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Marais VRBO ? Safe as first time visitor

Just had the owner of a VRBO in Paris Cancel just 4 weeks away
When I inquired he said not to worry he had many places for rent in the Marais and would check on things tomorrow
On my end it said the owner canceled because it was a duplicate booking
Then he said he sent me a communication via phone number because that was better for him
(But I didn’t receive anything, anyway)

So things aren’t adding up
I’m a New Yorker, so I grew up learning to be a little skeptical when things don’t add up
Just want to be safe since I will be traveling in Paris with my son alone and don’t speak fluent French/know the city.

So, just curious how people have fared in VRBO/airbnb overseas- particularly as first time visitors (with regard to safety since their are no reviews to vouch for the integrity of the situation). Thanks so much.

Posted by
7190 posts

Stay at a name brand hotel with reviews your first time in Paris that way you have a person or crew at the front desk 24 hours a day that speaks English and some kind of security.

What online site do you use for a VRBO on Paris?
Are there a lot scams in New York?

Posted by
1759 posts

Hi Anna, agree with advice to stay in a hotel. Try Hotel Castex in the Marais. We stayed there on a Rick Steves tour and thought it was a nice place - location, rooms, breakfast - all good. Plus you'll have a front desk for any questions, advice. Have a great time in Paris!

Posted by
8291 posts

Does this apt have a registration #? If not, it’s not a legal apt. I know Paris very well, have rented apts there, the Marais is very safe, but what you are telling us sounds sketchy to me. I agree with Jazz, for your first time i would highly recommend a hotel. Use Booking.com to find one, put in filters, read the reviews (they can’t be faked like other sites such as TripAdvisor), book directly with the hotel after finding one on Booking.com. I’d recommend staying in the 1-7 arrondissement. My favorite is the 4th (the Marais and Ile St Louis).

Posted by
52 posts

Only problem is that now I’m just over a month out and the hotel prices have skyrocketed

Posted by
52 posts

And what I mean is that The VRBO listing is new so there are no reviews there It looked like a great place though so I did it

Posted by
143 posts

Marais is great, the situation with that sketchy VRBO is one to run away from and don’t look back.

Posted by
845 posts

I would never rent a place without reviews. Anywhere. You have to be especially careful in Paris, where they have cracked down on rentals big time in the last several years. Many places are probably operating illegally. I had heard that all rentals on booking.com were legal. They MUST list their license. Still, I got infatuated with a “great deal” in Paris on Airbnb that looked exactly like what we wanted. After several messages to the owner, I got nervous and asked for the registration number. Never heard from him again.

I’ve used Airbnb, Vrbo and booking.com all over the world. You need to know what issues might arise in the area you are renting. For Paris, if the deal seems to good to be true, it’s probably not legal.

Posted by
52 posts

Well
There is a property ID number
The pix look thorough
20 sq feet listed which may mean the bedroom o/w wouldn’t make sense

I’m stuck I think because hotels are booked and through the roof

Wondering if the is a way to validate through VRBO
etcetera

Just don’t have a lot of time and resources to scramble now for a nice place

Posted by
143 posts

Anna things don’t add up. Use booking.com or go through another site- but run don’t walk away from this very sketchy situation none of it is normal and all of it is red flags.

Posted by
8769 posts

I would run away from that sketchy landlord and never look back. I left an Airbnb apartment in Paris yesterday after spending a week there. I totally understand that prices are now higher, but you could lose your money entirely if you aren’t careful. I agree with the others who recommended that you stay in a hotel for your first visit. There are different price points. I agree with Susan that the 1-7 arrondissments, the closer to the river the better, are best for new travelers to Paris. I still like those areas and I’ve been 7 times.

Airbnb vs. VRBO - I’ve used both over the years, but I prefer Airbnb now. The landlords/hosts don’t get any money until you’ve been there for 24 hours. That helps eliminate scam rentals and gives you a better level of protection. Paris and other cities are requiring that rental apartments be registered and if a listing doesn’t have that number don’t even consider renting it. Also never communicate outside of the rental platform.

Posted by
8403 posts

First, don't allow him to communicate off platform or answer him. You won't get a refund. Going off platform is a red flag. Contact VRBO right away about this. Screenshot everything he has sent you. VRBO is not responsive to renters particularly and never if you aren't communicating through their platform/website

Then get your money back and look elsewhere. This is a dishonest person, or an outright scammer.

Posted by
6616 posts

I would not rent again from the same person. I would be requesting a refund through VRBO -- no private communication and would be notifying VRBO like yesterday. This is not an ethical person; he appears to be baiting and switching.

If you can find an apartment with another agent go for it. Otherwise be looking to line up a hotel. FWIW. AIRBNB appears to have better renter safeguards -- I don't think they release the money until you are in and have accepted the apartment.

Posted by
7598 posts

It will end up being a lot more expensive if you start communicating with him outside the platform and then he leaves you high and dry -- having taken all your money -- the day you arrive.

Go to a reputable site like booking.com and find a decent two-star or three-star that has availability for your dates. Yes it will be more than you had intended to spend, but it will be less than losing all your money.

Posted by
2003 posts

I might have some hotel suggestion if you can define sky-high within a budget window in euros. Prices are always higher in May, June, July, and September. You still have some time but I would find a hotel quickly.

Posted by
52 posts

thank you I would love hotel recommendations. At this point, I am thinking either to believe it will turn out fine or else decide to go down to San Raphael earlier . It doesn't solve my problem for the first few nights (26-29 May) and dI have also considered staying at an interim spot by train between Paris and Saint Raphael, but it is just 4 weeks away, so I may be in a similar boat (although I know chances are better anywhere but Paris).

He did refund my money completely and just asked me to rebook.
So it is not that he has taken my money thankfully (obviously, I know that does not mean that I am in the clear if I continue to try rebook the time through vbro, which is what he is asking me to do. I would like to think that things are just not smooth on his end because it is his first time hosting. When I asked (before this happened) if he would me us at the apartment, he said yes he would help us and was very kind, indeed, in his tone, in writing. My rate is just over 200/ night since I booked it many weeks ago. It has a license number on the VBRO site. On the other hand, when I scanned for hotels yesteday (hotels.com, etcetera), I am getting at the minimum 900/ 1000 per night.

Posted by
27728 posts

I see nothing but red flags there.

Is the registration number you saw 13 digits starting with 75-?

What he may "find" among his other listings (he didn't know when you asked but had to go and look tomorrow?) is likely to be much worse and more expensive, if it exists at all. I'm sorry, I've seen it all before. At least he got hold of you relatively early.

I hope that is 20 square metres, not square feet.

Make sure the money gets back to you. How much are you out - a deposit or the whole rental?

I know it is frustrating. But seriously, I know of people who paid the whole amount and arrived to find that the whole apartment never existed.

I'd never take a place with zero reviews. Let other people work the kinks out and learn from their reviews.

Posted by
27728 posts

the Holiday Inn: Paris - Versailles - Bougival has rooms for 112€ for the 26th thru 29th. I agree that it is not in the Marais. But it is something, with free cancellation.

Posted by
52 posts

Nigel
the property number through VRBO is a number (2098927a).
He is telling me now I do not need to rebook and just to show up at the address, which he has given me at the "registration" desk.

Posted by
5469 posts

Anna, I don't know how close VRBO is to AirBnB in actual operations, but why do you think that the existence of an intermediary provides you with effective protection? They are simply connecting you with an honest or dishonest property owner. They are not a charitable institution. And they are not "responsible" for the actions of people who use their platform to market them. You keep talking like VRBO owes you something. Does the fine print actually say so?

The internet is not a green field of happiness. It is a tool.

Posted by
727 posts

"He did refund my money completely"

Has the refund fully cleared and firmly back in your account.

Posted by
52 posts

I understand.
Now he is telling me to just show up and that I don't need to rebook even though I was already refunded.
I don't understand.

I feel like cancelling the whole trip

Posted by
52 posts

no it just happened yesterday that VRBO says my payment was refunded (full payment for stay)
but it is not back firmly

Posted by
52 posts

Thanks to everyone so much for helping me. I understand about the intermediary point and using the internet as a tool.
I'll figure it out.

Posted by
727 posts

That's the stuff, Anna.

I don't know Paris well enough to be of any assistance but hopefully, today, others will jump on the thread and give you some helpful suggestions to keep your trip alive.

Posted by
52 posts

I’m such a child at heart I want to believe everything is good

Posted by
27728 posts

Good luck, Anna, it sounds like you're making progress.

I think it is good to put the other property behind you. If you could just show up what's he going to do with other folks? Or would he really be there at the property you wanted?

By the way, 2098927a sounds like an internal VRBO number. In fact I was able to find it. There is not the mandatory Paris registration number anywhere in the listing. He does say 20 square feet but the photos are a little bigger than that. It is really compact, no bed (just the sofa bed, doesn't show the sofa in sofa mode) but bigger than 4ft x 5 ft. I'm sure you had noticed that it is a basement, and the only small window near the cooking area.

I personally would be worried with no registration number.

I hope these other 2 places you found work out better for you. Good luck...

Posted by
1729 posts

I just wanted to reinforce that you have made the right decision to move on.

Last summer I reserved an apartment through air Bnb in Venice. The rental company managing the property was not very responsive to my questions once I booked it. I ignored this red flag because I didn’t want to look for another place four weeks out (It was a last minute trip planned six weeks out).

AnywAy, location was perfect but otherwise lots of issues. Air conditioning did not work in one bedroom, bed configuration not as we requested, and wi fi did not work at all. The management company did not respond to any of our messages. We managed by having someone sleep on couch and moving a mattress to one bedroom. We had two less people than what we thought might be the case when I reserved place or could have been serious issue.

It was only time I have had a red flag prior to arrival and I have rented for years. Believe me I will never I ignore a red flag again even if less convenient and expensive. Things do not improve once you are in the unit.

Posted by
8291 posts

anna, I just checked Booking.com. I put check in 5/26, check out 5/30. You are right, even for Paris, prices are crazy high. The price you see in the listing is for 4 nights. I only found the two listed below in your budget. They’re in safe areas, but not central and not the most charming areas, and they aren’t charming hotels but they look fine to me. I have not read the reviews. Get a good map of Paris and mark where each hotel is. The metro is very good in Paris and will take you everywhere.

http://www.booking.com/Share-E4Syjs

http://www.booking.com/Share-ZLhQZh

Posted by
6616 posts

AirBNB supposedly does not release the money until you have the apartment and are checked in -- so arriving and finding an unacceptable apartment or no apartment, you have some protection. You have zero protection dealing with an individual to whom you have sent money.

Posted by
8291 posts

I don’t know that suburb but good for you finding something you like.

Posted by
12887 posts

With this unfortunate and unneeded incident, all the more reason I never resort to AirBnB, VRBO, or apt rentals, basically not an option.

Posted by
3824 posts

Levallois Perret is a pleasant suburb which does not really feel like a suburb. It is right next to Paris and quite close to main attractions thanks to line 3. Looks like a good fallback option!

Posted by
3458 posts

I have the same view as Fred about booking accommodations, As long as you're staying in Levallois Perret , if you listen to classical music , Maurice Ravel is buried in the cemetery there . ( I often visit cemeteries )

Posted by
52 posts

So that leaves hotels
Okay
I guess I’ll know from now on

and as for cemeteries
We will go to Pierre Lachaise
But what other?

I want to go off the beaten path
but am an artist, mainly in clay and charcoal
my previous life was in medicine
and in school geology and chemistry
So I am curious about many things
I was thinking to focus on gardens and cemeteries in Paris
Before heading South

Thank you all so much for making the world smaller

Posted by
3824 posts

About cemeteries: from Levallois, you will be very close to the dog cemetery in Asnières. A very unusual pet cemetery that could be worth seeing, definitely off the beaten path!
And make sure to go to Ile de la Jatte in the middle of the Seine. It was famously painted by many late 19th c. artists; the scenery is hard to recognize nowadays but a few hints remain, with the help of interpretative signage.

Posted by
3458 posts

One of the other Parisien cemeteries that is worth some time , is Passy , just behind The Palais de Chaillot . Really stunning architecture , The burials of the Manet family of artists , Claude Debussy ( with his second wife and daughter ) among others -https://frenchmoments.eu/passy-cemetery-paris/ The cemetery in Montparnasse , is also a good one

Posted by
6616 posts

Anna -- go to the Montparnasse Cemetery and in the smaller section (separated by a road from the main section is the most amazing tomb -- the tomb of Charles Pigeon and his wife -- he invented inexpensive usable gas lights for households. The tomb is charming and memorable. Dreyfus is also buried in this cemetery in the main section but is hard to find -- but his tomb is saddening. One of his granddaughters is memorialized on it -- she was murdered in the camps. France was not kind to the Dreyfus family

Posted by
8291 posts

AirBnB is quite good, has many safeguards, it is not the equivalent of VRBO, which has no safeguards. And reputable apt rental agencies are also good. Can’t paint them all with the same brush.

Posted by
428 posts

If you're not locked in to.Levallois Perret, I would suggest you contact VacationInParis.com. Can't say what they have available or what the prices are, but they are highly reliable. They'll give you honest advice about apartments, locations, etc. and their agents have usually visited the places they rent so it's first-hand knowledge.

Posted by
1290 posts

Anna- have you tried contacting a few hotels that are in Central Paris directly by e-mail? For your 1st time in Paris I would want to stay more central. I can only imagine how stressful this has been for you...renting an apartment usually works out just fine as long as it has 50+ positive reviews. I have rented apartments in London (VRBO), and AIRBNB in Rome, Florence, Paris and they have all been wonderful. I took a quick peek on the more popular 3rd party booking website and OH MY! The prices or zero availability. You can compose an email with your dates and ask for availability and send it out to multiple Hotels and see if you get any bites. We stayed at Les Fontaines du Luxembourg , which I can recommend as one of the hotels (Shows sold out) to email. If you go to Expedia, and do a search for this hotel it will pull up similar prices/location hotels that you can email. Best of luck.

Posted by
8291 posts

VacationInParis is excellent, but quite expensive.

Posted by
136 posts

We have used VRBO/HomeAway for over a decade in the US and Europe without significant problems. If you booked through VRBO, they will refund your money. Let them know that the owner tried to contact you directly to book a room. During the years with VRBO, we had lots of wonderful apartments and only 1 clunker (a former AirBnB in Rome). For our upcoming trip to Spain in the fall, we had a cancel after booking but VRBO fixed everything, including finding comparable apartments. We love Le Marais. Enjoy Paris.

Posted by
52 posts

Found beautiful place Ile Saint Louis
For $400 per night

It seems that the price may be worth being in this beautiful and central location
versus Levallois- Perret

Posted by
52 posts

There is another place in the 7th Arr.
near Eiffel Tower
Half that price

Is it worth the extra cost to stay on ail Saint Louis ?

I have heard it is so special

Posted by
8291 posts

Is it Hotel de Lutèce on Ile St Louis? I love that hotel. The other 2 hotels are also very good. There’s a 4th hotel but it’s being renovated. Ile St Louis is special and my favorite area. It’s a small island next to the island where Notre Dame is. It’s the most central area in Paris. It’s surrounded by the Seine river, jaw dropping views, and very charming. If you can easily afford $400 I would do it. But half the price in the 7th, depending on which hotel, is fine. The 7th is better than Levallois Perret imo.

Posted by
52 posts

It is through vacation in paris.com
—a site someone told me to visit yesterday

Posted by
52 posts

They are Apts
From Vacation in Paris.com
Same owner
Good reviews
One is on Ile Saint Louis
The second place is in the 7th

The former is twice as expensive but since it is already a special trip wondering if the bring in a lovely place on Ile Saint Louis is worth every penny or
if being in the 7th Arr. will be just as joyful

Posted by
3354 posts

I’ll add that we loved staying in the Marais. It was several minutes from Notre Dame & lle Saint Louis. Lovely area. We enjoyed the charming Hôtel Caron de Beaumarchais.
https://www.carondebeaumarchais.com/en/
If you are interested a walking tour we hired sightseekersdelight.com Great experience.
All the best.

Posted by
428 posts

You can look up apartments on the VacationInParis website. Once you get some ideas, you can call them to get a more specific sense of the apartments and areas. They've given me very good advice in the past.

Posted by
9712 posts

I usually stay in the 7th and enjoy myself thoroughly. The 7th is a fairly sizeable arrondissement though.

Posted by
3458 posts

I have always stayed in the 7th , in the same hotel Pam stays in . I should probably let this go , but as a fellow New Yorker , I have one further comment . I just looked at vacation in Paris . This is a third party booking site operating out of NEW JERSEY .. It might be Ok , and I have no first hand experience with them , but this has , for me , the distinct scent of the possibility of the problem you just had , Some independent owner with a few small properties who , if a better deal comes along for them . may leave you holding the bag again at the last minute . Some street smarts are necessary here . I hope you aren't offended EDIT !! My curiosity was killing me , this is some operator working out of his house in Newton NJ look here - https://www.google.com/maps/place/10+Wildwood+Trail,+Newton,+NJ+07860/@41.0529986,-74.786624,10.25z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x89c36f6ae633ba8f:0x7ba7c85ad82f0775!8m2!3d41.1170025!4d-74.7587753

Posted by
8403 posts

Steven--I think this one has been around for a long time. I remember years ago people would talk about a rental site that had its offices or téléphone in the US. It made it easy and comfortable for people renting.

Susan and others, is this the same agency?

That map is a riot: the address is a field.

Posted by
3458 posts

Bets, something like this still raises a lot of red flags for me . At the very least , this is a middleman , I wouldn't want to take a chance on someone who isn't local ( in Paris ) . As I said I don't have any first hand knowledge of this , and I would defer to your judgment , but it raises my antennae a good deal . Hope all is well , Sue joins me sending regards , Steve

Posted by
52 posts

Also
There are no recent reviews
I asked why and they said COVID.
which is the obvious answer but
I see many reviews recently on other sites.

Posted by
428 posts

Gee, making problems where there aren't any. VacationInParis is a reputable company, which many people on this forum have used over the years. I certainly can't vouch for all of their transactions but they've been honest and reliable when we've used them.
What's with the aspersion cast on middlemen? Isn't AirBnB a middleman? VRBO? Hotels.com? Booking.com? Kayak? Are these all untrustworthy?
Any company that sells vacuum cleaners, cameras, clothing or even food is virtually always a middleman. That doesn't automatically make them bad.
By the way, I was born and raised in New York City myself. I'm suspicious until things are proven otherwise. In this case, my recommendation was based on actual experience.

Posted by
727 posts

Every time I read forums that have stories about 3rd party rentals going sideways, I just breath a big sigh of relief that I only book directly with reputable hotels, that serve a great breakfast and have an on-site bar for a nightcap. Further, I book only rooms that require a 24-hour notice of cancellation and I pay when checking out.

I receive a confirmation from the hotel when booking and I never again think about the place until I arrive.

Posted by
52 posts

Well
It all makes sense now
I was thinking it would make us feel more like locals

Looks like I’m learning the hard way

Posted by
727 posts

Anna, I think you had / have the right intentions for what YOU wanted YOUR trip to be - what you probably didn't know was that you needed full on spidey senses to get there.

Posted by
8291 posts

What is “too late now”??

Bets is right. Vacation in Paris is a very reputable apt rental agency. Been used by, and recommended by, posters here for more than a decade… as Bob said.

Posted by
52 posts

Yes, you are so right to change the tone
I am so grateful for the lead!
I am feeling much better now about the chance for this place on Ile Saint Louis !

Just lots going on otherwise and letting that color my attitude about it
Thank you so much

Posted by
5469 posts

Isn't AirBnB a middleman? VRBO? Hotels.com? Booking.com? Kayak? Are these all untrustworthy?

Bob, there are plenty of reports of cancelled bookings, even on just this website. It's well established that AirBnb was set up as a Silicon Valley Bro "Act now, Apologize later" company that has consistently tried to avoid regulation. They state outright that they are not a lodging company, but rather a business that connects buyers and sellers. Many responsibilities are placed on the owner, but not rigorously enforced by AirBnb.

I'm not going to discuss the moral issue of local short-term rental prohibitions, but they have produced last minute cancellations when the owner gets caught. That is a practical problem, not just a moral issue.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/general-europe/why-do-you-like-air-bnb-so-much

Posted by
2003 posts

Just a few months ago, Airbnb's final challenge to France's short term rental laws was decided by France's highest court - French law stands and virtually the only legal rentals in Paris are:

  • Rentals offered by an owner/occupant of his residence while away.
  • Rentals of commercially licenses apartments - of which there are only several hundred in the city
  • Rentals generally located on the ground floor.

The concern is not with the listing agency or platform, it is with the apartment owner, but virtually all platforms list illegally offered apartments. Presently, only the apartment owner pays the fine (up to 50,000€ per illegally rented apartment). Airbnb, VRBO, Abritel, Le Bon Coin, and Locacity, among others, will accept anyone's money wanting to list an apartment, legal or otherwise. Booking.com only accepts listings from owners providing a 13 digit registration number, but even the number does not guarantee an apartment is legally offered. There is an annual 120-day ceiling on rental periods, and it is possible to make up a 13 digit number just to obtain a listing.

Eventually, city inspectors will catch up with the unscrupulous. In the meantime, renting apartments short term has dangers. There has been an increasing number of units withdrawn from the marketplace, a trend that will likely continue. Use caution.

Posted by
84 posts

Tocard, do you know if this registration is only for Paris? Or does it apply to all of France?

Posted by
264 posts

The obligation to register an Airbnb, Abritel, etc accommodation is a decision that depends on the municipality.

Most major cities and many cities located in tourist areas now require this registration number

Posted by
2003 posts

The French government rental regulations apply to all towns/cities with a population in excess of 200,000 inhabitants. However, all the communities surrounding Paris, the inner portion of la petite couranne, are automatically included in the rules regardless of size.

To my knowledge, only Paris and Nice have actively enforced these rules and interpret them slightly differently, which is their option within the law ALUR, the legislation from which the rental laws are enacted. For example, in Nice, rentals are limited to 90 days per year, it is 120 days per year in Paris (there has been talk to lower the limit to 90 days.) Commercial rentals are much easier to license in Nice, an owner may have up to 3 commercial apartments, those with no limiting rental period, with relatively easy qualification requirements. In Paris, commercial apartments are extremely costly to license, as it requires an owner to purchase double the square meter size of a qualifying apartment and convert that space from commercial property into long term rental space for residents.

There was a latter law allowing 30 day rentals for those changing jobs, students, and various other qualifiers. Rentals for tourism is specifically excluded in the 30 day exception rule.

Posted by
6352 posts

Never used VRBO but have used AirBnB since it’s creation. My rule of thumb is a minimum of 10-12 reviews. Owner doesn’t have multiple properties, its his or her picture in the property description ( not their pet or travel icon like the Effiel Tower or a Pyramid) Lastly, given the time difference the owner responds with in 12 hours.

Its also important they share exact address so i can research via Google maps where the closest market, public transport, and coffee shop is located.

BTW Hotel Muguet in the 7th works with your budget.

Posted by
5469 posts

I came back because this Trip Advisor NYC post seems like a very credible report of Booking dot Com failing to deliver a room that they "sold". Best Western is alleged to have said the room was double-booked, but I take that as actually meaning that BW failed to deliver all of the rooms that Booking was authorized (?) to sell for some date. So the second booking is, rather, BW's discovery that they could get significantly more for the room.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60763-i5-k13925674-Hotel_Cancelled_appartment_back_up_needed_help_please-New_York_City_New_York.html

It's just one data point about third-party HOTEL booking sites. It's a warning to us that just telling someone to use a legit hotel room isn't quite ... enough. Especially in an age when many people don't see a third-party site as different from dealing with an actual provider.

Posted by
4 posts

Try Hotel Familia or Hotel Minerve both on rue des ecoles in the 5th. Lively student area, not far from Luxembourg Gardens, Cluny, Seine, Ile St Louis.

Posted by
44 posts

I have rented apartments from Vacation in Paris (vacationinparis.com) 5 times since 2008. Three of them have been in the 7th, last time being about a month ago. Stayed in a very nice 2 bedroom apartment on Avenue de la Bourdonnais.

The agency itself has been a pleasure to work with, especially Jan. The are very responsive and have previously answered all of my questions.

I do like the fact they are located in the USA. I am able to pay in dollars with a credit card and don't have to worry about currency fluctuations raising the price of my lodging.

I would not hesitate to recommend Vacation in Paris.