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Best place to find Paris apartments

We are planning 2 weeks in Paris in Sept 2016. I have been looking on VRBO for apartments as the hotels appears to be costly and tiny. Are there better reliable sites to look?
Is the Marais a good place for home base?

Thanks for all your feedback. We have used VRBO before with very good results.

Posted by
731 posts

We've had really good luck with Vacation in Paris (www.vacationinparis.com) and Paris BestLodge (www.parisbestlodge.com). Both are highly recommended on this site.

As far as a home base, I think the Marais, the Latin Quarter, and St. Germain are all great areas. Try to get a place as close to the river as possible.

Posted by
17871 posts

I read that Paris was Airbnb's largest market with something like 5000 properties. I also read that some percentage of those properties were not in conformance with French law and the police were raiding them. I was reading this 4 or 5 months ago and the laws may have been reworked to be more friendly to short term rental businesses. Still, something I would look into if I were going to rent in Paris. I wish there were some sort of certification agency that could stamp "legal" on the places that are within the law.

Posted by
131 posts

I'd recommend Paris-Sharing, www.paris-sharing.com

You'll get a full-service professionally managed vacation rental for the same price or less than many Airbnb properties. And they offer several in the Marais.

Posted by
47 posts

Depends on the amount of legwork you're willing to do! FWIW we have had great luck with VRBO (which I believe is owned by and shares the same listings as Homeaway). The prices can be much lower than one of the fully managed apartment outfits, especially if you don't feel like you need to be right in the main tourist areas.

Here are my tricks for VRBO: Use the 'maps' view on the righthand side to see what places are close to where you want to be (note proximity to metro stations as well, if that's important to you...) Also, if a place has no reviews, I move on to the next option -- for some reason that strikes me as a red flag. I know the risk of renting directly from an owner gives some people pause, but I always buy the little insurance policy VRBO offers when you confirm your booking. The way I read it, if there's some kind of problem when you arrive you could be out of a place to say, but at least you stand a very good chance of getting your money back.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
2261 posts

Some good tips from Michelle, including the VRBO insurance option. I would only add, whether looking at VRBO or AirBnB, etc., that if a unit does not have MANY strong, believable reviews-like a dozen or more imo-move on to the next choice.

Regarding James' comment on enforcement, the last number I heard for owners who were actually fined, is about 40. The number of "enforcers" is small compared to the size of the pool. It is a contract, and you need to move carefully and with due diligence, but the chance that you will have a problem due to a rental being illegal remains quite low. In reading reviews, be alert for comments about neighbors being unfriendly or unwelcoming, etc., as that could be a red flag for a rental that has deeper issues-and a lot of issues manifest in terms of neighbor complaints about a holiday rental.

Posted by
7025 posts

I used VRBO and was very happy with my apartment in Marais in 2012. You can't lump AirBnB in with VRBO when talking about possibly illegal Paris locations. It's my understanding that, even though VRBO properties are handled by the owner, VRBO does vet the properties for legality before listing them on their website. Also, as previously mentioned, you can buy their insurance (which I did even though I ended up not needing it) and it's not expensive considering the $$ outlay for the apartment. I'm sure this applies to Homeaway.com also since they are the same company.

Posted by
2261 posts

Nancy, I had not heard that before, but I have to say I would be surprised for the simple reason that it is a very high bar to meet the requirement. As I understand it, a "legal" rental unit is considered as commercial property, and along with it go high fees, and taxation. I don't have complete knowledge of VRBO, just saying I would find that surprising due to cost involved for the owner.
Perhaps someone has input?

The insurance offered by VRBO certainly sets them apart from AirBnB.

Posted by
7025 posts

Maybe legality wasn't the correct word and I may be laboring under a misconception, but my understanding is that the owner has to show proof that they have properly 'registered' with their local housing authority (or whatever it's called in France).

Posted by
17871 posts

You can't lump AirBnB in with VRBO when talking about possibly illegal
Paris locations. It's my understanding that, even though VRBO
properties are handled by the owner, VRBO does vet the properties for
legality before listing them on their website

Nancy, that quote and the information in your next post is helpful. Thank you. I know absolutely nothing about the legalities in Paris, but one thing I heard was that the owners can rent up to 4 months per years before it becomes a business in the eyes of the government and that some number of the violations have something to do with exceeding that limit.

I was just curious. Thanks all.

As for where to stay? I've stayed a few places in town, all tourist areas because I am still working my way through the tourist sites and in time I will start moving out from the center. Anyway, my favorite place to date was a little tiny hotel on the Isle St. Louis. We'll do that again on the next trip. As for apartments, I have never been brave enough; which some of you might find humorous if you know me.

Posted by
335 posts

Another vote for Vacation in Paris. I've used them multiple times and always appreciated their quick response to emails, the factual descriptions and pix online, varied offerings, getting the keys before I leave the US, etc. I like using apartments rather than hotels b/c I like to do some of my own cooking (or sometimes eating of purchased food) to save money over restos, it feels more like living in Paris rather than just visiting, and it gives me room to relax somewhere other than sitting on my bed. I've also rented successfully through VRBO and had good luck with them too. The one time I tried using AirBnB, I got scammed and lost money so I would not recommend them (although the scam had more to do with the landlord than the agency). As for location, if you're a first or second time visitor to Paris, I'd recommend staying more in the touristy areas near the river. Since I've visited quite often, I stay in the higher-numbered arrondissements (8+) since they feel more like real neighborhoods, with fewer (or no) tourists. I'll be back in Paris for several months in Fall 2016 and will start my apartment hunt in early 2016. Yes, you have to be careful to make sure you're renting a "legal" apartment as the government has been cracking down on short-term rentals. But I recently heard that they may be rethinking that crackdown - here's hoping that's true!

Posted by
784 posts

I have booked through Cobblestone Paris Rentals twice (2013 & this past May) and can recommend them highly. Most of their properties are in the Marais. While a portion of the rent is due at time of booking, they do not require a damage deposit and you can pay by credit card using PayPal. They are very easy to work with and very responsive.

Posted by
2745 posts

I just booked for the third time through Vacation in Paris. Easy to work with and I have been very happy every time before so.. .If it's not broken I am not fixing it :)

As for the discussion above I don't actually believe VRBO has this requirement. I know people who rent thier second homes on VRBO and the requirements to register are fairly lax as far as I can tell.

The truth is that even the apartments managed by the reputable firms are probably not "legal' if you go out and reserarch this mess. I have chosen to go with them just because I figure I have a good chance of at least getting my money back if the apartment gets pulled late!

Reading material for your reserach. I find it highly unlikely that all those VRBO owners have purchaed the required 2nd home!

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30580295

Posted by
1368 posts

I go through Cobblestone Paris Rentals, http://cobblestoneparis.com, small company, wife & husband owned/managed business, about 20 or so properties in the Central Paris location. Looking forward to my trip this May on the Isle Saint Louis.

Posted by
5697 posts

Just rented for May through HomeAway -- the same little place near Luxembourg Garden we had rented last December. We have also used HomeAway in Vienna. Both good experiences.

Posted by
196 posts

Hey R&K,
I have used a smaller company called Paris Furnished Apartments (www.parisfurnishedapartments.com) twice in the last year & a half for one month at a time and have been real happy with their service (Damien & Christine). Everything was paid through credit card and there was no separate security to be refunded. I recommend the one bedroom on rue Bellan located just off rue Montorgueil (a wonderful market street for those who know!) in the 2nd arr. Very reasonably priced. This is a little off the usual tourist areas but it was easy to get around from there and you will feel like you are in a real French neighborhood. They have other apartments in the Marais, the 1st, the 5th and the 7th. Please see their FAQs on their website for all the particulars.

Posted by
8038 posts

Almost all vacation rentals in Paris are illegal so there is always the risk that someone will get 'enforced' upon and withdraw the apartment at any time. This includes well regarded agencies. To have the apartment legally registered as commercial property is difficult and many buildings will not allow it -- so there is always a risk.

We use Perfectly Paris when we can because we have had such good luck with them and their apartments are always beautifully prepared and they are responsive if there is a problem. They specialize in Montmartre and that may not be the location you want, but for 2 weeks it might be good even for a first trip. Vacation in Paris has a good reputation; we have had relatives use them. VRBO is a listing service and so it is like using the classifieds -- you have to do due diligence on the particular owner and place. We have used them occasionally and done all right. We have used AirBNB in the US and had mixed results. We had one landlord whom we used twice in LA for different properties with great results and one house in that region that was poorly maintained and had broken appliances. The odds of dirty cluttered places seems high with them.

Posted by
7330 posts

We've also had great results with VRBO/HomeAway, both in Europe and North America. Another reputable company we've used with success several times, specific to France, is Gites de France (www.gites-de-france.com ).

A gite is a French country home, but they also offer apartments in cities like Avignon and Paris. Their one catch is that they rent for a week at a time, from Saturday to Saturday, so if you're arriving on a Wednesday and leaving on a Sunday, that might not work for you, unless the weekly rate was so good that you might decide to give up the extra nights you'd paid for but didn't use.

Posted by
1625 posts

We used Paris Best Lodge for our last stay in Paris and had a wonderful apartment in the 6th. I would feel comfortable using them again. We have used AirBnB and VRBO to book apartments in Europe and have never been disappointed. With that being said I Always have a plan "B" which is a credit card I carry just in case I get scammed and need to go to a Hotel. Has not happened yet. We always stay in apartments due to the cost and convenience.

Posted by
8038 posts

With apartments the burden is on you to do your homework. Never rent an VRBP without speaking to the landlord and never send money by wire or bank draft. Insist on lots of photos and learn how to 'read' photos (things always look bigger and nicer in the pictures and you need to know how to 'see' what you are seeing.) Look at reviews and do your best to triangulate reviews not just relying on the ones posted on their own website. Note that if it doesn't say there is an elevator, there isn't. If a room or amenity is not shown, it will be grim e.g. terrace with no pictures? will be a place they store broken patio furniture and it will overlook the dumpster. No shot of the kitchen counters and cabinets -- chances are no oven, or two hot plate burners and no stove etc etc. no bathroom shots? hope you aren't heavy because odds are if you are you won't fit in the shower and it may require stepping over the toilet to enter (we had one of those in Spain). We have done this 95 times and not been cheated, lost our deposit or had a place vastly different from expected. Sometimes it is better and sometimes a little disappointing -- but so far always what was promised. The hot water incident two years ago was the worst problem -- and the landlord and manager behaved professionally and did get it fixed and did give me a partial refund.

VRBO/homeaway is the classifieds; chances are that no one from the company has ever seen the place. This is why we like to deal with companies like Perfectly Paris that are hands on management. If you do rent a place through VRBO be sure you have contact info for a LOCAL manager who is on call for you. We had no hot water for a week in a VRBO the owner of which lived in San Diego. Luckily they had a competent local manager who worked hard to fix the problem; we would have been in serious trouble but for that and as it was didn't have hot water for a week out of the month we were there. Stuff happens. When it does, you want to know that there is someone who will deal with it.

Posted by
11 posts

I spent 3 weeks in Europe this past May/June. I booked all of my stays, except one, through AirBnB. I made sure the properties were in the areas I wanted to stay and that I read the reviews before booking. I had great experiences and wonderful hosts. I will definitely use them again next year when I return to Europe.