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Help! We accidentally booked in Pigalle!

We are a family of 5 traveling to Paris for the first time. We booked an apartment through Airbnb. The apartment looked very nice with a view of the Eiffel Tower. I told the host we were a family and the ages of my children. Then, we were researching more about Paris and realized our booking is in the Pigalle area - yikes! We had no idea this is the red light district. Our host may not refund our payment - how safe (or not) is it to stay with a family in this area? I'm worried based on the video we saw, that this will be a terribly inappropriate area for our kids to be!
Ugh! I wanted our first experience of Paris to be good, not inappropriate!
Any suggestions??

Posted by
754 posts

Can you link the apartment? I can't imagine an apartment in that area with that view but I may be wrong.

Posted by
6361 posts

I'd be much more worried about the lack of reviews, especially current reviews. The only recent posting is about the host cancelling the booking with only 7 days notice.

Posted by
1226 posts

You're close to the metro. Pigalle has a seedy charm to it. It's not crazy inappropriate.

Posted by
6997 posts

While I would not necessarily choose this location -- we prefer the part of Montmartre near Lamarck Caulaincourt, it is not an unsafe area and you can pretty much avoid spending a lot of time near the sex shops. There are plenty of perfectly fine cafes, shops, bakeries and such. It is really not a disaster. Because it is so high up in the building, I would be a tad nervous about heat in summer if it doesn't have AC and most places like this don't and when they do often they can't be run at night. There are lots of amenities near here that make apartment living nice such as markets and it is well connected to the rest of Paris with transport. Don't worry about it.

Posted by
3170 posts

My suggestion is that you calm down and not worry so much about it. That particular red light district in Paris is pretty shallow -- pretty much just on Boulevard de Clichy . Just don't walk over and down Boulevard de Clichy if the apartment is on or near Place Pigalle. Go toward Rue des Martyrs, which is a very popular and quaint shopping street in Paris. The owner has a strict cancellation policy and probably will not give you back your money so make the best of it by avoiding Boulevard de Clichy. How old are your children? That makes a big difference. At certain ages, they do not even notice and at certain ages they will notice. I have been in that area many times with my children because I walk down Blvd de Clichy from Blanche (right through the heart of the area) and it has been absolutely fine in terms of personal safety. My son who is now ten still does not notice because he is with me and we are not focussed on that and my teenage daughter sees everything and mentioned it once. We discussed it and that was that. People with families live and vacation in the area and are fine. I think that you will be also if you plan ahead. It does not help you but your issue story is a cautionary tale for people booking accommodations to check out the area before doing a non-refundable booking whether in a hotel or an apartment.

Posted by
31674 posts

If the apartment is nice and the owner treats you fairly, I wouldn't be too concerned about the area. If you're out sightseeing during the day and inside in the evenings, you may not see much activity in the "red light district". In any case, I wouldn't be concerned as that sort of thing is more common and visible in Europe.

If you're really concerned about that, cancel the booking and find another listing.

Posted by
16984 posts

Looks like it is 5 Rue Duperre, just off Place Pigalle. There's a Mexican restaurant on the ground floor and a Mickey D's at Place Pigalle on Blvd de Clichy. Sounds like home to me. Walk around with google Street View.

Posted by
7205 posts

The bottom line is...if you just can't bear the thoughts of staying there then count it as a loss and just book another place. Chalk it up as a lesson learned (check the location and reviews BEFORE you pay).

Posted by
8976 posts

You say "may not refund our payment", so it sounds like you haven't tried yet. You need to deal with Airbnb first. Frankly, like Janet, I'd be more concerned with a top floor apartment, which can get very warm. If you are above the streets you mentioned, the noise will float up at night while you are trying to sleep, or it will be hot if you close the windows. I usually stay not far from the area; it's not great for first time to Paris.

The owner doesn't care if you have children; he just wants money for his place. In fact, it says he wants a summer-long renter, so if one comes along, he might dump you.

Do you know for sure that the ET photo was from his place and not just a random photo? I suggest you study Airbnb's rules thoroughly to see what you can do. That is who is holding your money right now, not the guy. Check their rules closely. I've never used Airbnb, and personally never would, but others here know their rules. It sounds like his ad is misleading, saying penthouse, showing the ET, but not mentioning Pigalle. You may have a case with Airbnb. Anyway, it's probable that his apartment is an illegal rental according to Paris rules, something to educate yourself about.

Where's chexbres? She'll have info for you.

Posted by
3170 posts

@ Bets, I am no fan of AirBnB but what makes you think the listing is misleading. I have looked at it. The apartment is on the top floor of the building (aka a penthouse by the standard definition of the word) and there is no reason to believe that you cannot have views of the Eiffel Tower from a 6th floor apartment in Pigalle. Paris is a low-rise city and there are views of the Eiffel Tower from all over the city. Also, the third review notes that it is near Pigalle metro station and the listing says at least twice that it is 100 meters from Pigalle Metro station and that it is near Place Pigalle plus the AirBnB neighborhood guide description of PIgalle-Saint Georges is linked to the listing. This is what the AirBnB description of the neighborhood states: "Garter-belts, hazy rooms, and the iconic Moulin Rouge theatre perpetuate Pigalle – Saint-Georges’ racy reputation. Serving as Paris’ red-light district, this unapologetically coquettish neighborhood pursues more than deep pockets and affronting eroticism. Pigalle – Saint-Georges fosters other passions, too—Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh both painted here, local artisans make culinary delights by hand, and dedicated musicians can find antique instruments in this neighborhood’s specialty shops. Daytime is welcome in Pigalle – Saint-Georges, but the neighborhood truly comes to life after dark." This is more of a cautionary tale about researching the area before renting or booking accommodations than it is a story of a misleading listing.

@ Trulace, If you can't afford to lose 50% of your deposit, then make the best of the situation. You have very little chance of getting a refund from AirBnb.

Posted by
131 posts

What possessed you to book an apartment with no reviews since 2013 - IIRC?

The lack of recent reviews and the recent host cancellation concern me more than the location.

Maybe you'll get lucky and the host will cancel on you too.

Posted by
8976 posts

I didn't log in and research the listing or see what the site said, just that he wanted a summer tennant.
However, I still wonder how accurate the listing is if it omitted the neighborhood and calls a top floor apartmment under the eaves a penthouse.

Edit: thanks Kim about the owner mentioning the neighborhood.

Broyer toilet would be a deal breaker for sure: unreliable and noisy. Plumber was at a neighbor's today for a broyer toilet.

Posted by
8135 posts

The reference to the apartment's being in Pigalle is actually in the owner's description of the place - several times. That's why the OP's posting that they accidentally booked Pigalle reads a bit funny. Reading the write-up by the owner, you couldn't miss the fact that the apartment is in Pigalle.

Posted by
2466 posts

If you're really worried about the "sex shops", all you have to do is avoid going into them. There are restrictions on what sort of items may be displayed in shop windows, there won't be anyone enticing you to enter the shops, no prostitutes will attempt to do business with you, and people who will be committing lewd and lascivious acts outdoors will wait until you have long since gone to bed. So stop worrying about the sex shops - just cross the street or avert your eyes. If your children have been exposed to cable TV and the internet, it's nothing they haven't seen or heard about.

The shot of the Eiffel Tower is possible, but it doesn't seem quite right, to me - given that it's about 6 kms away and not in a straight sight line from this address - I used the "Major Pigalle" shop address for reference. But I've seen Sacre Coeur pop up on certain streets, far in the distance, when I least expected it...

My concerns are that this apartment is on the top floor and has an elevator which will state that it holds 3 passengers, but in reality will only hold 2 "normal American-sized" people - not overweight, just taller and built differently from the tiny little French people who exist on espresso and cigarettes and live in buildings like this . This means that you'll have to make multiple trips up and down with luggage, since overloading an elevator this size will put it out of commission very quickly - are you prepared to haul yourselves, luggage groceries, etc up 6 flights of narrow, winding stairs several times a day? That's far too much exercise for me to even think about.

This apartment is not air-conditioned, will not have been insulated, and will be hotter than blazes, since the sun will bounce off the zinc rooftops. I believe the toilet is a "sani-broyer" - a noisy electric toilet which grinds up the waste - which are a very cheap solution but are notorious for not working properly. Since there's only one bathroom, you could be up that "proverbial creek" in no time flat.

Noise rises, so the apartment will also be noisy, if you do open any windows, since you're only a few steps away from a major intersection which unloads bus tours at Moulin Rouge all day and into the wee hours. There will be lots of drunks, a few discreet drug addicts, many homeless people very close to where you'll be staying - I'd worry more about them than about those sex shops.

The food choices frankly stink in this area, and there are very few supermarkets, so you'll have to rely on convenience stores or go to the Barbes outdoor market. If one of your goals is to save money on food, you could do much better. Transportation will involve making underground changes if you use Metro, and buses are not very convenient.

I would suggest getting a refund and looking somewhere else.
It's obvious that nobody lives in this apartment full-time, so it would qualify as illegal, if that's important to you.

Posted by
6997 posts

I stayed at a place in the 17th that had a view of the Eiffel Tower not terribly unlike that one -- although we were not on the top floor and so only saw the top of the tower and the angle was a bit different. That looks like a very possible shot of the ET from the garret apartment level of a place in Pigalle taken with a telefoto lens.

I can't tell if the toilet is one of those mechanical monstrosities from the picture and I am betting that it will be unbearably hot. It is a not unattractive apartment for November.

Posted by
3170 posts

<> Yes, it is funny to me as well. The headline should be: "I accidentally did not look up the Pigalle neighborhood, booked an apartment there, and after the fact did the research and now realize that I do not want to stay there." But that is way too long to be a headline.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you for all the feedback.
I did try to cancel with Airbnb, but it said we would only get $23 back. Unfortunately we cannot afford to lose that money, so we are just going to stay there and try to make the best of it.

Posted by
57 posts

I bet it will work out just great. The apartment looks nice and you likely won't spend much time there. Please let us know how it works out in the end. When are you traveling?

Posted by
31674 posts

It would be great if you could post a report after your trip to let us know how the apartment worked out. The information may be useful for others.

Posted by
1878 posts

Is this stay starting in a few days? Otherwise only getting $23 back does not sound right based upon the policy posted on the link. Presenting Pigalle as central in the header seems misleading. This just reminds me why being detail oriented is a really good thing (a.k.a. paranoid). I always optimize around cancellation policies. We also ended up staying in the red light district around the train station in Munich (one of Rick's recommended hotels!)—our German friends who met us there poked fun at us for staying in that neighborhood. It turned out fine despite being creepy, if that's any comfort in your situation.

Posted by
2466 posts

It appears that your budget is very tight, and I don't know of any hotels that could house your family for 150 EU/night in one room.

However, it's important to note that the person you are renting from has already cancelled a visit one week in advance. If this happens to you - and it could - you should have a Plan B in place. It would not be easy finding a place for your family at the last minute, and it would cost you a lot more money to do so. It's fine for couples or solo travellers, but you should not take this lightly.

You still have time to book a refundable hotel room - or two adjoining rooms - and I'd recommend that you do that.
Ibis (or Accord) is a chain of hotels with excellent value for the money. There is a 48-hour free cancellation window, so if everything goes right with your apartment, you just have to remember to go online and cancel your reservation.
To search for available hotels, look for Postal Code beginning with "75___", so you'll be within metropolitain Paris.
You have to mention how many people will be in each room, but if your children are young (normally the cut-off is 10 or 12), there won't be any extra charge for them, except the room tax.

http://www.ibis.com/fr/france/index.shtml

You can also find other refundable hotels by using hotels.com and booking.com

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you for the information about the hotels! I will keep that information for backup!
We leave this Friday (June 3rd), so I'm sure that is why we cannot get a refund.
I will post again after the trip to let everyone know how it ended up!
Thank you again for all the feedback!

Posted by
2353 posts

Just remember - the kiddos will take their cue from you - if you do not make an issue of something chances are they will not either. If there is something they question about give them an age appropriate answer and move on.

Posted by
8976 posts

Tomorrow! You'll have no problem with heat under the eaves or noise floating up because the windows will be closed. It's cool and rainy for the moment. The heat and noise would have been my concern rather than Blvd de Clichy. Some sun is predicted starting Sunday, but you never know.

There is a Monoprix supermarket on the Blvd de Clichy, many small restaurants going up the hill toward Montmartre, and several very good bakeries. If that is a broyer toilet--don't put anything beyond tp down it and it will keep working.

The sex shops on Blvd Clichy are not intrusive.

Posted by
565 posts

I stayed not too far from this area in April and saw plenty of children around. You'll be fine.

Rue des Martyrs has lots of restaurants and cafes; heading north is Montmartre, heading south is a typical Parisian intersection with Hausmann buildings and shops and boutiques.

Posted by
6997 posts

There are tons of good food shops in the general area including excellent butchers, cheese shops, bakeries etc. The location is fine for the basic amenities although supermarkets are thin on the ground in Montmartre. We found a large Champion on the back of the hill down Marcadet. It is also decent enough for public transport.

Posted by
5 posts

Trip Update
Our Trip ended up being just fine! Our apartment was cute and clean right across from a metro stop. There were definitely clubbers in the street that were a little lewd at times, if you happened to be standing on the patio looking down, but otherwise not bad - with the windows shut we couldn't hear anything. It was nice and cool at night. The Seine was flooded so that impacted a few outings, but we still had a wonderful time - we felt safe and enjoyed our time!!
Thank you to everyone who offered advice and suggestions!

Posted by
948 posts

I'm glad it turned out well! Things usually turn out better than we imagine.

Posted by
8135 posts

That's great -- thanks for coming back and letting us know how it went. So glad it worked out for you.

Posted by
31674 posts

It's great to hear that your trip went well although I'm sure the flooding was a bit of a nuisance. I suppose that means that you'll have to plan another visit there.