Friday, June 5, 2015

Lizzie's Guide to Choosing an AirBnb rental in Paris

I'm going to give you the rundown on how I go about choosing an Airbnb rental in Paris.

well, sort of..
My first experience using Airbnb was last summer. I like how easy their website is to navigate and there is a wide selection of rentals. They have accurate photographs and honest reviews. I was able to save my favorite apartments to a wishlist and contact the owner to ask questions. I was a bit disappointed that the first three apartments I wanted weren't available but I was very happy with the one we rented. You can search by location, price and size. Let me tell you that apartments in Paris always have a trade-off. You will have to put up with something lame in order to get most of your needs met. In our case, we weren't in our ideal location *le Marais, the 3rd arrondissement* but the neighborhood we ended up in *the 10th arrondissement* was super convenient to the Metro and we had a lovely, quiet courtyard so we didn't hear all the street noise.

Such a difference from the tough-looking exterior of our apartment and the lovely courtyard

Our view from our 2nd story apartment

My recommendations for your search for the almost perfect Parisian rental:

Stick to your budget. It's easy to fall in love with big, fancy places with chandeliers and there are plenty of luxurious apartments listed on Air bnb but the reality is, besides sleeping, bathing and occasionally eating, you really won't spend much time in the rental during your vacation. Unless you are staying long-term I suggest you keep the cost of the rental less than what it would cost for a hotel per night. In my case I would have paid $199 per night for a hotel and our rental was only $2,000 for two weeks. Plus we saved so much money cooking our own *delicious* meals and not having to tip people.

So lucky we had a full size refrigerator
We even had the luxury of a dishwasher
I loved buying fresh croissants every morning from the Patisserie on the corner
Find a place that is bright/lots of windows, preferably on a higher floor. Most of the apartments are tiny in comparison to American homes so there is an illusion of a larger space with a sun filled apartment. High ceiling also help you not feel too claustrophobic.

The skylights were wonderful and when it was too hot, I could use a remote to close them
If the apartment is two floors or higher, make sure there is an elevator. Our summer apartment was on the 2nd floor so we were fine without an elevator but the apartment Aimee choose was on the 6th floor and there is no way she could have walked that many narrow stairs everyday.

I never used these crazy stairs at Aimee's place but just looking at them gives me vertigo
Stay away from dated apartments. I know it's hard to resist the 19th century rustic charm of Parisian apartments but the older the rental's interior, the less amenities you will have. Such as a microwave, washing machine, decent water pressure in the shower and tile floors are cold. I fell in love with many older apartments but I had to face the reality that staying in a period apartment with a 4 year old would have been a headache when she couldn't resist touching most of the antiques or we wouldn't be comfortable lounging around on old furniture. Plus laundromats are a bummer.

I almost rented this rustic apartment with the tiniest kitchen ever and five flights of stairs!
It's fine to get a place without a TV. French TV sucks (it's mostly trashy reality and soccer) and you can watch Netflix on your laptop if you must watch something *which is crazy because hello, Paris-watching will keep you plenty entertained* However do not rent a place without strong Wifi. I had a major crying fit when we first arrived at our apartment and I couldn't figure out how to connect to the wifi. My cellphone bill was over $1,000 when I got home because I wasn't connected to the Wifi for the first few hours we arrived. I got a $700 credit but it's very expensive to use data abroad.

As I said before, it's all about trade-offs. I really wanted chevron hardwood floors and Haussmann style windows but the apartment we chose over the summer within our price range didn't have them. However it did have an awesome swing for Olivia and I loved the charming skylights. Find a place that has something you love but be prepared to give up something else in exchange for it.

The white floors were hard to keep clean but very nice touch to the bright apartment
I didn't mind the breakfast bar but I would have liked a dining table

We loved that there was a separate bedroom loft space but climbing these "stairs" ladder was treacherous. 
We carried Liv up and down the first few days until she got used to climbing on her own.

So happy that the bathroom was clean and had a blow dryer

 Liv devoured a bag of fresh cherries everyday! I loved how much healthier we all ate in Europe.

Be flexible about the location. My favorite neighborhoods in Paris are le Marais *3rd and 4th arrondissement*, Republique *10th arrondissement* It felt more authentic Paris with lots of excellent shops, hipster restaurants and art galleries without the annoying tourists. Although just like LA, the cooler the location, the smaller and more expensive the rentals are (ahem, Venice beach!). If you don't mind a smaller place, get the better location. When I was helping Aimee look for a rental, she didn't care about having a kitchen yet I found a beautiful studio with a balcony and a separate kitchen in the Marais but the trade-off was the tiny bathroom. She loved being in walking distance to her school and really enjoyed staying in a clean, trendy neighborhood close to great restaurants and shops. She also ended up using the kitchen everyday!

It was a nightmare taking a shower in this space but worth it to stay in le Marais
I died when I saw those floors and the sweet balcony!
I loved the classic Parisian style of this place yet it had a modern design
Aimee had no idea I was coming to visit her when we chose this apartment. I knew it would be perfect for the two of us.
How adorable is this miniature chandelier?
The size of this kitchen was perfect for one person. Again, smitten with those floors!

Oh, how I miss this place! Even her elevator was adorable. It said the floor numbers in French.
I was so bummed to leave Paris
Her building was beautiful!

This apartment is a steal at $89 per night and located one block from Café Charlot and the famous Marché des Enfants Rouge. This is one of the oldest farmers markets in Paris. You must try one of the amazing crepes made by our sweet friend Alain. He is quite the showman.

Watching him make his enormous crepes is like watching an artist at work

Happy apartment hunting! I'm happy to provide referrals for the places we rented if you send me an email. 

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