Renting an apartment in Paris

Paris - Eiffel Tower

A few years ago, I took a week-long vacation in the City of Lights with a friend. Instead of staying at a hotel, we rented an apartment from an American company called Vacation in Paris. In the past, I’ve stayed in hotels in the 15th arrondissement (neighborhood) to save some cash. Not this time around, thanks to Rick Steves, I’ve learned that it’s sooo much better to stay in the city center and not waste so much time riding public transportation to get to your destination. (FYI, if you want a great travel guide that you can rip apart and bring important sections with you – Rick Steves Paris is a MUST have.)

Since we rented an apartment, the keys were sent to me prior to us leaving the US. Nice! No more waiting to check into the hotel because the room isn’t ready! We could hop onto the RER train from CDG (Charles de Gaulle airport) and head to our temporary home. (Just don’t forget the keys at home. That would suck balls.)

We chose a place that was close to the RER/Metro train station, in the 6th arrondissement. When we emerged from the underground depths of the St-Michel RER/Metro station, onto the busy Parisian city street of Quai St-Michel, what was the first thing I saw? The Notre Dame! Such a great welcoming site after traveling from SFO.  It made the fuzziness of long travel melt away and replaced with giddiness.  It didn’t take long to figure out where we were. Our apartment was on Rue Seguier, only about 3 short blocks away from the station.

I remember the issue we had with the main entrance to the apartment building — we couldn’t figure out how to get the door open. Ok – yeah, you’re supposed to push when you hear a click… We did.  Nothing happened. Did it again… Still – nothing happened. The door was one of those Napoleon complex over-sized doors, possibly meant for horse carriages from back in the day. We finally figured out we were pushing on the wrong part the “door”.  We didn’t see the outline of the normal sized door until a few minutes later. (I blame that on not seeing straight after a long flight, and uncontrollable giggles because we couldn’t get the damn door to open.)

Once we entered into the courtyard, there was a gate we had to go through. The key fob sensor was on the opposite side of the gate, out of our arms lentgh reach. We didn’t see it at first and wondered how the hell were we supposed to unlock the gate?  Who the hell installed the key fob sensor like that?! Was it meant for basketball players? Was this a tall people only building?

Stepping on the very tips of my toes, I was FINALLY able to get the gate unlocked.  Yay! Inside!  Woot!  Now, we just had to climb the old staircase to our apartment. No problem there, except that the stairs were really warped. (Guess that happens to wood over a couple of hundred years.) You know the feeling of being buzzed/tipsy and trying to climb up stairs?  That’s how it felt.   We couldn’t stop giggling as we climbed the stairs, but made it to our temporary front door of our apartment. YAY!

The skeleton key and dead bolt combo took some time for us jiggling with it, until we finally figured out that we had to lift the key in the lock to get it to unlock.  FINALLY, inside our apartment! Or should I say very large studio.  The owners used a book shelf to separate the “bedroom” from the “living room”.

The apartment itself is tiny compared to what I’m used to. The “kitchen” is the first thing you walk through when you open the front door. There’s a tiny fridge and an odd microwave/washing machine combo.  (Yeah, you read right.  My first thought was – WTH?!)  We didn’t use it.  (Only because we didn’t really know how to work it)  Besides, we had lots of restaurants/cafes to choose from just around the corner from the apartment.   The bathroom was small, but the shower itself felt tiny! Don’t try and shave your legs in the shower – or turn around to pick something up – you’ll hit the shower walls.

The owners offer free wi-fi, as well as free international calling to the US.  That was nice not having to buy a calling card or worrying about roaming charges on the cell phone.

All in all, the apartment served its purpose.  It was very comfortable, clean and quiet.  I loved the location of it. I wish the apartment were pet friendly though, because I plan on traveling with my dog.  Oh – one thing I would suggest to VIP, instead of a bottle of wine waiting for you when you arrive, I would have rather had toilet paper in the bathroom.  Just a tip for those wanting to rent an apartment in Paris, bring one roll of toilet paper so that you wouldn’t have to hit the grocery store the first day in Paris.

Have you rented an apartment in Paris?  If so where was the location and who was it through?

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19 Responses to Renting an apartment in Paris

  1. This is such a wonderful idea! I feel it feels more comfortable than a hotel room, if that’s what a person wants. If one wants to be pampered, then a hotel is best. It was good that they also offered free wi-fi, as well as free international calling to the US. That is a money saver. Fun post!

    • hazel says:

      Yeah, it was really cool staying there. I would def recommend it for people who have already been to Paris, not to first timers. Paris can be overwhelming for first timers. As for being pampered, there are some really high end rentals where the property owner spoils the guest.

  2. I have friends who travel using airbus- I think that’s what it is called. Same idea- rent someone’s apt for the week. They had large, amazing spaces and raved about the experience. I think it is a fun way to travel and I giggled along with you.

    • hazel says:

      Thanks Roslyn. I think you’re thinking of AirBnb? I have yet to try that. I believe that VIP uses places that are specifically just rented out by tourists, not someone’s actual home that they vacate for the time you are there. I’ve heard really good things about AirBnb though.

  3. Sounds like a great way to get to stay in the city core and to have a taste of what the natives live like, both at the same time. Paris is definitely on my places to visit, however, Amsterdam is at the top of the list. I like this idea and hopefully this is something one can explore in almost any major European city. No, I haven’t had the opportunity to visit Paris for a very long time, although my memories of the one-day excursion from London are still very alive in my mind. I even wrote about them in my book “Confessions of a Middle-Aged Hippie”. Lots of travel adventures that somehow always remain. Thanks for your more current review of Paris now!

  4. Great review! Paris is on my list of places to go. I speak almost fluent French and have no one to practice with. It is my dream to visit France, French-speaking Canada, and West Africa so I can put my language skills to use. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Great post Hazel, I visited France many many years ago as a child and promised to do it again as an adult but never quite got round to it. Will definitely check out Rick Steves Paris as a guide when I do! Thanks for sharing and imprinting such splendid images in our hearts.

  6. Renee says:

    Nice Hazel, you took me back down memory lane, when I was but a kid living in Paris, Montparnasse was our arrondissement- still remember the wonderful croissants, buttery yet crispy, and tasting even more amazing than the superb Parisian baguettes that I miss oh so much. Thanks for the idea of renting an apartment rather than overspending on a hotel. Sounds like a fun adventure!

  7. Hi Hazel,

    Thanks for your awesome review of how you went about renting an apartment in Paris 🙂 This is great information for those that are looking to live in Paris 🙂 Great sharing of repurposed content….enjoyed!

  8. Bring back memories. I stayed in Paris for 2 weeks many years ago when my closest friend from childhood was living and working in Paris as au pair (babysitter).

    She was given a one room apartment just off the Champs-Élysées. It is a complicated story but we ended up staying at many different friend’s apartments in around Paris.

    I’ve traveled by staying in Apartment in Australia and really enjoyed it. It is actually more popular then staying in hotels and much better for your budget as you can cook some of your own meals.

  9. Wow… how cool! But, a vacation in Paris? I’d live in a tent! Ha! Ha! It has to have been one amazing trip… lucky you. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us. 🙂

  10. hazel says:

    A tent? LOL.

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