Is it a legitimate rental or a scam? How to find out who’s reputable and who you can trust before putting down that 50% deposit?
Despite all the digging and researches involved with booking a short term rental apartment in Paris, it is worth your time and effort. Here are the things to consider when looking for an apartment during your next holidays in the capital city.
Where to start?
Before you start your apartment search you should have an idea of what are the different Paris locations, and which areas will suit your visiting goals. The location itself can make or break the enjoyment of your stay in the capital city.
First of all you don’t want to stay in an area located outside the city ring road. Especially if you are on a stay shorter than a week, there will be too much time spent in transit back and forth.
Paris areas inside the ring road are divided in 20 different districts called “arrondissement” in French. These arrondissement are numbered from 1 to 20 and all have an area code from 75001 to 75020. So every time you will see a Paris address, it will have an area code in it that will tell you in which arrondissement it is located, looking at the last two digits of the area code.
Not all arrondissement are made equal from a touristic perspective. The lower the last two digit of the area code the closer to the city center you will be and at a walking distance from most tourist attractions.
As a rule of thumb, try to target the single digit arrondissement from 75001 to 75009. There is an exception to this rule with the 75018 area which is Montmartre, a bubbly touristic quarter. Double digit arrondissement will be further from the main attractions, the advantage is that apartments in those area will be cheaper. You will find metro stations in all Paris areas that will quickly take you downtown and back from wherever you are.
If it is your first time in Paris I would avoid 11,12, 13, 19 & 20th arrondissement.
Areas and quarters
Some Paris areas and quarters have historical names which you will encounter in your apartment search. The most popular ones are Latin Quarter, Marais, Montmartre, St Germain des Prés, Champs Elysées and Bastille. Most of them don’t have precise boundaries and include several arrondissement.
You will also ear the expressions right bank and left bank. It is about the areas around the Seine river banks. When you look at a map of Paris you will notice that the Seine river crosses the city by its middle forming a bow shape. The inside of the bow is the left bank and the outside is the right bank. You can also remember that the left bank is where the Eiffel tower is located and the right bank host Le Louvre museum.
Each of these areas have their own ambiance, some are busy day and night, others quieter. Here is a link to a quick recap on what to expect.
The apartment booking process
Once You have narrowed down the areas that appeal to you and have your rental budget figured out, there are different routes to your dream holiday patch in Paris.
You can either deal directly with the owners or rent through an agency. Going direct with owners will give you more choices to look at than with agencies which have only a limited amount of properties that they can manage.
Some people think that it will be cheaper to rent from the owner directly which is not the case most of the time. Owners know the market rental value of their property and will charge the full price for it.
Disadvantage of dealing directly with owner is that it is harder to check for reliability and establish trust online than with agencies of which you can easily find the reputable ones on forums and review sites.
Owners can easily fake reviews on renting platform like VRBO or AirBnB. You will get more services out of good rental agencies like receiving keys before departure, have someone to show you around the apartment on your arrival, and even help you book tours and activities and make sure things run smoothly during your stay.
Another issue you should be aware of if you are looking for a vacation apartment, is the recent illegal rental apartment crackdown by Paris mayor’s office. Short term rental apartment laws are very restrictive about what type of of apartment can be rented to tourist. Owners need to comply to a lots requirements and pay high local taxes.
These laws have been there for a long time but never were enforced until the election of the latest Paris mayor. The situation is that most short term apartments in Paris are illegal to rent.
What are the consequences?
If an apartment is being investigated and does not comply, the owner will be fined and forced to take his property out of the short term rental market. They have 3 months after the investigation to do so.
The implication for you is that you might see your reservation cancelled if the apartment is taken down. This might be a problem if it happens close to your departure dates. You might also get the visit of a mayor’s office agent to inspect the apartment and ask you questions while you are there. There are no risks that you will be kicked out while you are already in the apartment even if it is in violation of the law.
The best way to deal with this is to rent through a reputable property management agency rather than renting with the owner directly. The serious agencies will not list a property under investigation and if a cancellation occur, they have the ability to relocate you in another flat.
You will find a list of the best rental agencies for holiday apartments in Paris below. If you still want to rent through owners directly, I have also listed the websites that do a good job at moderating ads and remove listings that get complaints.
Best holiday property management agencies
Make sure you make the distinctions between apartment listing agencies and property management agencies. The former provides no other services than put you in touch with the owner, when the later manages the apartment and is the entity you will be dealing with.
The agencies below have the best reviews on the internet. Each agency tend to focus in one or two areas of Paris in particular. Some have more expensive high end luxury apartments others offer more middle of the road properties. Check them out to see what fits your preferences.
Vacation in Paris is a popular agency located in New Jersey. They have many properties to choose from. Their apartments tend to be in the middle of the range when it comes to luxury, but they also have moderate prices.
They will answer any of your questions quickly and deliver what they advertise. All apartments are as pictured.
This agency has very high credentials on the internet. It is run by Thierry (first name) that responds quickly to all questions and is very reliable. The owners he works with are also very easy to communicate with and honest.
Parisian Flat agency is managed by Philippe and Sophie.They answer all emails in a timely manner and give very good information to tenants.The photos and information on the website accurately reflect the apartments.
Haven in Paris is very efficient in providing accurate information to its clients. Their US office always answers phone or calls right back. They have a nice collection of apartments, and they know the properties which is plus in helping you finding the right accommodation for your stay. In most cases they are the exclusive agency booking for the apartment which reduces double bookings.
Rental rates can be more expensive than with other companies however, they have beautiful apartments that are exactly as described and photographed on their website.
Perfectly Paris specializes in properties located in Montmartre and its surroundings. One great thing about this agency is that they manage the apartments. This means they are well prepared for the next guests, and a person meets you and shows you how things work in the apartment. If there are any problems, they will get it fixed quickly.
Rental Paris offers short term weekly or monthly rates. The properties they manage are well placed rentals with non-resident owners, with a greeter/manager to deal with any issues that might come up, which gives you a lot of peace of mind.You will meet English speaking staff in Paris that will welcome you on arrival. They personally show guests into their apartments.
Most of their apartments are on Ile Saint-Louis in the 4th arrondissement. They are very nice properties, well equipped, and the service is 5 stars.Their office is also on Ile Saint-Louis where you can drop off to make dinner reservations, day trips, car pick ups, etc… Like having a concierge service to help you organize your stay.
All the properties they manage in Paris are very nice. Most of them centrally located and tend to be luxurious with prices to match.
The agencies above are highly recommended and you can book with them with confidence. If you haven’t found what you are looking for above, here are some more agencies you can look at. Before you rent with any of these below make sure you do your due diligence on forums and Google to find out about the reputation of the one you pick. If you can’t find any reviews on an agency anywhere don’t take the risk to ruin your holidays, move on to the next one and keep looking.
The list of agencies found of this website below adhere to a certain “quality label” imposed by The French Association of Holiday rentals. Don’t take it for granted as mentioned above, but this will help you to widen your Paris apartment search if you need to.
Best Paris apartments listing websites
If you haven’t found what you were looking for with properties management agencies your next best chance are the websites listing owners apartments for short term rent in Paris. These websites are just an intermediary between you and the owners.
They have no responsibilities in regards to the properties listed on their websites. They do monitor closely user feedback and will unlist rentals with bad reviews and flagged as scams.
The best way to ensure the listing is legit is during your communication with the owner. If things work smoothly when you ask for additional information about the property, extra pictures, close-by facilities info Etc… Then it is a good sign. If the owner reacts in a strange manner, or gets upset upon your request and tries to rush you into sending the deposit then this should raise some red flags.
Always check for the property address on Google Street view to see if it exist. Also verify all information given by the owner, like his name, phone number and so on, by any mean possible (facebook, Google, www.pagesjaunes.fr/pagesblanches, which is the French white pages). Do an image search in Google of the property images you have access to, and make sure they haven’t been stolen from another listing.
Be warned if the owner requires payment via Western Union, it has often been the case in apartment rental scams.
Airbnb has implemented an escrow service where funds are released 24 hours after you check-in. If the apartment doesn’t exist or is not as advertised you can call their hotline and cancel the payment. Find out more about it here: https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/51
Your last option if you want the comfort of an apartment in Paris is to book an apart’hotel. The advantage over an apartment is that you also get the help of a front desk as well as room cleaning services and fresh towels and linens during your stay.
The best apart’hotels in Paris depending on your budget are:
Both apart’hotel chains Citadines and Adagio have properties on several locations in Paris. They are middle of the range type of accommodations. The prices vary depending on the arrondissement the properties are located.
Résidence Henri 4 is located in the Latin Quarter on the left bank. It is a higher end type of accommodation located in typical 19th century luxury Parisian building.