Second in a series of “how-to” articles to help you get the absolute most from your Paris visit.
Be sure to read the rest of the series:
Part One: Paris – Luxury for Less – How to Save on Airfare
Part Three: Paris- Luxury for Less – Tips on Dining for Less
Part Four: Paris – Luxury for Less – SightSeeing
Would you like an insider secret to make your Paris vacation unforgettable? For about $80 USD per person per night, you could stay in a tiny, drab double room in a 2 star hotel. But, for the same price, you can enjoy a luxurious, upscale, Paris apartment, in a prime location, with full kitchen and breath-taking views of the Eiffel Tower. Yes, that’s right! For the same price! The trick is to travel with a few friends or family members, and consider low season instead of high.
Apartment living in Paris makes the perfect Girl’s Getaway!
Why Choose an Apartment over a Hotel?
Space – so much more room to spread out.
Huge savings on food by preparing snacks and light meals in your own kitchen.
Some apartments provide free internet access, free local and international phone calls, and some include washer & dryer…added amenities rarely found in a hotel.
Feel like a local, not a tourist; shop daily as the Parisians do for your warm baguette, fresh produce; you’ll enjoy the vibe of your neighborhood.
Follow These Ten Tips When Selecting an Apartment:
1. Do your research – ask friends for references.
2. Search Trip Advisor or similar sites for recent reviews for that specific unit; Trip Advisor is not independently verified, so look for trends rather than relying on one specific review.
3. Consult guide books.
4. Ask if they have an onsite management company to address any concerns; are they open 7 days a week?
5. Be sure the website has photos of all the rooms in the apartment.
6. Ask owners if the furniture, drapes, linens etc. are exactly as pictured. I’ve heard horror stories of apartments staged for photographs, but the gorgeous furniture had been replaced by worn out flea market finds.
7. Most apartments require full payment in advance; ask what recourse you have if you find the apartment unacceptable. Will they move you to a different unit, or refund a portion of your stay?
8. If you’re staying in the summer months, ask if the unit is air conditioned.
9. Some buildings don’t have elevators, so ask, if this is important to you.
10. Carefully consider the location, noise level, and view. Verify the location through Google Earth. “Close” or “nearby” may actually be 2 miles away from your desired location.
Why Choose a Paris Perfect Apartment?
There are many apartment rentals in Paris, and the accommodation you choose can make or break your vacation. My personal favorite is Paris Perfect apartments, a collection of 45 luxury apartments in prime locations, all professionally managed by the same company. The company has been recommended in Rick Steves’ France guidebook and Travel & Leisure magazine.
An apartment rental makes sense for so many reasons and occasions:
Girlfriends Getaways – Ladies, choosing a luxury apartment from Paris Perfect is an unforgettable experience. Paris Perfect has a Girlfriend’s Getaway Package that includes all this at no extra charge during low season: complimentary hair style and color consultation at a famous Paris salon, welcome bottle of champagne, free Seine river cruise tickets and a free consultation with a personal concierge. Just ask for the Girl’s Getaway Package at the time of booking.
Families – perfect when traveling with your daughter, mother, sister or grannie. You’ll save hundreds of Euros by enjoying breakfast and snacks in your kitchen instead of dining out three meals a day. The money you’ll save by eating in will more than offset the accommodation price.
Celebrations – birthday, graduation, bachelorette parties.
I have personally stayed in the gorgeous St. Julien short term Paris rental, in a prime location in the 7th arrondissement, two blocks from the Eiffel Tower. This is the Rue Cler neighborhood recommended by Rick Steves. The St. Julien is beautifully decorated, sleeps 5 comfortably ($86* per person, per night), is a little tight for 6 ($71 per person, per night), and would be very spacious for 4 ($107* per person/per night).
The St.Julien has 1 bedroom, a double living room with custom sofa bed that makes out into two separate twin beds, a fully equipped kitchen, two full bathrooms (important for your “getting ready” space), plus another half bath in the hall.
Last month, we stayed in the Clairette Paris flat, in the same building as St. Julien. Every detail was exquisite: beautiful furnishings, with decorator touches everywhere, and a heart-stopping view of the Eiffel Tower.
The Clairette has 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, a double living room and the same custom sofa that converts to two separate, very comfortable twin beds. The kitchen is petite, but modern and fully stocked.
[Photos of Clairette bedroom & Clairette sofa bed]
The Clairette is very comfortable for 3 people sharing ($123* per person/per night), and adequate for 4 friendly people ($92* per person/per night).
The Bordeaux luxury apartment in Paris is in the same building as the previous two units. I’ve not stayed there yet, but knowing the neighborhood and quality of furnishings, it looks like it would be perfect for 6, with 2 bedrooms, double living room, 2 full and 2 half baths, and eye-popping views of the Eiffel Tower.
At 2065 Euro/week in off-season, that works out to $71 per person per night*. An absolute steal!!! If your budget allows, of course, consider prime season as well. Picnicking in the Champ de Mars park right next door, evening strolls along the Seine…an unforgettable experience.
All 3 apartments enjoy an ideal Left Bank location – major bus stops across the street, Metro and RER just a few blocks away.
Paris Perfect vacation rentals include a welcome basket of milk, orange juice, bottled water, wine and cookies. Modern, fully equipped kitchens are supplied with dishes, glassware, pots & pans, coffee pot, etc. I was surprised to find extras not usually offered in a self-catering arrangement, like coffee filters, paper towels, olive oil and vinegar, salt and pepper; and my favorite – a Nespresso machine with a starter supply of coffee capsules in assorted flavors – another way to easily save $4-5 for each cup of coffee you don’t have to buy at a café.
Apartments include flat screen cable TVs, DVD player, free wi-fi Internet connection, and free phone calls to Europe, Australia, U.S. & Canada. Apartments have ample storage space, and include washer & dryer.
A greeter from Paris Perfect met us at the unit and spent nearly an hour showing us all the workings of the apartment, and answered questions. There was also a great guidebook explaining every appliance, system, etc. and it has a wonderful 32 page section on Paris sightseeing, shopping and restaurant recommendations.
The boulangerie is 3 doors down – pop down in the morning for your fresh, warm baguette and flaky croissants, to enjoy with your Nespresso.
Keep in mind, self-catering means there is no daily maid service, but extra towels are provided.
Full prepayment is required in advance (before you ever see the apartment), and cancellation fees apply. This was a concern for me initially, but now having stayed there, I have no hesitation whatsoever. Travel insurance is recommended, because despite best intentions, plans could be disrupted due to illness, job loss, etc.
The Paris Perfect office is just a few blocks away, staffed 7 days a week, and they are happy to help with any questions or concerns.
All apartments are non-smoking, and no pets allowed.
Rentals are for a one week period – there is so much to see and do in Paris, plus you can take 3 wonderful day trips depending on the season (Versailles, Champagne region, and Monet’s Gardens at Giverny). If you find it impossible to stay a full week, Paris Perfect might be able to consider a 5 day stay, so call and ask.
On your morning of departure, you’ll feel like Cinderella – your royal coach about to turn back into a pumpkin, and white horses back into mice. Ahhh, but that’s what vacations are about. Fairy tales can come true. And there will be a happy ending, because you will promise yourself to return to Paris again!
* Prices quoted for low season. Special sale prices available now for a limited time for high season and shoulder season too. Check website for details. In the interest of full disclosure, as a previous customer of Paris Perfect, I received a promotional discount, but my review is honest and unbiased, and not influenced by consideration received.
Mary Ann writes about all things France at her travel blog www.enchanted-traveler.com