Finding the Paris pied-a-terre of your vacation dreams + a curated list of rentals
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Booking a holiday apartment in Paris gives you roomier accommodation and the chance to experience life like a Parisian, with many of the same luxuries of a hotel stay. Short-term rental apartments are plentiful in the city of lights and can come with fabulous features such as charming balconies and Eiffel Tower views! This guide will help you find and book the perfect apartment for your trip to Paris.
I love renting apartments when travelling with friends – a living room allows us to relax together when we aren’t sightseeing. And apartments are ideal for families; having a kitchen allows you to prepare food for kids, alleviating the pressure to eat out three meals a day. But on this trip to Paris, I was travelling on my own. No kids to feed, no friends to share downtime and a glass of wine with. So why an apartment? I have dreams of moving to Paris one day, so thought staying in an apartment would give me a little taste of living like a Parisian! We might just call it “Susan in Paris.”
I started looking for a rental apartment about two months ahead of my September trip and quickly learned I was a bit late; many options I liked were already booked. So I spent considerable time comparing rental agencies and available apartments and picked up a few dos and don’ts along the way, because apartment rentals are a little more involved than reserving a hotel. These tips should help you find a fabulous pied-a-terre for your trip to Paris.
Tips for Finding a Paris Holiday Apartment
Your first decision is where to stay – central Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements (neighbourhoods) with the River Seine dividing the areas known as the Right Bank and the Left Bank. You can get more vacation rental for your money the further away you go from the Seine, and if your budget is tight, you might consider it. Using the Paris subway system (known as the Metro), to get around is very convenient with stations every few blocks.
If you want to be within easy walking distance of Paris’s most popular attractions you will want to stay as central as possible – between the 1st and 7th arrondissements. There is great debate about the best arrondissement for a Paris vacation, and there’s no one answer. Many people will recommend the 7th and I agree – you are close the Eiffel Tower, the Seine and within a walk to many attractions. But I actually prefer the 6th, and the 5th is also very popular with tourists. I am not as much a fan of the Marais as a place to stay, but many people love it (and it’s great for shopping). Wherever you stay, most apartments will be within a short walk to a Metro station, but it doesn’t hurt to ask the distance to the nearest one. The 16th arrondissements is also a great option – I had a wonderful stay here on another trip, although at a hotel, not an apartment.
Many Paris apartments are located in charming old buildings and often those charming old buildings don’t have air conditioning. If you are travelling in June through mid September this is a very important consideration because Paris can be very hot in summer. Read the description carefully to understand if there is AC; many will have portable units. I used a portable AC during my September visit and it was fine and was the difference between being comfortable and not so. I would never rent an apartment with no AC for a stay during the warm months.
Many charming old buildings also don’t have elevators. Some do. This is important. Are you ok to walk up three flights of stairs to reach your apartment? When I arrived at my Paris apartment I was met by the property manager who helped me carry my bags up several flights. When I left at the end of the stay, I was on my own. I actually packed two small roller bags (rather than one large) for this reason; two small bags allows me to carry them one at a time. I learned this lesson the hard way in Barcelona when my husband left early and I had to get my one very large and heavy bag down four flights of steep stairs.
Read the reviews of any apartments you are considering. You will find out things like it’s a busy street, or the neighbours above have a loud baby, or in my case – that the loading dock for Le Bon Marché department store is across the street and they sometimes get going early in the morning. It actually wasn’t a problem for me but I was glad to be aware of it ahead of time.
Read the Fine Print
Photos don’t always tell the full story, read the fine print on the listings. I found one apartment I liked but didn’t realize until I read the detailed description that the “kitchen” was only a sink and microwave. That would be fine for some renters; I wanted a fridge for my Sancerre (wine) and cheese.
Listings will show a place in its best light and photos taken with a wide-angle-lens can make rooms appear larger than they are. Checking the square footage will give you a complete picture and help you ensure the space is large enough for you/your group (1 square meter is roughly equal to 10 square feet). Some listings will include a floor plan which is very helpful.
What About a Paris Airbnb?
I looked at Airbnb’s but it was slim pickings in central Paris. I’ve stayed in Airbnb’s in Rome, Barcelona and Geneva and had great experiences; the selection for Paris seemed less plentiful than in those cities.
The difference with Airbnb is that it doesn’t offer you a “curated list” and you won’t get the level of service you get with the smaller/local rental agencies. Many Airbnb apartments are self check-in, so you are on your own. But they can also be great value.
FYI – I had a negative experience with VRBO with a misleading listing, so I just don’t book through them anymore. (I don’t think they monitor effectively for misleading listings – it’s buyer beware.) I know other people have had good experiences; I am just sharing mine.
Booking Your Paris Holiday Apartment
After ruling out many that were not quite right, and missing out on a few that were already booked, I chose an apartment with an agency called Paris Perfect. I appreciated that they had a curated selection of beautiful apartments in great locations and the reviews were very good. Apartments were priced in $US and had floor plans so I was really clear on the setup.
They are not the cheapest option I looked at but had among the nicest collection of holiday apartments – the decor was gorgeous. I found a charming 1-bedroom which was in my budget (thanks in part to a summer sale which reduced the price). So I booked the Sangiovese apartment in the 6th arrondissement, a central location that would allow me to walk almost everywhere I planned to go.
Payment & Booking Terms
I had to pay in full for my rental at the time of booking as I was within 60 days of arrival. Having to pay in full ahead of your stay is typical. This is one of the main differences from a hotel where you typically don’t pay until checkout, unless you’ve chosen a prepaid rate.
Another consideration is the policies for cancellation of holiday apartment rentals which are typically much stricter than hotels. It’s important to know your options if you do have to cancel. Your travel insurance may be the only way to recover your payment with a late cancellation – even during Covid.
You may also be required to purchase a damage waiver that covers you for accidental damage. With Paris Perfect the damage waiver amount was included in the reservation confirmation. This was essentially insurance, rather than a damage deposit, as it was a small amount that would not be refunded.
Note that sometimes cleaning fees are in addition to the price you are quoted so be clear if those are additional, and the amount.
Arrival in Paris
Ahead of the trip, I was emailed a Paris welcome and arrival packages with details about the apartment and recommendations for a transfer from the Paris airport. Most rental agencies will arrange your airport transfers for a fee, or recommend a car service which you can book directly. I just took a taxi from the Paris CDG airport; it was straightforward and cost 58 euros plus tip.
The property manager for the Sangiovese apartment reached out to me a few days ahead of my arrival to confirm my flight details and ask if I had any questions. We were able to easily communicate via email and WhatsApp (which I recommend for Europe travel) and Thomas was waiting when I arrived at the apartment. It was 11 am, and after a 9-hour overnight flight I really appreciated the early check-in. If your apartment isn’t ready upon arrival some agencies will store your bags for you – If needed, Paris Perfect will keep your luggage at their office for you until your apartment is ready.
When renting a Paris holiday apartment, ideally you have an English speaking employee greet you at the apartment and give you a tour, as I had. Most will do this but do ask when you are booking. It was great having Thomas to show me around. Unlike a hotel stay, your apartment has some form of kitchen or kitchenette, dishwasher, and in some cases a washer and dryer. Having someone show you how to operate them, as well as turn on the TV, is really helpful. I was still having to recall the French words for washer and dryer when I did a load of laundry as both functions were part of a single machine.
I also appreciated the pages of useful tips and resources for everything from how to take the Metro in Paris, to names of a local dentist and doctor and recommended boulangeries (bakeries) in my neighbourhood. Since I was travelling solo, it was reassuring to know I had support if I needed assistance while in Paris.
My Paris Perfect Apartment Rental
My apartment was even prettier than the pictures. The bed was beautiful and comfy – it was so high I felt like the Princess and the Pea. The kitchen was fully equipped and I loved the little extras like umbrellas and a collection of Paris guidebooks. Similar to a hotel, there was a hair dryer and an ironing board and iron. There were also several adapters which I appreciated as I was only travelling with one.
A lovely array of goodies was waiting for me when I arrived – a bottle of wine, nuts, cookies, orange juice and milk. There was also a coffee maker with coffee.
Book a Holiday Apartment in Paris - Six Rental Agencies
My experience with Paris Perfect was wonderful so I can highly recommend it. My apartment was gorgeous and spotless and the service from booking to check-in was excellent. All of the apartments are designed in a charming and traditional French style – gorgeous chandeliers, ornately framed artwork, velvet drapes and so on. If you are looking for a modern or minimalist aesthetic for your Paris stay look elsewhere. Paris Perfect are a little pricier than some other options listed here, especially at full price (I mentioned I was able to book during a sale). If you have a tight budget look early so you have the largest selection.
They do have many Paris apartments with Eiffel Tower views and balconies (two are included in my “short list” below). Like many agencies they have staff available to help you find the right apartment, so if you don’t have time to do your own search, they can help
Paris Vacation Apartments
Paris Vacation Apartments has a lovely curated collection of 23 beautiful apartments all decorated in a traditional French style. This is a great starting point to get a feel for prices and options and not be completely overwhelmed. They’ve operated since 1995 and their apartments have multiple reviews. This is a full-service rental company and they offer lots of local knowledge. I would love to try them on my next visit and I’ve listed two great options below in my personal short-list of apartments.
Plum Guide touts itself as having a highly selective selection process with only a fraction of homes that apply being accepted into their portfolio. It is a London-based company, similar to Airbnb in that it has rentals in many cities, not just Paris. I found a couple of options but nothing that was quite right – to be fair I was looking on short notice. Plum Guide operates on the host model: once a guest books they are put in touch with either the owner or property manager. They offer extras for a fee such as airport transfers and stocking the fridge for your arrival. (Most do this). When searching for a property you can select the currency you want to see prices in, saving you having to check current exchange rates. They give their rental properties cute names like “Voyage of the Beagle”.
ParisForRent & Haven In
I’ve listed ParisForRent & Haven In together because they are owned by the same company. Haven In seemed to have more expensive apartments overall and there were multiple options for very large apartments – up to 4 bedrooms. If you are visiting Paris with a big group, or large family, they have options. They offer an in-person welcome, 24-hour support and planning services. San Francisco & Paris-based Paris For Rent has some of the same apartments in their portfolio. The prices are in $US and there seemed to be more options “from” under $300 a night. Some of the apartments offered discounted rates for monthly rentals.
Paristay - Options for Smaller Budgets
Paristay has a much larger inventory than the others on the list, 700+ properties. The time I spent looking seemed to indicate there was more choice for tighter budgets so you might start here if that is what you’re after. When I looked there were fall rentals for as low as 650 euros for five nights (the minimum stay).
I liked the search interface of their website. Rentals begin at 5 days and are available by the month as well.
OneFineStay - Luxury Rentals in Paris
One Fine Stay is a luxury vacation rental agency with properties around the world. This is on the very expensive end; if you have a large budget this might be for you. They have a highly-curated selection of beautiful properties and I had a lovely time perusing and imagining where I might stay were I looking in this price range. (Note that due to the pandemic, One Fine Stay is not taking Paris apartment bookings until 2022.)
Holiday Apartments in Paris
(My “Short List” for Future Trips)
Paris Apartments with Eiffel Tower Views
Paris Holiday Apartment with a Garden
One-Bedroom Paris Apartments
Two-Bedroom Paris Apartments
Three-Bedroom Paris Apartments
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J'adore! My Paris Holiday Apartment
My stay in a holiday apartment in Paris was truly magical. I loved having a living area to relax in after a busy day of spent sightseeing, and having a kitchen allowed me to shop like a Parisian. I bought cheese at the framgerie, I visited the nearby Raspail Farmers Market. It was a weekday so mostly busy with older Parisians asking very pointed questions about the provenance of the cheese or the freshness of the fish. It was a thrill.
By the end of my stay I was wearing a beret and buying baguettes on my way home in the afternoon, just as the French do. I love staying in hotels in Paris – they always feel special. But apartments offer a different experience; the chance to truly “live in Paris”, even just for a few days.