Renting an Apartment in Paris: 10 Dos and Don’ts
Renting an apartment in Paris, particularly if you are going for a week or more, is always a good choice. You’ll enjoy more space than a hotel room, and you’ll save money. A lot of the apartments for rent are truly gorgeous, but there are always some things to watch out for, and it pays to ask a lot of questions and do your research.
1. Always ask for the exact street and block where you are renting, and find out which floor the rental is on and where the bedroom is. Is it in the back where it’s quiet, or is it on the first floor, facing the street, where it will be noisy?
2. Is there construction going on in the building or nearby that will wake you up early?
3. Is it a walk-up, or does it have an elevator? A lot of apartments in Paris are walk-ups, and personally I really don’t like to do more than two floors. If you are in better shape than I, you might be able to handle five flights, but most folks don’t love that. If it is a walk-up, be sure to ask if there will be someone on hand to greet you who can help you carry your suitcase. Two hands are better than one going up!
4. Ask your greeter a lot of questions. Normally he or she will have a booklet with how to work the TV, phone and washing machine, plus a bit about the area, but be sure to test the locks when you arrive and anything else you think you might have trouble with, such as turning on the TV (each is a bit different). Make sure you know where to deposit the trash.
5. Does it have air-conditioning or at least a fan should the weather be unseasonably hot? Paris is rarely very hot, but sometimes temperatures can rise above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, in which case you’ll be thankful for that portable air-conditioning unit, particularly if you are on a high floor and there is no cross-breeze.
6. Are you responsible for phone, electricity or heat charges? Only in longer-term rentals, such as a month or more, are you typically responsible for these types of charges, and most rentals now include free calls to the United States and Canada. Almost every place has a TV that comes with some English channels, such as CNN and BBC, but do ask.
7. Ask, too, about Wi-Fi: 90 percent of rentals have it, but I did find a place recently that only had an Ethernet cable hook-up, which proved to be a problem for me.
8. Ask about cleaning charges and maid service, what’s included and what is charged to you. Normally you’ll pay some kind of cleaning fee but not always.
9. Is it close to the metro? Ask how far away the nearest station is, as this can also be a problem, but most places that you’ll rent should only be a few blocks away from a metro stop. If you are renting in Montmartre (the 18th Arrondissement), a neighborhood that is a lot of fun, remember that it will probably take you at least 10–15 minutes to arrive in the center of town. You can definitely get better deals in arrondissements that are farther from the center, but you’ll pay with your time getting to and from there. That’s a personal choice.
10. Finally, be sure to rent from a reputable agency. There is a scam going on right now on Craigslist that I almost got caught in: someone advertises an apartment that seems almost too good to be true, but the advertiser will ask you to wire money via Western Union. Don’t fall for it! I prefer an agency like VRBO or HomeAway, because normally an agent will greet you and check to make sure the apartment is in tip-top shape before handing it over to you. Some apartment agencies are just listing sites for owners, and it’s the owner who will greet you. This can be hit or miss, depending on an owner’s interpretation of what “clean” is. I have been burned this way, so I do not suggest trying it, although you may get lucky.
In general, though, renting an apartment is wholly worth the experience, as you’ll be able to shop at the markets and make a few meals at home, which will save you a lot of money, plus you’ll feel like a vrai Parisian for the week. We recommend these agencies:
Haven in Paris
I Love Paris Apartments
Parler Paris Apartments
Editor’s note: Renting an apartment is easy with GG2P by your side. Take a look at our extensive list of vacation apartment rental companies in Paris that are our partners. With more than a dozen of them, the list reads like a who’s who of apartment companies in Paris. We have the best of the best and some of the most affordable. Each of them will offer you a special price or perk if you are one of our Travel Club members. See all our partners and what they offer.