Wednesday, October 12, 2016

TRAVEL TIP: Renting an apartment in Paris

Over our years of traveling to Paris we've almost always relied on renting apartments as opposed to hotel rooms. The reason is simple: an apartment gives you the flexibility of cooking at home, especially if you're staying for a week or longer. It also has the added benefit of (usually) being the less expensive way to spend your money on lodging, especially in Paris.

My first inclination when looking for accommodations this past winer for our trip in September was to turn to the latest craze: Air BnB. While their website certainly offered plenty of options, in all price ranges, the one thing that put me off was they required all the rental charges to be paid up front. Yet the owner would only get their money once we actually showed up. Sooooo, Air BnB would be able to play with our money for five months. And I can just imagine the hassle of canceling. . . That nasty airline business model rearing it's head. No thank you.

Beginning in 2006 and until the end of 2010 we rented from the same person, both when we were living in Paris as well as when we returned for extended stays (such as two or three months at a time). We found her through the excellent local resource FUSAC (French USA Connection) and appreciated being able to meet with the owner in person. Unfortunately, that changed in 2013 and we found ourselves looking elsewhere. Friends from Providence, Rhode Island, had been very happy using the Parissharing website and so in 2013 we followed their lead. When we returned earlier this year to perhaps use the site again, we learned that prices had gone way UP so we thought to look elsewhere.

I recalled in years past a wonderful set of accommodation guides by Alistair Sawday called Special Places To Stay in France (or Ireland or Italy, etc.). I went to their website and before long had found just the place. It was very reasonably priced, quite spacious and a 10-minute walk to Père-Lachaise Cemetery in the 20th arrondissement! We were sold. I emailed the owner, she called me, I called her back and we shook hands on it, in a manner of speaking.

As it turned out our hostess was a lovely British woman who had spent the better part of her adult life in France. After we arrived in Paris and made our way through the Metro to the 20th arr. we quickly found the apartment. Anne was waiting for us when we arrived at the apartment and this was one instance of when first impressions -- even those made by internet and phone -- proved spot on. She was charming, engaging and full of life.

The apartment was nearly perfect with a 10-minute walk to the nearest Metro stop, a grocery store (Franprix) right up the street, an open-air market just 10 minutes away by foot and the neighborhood quiet. We spent 11 wonderful days in Anne's home.

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