When planning one of our holidays to Europe, Paris was high on the list of places to visit. Having travelled in Europe before with our children, we are advocates of staying in self-catering apartments wherever possible, and finding a suitable apartment in Paris was one of the first things we did.
Whilst Paris is full of hotels, ranging from exclusive to budget, it is also home to hundreds (if not thousands) of apartments that are available for short-term holiday rentals. Surprisingly, a reasonable number of these are Australian-owned.
After choosing our apartment, a 1 bedroom flat in the 11th arrondissement, we booked directly with the Australian owner. Typically, a deposit is required to confirm the reservation with the balance payable 30 – 60 days prior to check-in.
Dealing directly with the apartment’s owner was great – she was easy to contact by phone or email to answer any questions that we had prior to our departure from Australia (What’s the nearest Metro station? How do we get to the apartment from the airport? Etc.).
Upon making our final payment, we were emailed detailed information about the apartment and its neighbourhood. This included details of who would meet us at the apartment, the owner’s favourite local restaurants, bakeries, etc; and the location of the nearest supermarket.
As arranged, we phoned the apartment ‘manager’ on arrival at Paris airport and arranged a time to meet. With suitcases dragging behind us, our new Parisian friend would have spotted us a mile off as we made our way out of the depths of the Metro and up onto street level.
After a demonstration of the security system and a quick look around our home for the next few days, the apartment manager said his farewell, but not before leaving his phone number in case we needed any assistance during our stay.
(In some cases, guests are emailed the apartment's security code to let themselves into the apartment on arrival. A contact phone number should always be provided should you require any assistance.)
The apartment wasn’t big by any standards but we were advised of the size of the flat right from the start so there weren’t any surprises. With a double bed in the bedroom and a double fold out sofa in the living area, we were going to be living in slightly closer quarters than normal, but it wasn’t a problem. The kids were happy to sleep on the fold out sofa as a major European soccer tournament had started the day before we arrived in Europe, and they could watch TV in bed. A real holiday treat!
One of the big bonuses of renting an apartment is the luxury of having your own kitchen. With Paris being our first stop on an eight week holiday we weren’t going to be eating at restaurants too often, so having our own kitchen was both convenient and budget friendly.
Each morning my husband would wander down to one of the many nearby boulangeries (bakeries) and buy some fresh croissants for breakfast and some baguettes for lunch. With his meagre collection of French words and plenty of sign language, he always managed to come home with what he set out for!
We made acquaintances with the local supermarket on our first day in Paris, stocking up on the usual staples, cereal, milk, fruit and vegetables, and what ever took our fancy for dinner. With our fresh baguettes filled with ham and cheese and some bottles of water, we would then set off for our day’s sightseeing. Bread rolls have never tasted as good as they did whilst looking down over Paris from the Eiffel Tower!
"Having our own little ‘home’ in Paris was great, and whilst we most certainly looked like regular tourists, it made us feel like we were Parisian for those few short days."
Leaving our apartment each morning, we would walk to the nearest Metro station for our day’s sightseeing. With so many wonderful things to see in Paris our days were always full and it was very nice to have our own little apartment to come home to. Food was on hand from our previous supermarket visits and we didn’t feel the need to dress up to go out for dinner. A bowl of pasta, a salad and some fresh, crusty French bread, was all we needed before collapsing into bed exhausted!
Choosing the location of your apartment in Paris can be a hard decision but the excellent Paris Metro makes it easy to get around wherever you stay. Many travellers like to be close to the Seine, choosing apartments in the Latin Quarter or Marais area, but we found it no hassle at all staying a little further away. Our regular morning walk took us to Bastille station (although there were closer Metro stations) where the fast and efficient Metro took us all over Paris.
With so many options to choose from, finding an apartment in Paris shouldn’t be difficult. Whether you are travelling with children or not, self-catering apartments offer a great alternative to hotels and with the option of cooking your own meals, they can save you money at the same time.
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