Booking your Paris Apartment Requires Some Work if You Want the Right Apartment:
Over the past years, our visits to Paris have always been short trips of no more than a week and like the majority of visitors, we have always used hotels for our Paris accommodation. But for this trip, where we will be based in Paris for a month, a nice hotel in the centre of Paris for a month would have sent us to the poor house. No matter how hard I looked, I wasn’t able to find a room in the arrondissement I wanted for less than €150 a night in summer. So, I started looking at apartment rentals, an accommodation option that is new to us.
Searching for Our Paris Apartment
With no prior experience in renting apartments in Paris, I did it the hard way. I googled “Paris apartments” and came across a number of agencies and online aggregators such as paristay.com, parisattitude.com, etc. We wanted an apartment in the Marais district at a specific budget and not many agencies had accommodation available for one month, except for the more expensive apartments. Furthermore, agencies quote a monthly rent, but on top of this you have to add:
- agency fees (a couple of hundred Euros) + about 12% to 14% of the total rent
- electricity and internet are usually not included
- deposits required can range from 50% to 100% of the rent, which apparently is illegal in France. I understand that the maximum deposit that can be charged is 25%.
With all the extras that rental agencies were charging, and not wanting a surprise electricity bill at the end of our stay, I decided to look elsewhere.
Private Apartment Rentals
My next step was to try HomeAway (www.homeaway.com), a company which connects private property owners with holidaymakers all over the world. Although we know of people who have used this mode of holiday accommodation, we ourselves have no experience. There are thousands of flats and apartments for rent and you do have to sort through them. The frustration here is that many property owners do not update the calendar provided by the HomeAway system and many of the properties are shown as available when in fact they have already been leased. I had to email quite a number of them to ask if their properties were available for the dates that I wanted. Why they choose to make it hard for potential renters like myself is a bit of a mystery. I noticed that rental agencies use the HomeAway system as well and when you contact them, they try to offer you other properties that they are managing. One owner agreed on a rate with me and then went very silent when I asked for confirmation that he had internet in the apartment.
After a frustrating time at HomeAway, I then tried VRBO (www.vrbo.com), a related company of HomeAway and I finally found the apartment that more or less suited our needs. The apartment is on the 3rd floor, without elevator or washing machine, but as time was running out on me I had to make a quick decision. Although I started searching four months ahead of our trip, it seems if you want a month-long rental you’ll have to start earlier.
I saw all kinds of apartments during my search and some flats were really smart-looking but they were also really small, about 20 sqm. Anything less than 30sqm would have been too tiny for a month’s stay. Another thing that surprised me is that people do use rental apartments for stays as short as four to seven days.