Things to Consider When Renting a Short Stay Apartment
1. Be sure there are comments from renters - not just hand picked ones (although VacationinParis.com does just that) - so you can see the good, the bad and the ugly. Remember, not everyone has a good experience. A bad experience can be influenced by many things - including not enough prior research, asking enough questions and even jet lag.
2. When you see apartments listed as 2 bedrooms, that often includes "sleeps" or sleeping accommodations in a living room - like a pull-out couch or futon. Generally, this doesn't mean two bedrooms separate from the living area. This is just the way French people see rooms.
3. "Piece" is a room in an apartment. So if you see an apartment that is "deux pieces" than it means there are two rooms, not two bedrooms.
4. Beware of weird floor plans - if that's something you are concerned with. Sometimes the bathroom is way off the little kitchen. Or, you may have to walk through one bedroom to get to another.
5. Many bathrooms are just a room with a bath or shower and a sink. The "toilet" may be a separate room. Some people like this, especially when traveling with friends instead of family - others do not. Bathrooms can also be tiny!! Remember, many of these "authentic Parisian" buildings are really old and never had bathrooms originally, so they've been squeezed in where ever plumbing can be piped.
6. If there is a washer and/or dryer in the apartment, they will often be in the kitchen or bathroom.
7. Bed size - Beds are sometimes listed as full when they are actually queen and vice versa. The person renting out the short stay apartment considers a bed that sleeps two as a double or full bed. Generally, the equivalent of a full or double bed is 140 cm X 200 cm, a queen is 160 cm X 200 cm.
8. Read the description carefully - it's the only way to know what you'll be getting with the rental fee. Fees are sometimes added - like agency and cleaning fees. Some apartments are well stocked, but many don't supply much at all.
9. I like to do a Google Map search for the nearest grocery store. If you arrive on Saturday, remember that most stores will be closed on Sunday. Be prepared to do a quick shopping trip so you don't run out of toilet paper and food!
10. Know your physical abilities - Many apartments in traditional Parisian buildings have no elevator. Usually, the better the view or the bigger the terrace, the more you'll need to climb. Also, some apartments are on two levels and the stairs up to the bedroom may be quite steep, while the bathroom is on the floor below.
11. If you have questions, ask the owner or agency - Sometimes the descriptions are brief or a bit confusing as they are written by French speaking employees. I became an expert at asking about the kind of mattress in the apartment!
12. Consider all that is included in the price - Hotels may or may not include wi-fi, cable, English speaking channels, free calls home, a computer, or even a coffee pot. Again, it's why I love apartments as most have internet included as well as free local calls at the very least.
13. Don't rule out places that are not in the center of Paris - The center of Paris is where everyone wants to be and so it's the most expensive. But if you study the subway map, you may find an apartment farther out that is much less expensive but accessible. The cafes and restaurants "out there" are also less expensive, less harried and more friendly. And after a long day of walking in crowds, a little quiet can be very welcome!
14. The French are very creative with the limited space they have - you may find the main bed in a studio or a second bed is in a loft, accessible with a ladder.
15. The apartment that you rented last time and fell in love with may not be available for your next trip. People sometimes sell, move into or rent the apartment long-term, taking it out of the tourist rental market.
16. Consider the noise factor - Paris is a large city that lives late. Use Google Maps to "see" the neighborhood. Most refurbished apartments will have double glazed windows which shut out almost all the noise. But if it's summer, be sure there is a fan to help keep you comfortable with the windows closed.
Apartments I've Loved in Paris