|On my first trip to Paris in 1992
I quickly found out how good the food was but that it (not even bread and
cheese) would not keep well for long. Most Paris hotels, having of course
that old world charm, are small and do not have microwaves or refrigerators.
When we decided to go on our recent trip for the wedding of my old college
friend Yves, I was determined to find an apartment where we could have
a kitchen to enjoy and store local food. Of course we also planned to eat
in restaurants and cafes when we were out sightseeing.
In America it is now commonplace for budget hotels such as Comfort Inn or La Quinta Inn to have a microwave and small fridge. I did an internet search on hotels in Paris and did not find any with a microwave or a fridge. I also looked at the expensive hotels in La Defense but even at $250 or $300 a night they did not even provide any of that! Thus I began my search for a reasonably priced (for us) apartment with a good landlord and location. I found out later from one of Yves' friends that there is a suite hotel near the Eiffel Tower that has an equipped kitchen (but lacks the charm of an apartment).
My search was complicated by two factors. One is that I began looking about two months before we were to arrive during the high tourist season and most of the good ones that I found had already been booked. The other is that even a search engine as good as google gets bogged down by many commercial and repetitive sites all vying for the top positions in the search results. Therefore in order to find quality sites with the information you are looking for, you need to get down to good old fashioned internet digging! Although I present the results of my search here, of course you would still have to find this site in the first place to see them! I'm not sure if this page will even place in the google top 100! As far as google searches go you can also try www.google.fr instead!
I began my search looking up anyone's experience with Paris apartments for the last couple years in the usenet newsgroup rec.travel.europe. This yielded a posting about someone's stay at an apartment called the "Kir" rented by a group called Paris Perfect with a small number of quality Paris apartment rentals. The Kir was the only one in our price range and it was already booked.
One of the travel guides I was using, Fodor's Paris, talks about rentals and mentioned a place called Roth Ray. I could not however find the url via google but eventually found it here. Again nothing available in our range so I continued digging.
I found a site called Lodgis which has tons of listings. The problem for us however was that they charge a realtor's fee which adds to the price of the apartment. I finally found a site which has extensive listings of apartments all over the world including Paris called VRBO, rental by owner (with no fees!). Often a listing has a link to the owners website with more information and photos about the apartment.
A good site should show you detailed photos of the apartment and a list of all charges and terms. Some even use an online availability calender which helps to save time. Once you find something interesting, email the owners and ask some questions to verify the information and charges and to see how they respond. You should also get travel insurance which covers you in the event of a problem before or during your stay (any travel problem but read the fine print). Also get a current quote of your currency rate versus the Euro to verify your actual price.
When looking at apartments, you can find out where they are located exactly using this French mapping site (in english). Once you've found it, you can also find the nearest Metro stop on that map or using the RATP Metro Map here. They also have a nice PDF version.
The apartment we finally found was listed on VRBO and the owners website is here. It's a small but lovely apartment recently renovated (March 2003) by the architect owners in the Montmarte area in the 9th eme of Paris. I chose this location not only for the nice apartment, but also because it was not in the latin or other heavily touristed quarters. There were 3 metro stops within 3 minutes walk and we had easy access to any part of Paris within 10 to 20 minutes. For the wedding we had to take a taxi which arrived five minutes from the time we called. Within one block of the apartment were several excellent green grocers as well as a wonderful bakery (Jean-Paul Lamé) with fabulous breads and pastries including an unusual but excellent tasting baguette called a "Gana" ("la flute gana"). There were also numerous cafes, restaurants, and grocery stores all over. The apartment was located between Sacre Coeur and Moulin Rouge to use two popular tourist points. So while we had easy access to visting these areas, the apartment itself was in a non-touristy area on a little street. While the Pigalle area may be a little notorious and colorful, we were walking around at ten or eleven pm at night and never felt in any danger. So in a way we had a more authentic flavor of Parisian living than if we had stayed in a hotel in a touristy area. If you have any questions you can email me for more info.
Here is a summary of aforementioned
and other apartment rental sites. We have no first hand experience with
any of these except the one we rented. If you do and would like to send
feedback please email me here.
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