The truth is, even in a beautiful city like Paris, it’s still the apartment you stay in that could make or break your trip – so choose wisely!

POSTED BY JENNIE CELDRAN

When planning a trip, I spend the most time on choosing an apartment, and I mean hours of combing through dozens and dozens of choices. I read all the reviews, I case the neighbourhood using Google maps and…I love it. I find it therapeutic.

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What, no view of the Eiffel Tower?

We’ve long decided that the pros of staying in apartments outweigh the cons of staying in hotels. Apartments offer more space, can be cheaper than hotels, especially if you’re staying for a week or more plus you get to live like a local. You get to shop and cook, buy freshly baked baguettes, have a long and leisurely breakfast and yes clean, wash and take out the trash as well.

So here’s a look at some apartments in Paris that we’ve rented over the years and what to look out for when selecting your vacation rental.

Steep & Narrow Staircases

Paris apartments usually don’t have lifts, at least the ones we’ve stayed in. Be prepared to climb and climb 30, 60, 90+ steps to your apartment. The stairwells are usually narrow and winding. Imagine that you have just arrived from a long haul flight still woozy and disoriented, get ready to lug your maletas up those steep staircases. The good news is, just like the cold weather, you will acclimatize and by your 2nd or 3rd day you’ll surprise yourself by taking two steps at a time without having to stop and catch your breath.

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View from the bottom

If and when your rental comes with a lift, it also means you’ll have to pay a premium. Our last apartment had a lift, but it was cramped and dark and felt very much like a coffin. It could only fit 2 people or 1 person and 1 maleta. Every time the elevator doors shut, I was sure they would never open again.

My photo on the left and the rental site photo on the right.

WC’s, Bathrooms, Italian Showers

When the description of the apartment says it has 2 WC’s, take note that this could mean a separate shower and a separate toilet. Which really means there’s only 1 bathroom and not 2. When the description says Italian shower, it simply means a closet size room barely  enough for a shower area, no sink, no toilet. Because of limited space, bathrooms and toilets especially are tiny, sinks are often smaller than standard as well.

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This photo is from the rental site. The widow unfortunately did not have a curtain and it was just a few feet from our neighbour. We improvised and used a towel. The white door leads to a very tiny WC.

Another thing to take note of is the size of the water heater. If it’s a small one then after 2 people take a shower, there will be no hot water left for the next person. So it will be another 30 minute wait that will push back your schedule for the day.

 Kitchen, Kitchenware and Appliances

If you intend to cook,which is probably why you chose an apartment over a hotel, then know that there will be pots, pans and dishes to wash. Make it a point to get an apartment with a dishwasher. Don’t forget to bring gloves!! You’ll still have to rinse before stacking the dishes and gloves will come in handy.

Check out the kitchen. My photo is the one on the left and the rental photo is the one on the right.

You will be shown how to use each appliance by the person who checks you in. It’s happened several times that we couldn’t remember how to work to stove, washer and dryer. Your brain is still not functioning 100% after your long trip so it’s best to take notes or a video.

This is the dining room. The photo on the right is mine and the rental photo is of course the brighter and more attractive one.

Outdoor space comes at a premium, no matter how rickety. This is a rickety make shift balcony but hey it does the job!

Keys

In John Baxter’s The Most Beautiful Walk in the World, he talks about how he once had to pay an exorbitant amount of money for shutting his door and leaving his keys inside. Parisian locksets are complicated and very old and losing your keys or leaving them inside can mean big trouble and big money. He had to shell out a few thousand dollars. Yes thousand!

It’s actually the first and last thing the person checking you in will warn you about. Also make it a point to test the keys, get the feel of the lock, know which angle works because Parisian locks can be very tricky.

Internet

Before you let the person checking you in out of your sight get the internet password and make sure you’re able to connect. Write it down for good measure.

Once he or she leaves you’re on your own for better or for worse.

Here are some things that happened to us.

Power Shut Down. Using several appliances at the same time like the dishwasher and the oven will cause the power to trip. Like I said the buildings are old and so is the wiring. It can be as simple as re-starting the fuse box or waiting for your landlord to come and replace the fuse. If it happens in the middle of the night and a fuse needs to be replaced be ready to spend the night without power. So don’t overload the system.

Clogged Toilet. Plumbing in Paris is old, so beware. Do not flush large quantities of toilet paper down the drain!

Having said that, some of our best times we had were cooking, eating and lounging around in the apartments we’ve rented, including retreating into our own private spaces after a long day, something you can’t do in a typical 25 sqm hotel room.

So what’s the price range of these apartments? Anywhere from E120 and E350/ night. It depends on the season, neighbourhood, amenities, number of rooms and size and whether there’s a lift or outdoor space.

Here are some photos of apartments we’ve stayed in from rental sites parisforrent.com and parisautrement.com

Of course, your choice of apartment will depend on your budget, so if money is no object, you can certainly get the poshest of apartments that most probably will not have any plumbing issues! Or maybe not. The poshest apartment we rented happened to be the one with the plumbing issues!! C’est la vie!

4 of the 5 apartments we rented are located in the Marais neighbourhood. Read about it here.