Renting an Apartment in Paris

building

The other evening I was having dinner with a group of folks from out of town, and not one of them was staying in a hotel. Each had rented an apartment and were having a great time—and saving money, while doing so.

There are scores of websites and companies that rent mid- to high-end apartments, which are great places to stay if you’re looking for more plush surroundings. But while many owners will rent a short-term vacation apartment from an agency, the most economical way to stay in Paris is to find an apartment that’s for rent by owner. (FRBO). These deals may require a bit of digging, as residents will often post to online bulletin boards or send out e-mails to friends to pass on rather than listing them with agencies.

Aside from being less-expensive than a hotel, a benefit of renting an apartment is that you can save big-time by skipping hotel breakfasts and get your own freshly-baked pain au chocolat from that charming little pastry shop on the corner.


The upside to renting a FRBO apartment over checking in to a hotel is the price, the fun of staying in a neighborhood and living with the locals, and having a kitchen to cook in. The downsides?…

  • If you’re looking for a desk clerk or maid service, forget it. If you’re staying in a FRBO apartment, there usually isn’t anyone to call for museum hours, restaurant reservations, of if there’s a problem. Ask if they have someone you can call in case of an emergency.

  • The owner’s stuff may be there if you’re renting an apartment directly from an owner. You should expect a set of clean sheets (ask), as well as towels. But don’t necessarily expect fluffy stacks of high thread-count, brand-new linens or spacious, empty closets with lots of space.

  • With any apartment, you’ll pay a premium for location. Apartments in the Marais or Left Bank will be more expensive than other neighborhoods. Similarly, space is valuable in Paris, too. A studio will be far less than a 1 or 2-bedroom apartment. Consider how much time you’ll really be spending in your apartment and that tiny—and less-expensive—studio will probably be just fine.

  • Many rentals advertised may be from owners who are not legally entitled to rent their apartments. Keep in mind that they may not have insurance to cover events, such as personal and accident coverage.

  • Other things to inquire about: what floor is the apartment on, is there an elevator, what is the neighborhood like, are the owners smokers, can you use any food in the kitchen, are there any pets or plants, does the building have a guardienne, and ask if they can leave any instructions for operating the appliances as European machines work differently than their American counterparts.

  • Ask about a security deposit and how the rent will be paid, as well as the length of time before the deposit is returned. In spite of what some of the travel wags are telling you, few in Paris are interested in giving someone a deal who wants to pay in dollars.

  • Respect the owner’s belongings. Don’t snoop, and if you break something, leave a note and offer payment.

  • For those who want to be wired, ask about internet. Paris has free WiFi in nearly 400 public parks and spaces, too.

  • The first 9 arrondissements are considered the most desirable by visitors, although there are great places in other areas, too. Parts of the 10th, 17th, and 20th are not to be overlooked. But avoid areas where you’ll feel uncomfortable, especially on the outer reaches of the métro lines. Taxis can be scarce in Paris, especially late at night.

  • Make sure to get explicit instructions and directions from the owner about the apartment. Many places in Paris have door codes, numbered elevators, and what-have-you, which can be confusing if you’re jet-lagged and unaccustomed to Parisian apartment buildings. Print them out and bring them with you.

  • Always take caution sending money to strangers in advance and ask for references that you can telephone (not email) so you can confirm, to avoid being scammed. Never send money by telegram or Western Union, or places where you can’t verify the owner or get a refund unless you are 110% sure of the recipient. Some of the B&B websites have online reviews or verify owners, for an additional measure of assurance. Some other good tips can be found in Burned! A London Vacation Rental Scam.


    art nouveau building

    Paris Apartment Rental Tips & Links

    I don’t have any personal recommendations for apartment rental agencies since I have no experience dealing with them. These are links to sites that are either non-commercial or offer interesting alternatives to the usual apartment rental sites. As mentioned above, apartments rented from non-commercial agencies may not have the appropriate insurance that traditional agencies might offer and one should accept any risks associated with that.

    If you’re interested in swapping apartments, or renting out a spare room in someone’s apartment or home, here are several sites worth browsing:

    Air BnB
    Apartments and rooms for rent in private apartments.

    iStopOver

    Crashpadder
    Apartment rentals where you stay with the owner.

    Roomorama
    Rooms and apartments for rent.

    FUSAC
    Very good place to look for apartments, for long or short term.

    Craigslist Paris
    Check under “Housing” and “Sublets” for short-term rentals.

    Paris.org
    Paris vacation and short-term rentals.

    Particulier-à-Particulier
    One of the largest resources in France for real estate, including rentals. (Site in French and English.)

    American Church in Paris
    Mostly long-term, but the bulletin boards here have short-term apartments as well.

    Paris Bed & Breakfast Network
    As the name implies, Paris’ bed and breakfast network.

    Bed & Breakfast Paris
    Another B & B network.

    Context Paris
    Rents a wonderful apartment in the hip Bastille.

    Home Exchange
    Offers the possibility to do a home exchange.

    Frommers
    Description of Paris neighborhood and the attractions within each.

    Secrets of Paris
    Great tips and links for renting an apartment in Paris, including information about apartment rental scams.

    Paris Marais
    Some unusual apartments for rent in the historic Marais.

    Vacation Rentals By Owner
    Apartment rentals directly from owners in Paris.

    Couch Surfing
    Worldwide network for travelers wishing to network and willing to crash on someone’s sofa.

    Guardian Home Exchange
    UK-based home exchange program.

    Paris Apartment Info
    Cross-reference listing of commercial rental apartment companies in Paris.

    Paris Dining Guides

    Finding a Hotel in Paris

    My Travel Necessities

    Health Care Tips for Travelers to Paris

    Archive of my Paris travel tips



  • 47 comments

    • wow, thanks for your tips and insights into apartment rentals! will check them out when i next go to paris :)

    • Lots of good tips, David. I was baffled the first time I encountered a French washer/dryer, and the strange noises, not to mention its utter slowness, had me convinced that I had broken it. As far as agencies go, I’ve had good experiences with New York Habitat, but I’m considering trying a swap the next trip.

    • Great post–I have found that visits to Paris are about 100% better when I’m in an apartment vs. a hotel, if only because my hotel experiences have tended to strand me in touristy areas where it’s impossible to just wander into the traiteur and pick up whatever I want for lunch, etc. I don’t care about a doorman or elevator as long as I get to know a real neighborhood and come and go as I please. And the difference in price is astronomical.

    • Hi David –

      My parents rented an apt in Paris 18th arrondissement from these people: http://perfectlyparis.com/ last time they came to visit me and were very happy with it. It was much cheaper than a hotel and a very nice place. The owners even left them a bottle of wine and flowers for their arrival!

    • Shhhhh! Now the secret is out: the best way to really feel like a native is to rent an apartment. We’ve rented in major cities and in the Caribbean and have had the most wonderful experiences.
      Here are a few additional suggestions for rentals in Paris: VRBO, the classified sections of university magazines or websites (e.g. http://www.harvardmagazine.com, and Slow Travel (www.slowtrav.com).

      We’re renting an apartment in Rome (first visit) at the end of June and can’t wait!

    • My mother and I did this last summer through VRBO, and it was a huge success. We stayed in the Marais, and the price beat a hotel by at least 50%.

      Best of all, we ate sumptuous lunches (no reservation required, lower prices, easier to find restaurants in full daylight, no need to dress up too much, etc.) then had picnic dinners with all the wonderful things we bought on our rambles. The streets are so full of shops selling delicious foods, with a kitchen you can actually buy and eat them.

      A friend in Trelaze took me to the Monoprix, so I knew enough to go there for TP, tea bags, etc.

      I echo the previous comment about the washer/dryer, though. A total mystery, even with directions and our rusty French-Canadian-Grandmother French.

      Fiona

    • I used Chez Vous on a few occasions and have always been pleased. (chezvous.com)

    • On all my trips to Paris, not once have I stayed at a hotel. So far, no bad experiences with apartments except for that one time I got locked in my studio in the morning of a jour ferie�, and calling my landlord just got me a “desole, anne. je suis pas a paris, vous devez m’attendre ce soir.” I wanted to laugh and cry. Good thing my neighbor’s window was close to mine and I tossed her my keys so she could open the apartment from outside.

      Another tip: regardless of what the agency website description tells you about the apartment, when you are put through to the owner, reconfirm with him/her everything listed in the description. Sometimes the agency just dumps generic features when they list a new apartment and when you get to your Paris apartment sometimes you’re in for a surprise. No WIFI or phone or electric fan (must for the summer time)… It happens…

    • I didn’t see my comment show up here. I thought my story would be of interest.

      Sorry Mark, I’ve been moderating comments due to an attack of porn spam and I must’ve deleted yours by accident. Please feel free to re-post! -dl

    • Hi, David: Thanks for the timely article. I’m returning to Paris in October and arranged to rent a studio in the Marais through Paris Best Lodge. They received many good reviews on Tripadvisor.com so, I decided to take the chance. can’t wait to return (and hope the Euro falls a bit). Cheers, Ed

      PS, That Pain au Chocolat is making me drool on my keyboard!

    • We’ve had fabulous rentals from Parisperfect.com (they also have flats in London). If that’s out of your price range VRBO.com is a great resource.

      On the other side of the coin, I have had multiple disappointments using New York Habitat in both NYC and Paris.

    • How do you get locked INSIDE an apartment?

      I always rent an apartment, but only through one of the many rental services found online. Wiring funds to a stranger who promises to have an apartment waiting sounds kind of risky.

    • I agree with Steve, and better to wire deposits to a company, after you have a contract in place. We had a fabulous rental experience from parisvacationapartments, run by Alex and Isis. And their website has reviews by each of the prior renters noting their experience. We have stayed twice in the 2 bedroom in the 1st, with a living room that opens to the Palais Royale, and highly recommend it.

      http://www.parisvacationapartments.com/prop.pl?reviews=1

    • hi steve!
      a faulty key and an old double lock that opens only from the outside but may be locked from the inside. when my landlord finally came, he apologized profusely and even tried the double lock himself and deemed the thing needed to be replaced.

      Of course long after i’m gone so… regardless, i loved the location and oh, David, that was the apartment a stone’s throw away from Patrick Roger… miam! miam!

    • Steve & Catherine: Although that may be a cause for concern, I think that if someone takes PayPal (which is easier and cheaper than converting then wiring funds), you could suggest you just pay a deposit, then the rest upon arrival.

      Still, some folks are more comfortable dealing with an agency. But as a few other commenters pointed out, they’re not always so great either. So it’s best to go with one with a good, solid reputation.

      Ed: I stayed at a hotel recommended very highly by TripAdvisor on my last trip to Texas, and the description bore little resemblance to my experience. So I’m be sure and verify that the positive feedback was from actual guests rather than by the hotel/apt itself.

      Barbara: That’s okay. After 5+ years, I’m still baffled by my French washer-dryer (and cell phone—yikes, how many menus does one need to scroll through just to text a friggin’ message?)

    • definitely one of the most memorable and delicious things about my trip to paris is the chocolate croissants. that one in the picture looks amazing.

    • You just HAD to tempt me the the pain au chocolat, didn’t you? It’s probably a good thing Americans can’t make a good replication – I’d be grossly overweight! :) Thanks for the apartment tips. I hope to be able to use them one day!

    • My first trip to Paris was 2 years ago – doing pre-trip research, I found out about the apartment rentals, and found a great one online! What an awesome way to really make good memories because you really get the full “Paris feel” – at least temporarily – because you live like a local!

      Using real dishes, and real (small) bathrooms, and real Parisian kitchens – and you are usually on a more residential street…. so you’re more likely to have local meat and cheese and bread and flower markets on your street, like we did. Which is great for cooks, because how often do you get the chance to buy fresh, local meat and vegetables in PARIS and then go back to a PARIS kitchen and cook it!? We ate out a lot, but there is also something so special about being “authentically Parisian,” even if only for a moment.

      So, the apartment- We were greeted by Paulo when we arrived, who was the “manager” for the Parisian owner, who was out of town. Paulo gave us his cell number, and told us to call if we had any troubles. He showed us how to work everything in the apartment, explained the neighborhood, and was so helpful in getting acclimated. We had free internet in the apartment, so we could read our email daily, adn had FREE International phone service, so I could call my Mom, my friends, and the pet sitter every day!

      I would say it was one of the best things about the trip, which in itself was pretty flawless. Every morning my husband went out and got fresh bread or croissants, and I’d make a couple fried eggs for breakfast, and we’d have it with fresh coffee and whole milk out on our terrace!

    • On my 5th visit to Paris I finally got to stay a week, and a friend and I rented an apartment. The only downside was that when we were locked out one night (long story involving a stolen purse) we were stuck.
      The manager lived outside the city and couldn’t come in late at night to let us back in so we had to get a hotel that night. (The key also cost me $150 to replace).
      The moral of the story — don’t lose your keys!

    • Travelingmcmahans: Thanks for the story-sorry you had to go through it.

      Often in European countires, if a purse or wallet gets stolen, it’s found nearby since the crooks just take the cash and toss the rest. (Since if they’re caught with the cash the police can’t really do anything, but if they’re caught with your wallet, they’re nailed! And credit cards here have a chip so they’re much harder to do fraudulent things with.) So people do find them in a nearby trash.

      A friend of mine who lives here had her purse stolen in a cafe and her apt keys were in there, which cost—get this—1000€ to replace. It was an old lock and she was worried because the thief had her address from her ID card, too.

      That sounds like one of those times that travel insurance might have come in handy. I don’t know much about them, but travel experts do recommend it. There’s some links in my FAQs.

      Thanks for sharing the story and the warning about keeping your eye on things, especially when traveling. -dl

    • Apartments are definitely the way to go.
      The last few times I have been I have stayed in a lovely apartment in the 3rd:
      (http://rjweb.myby.co.uk/RFC-master.htm)
      It was recommended to me by an English friend, and is actually owned by an English couple (They even provide instructions on how to use the appliances in English!)
      There are a lot of good food shops in the area and even a very good food market.
      The place comes with free wireless internet and cable TV
      Cant wait till my next visit in October

    • My husband and I, who have travelled around France most years since 1986, originally went from hotel to hotel. The last few years, we have rented holiday accommodation in Paris and elsewhere, and would recommend it highly for all of the reasons that other visitors have noted.

      Two years, ago, however, we had the strange experience of a repo team arriving at our Paris rental to take away all of the furniture due to an unpaid bill. Much negoation later, we were able to contact the owner in London and get it all sorted out. Nonetheless, we were not pleased at losing the better part of a day in Paris, but he did refund the night’s accommodation. Looking back, it’s funny, and it would never stop us from renting again.

    • Last summer we house-swapped with a family in the 13th. We found it to be a fine place for us, close to the clean and new Olympiades metro station. The apt. was perfect for me, my husband, my sister and her boyfriend. For the brief amount of time we actually spent in the apt., I can’t imagine spending $$$ for a shower and a bed, regardless of location. It made our trip (despite the high airfare – anyone got a source for that?) very doable.

      David, I so enjoy your blog. It keeps my connection to Paris alive until we return…your food photography is seducing.

      If you get out of Paris again, hit Étoges – a tiny village south of Éparnay in the Champagne region. The loveliest chateau with excellent restaurant.

    • I hid some of those pain au chocolate (for the life of me, I can’t remember how to pluralize that…) in my bag on the way back from Paris! In 1999, when I was there, we stayed in youth hostels. I think one of them was Le Village, on Rue D’Orsel. It had a fantastic view of Le Sacre Coeur! And every morning, we stopped at the market across the street for, “Un pain au chocolate et une orangina.” I think we paid something like 120 francs per night for 4 or 5 of us? That seems ridiculous that it was that cheap, but could I be remembering correctly?

    • Friends and I rented a fab apartment on Rue des Ecoles in Paris through VRBO last September to celebrate my big *cough5-0cough* birthday. ;)

      We were thrilled with everything about it, including its perfect location for strolling the city. Here’s our review from the SlowTrav.com site (where we collect independent traveler reviews of vacation rentals).
      http://www.slowtrav.com/france/vr/review.asp?n=3115

      Thanks for such a wonderful blog. Your matzoh crunch recipe made the rounds of the SlowTrav message board folks last year, and is STILL requested for parties!

      Cheers,
      Colleen

    • Anyone thinking of renting an apartment in Paris via the Internet should inform themselves about common scams by checking out http://parishousingscamwatch.wordpress.com

    • Oasis: That’s a great tip, and interesting site. Thanks for bringing it to my attention and I added it to the information in the post.

      Anyone should take precautions sending money in advance to strangers and don’t send money orders or wire money unless you’re certain the rental is legit. Getting a trusted reference or two certainly helps, too.

    • Has anyone worked with John Cuadrado or Gloria Moskowitz? I got their name and numbers from the Harvard Magazine but they also advertise in the Princeton Review and the Stanford Journal. They have several apartments from owners that do not want their apartments out on websites. They have locations worldwide. Please let me know. Thank you everyone for your many suggestions in renting European apartments.

    • I agree with apartment rental concept – such a luxury to have space and a place to keep food and not have to dine out every night. I’m using parisperfect.com on this trip. The apartments are very nice, well-equipped, great locations. They are also rather expensive. But the company has very nice people working for it and wonderful service so the price has been well worth it.

    • For Caroline,

      I rented an apartment from John Cuadrado and Gloria Moskowitz several years ago, when I was working in Paris for the summer. They were very professional and I had no problems whatsoever. The apartment was exactly as advertised, and a lady who works as their on-site manager met me with the keys, and a list of places to visit, helpful information, etc. A wonderful experience. I have referred several friends to them.

      Cindy

    • David does not mention the charming 18th arr. as a delightful place in which to stay. I live in this area and know of a wonderful B&B that is owned by a French friend. The apartment is located in a building with a lovely private garden; it is beautifully appointed, is quiet and charming, and is just off the famous market street, Rue Lepic. It’s an easy walk to either Metro Blanche or Abbesses.
      The website is: http://www.villamontmartre.com

      Sue

    • Recently found a particularly interesting Paris Short-term rental luxury apartment rented directly by a family of artists, photogaphers. Right in the 6th arrondissement equally distanced from Flore and Bon Marche. The website in Saint-Germain des Pres at http://www.luxuryparishome.com

    • I’m hoping that a few of you may be able to comment on this: I am planning a trip to Paris and would like to rent an apartment. However, I have asthma and have concerns about smoking. Is a non-smoking apartment likely to be smoky, given the fact that others in the building will be smoking? Do any of you have experience with this? The other alternative is to stay out a non-smoking hotel, but given the length of time we plan to be in the city, we would rather rent an apartment. Any comments on this would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    • I am in the process of confirming the rental with Gloria Moskowitz in Paris. Despite 3 wonderful glowing US references and enjoying all my correspondence with Gloria, who seems like a wonderful person….it’s still freaking me out that I must pay by check, in full by 2 months before my arrival. I can’t seem to separate my confidence in Gloria and all the horror stories I hear about people arriving at an apartment and finding no way to get in and nobody to let them in. If it was just me, I’d be less hesitant, but I’m not the only person in my party renting this apartment…I’m splitting the cost with others. If Cindy or Caroline can e-mail me with their experiences, it might help easy my anxiety. I can be reached at kelly0271az@yahoo.com.

      Thanks!

    • I’m interested in contacting Gloria Moskowitz regarding Paris apartment rentals. Does anyone happen to have contact information for her handy? If so, I would much appreciate it if you could email me said info. Thanks very much!

      Mike
      satchmo496@hotmail.com

    • To all who left comments regarding this Gloria Moskowitz person, I’m not sure why this name is coming up, but if you are in the process of renting an apartment from an individual and you suspect something is amiss, you should likely trust your instincts.

      I’ve read of several apartment scams, mostly via Craigslist, and you can learn how to avoid them by clicking on one of the links in the post: check IP addresses and make sure the leasing person is indeed in Paris, and be wary of using Western Union for payment, among others. (You can Google “search IP address” to find an IP address locator although be aware that it is possible to block or hide one’s correct IP address.)

      Healthy skepticism is always in order when dealing with strangers and honest people will respond to messages and act professionally. I’m not certain if it’s normal for people to ask for full payment in advance and if it makes you uncomfortable, then you should probably search elsewhere for an apartment to avoid any problems.

      There are links in the post for places that provide rentals that you might wish to visit.

    • David – I definitely did not find the apartment through Craigslist and payment is being requested by form of personal check (not wire). Gloria is not in Paris, she’s based in the US.

      I also contacted Chez Vous (my great aunt has rented apartments from them in Paris successfully in the past), which is an agency based in California. They also do not accept credit cards either and require payment by check in full 65 days prior to check-in. So, knowing that CV is a reputable company following the same practice, makes me wonder if I’m being too skeptical. Other than references, I just wish there were some way to verify the authenticity of a rental apartment.

      I have google mapped the address and seen the building facade and the unusual shape of the building does seem to mirror the unusual corners of some of the rooms in the pictures presented on the website for the apartment.

      I’d just hate to give up a good apartment and a good opportunity because the New Yorker in me is a bit skeptical of a “good thing”. You know what they say: “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is!”, but is it? LOL!

    • Thanks for your wonderful blog. I found Context Travel through this entry, and my husband and I have booked their Bastille apartment for our May/June visit, as well as one of their small tours. Turns out the owners went to the same college as my husband and I (Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn.). Small world.

      It’s a nice apartment, in a side street in the Bastille. Make sure to hit the nearby Bastille market, on Thursday and Sunday. It’s a great market! -dl

    • David: Thanks for your tips about the market and soy milk :)

    • My husband and I have rented twice through John Cuadrado and Gloria — both times were great! They are very professional and trustworthy. I’m thinking of contacting them again for ideas for a late summer vacation to get some ideas of where to go. I wouldn’t hesitate to rent through them again.

    • Peg – Thank you so much for your reply. Gives me great peace of mind. :) Which property (street name alone is fine) did you rent from them?

      I’m very excited for this trip. I’m sure you all can relate!

    • My husband and I are renting for the 5th time through John Cuadrado and Gloria Moskowitz. They are excellent: professional and trustworthy, as well as friendly and helpful.
      Debby

    • My cousin and his wife recently rented an apartment in Paris from Gloria Markowitz, and had nothing but good things to say about their experience. I am planning a trip in April and am going to rent from her. She has been very professional.

    • No heroic journey for me today. I’d rather use the France great sncf TGV system next time, thank a lot to many encounters there, and chance. I hadn’t to hesitate and join some local team of happy follows in rue Mouffetard Mist Art Ben. so: Paris accommodation is to be recommanded for that: to rent an apartment in Paris. Will si for FRBO later… Edith Piaf never missed to be honored as in a wild top feast of MAB. Tried the vintage too, oups. There has always been excellence among choice. Then you can easily make it to any point “by foot”! As for spectators, people are very nice when quietly walking. But Oh, the morning in Paris after that, quartier du Marais!

    • Just a quick follow-up e-mail to my post above. We went on our trip to Paris in November (and were married there on November 12th!) and I can attest to the fact that all my concerns about renting an apartment on the other side of the world were for nothing! We rented from Gloria and John and the place was amazing! We were in the 6th, near Luxembourg Gardens. The apartment was BEAUTIFUL, well supplied and the local representative for Gloria was very knowledgeable about the area. It was a wonderful experience! I can’t wait to do it again (without the large entourage next time)!

    • The BEST apartments in Paris are those by ParisPerfect. No saggy beds, tepid bath water, worn linens, unkempt spaces.

    • Some of the comments I’ve been filtering out may have been generated from Paris apartment rental firms. The purpose of this post is not to recommend any particular site or company (which I won’t do, since I don’t have personal experience with them), but to notify readers of some of the options available.

      Renting an apartment in Paris is an excellent option for visitors, as it’s wonderful to have a kitchen and the extra space provided. You can check out some of the links in the post, and see if they meet your needs. As always, check references and don’t do business with anyone you feel uncomfortable doing business with. Do not send money (especially money orders) to people you don’t know or have suspicions about.