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In Paris: Le Saint Jacques or Rue Cler?

We have just booked our first trip to Europe. Following our Rhine River Cruise, we will be taking the train from Basel, Switzerland to Paris the 2nd week of October for 4 nights. After reading RS's book on Paris, I've narrowed down our stay there to two VRBO rentals. One is a lovely apartment located on Rue Cler at the intersection of Rue de Champs...across the street from Cafe Du Marche. It has a beautiful view of the top of the Eiffel tower and is within a 3/4 mile walk to it. In addition, it has a balcony with bistro table and chairs that allow a view of Rue Cler.

The other is located on Rue Saint Jacques at the intersection of Rue Malebranche. It is farther from the Eiffel tower but has a stunning view of it in it's entirety and is steps Pantheon (literally around the corner), the Jardin du Luxembourg, the Seine and Notre Dame. It is a very roomy apartment but does not have a balcony. Rue Cler speaks to my heart about Paris; oh those beautiful streets! But Saint Jacques seems closer for touring on foot. Can anyone help? Thank you!!

Rue Cler: https://www.vrbo.com/732719#summary
Le Saint Jacques: https://www.vrbo.com/478984#summary

Posted by JHK
Palo Alto, California, United States
1811 posts

I'd pick the one on Rue Saint Jacques because it is more central and I like that neighborhood better but I do not have the benefit of pictures like you do and the heart wants what the heart wants and if the balcony is your must see and more important to you than being closer to the sites you mentioned, go for it. BTW, I am not a Rue Cler hater and have stayed in that area. It's just that I prefer the area around the Pantheon. Being near the Eiffel Tower is not a plus to me because it is on the far western side of Paris and not really ideal for getting to the other usual first time visitor must sees. Do the rentals have registration numbers? If they both do or neither does, then pick the place you like better but if only one has a number, I'd be inclined to choose that one. If there are reviews, check to see if there are any noise issues about the one on Rue Saint Jacques because that street can be noisy.
Edit (after Renee's post below): I took two first time visitors to Paris last May and I wanted to stay at the Hotel les Dames du Pantheon (near rue Saint Jacques) but they they wanted Eiffel Tower views from their bedrooms so we stayed at Hotel Londres et Eiffel (6 minute walk from Rue Cler) and we all had a fantastic time. Main thing was that we took taxis, Ubers or mass transit to the sites they wanted to see instead of walking. They had such a great time that they are off to Paris this spring as well so I don't really think that either location will be a deal breaker for a great trip.

Posted by Renee
Tacoma, WA, USA
298 posts

Ditto everything JHK said. I like the Saint Jacques area better for location (and Luxembourg Gardens is my “happy place” in Paris for a chocolate crossiant and people watching.)

Posted by mreynolds
Boston, MA
1645 posts

They actually both quite impressive.
if you have not been to Paris before while the Eiffel Tower at night is breathtaking, the rest of everything you will want to see and the heart about Paris type feeling exists quite far from the tower itself.
The Saint Jacques is really right in the heart of a great area, so if you want that old school Parsian feel and lively culture right outside your door it is the better pick.

Very impressed with the views from the place in Le Saint Jacques hopefully in person they are as good as they show in their photos.
The balcony is cool though as is being able to see the top of the Eiffel Tower for the nightly sparkle shows every hour for 5 minutes so I really wouldn't consider the Rue Cler location settling at all. That would still be a nice area to stay.

The Le Saint Jacques place seems high up, if there is no elevator could be a drag going up and down stairs.
Lastly, as JHK mentions assuming you are aware of the recent rental crackdown, do both properties have a number licensed with the city? If one does and one doesn't that would be enough for me to make it my mind.

Posted by 75020
Paris
506 posts

Both are lovely and would be good choices. However I don't see a registration number for either apartment so they might be illegal rentals. Does that bother you?

Posted by JHK
Palo Alto, California, United States
1811 posts

Looking at the links, I think they are both nice but I would be inclined to go for the apartment on Rue Saint Jacques though the one on Rue Cler has air conditioning and that woul be a major plus if you are traveling in the summer but not so important for October but it tells me that this is a vacation rental apartment and may not be "legal." Also the mention of a management company makes me think that this is not a legal short-term rental but if you may not concerned be about that issue. There are comments in the review of the one on Rue Cler that cause me some concern – 5th floor walk up and the complaints about noise. I hate staying in places above cafes because of the noise – tried it once and it was awful with late night noise and early morning setting-up and garbage pick up noise. I used to be a deep sleeper but in my 50s, I am turning into a person who can’t sleep because of street noise so I am sensitive to that in reviews. I tend to take the stairs even when there is an elevator but I prefer buildings with elevators so I have options and the one on Rue Saint Jacque has an elevator for the all-important arrival and departure day transfers with luggage. I travel light (usually a carry one size bag and a travel backpack) and I still prefer to bring my luggage up in an elevator. I have a feeling you might have more luggage given that you are coming off a river cruise and the elevator could be helpful – recall that in apartments there is no bell person to help with luggage so the elevator helps. Note that you will still have one flight of stairs to walk after the elevator ride, which is pretty common in Paris and you may have to go up one person at a time with the luggage (that is the way it is at my apartment in Paris). Also, ask the owner if the picture of the Eiffel Tower is zoomed in any way. I know that it seems like a crazy question, but I know of an apartment owner in Paris (one of my neighbors) who had such a zoomed-in picture of the view from his apartment when he used to rent it that it was silly.

Posted by wbfey1
406 posts

I dislike bursting balloons, so bear with me. Both apartments are beautiful, and either would be a lovely pied a terre for your time in the City of Lights. You are visiting in October, so AC is not necessary. My last trip to Paris was in October of 2015 and it was uncomfortably cold and drizzly. Other trips during that general timeframe weren't so cold, but it won't be hot, so not to worry.

But.....

Neither of the apartments seem to have the rental ID registration numbers now required. That is a red flag to me. Be cautious in booking without some guarantee that they are in compliance with the law. VRBO allows you to ask questions to the landlord. Ask some.

In addition, I have stayed in the area around the Pantheon, and my recollection is that it is about two miles from the Eiffel Tower, so I wonder if the pictures of the ET were taken with a telephoto lens. It looks rather closer than I remember it being. No matter, because it is a nice place to be.

I'm not a big fan of Rue Cler--too many Americans with RS's book, just as there are in the Marais, but that is somewhat cooler, so I don't mind so much. Rick prefers certain areas of Paris, and his guidebooks reflect it. Not suggesting you don't go to his suggested areas, but there are other wonderful places I prefer, including many areas in the Right Bank. The 10th and 11th are hidden treasures with bohemian lifestyles and vibrant street life. Also, the rents are cheaper because there are fewer tourists.

You may want to pick up a Lonely Planet guide on Paris to see what other writers are concentrating on. Always remember, in Paris it is very easy to get across town to the tourist meccas. While you don't want to rest your head in a hovel near Place Pigalle (believe me, you don't) there are wonderful, quiet apartments in the lightly touristed areas that allow you to become part of neighborhood. Cobbled streets abound; bistros are ubiquitous; Metro stops are your best friends.

Posted by mjfevergeon OP
4 posts

Thank you all for your helpful information. I had no idea about this new ID registration requirement. I had gone ahead and reserved the Saint Jacques property earlier today, but just put in a cancel request after not hearing back from the owners about my inquiry of the new registration law. Yikes, now feeling like I'm starting all over. Would you know where I will find proof of this registration in a vacation by owner type website like VRBO?

Posted by 75020
Paris
506 posts

Right now, Airbnb seems to be the best at posting registration numbers. My Time in Paris seems to have cut its inventory and is advertising only apartments with registration numbers.

I think you are wise in protecting yourself by searching for a legal apartment. Although others have pointed out the great number of illegal apartments still available, the fine for owners renting illegally has climbed to 50,000 Euros and more "violators" of the rental laws will be caught as the season progresses. Count on it.

Posted by JHK
Palo Alto, California, United States
1811 posts

I have not seen a VRBO listing with the registration number but if you look at AirBnB if the apartment has a registration number, it will be included in the description of the space. For four nights, you may want to consider a hotel or an apartment hotel if for no other reason than not having to go through the process of trying to vet apartments for legality versus illegality. An apartment for a first trip might not be ideal in any event because you might find that having a concierge or front desk assistance is useful. For the euro equivalent of US$195 per night (the rate for the cheaper apartment), you could find some decent hotels in Paris though there will be some compromises on space. A hotel that springs to mind is the very lovely Hotel Sainte Beuve in the 6th arrondissement which is showing room rates for around $200 per night in October 2018 which is less than the nightly price of the place on Rue Saint Jacques.

Posted by chexbres
Paris
2466 posts

The sink in the bathroom on rue Cler is scuffed and does not look finished. The corkscrew stairs leading to the bathroom will make you think twice, before going to the toilet.

Both apartments have a two -ring burner - if you are ok with that and a microwave, as well as the "twinkling" and the top of the light shining on the Eiffel Tower, you will have to close the drapes, or go blind. I lived in the 8eme arrondissement, about half a mile away, and it was murder.

I'd look for the 13-digit registration number on AirBnB.

The property owner cannot fake it, as it is tied to his financial information, and there is not enough space on the online registration form.

Posted by janettravels44
Chicago
4365 posts

I would never want a place overlooking a market street; they will be noisy and intrusive. Rue Cler is not very well located for touring Paris in addition to being a market street.

Posted by chexbres
Paris
2466 posts

You will likely tire of checking out the "tourists", as well as being chilly.
I would look for someplace else, with the 13-digit registration number.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
10786 posts

For four nights and a first visit I think you may regret not taking easy way out and getting a hotel .

Apartments generally have late check ins , most often with no capacity for you to store your luggage for the day if you arrive early in morning . Think about that extra hassle ( I've done it but for min week rentals )

And stairs with luggage are not fun either !

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
3106 posts

I agree with others that the St-Jacques location is more central for sightseeing, and for me the lack of elevator at the Rue Cler place would be fatal. And I'd be very cautious about a rental without the registration number based on what I've read in this forum.

Chexbres, who is very conscientious about reminding us about the registration law, generally recommends apartment-hotels like the Citadines chain for those with longer stays or wanting a kitchen. With just four nights, my suggestion would be a hotel in more or less the same neighborhood as the St-Jacques apartment. More convenient checking in and out, nice to have a front desk, you won't get stir-crazy during such a short stay.

There are many many threads on this board about Paris hotels. Booking.com can help you find one you like, then use the hotel's own website to do the actual booking.

Posted by chexbres
Paris
2466 posts

I would choose this legal apart'hotel:
residencehenri4.com
It has great transportation options - Metro and Bus - and is on a quiet little street, close to Odeon Metro. You can walk there from anywhere. It's in the 6th arrondissement.

Or, this one:
www.expedia.com/Paris-Hotels-Le-Roi-De-Sicile.h9541968.Hotel-Information
Also great transportation and you can walk anywhere from there. It's in the 4th arrondissement.
This apart'hotel might be noisy, but it has double-glazed windows, so you won't hear anything.

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
4866 posts

Here is an example of a VRBO listing with registration # (at the bottom of the section called: about the property). This is the apartment I stayed at in Paris.

https://www.vrbo.com/275340?unitId=275340&arrivalDate=09%2F01%2F2018&departureDate=09%2F29%2F2018

EDIT: Since you have a good lead time, I don't think you should be so quick to cancel the Le Saint Jacques location - give them a few days to reply. You're talking about an individual owner, not a business, so they may not have someone to answer phone or email requests immediately.

Posted by George
Independence, KS, USA
981 posts

For a stay of just four nights, I'd advise just getting a hotel in the 4th, 5th, or 6th arrondissment. We like to stay on the islands or close by and we can walk to the Louvre, St. Chapelle, Notre Dame, Conciergerie, and Luxembourg Garden. There are metro stops -- Cite, St. Michel, Odeon, etc that make getting to the Eiffel Tower a breeze. We've stayed at the Londres Eiffel hotel and had a great ET view but we now always stay on the islands, which are in the heart of Paris. Whatever you choose, be sure and book early and if a hotel, make sure it has a free cancellation if you find something more to your liking as you continue to do research. You might also get on Tripadvisor.com, Paris forum, which has many helpful posters specifically for Paris. For trains, check out www.seat61.com.

Posted by mreynolds
Boston, MA
1645 posts

To the OP: I think many would be interested in hearing the reply you get from the renter regarding the registration number.

I used previously AirBnb for a rental that turned out great, I notice the place is still rented but does not have a registration number and I suspect is not a legal rental.
I am going back for a quick trip this summer and decided for a couple of reasons to go with a Hotel this time.
For me the short stay and early arrival time played the bigger factor.
My sister though is also going this summer with her family and is set on a rental.

She is asking me for advise and though I warn her; I think due to budget every option she has showed me lacks any type of registration number.
With only limited knowledge ; I fear the new laws will result in average apartment rentals doubling in cost at least for busy periods and in the near term. So in her case trying to find an under 150 euro per night place for 3 in an area walking distance from the river, which in the past was possible will no longer be with a legal registered place.

Posted by chexbres
Paris
2466 posts

I think the foreign investors will sell the apartment rentals long before the year is up.
It isn't worth it to pay fine after fine, which the property owner is liable for.

@Nancy - the 1st through the 4th arrondissements have been given a pass. The 6th arrondissement doesn't benefit from that.
The goal is for residents to live in these apartments, not tourists, no matter how much they can afford to pay. Residents have a cap on rental rates.

I would pass on that apartment if she hasn't already applied for the registration number.

Posted by Nancy
Beaverton, Oregon
669 posts

After three successful apartment rentals in Paris, this year I’ve rented a Citadines apartment for two weeks in September. Prior to doing this, I sent queries to three agencies in Paris. In each, I specifically said that I’m only interested in legal rentals.

The first agency told me that their properties are rented for a restricted number of days and the income is declared as required. They said that they trust their owners to meet these requirements. That wasn’t too reassuring to me.

The second agency sent this in response - “Thanks for your request. Please explain your question since I'm not sure I understand. Our apartments are rented with the owner's authorization so it is legal. If you're referring to the issues concerning short term rentals in Paris, it's true that there is a lot of confusion about this going on these days, but for the moment, our owners have not been affected by this and are renting their apartments as usual. Owner's of single apartments are allowed to rent them up to a certain number of nights and must declare their income which is the case for our units.

Have you had dealings with other owners or agencies that have had issues with their apartments? I'm always curious to learn what is going on in the rental market, so please feel free to let me know.” I knew immediately that I didn’t want to deal with this agency.

The third agency replied with a list of suggested properties. Nothing was mentioned about restrictions/legality in spite of my specific request.

Posted by 75020
Paris
506 posts

As agencies listing and renting these apartments bear no responsibility for the legal status of the apartments being featured, they are free to tell you what they think you'd like to hear. Only the owner of the apartment faces a stiff fine of 50,000 Euros. The prospective tenant may find an apartment withdrawn from the market on very short notice. Regarding the 120 day rental limit, it will be interesting to see what happens to listings in the area of the first of May.

Expect agencies to continue to rent these apartments legally or illegally as long as the apartment owners list them. No skin off their teeth.

As pointed out many times, if there's no registration number, the apartment is an illegal rental.

Posted by chexbres
Paris
2466 posts

Citadines is legal.
Adagio Suites is legal.
Hotel Residence Henri IV is legal.
Le Roi de Sicile is legal.

And anything else with a 13-digit registration number is legal.

Posted by mjfevergeon OP
4 posts

Thank you all for your great discussion and excellent advice; we've learned so much! @Chexbres, we booked the Hotel Residence Henri IV as you suggested last night for 4 nights in early October at the end of our Rhine River Cruise with Viking. We'll take the train from Basel into Paris and still have to navigate that, but am feeling so much braver after everyone's help. I love that the hotel is quaint and very "Parisian" through my eyes and yet close to all the first-timers sites we would like to see. Having breakfast included is a bonus. Once again, you've all been a tremendous help for these two non world travelers! Our vacations usually include Maui or a Disney park...so if anyone needs help with that, I'm your gal. :) Merci Beaucoup!