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Paris Travel: Rent an Apartment or Hotel Stay?


September Evening on Lively Rue Mouffetard in the Latin Quarter, Paris
Photo by Shay Davidson

If you follow my articles, you know that I love Paris.  I don’t just think it’s a fantastic, beautiful city, it calls to me when I’ve been away from her too long.  In all of my visits to Paris, I have never stayed in a hotel--aside from that 3-day stay while studying in the south of France one summer in high school. I had no say-so in that choice, that particular visit, forty-something years ago.  I always prefer apartment rentals when I travel, and this is why:

First, if you want to be a tourist, then by all means, stay in a hotel.  But, if you want to meet real people, in their real environment, doing what normal locals in Paris do, then you will love staying in an apartment

Renting an apartment can be tricky and there are so many agencies and individuals out there renting in Paris, how do you know you are dealing with an authentic agent or honest owner?

In 2000, when the Internet was still a new way of booking travel, we and two other couples rented an apartment from an “online agent.”  This guy was not a manager nor was he a legitimate agent; he simply took other people’s listings and placed them on his website, then called the REAL agents and booked apartments; marking up the rent an additional 40 percent.   Sometimes he forgot to actually book with the real agent.  When you are a newbie at renting in a foreign country,  (as I was) you are not aware of the prices expected for an apartment.  In addition, this shady fellow told each of us specifically which apartment we would be in, then changed the apartment on us at the very last minute! The apartment we were given were not at all equal to what we paid or what we had requested.  Lesson learned.

We were most definitely taken for a ride by that unscrupulous man, but I learned a valuable lesson; If you use an online site to book an apartment, be sure you check out the agency.  If you rent from VRBO or an individual person, check that person out.  Find out if they are for real. You can always ask them up front, where they work, etc., and make sure they are for real.  If they don’t want to give you that info, move on and rent from someone else.  BTW, VRBO owners do have a track record and are accountable now for responsible renting.  I still check out the owner if they have no past history on VRBO.  Beware of renting from a random person online who has no renting history or connections to an agency.

Trip is a good source for references.  Post a question on the site and ask if anyone has ever rented from the person/agency that you are considering.  I've answered several people who have asked me about Paris agencies, where in Paris to rent, and other random queries from new travelers to Paris.  Most people on TA will give you the lowdown quickly and honestly.

Do ask questions about the area of Paris where you are considering a rental.  Do some research to be sure that you are going to be in a desirable area that lines up with your own wishes.  If you want an upbeat, lively area, you will want to be in The Latin Quarter, for example; not a quiet bedroom community on the outskirts, like the 16th, for instance.

Staying in a Parisian hotel is much more pricey per night than an apartment, and an apartment will afford you a small kitchen where you can prepare some of the delicious foods found in shops and markets--a hotel room will not.  You will also be able to relax in more than just a hotel room the size of a closet!  

The biggest advantage of staying in a Parisian apartment is that you will live like the locals and you might even meet and connect with a few Parisians.  Don't worry about the language barrier in Paris; Parisians commonly speak English very well.  Knowledge of the language might make you hesitant to brave the apartment rental if you're timid, but in the long run, I believe you will be glad that you tried something new.  If you don’t feel comfortable without a concierge who speaks English to be at your disposal, your best bet may be a well-located hotel.  The choice is yours.  Did I mention that the more well-known, large hotels in Paris are horrendously expensive?  Between the valuation of the American Dollar to the Euro, and the mere fact that Paris is a very expensive city, you might go into immediate checkbook shock when pricing the finer Parisian Hotels.  Apartments are a much more cost-effective deal.

One thing you need to consider is your grasp on the difference between American apartments and French or European apartments.  If you want the best location in Paris, an apartment that is newly refurbished to 2013 American standards with a large kitchen, terrace, views and marble bathrooms, you really should choose an expensive hotel.  Why? Because Europeans don't live the way Americans live.  You need to be realistic in your expectations when you choose to go the apartment rental route.  If you're not on a budget, you can rent an amazing apartment or a fabulous hotel room.  But if you need to consider the cost it's a no-brainer that an apartment will save you money.


If you are a seasoned traveler who understands that your apartment in Paris may be "quaint," perhaps very quaint, and you're good at rolling with the punches, then you will be fine.  I've stayed in some pretty bare-bones apartments in Paris, but had a great time.  After all, how can you not have a great time in Paris if you just keep an open mind and heart.  What is not okay, is paying top-dollar for a dump!  Most definitely, not okay at all.  Ask a lot of questions and

 check out comparable apartments in the same neighborhood.

Above all, don't believe all that you've heard about the "rude, obnoxious Parisians."  In my many trips to Paris, I've never found Parisians to be other than helpful and kind.  Of course, there has been the occasional Metro worker or right bank waiter who was completely rude; but can't we say the same about a trip to any U.S. city?  Locals near your apartment will be more than willing to help guide you to where you need to go with a smile.  They want you to love their city as much as they do, and if you give Parisians a chance, they will do their best to help you out.

Make your own decision about renting a place or staying in a hotel. Whichever you choose, have a great trip.  Bon Voyage!

Eiffel Tower Photo by Shay Davidson

Other Articles by This Author:

Must See Places in California; The Central Coast of California

Mt. Kilauea--Hawaii's Active Volcano

The Big Island of Hawaii

Creating an Angel Memory Garden


Shay Davidson

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