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The Frustration of Booking a Paris Apartment - Is It Worth It?

The Frustration of Booking a Paris Apartment - Is It Worth It?

Dec 10th, 2006, 10:29 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,461
I haven't ever tried to rent from a private owner because I'm not personally comfortable with that, so I've only used agencies. It does seem unusual you've had bad responses so far, but anything can happen with private owners. I did have even one agency that wouldn't rent a place to me even though I was ready to book because the owner had some guy looking at it within the next few weeks, coming from London or something, and he was (supposedly) looking for a long term rental of several months, so they preferred him. I wanted to finalize something as it was a popular period and I didn't have time to wait around for them to make up their mind, so I booked something else. After a couple weeks they came back and said this hot prospect had changed his mind and I could have it, and I said too bad, I booked something else, I can't sit around waiting for you guys. But I never had problems even getting responses, of course, from an agency.

People have to decide what they are looking for and what is important to them, in terms of whether it is worth it. It generally is not to me, because it's more expensive than a comparable or better hotel, and it's too much trouble and too risky for me (in terms of what it will really be like). Given how expensive they are and you must prepay, you can't really afford to just leave if you really hate it or realize it is worse than a hotel in many ways.

I have always gone to Paris alone, however, and I think that is part of the issue in terms of expenses and what you get. I think they can make a lot more sense for a family with kids in comparison to a small hotel room. For one person, they are just too expensive in comparison to the hotels I usually stay at.

A lot of the things people who say they are worth it like are completely irrelevant for me, and that's part of it. I don't care about a washer and dryer and have no desire to cook inside when I am visiting Paris, I love to go out to cafes and restaurants, even for breakfast. I stay in and eat simple food when I'm at home, I'm not going to do it on vacation in Paris when going out is part of the reason I like Paris. I can't hang around Parisian cafes reading the current Le Monde and having an authentic cafe creme when I'm at home.

Apts in my price range don't usually have comfortable chairs or even comfortable beds. A lot of vacation rental apts are furnished very badly and very cheaply and are uncomfortable in many ways (cheap mattresses, uncomfortable chairs, poor lighting, etc.). I usually go in summer, and few have air conditioning, also (at least not in my price range).

I don't usually eat anything in my hotel room, and don't care to, and don't snack much between meals, but I always stay in a hotel with a minibar, so that's plenty for me to keep some water or drinks or something. I also don't sleep real late so don't have any issues with maids wanting to clean my room before I leave. I don't like noise, and I do agree that is one thing that would be appealing to me, as the maids can make a lot of noise just in the hallway, but you aren't guaranteed quiet in apartments, either. I stay in hotels where maids don't bother you if you put up the do not disturb sign and I don't ever feel embarrassed at leaving a room when I want, even if I slept until 11 (which I never do), I wouldn't care what the maid thought about it.

So, you just have to decide for yourself what you want an apt. for, and how much that is worth to you. As for that last one you listed, I know about where it is because I know where Flamel's house is. It's near the Judaism History Museum and a few blocks from Rambuteau metro stop (around the corner of rue du Temple and rue de Montmorency or Chapon, that general area).

The apt. doesn't appeal to me, which is sort of an example of what I was talking about -- value in comparison to a hotel. I won't stay in a hotel that puts the TV on the ceiling, I sure wouldn't stay in an apt. so small that it had to do that also (note the TV near the ceiling in the bedroom). The "couch" looks very uncomfortable, perhaps a futon, and there is no decent reading lights. I also don't like it when the toilet and sink are in a different room than the shower myself. I hate the wall hanging over the bed--I find that bedroom decor depressing. I don't think there is even a single chair in the living room -- well, I mean there are some straight-back chairs amd bar stools, but no armchair. So that's an example of how some of the things that appeal to people don't exist in many apts. (eg, comfortable chairs to sit in). I like the kitchen, it's cute.

All of this is just my preference, though, so if you like it, I think the area is okay.
Christina is offline  
Dec 10th, 2006, 10:31 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,420
I used RentParis.com a few years ago and was very pleased. The apt was as described and the process fairly easy. (If you exclude the fact that PayPal wouldn't let me send them money, but I blame that on PayPal. I hate paypal!)
CarolA is offline  
Dec 10th, 2006, 11:11 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Author: degas
"Scarlett, you are a dear saint for giving that all up for your Son's benefit. He is lucky to have your support. I hope he took you to a fancy restaurant!

degas, thank you for recognising my Saintliness .. The Boy did take us out for dinner but you know how it is, a Mama is just thankful to see and spoil her boy, that is what keeps us happy.

Author: NeoPatrick
Scarlett is like a friend of mine who once returned from a nice trip and said their hotel was like being in a third world country -- room service closed from 2 AM until 6 AM. That was "roughing it".

Patrick, I would not go so far as to say it was like being in a Third World, not even my mind can summon up that description for Paris in the 7th but I do understand her "roughing it" feeling, I do love room service...sigh.

robjame, in case you need more ideas..www.parisperfect.com
Scarlett is offline  
Dec 10th, 2006, 12:10 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,299
This is why I prefer a reputable agency like Parisperfect.com. I've rented vrbo's in other places (but not Paris) and the anxiety over dealing with people who aren't very professional, or who ask for full payment but have no references or assurances that they aren't a scam, or who have very strange procedures for getting a key to me, or who don't even live in the area in case something goes wrong...ugh.

Paris Perfect apartments are amazing, and they have fabulous customer service (before and after you get there). You pay more but IMO it's worth it. I'm sure there's other good agencies as well.

FYI, in my experience if you don't get a reply from a European hotel/b an b/apt, it means it's not available. They don't bother to write back and tell you, that's just the way they do it.
christy1 is offline  
Dec 10th, 2006, 12:20 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 13,323
"room service closed from 2 AM until 6 AM. That was "roughing it"."

Neo, who needs room service at that hour? I thought most of us "robust" travlers would be still out drinking and catting around?
degas is offline  
Dec 10th, 2006, 12:35 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 3,498
Hi robjame,

I can certainly see how your experience so far would be a setback. The problem with vrbo (and other sites like it) is that you are dealing with an individual who may or may not be on the ball. However, having rented more than a dozen houses and flats in France over the past seven years, I'd say that your experience so far is unusual. We have found almost everyone we have dealt with to be quite prompt in responding, and the availability calendars have generally been up to date, too.

As to the question of is it worth it, I can only say that NeoPatrick expressed it perfectly: the space, privacy, and flexibility turn a good vacation into a wonderful experience.

I guess I'd urge you to keep looking. I can't believe that all the good places in Paris are already booked for September 2007. Have you scanned the listings on www.frenchconnections.co.uk and www.holiday-rentals.co.uk?

Good hunting.

AnselmAdorne is offline  
Dec 10th, 2006, 12:44 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 197

Six weeks in a two-bedroom apartment here in Paris is wonderful. In addition, we have a living room, a separate dining room plus a well-equiped kitchen. It's home away from home.
baby2 is offline  
Dec 10th, 2006, 12:48 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,655
take a look at parisbestlodge.com

I have rented with him and he is great. he also has some very nice apartments in some great areas. With parisbestlodge.com you are dealing with a real person who owns the units and acts as an agent for others. I promise you will be treated fairly.
richardab is offline  
Dec 10th, 2006, 01:03 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 5,950
I've used London Guest Suites many times & am thoroughly pleased with them. They also have flats in Paris, the rates are in USD & the agency is in the US. You might like to check it out. When anything has gone wrong, they've completely made it right which is why I'm a repeat customer.

Carrybean is offline  
Dec 10th, 2006, 03:44 PM
Original Poster
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I really appreciate the thoughtful replies as to your preferences for apartments/hotels. I am working through the suggested agencies - but there is so many apartments and, without a specific recommendation, it is difficult to make a decsion from a few pictures.
The ParisPerfect ones look fantastic but well above our self-imposed limit of €800 per week.
I had my heart set on the one that Anselm and family had stayed in on 2 occasions - lost to a long term rental.
Any specific suggestions for a one bedroom or studio?
robjame is offline  
Dec 10th, 2006, 04:40 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 903
Bob, here are three Paris apartment recommendations I have saved:

3 Bourg-Tibourg in the Marias:

slowtrav review: http://www.slowtrav.com/france/vr/review.asp?n=1300

Quartier Batignolles in the 17th: http://www.rentalapartmentparis.com/

Fodor Trip report: http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=2

Rue St. Sevarin Studio in the Latin Quarter:

Fodorite comment:

Author: mitzime
Date: 09/07/2005, 03:10 pm
I can now report that the apartment listed as Paris Attitude 114 was fantastic!! Yes, it's in the noisy Rue St. Severin, but the owners have installed sound-proof windows (and I do mean sound proof) that cut out everything, if you so choose. The church St. Severin is across the pedestrian-only street. The place was as sweet and comfortable as can be, the neighborhood was a blast--convenient to everything, the owners were there to meet us at our arrival, and the security deposit (a check drawn on a U.S. bank) was waiting for us in the mail when we returned from France. I would definitely recommend it.
moolyn is offline  
Dec 10th, 2006, 05:31 PM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 36,507
Well, let's have a little get together. That St. Severin studio is the one we rented in July for 10 days also. We have also reserved if for another 10 days this July. We loved it. Yes, the street outside is noisy, touristy, and somewhat tacky -- but the church you are facing is magnificent, the closed windows are soundproof (except for the final night of World Cup when the noise would have awakened the dead), and the air conditioning really works. It is surprisingly large and comfortable -- the only studio we've rented as we usually get one bedrooms, but this somehow seemed larger. The kitchen in tiny so not very good if you're planning on a lot of cooking.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Dec 11th, 2006, 12:00 AM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 5
I am arriving in Paris this Saturday (12/16) and I am staying at VRBO# 79965!! Small world. Great looking flat isn't it? I think that perhaps the owner is having problems with his e-mail. I heard promptly back from him the day after I first inquired and then booked the flat within 2 days after that with no hassle whatsoever. Then I sent him and e-mail with some questions and didn't hear back. I called him after the long Thanksgiving weekend to find out what was going on and he said that he had never received my e-mail. The same thing probably happened with yours. Try calling him. He lives in Florida and his phone number is listed on the VRBO site. His name is Matthias Masson and he is quite nice, so I'm guessing his lack of response is more due to a technological error than negligence. Good luck and if you want to know more about the flat I'll post feedback on VRBO after my stay.
dreasf is offline  
Dec 11th, 2006, 04:15 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 7,142

Here are some additional reviews of apts & agencies:


Though I usually use agencies (not in Paris) and loved the responsivness of all of them, I have also used VRBO - as others have said, every owner is different personality. By coincidence, you had the luck of dealing with three that are not very organized.
bardo1 is offline  
Dec 11th, 2006, 12:46 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 11
Staying in an apt is wonderful! Shopping for THE BEST bread/croissants, wine on your balcony, lots of room, someplace to do a load of laundry--fantastic!! Rented from parisperfect.com last June--great apt (Chardonnay) for me, my sister, and my niece. All of their apts are near the Eiffel Tower. Also good luck with guestapartments.com--many on Ile St Louis, my favorite area of Paris--another sister and I stayed there in June 2004--Apt DQA--just right. Not sure I'd rent direct from an individual-less recourse if things aren't what they're supposed to be
bsconway is offline  
Dec 11th, 2006, 01:17 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 636
We stayed in an apt in the Marais for two weeks in October. As others have said, we loved the privacy, the space, and I loved having a W/D so I didn't have to cap off a long trip with a ton of laundry!

This was our apt: http://www.vrbo.com/49273. The pictures give you a pretty good idea of the size. Looks like it's only available the first half of Sept, though. The owner was quite helpful and provided a ton of info for our stay. There was some sort of cleaning fee which *may* put it over your limit, but not by much. In addition, he charged a hefty security deposit ($1500 or something like that) that was fully refunded after the trip, but you need to make sure you have that much on hand.

In addition, if it makes a difference to you, it's on the ground floor which means you don't get direct sunlight, and the mattress is super-firm. There's also no dishwasher. However, the apt is lovely, nicely appointed, clean and pretty. It basically looks exactly the way it does in the picture (though he's switched the placement of the bed and the sofa since the picture was taken).
PegS is offline  
Dec 11th, 2006, 02:50 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 559
I've never had any problems renting from vacationinparis.com.

We did have a problem recently when AF lost our luggage for 5 days. They refused to call us on our cell phone when the luggage was located and insisted that since there was no concierge, that we sit and wait in the apartment for the delivery guy to show up.

This is one time a hotel would have been better. 5 days of our precious vacation time was wasted.
Suzanne2 is offline  
Dec 11th, 2006, 02:55 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 6,507
I too was going to suggest vacationinparis.com. They have apartments all over Paris, and a number of studios and one-bedrooms that are within your budget. It is an American company and you pay by credit card, in dollars. The apartments are listed on the website by arrondisement, so you can limit your quest to your desired area.
enzian is offline  
Dec 11th, 2006, 02:58 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,571
Yes, it's worth the trouble. A totally different experience, though perhaps not for everyone. As for the cost, consider this place in Paris, on the other side of Place de la Bastille from the Marais, walkable to the latter:


We stayed there last month and have submitted a positive review to Slow Travel, though it will be some time before it's published.

By the way, it's not a coincidence that the Slow Travel site, slowtrav.com, is mentioned more than once in this string. It's THE PLACE on the Internet for people who want to rent a vacation house or apartment, anywhere in the world.

Dave_in_Paris is offline  
Dec 11th, 2006, 04:08 PM
Original Poster
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Posts: 4,725
Dave - what floor is the apartment on? lift? Are there shops and cafes in the area?
robjame is offline  

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