartment in Paris $300/day is reasonable for 4 people. Outside Paris, you can expect to pay less. Have fun planning your trip. Save Travels.
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Old Jul 18th, 2021, 06:35 PM
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An aged couple I know quite well has been to France 5 times, and Germay/Cz/Slov/Pol/Aut/Hung 3 times.
Never on a tour, all by auto
Always independent booking; probably 80/20 B&B vs hotel
I learned on my 1st trip in Germany something that was totally non-existent in the US: the ease of booking lodging thru the local TI (tourist information center). Well, not totally, but nowhere near the scope. Even now, decades later, our town here in the US has an active tourist bureau, but we probably have only one B&B, not dozens as in European villages. So, yes, now VRBO exists, but so does the internet, and each TI seems to have webpages showing B&Bs/Hotels/Gites etc with photos, descriptions, and prices. So you can easily Google "Darmstadt tourist office hotel B&B" and see the kinds of offerings available.
We usually booked our lodging about 6 months out.
We probably averaged $90/night, maybe less 20 years ago, maybe 100 3 years ago. for one room with bath. So 300/night (= maybe 270 euros?) for two rooms is doable., except for Paris.
We paid about $150 for a room in a hotel near the Gare de Lyon in Paris. Paid $200/night for a B&B there. Paid about $120/night for another B&B. Paid about $140 maybe 10 years ago for a hotel near the Louvre.
I suppose, if you don't like doing "homework" to try to ensure excellence in your "trip of a lifetime", an agency might sound like it would be easier. But if you're new to "France", how do you know what stipulations/requirements to dictate to the agency without doing "homework"? For example, telling an agency you want 2 rooms near Chenonceau (sp?) in the Loire. East of, or west of, to minimize travel time to Chambord? In a town, or on the Loire river? Which town is nicer? Which towns have a nice French market (better than any US farmers market, and an insight to French culture) on which day? If the agency picks one for you, and once there, you learn of the greater place across the street, how would you feel? Our experience has been that, the more "homework" we do, the better we appreciate the place.
If my guess that you want this to be the experience of a lifetime for the two teens, I'd suggest you try to do a third week, maybe cut Paris down by a couple days, and try to get to Sarlat in the southwest, and/or Aix en Provence in the southeast. The south of France is, to my mind, markedly different than the north (Normandy/Brittany/Isle de Paris/etc; sort of the difference between Wyoming/Colorado/Arizona compared to NewYork/PA/Massachusets. Rural vs urban. The north doesn't have Roman ruins, 20,000 year old cave drawings, as many castles, as many vineyards, walnut groves, duck/geese farms, but it is flatter (not as rolling a countryside). So, in my opinion, your current itinerary isn't as varied an experience as it could be. So ask your boss if you can get another week to better enjoy France, just once.
FWIW, our first trip to France we did 3 nights in Paris, then 2 in Normandy, then 3 in the Dordogne, then 3 in Provence, then 3 in Burgundy, then 2 in Paris. We got an excellent vision of the variety of France, upon which we built in future trips. The driving was not arduous; the packing and unpacking was not a pain, for we were enjoying all we saw; and we experienced memories we cherish to this day.
tomboy is offline  
Old Jul 18th, 2021, 06:54 PM
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I use Airbnb, VRBO and VacationinParis. I didn't find the prices much more expensive using Vacationinparis but won't use them again due to the man who manages several apartments. He was running a side business. I reported it to them but they still use him. We love having laundry, kitchen and room. I think you will find a nice place in your budget and many places much less. Look for a registration number for Paris as those are legal. I found 90% of Airbnb had the number. I like when the loo is in another room and the bathroom is then sharable for four.
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Old Jul 19th, 2021, 01:56 AM
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40 years of French travel lets me trial loads of things

For Paris use an agency like VRBO or ABnB but make sure you see the property registration number. Illegal rentals are a significant issue

Outside of Paris, use Google map, choose your area and search on "gite" or "B&B" or "chambre d'hote" depending on what you want then click through the red dots that come up
Use the local town's websites which can be fantastic
or can also be used but you normally get better prices booking directly, so you can find the place using their tool but book direct.

Booking times, in high summer I'd look to book by Feb. For off season you can be more delayed.

Price, well it depends on what you want and of course it is Euros and in high season some gite insist on 7 night bookings. Obviously high season varies by property. I had a quick look at a 2 bed, 4 person place I stayed in a four years back and it was E350 for 3 nights at the start of July. So you are in the ball park.
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Old Jul 19th, 2021, 04:20 AM
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I think your budget will be fine. You might consider to save a bit outside of Paris to leave more to spend in Paris. Or do the opposite, stay in posher places outside Paris where the same money will go further, then simplify your expectations in Paris. And consider how you will travel between locations. If train then you may prefer staying in town rather than country. Although even when we travel by car we prefer to stay in a town so we can walk to dinner etc. and just use the car to go out for sightseeing. Also perhaps mix it up, some town, some country, some hotels, some apartments. You might browse for what you like, share a few choices here, and why you like them, and let those more in the know comment more specifically. Enjoy the planning!
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Old Jul 19th, 2021, 07:33 AM
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I've used Gites de France: and France Balades: Bed and breakfast, cottage and holiday rental in France
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Old Jul 19th, 2021, 09:22 AM
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Finding places to stay is one of the fun parts of planning for me. I love to trawl through the gites de france website. The website offers both gites (that rent by the week) and B&Bs/chambres d'hotes (which you rent by the night). Type in a location and see what turns up, then go to the owners' website for a more complete look at the property and a feel for the owners and what's in the neighborhood.

I wish the GdeF website would let you start your search by choosing gite or B&B but it doesn't, so you have to activate that filter later.

If you will have a car, here's a B&B south of Tours where we've stayed on many trips. Warm welcome, both host and hostess speak English (she is English), lovely place in quiet countryside, very clean and comfortable, always an interesting international mix of guests so breakfast is fun. There is one room that sleeps four, Les Pechers en Fleurs, which this year is 110 euros a night or 105 euros for 3 nights on. Here's a link to photos of the room.

Of all the B&Bs we've stayed in in France, this is one I would recommend to just about anyone. You do need a car, though. This is an area where having a car really pays off. The nearby town of Loches has a street market twice a week, one of France's most beautiful villages is a short ride away, and you can fairly easily reach enough chateaux to fill three days.
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Old Jul 19th, 2021, 11:25 AM
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Thank you for the help and suggestions so far. If it helps we plan on renting a car to get around France (but not in Paris). In the Loire we are looking at Amboise and Blois (thanks for the link Coquelicot-will add your place to the list!). In Brittany, Dinan looks like it would suit us, and in Normandy Bayeaux is at he top of the list.

tomboy - I like planning trips and have been to Europe/France before. This time with my entire family is a little different. I don't mind doing the 'homework', but stating seems like needing to read a 500 page book for a 3 question quiz! Just need to dive in I guess. Also, we plan on visiting London and Amsterdam on this trip as well.
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Old Jul 21st, 2021, 09:24 AM
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I think the international websites are the most used because people know them (VRBO and Airbnb). There is another one maybe Flipkey that I think is owned by BOoking? Not sure

But in any case, forget the idea of trying to compare prices by limiting yourself to whether one is an "agency" or not. It makes no difference, and it sounds like you aren't aware that VRBO etc are businesses, not charities, so they charge a hefty fee for listings, also, of course. You just can't compare that way, and it really doesn't matter at all, all you have to do it look at the bottom line for what you will pay and compare that way, based on what you get. Whether it is supposedly an agency fee or not is irrelevant. You can't compare directly anyway and each place has its own merits. I've only used agencies but not for that reason, I like the service they provide and security (financial). I only use Parisian agencies, also (when renting there, of course), as I want someone I can call ON SITE if any problems, Trying to rent multiple apartments sequentially when you are only in most places 3 days is something I would never do, but just be prepared for all the work that is going to cause. First, I presume you are aware that you can't cancel apts at the last minute like you usually can with hotels, there is a sunk nonrefundable cost (often it's totally nonrefundable maybe a month in advance, seems to me). Second, you don't have the security of a credit card for some, which maybe I wouldn't do. There was some agency I used in Paris once that required a large payment in cash on site, for example. But at least it wasn't until you got there, so there is that. But I've heard of some other agencies asking for final payment in cash, also.

Now you have to be concerned about the legality, you didn't used to as I haven't rented in a good while as I've never been there a week or more, about my minimum to do that given how much trouble it is. Paris has registratyion number that must be listed on their ads.

Then of cousre you have logistics of arrival and departure. Most places you cannot enter or check in until mid to late afternoon. This is normal, of course, as if they rent regularly, they then have to have cleaners come in after the prior tenant left and clean. And they are not going to want your bags there because no one is going to meet up with you off hours and they don't want the liability, either (ie, if they let tenants check in stuff and then had various cleaners coming they don't know well, but it is just a liability no matter what). Some may allow it, but many do not for good reasons. With a hotel, no problem, they always hold your luggage whenever you get there, even if you can't get into your room at that time if it's early. Then you can at least do stuff. Also, with a hotel you have desk personnel who can help if you need it (like getting you a taxi or whatever).

So your plan is going to be a lot of work, that's all. But it should be cheaper than booking two double hotel rooms since your children are basically adults, that's what you'd likely need in most hotels. Of course you can find some hotels with suite rooms, etc., mostly modern ones. And don't forget Aparthotels which have some of the advantages of hotels in terms of not having to prepay, checkin, etc. They can be more expensive than private rentals, but I wouldn't dismiss the idea, at least in larger cities. I don't know where that would be in your plan, though, I"ll admit, other than Paris. Caen has some, though, as does Amboise, Rennes, and I'm sure Tours.

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