There are a lot of mistakes people make when visiting Paris. From thinking they’ll be able to waltz up to the viewing deck of the Eiffel Tower without having to wait in line, to imagining a private viewing of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. But these are all well-documented. The mistakes that people don’t know about often arise when booking Paris vacation apartment rentals. From country to country and even city to city, the customs and traditions surrounding vacation rentals vary, so it’s well worth educating yourself on the quirks of Parisian rentals. Paris is a unique and beautiful city and getting familiar with its unique and beautiful ways will ensure you can make the most out of your visit. So, without further ado, here are the common mistakes tourists make when booking Paris vacation rentals for their trip in France.
Paris apartment rentals and top mistakes
I’d be lying if I said I’ve never made any of the mistakes below. Before officially moving to France, I booked a vacation rental in Paris twice — once with a girlfriend and several years later with my family. Both times we had a few surprises. Although nothing went really wrong and we had a great time, we should have done more research before selecting where we wanted to stay. So keep the following in mind.
Mistake 1: Expecting everything to be like it is at home
Arriving in Paris and expecting everything to be like it is at home in your Paris vacation rental will leave you disappointed. While you’ll still have plenty of your home comforts, Parisian apartments might be a bit different (and all the better for it!). One of the beauties of traveling is experiencing new places and cultures and not having a cookie cutter experience that mirrors what you get at home.
Because of how old buildings were constructed and the space constraints, it’s common for washing machines to be in the kitchen (and without a dryer, or a combo one that never dries anything anyway), for fridges to be small, and for toilets to be in a separate room from the shower and sink. Accepting these differences may make your stay in Paris even more enjoyable, but if there are certain things that you really don’t want to experience the French way, then make sure you check ahead of time so you’re not caught off guard.
About 10 years ago, when my family rented a place for a week in Paris, we didn’t realize there was no clothes dryer, so doing laundry for 4 people was a bit of a time-consuming process. Along with that, we only had a hot plate and not a full-size stove. And in the bathroom, the shower didn’t have a stall. It was just a curtain that sectioned off part of the room with the drain being part of the regular floor. So let’s just say water got everywhere when we showered. Lastly, the second bedroom was up super steep steps in a loft area where you had to crawl around because the ceiling was so low.
If little surprises like these will cramp your style, double check with the rental agency ahead of time.
Mistake 2: Going for the cheap option
Paris is not a cheap city and that goes double for Paris vacation apartments. While there are of course bargains to be found when it comes to eating, drinking and shopping, accommodation is one area you shouldn’t scrimp on — especially if you want to enjoy the apartment, cook a little, etc. That said, no one wants to go broke either, but choose something in your budget and remember if a deal seems too good to be true, it is. If you go for the cheapest option, you’ll likely be staying in a less than fabulous apartment on the outskirts of the city. Which brings me to my next point…
Mistake 3: Not doing enough research on the area
Location is everything in Paris, which is a city over 100km² in area with 2 million people and 20 very different arrondissements. Do you want glitzy boutiques and designer shopping? Then you should stay near the Champs-Élysées. Are you more into book shops and cafes? Saint-Germain-des-Prés should tick your boxes. Or perhaps you want to mix with the trendiest locals? Then find an apartment in Le Marais.
Although public transport in Paris is exemplary and many of the main sites are within walking distance of one another, it’s worth doing your research and staying in a neighborhood that suits your unique needs. You’ll then be able to start exploring straight from your doorstep and not waste an hour on the metro getting into Paris city center.
Mistake 4: Not asking questions before you arrive as well as upon arrival
When you rent an apartment in Paris for your vacation, there will almost always be a list of policies and amenities. Make sure you read it very carefully before booking because the French way is going to be different than what you’re used to at home. If there’s anything in the listing that’s not covered, be sure to ask questions both before you book and when you arrive and go over everything with the property manager.
It’s better to ask than to assume or guess about something. French keys/doors can be a little tricky if you aren’t used to them, for example, appliances will be in French, so ask questions about how to operate anything you’re unsure of, and be sure to ask about the procedure for emergencies such as a pipe bursting.
Top mistakes tourists make when visiting France and how to avoid them >>
Mistake 5: Expecting an A/C unit
Paris can get very hot in the summer, which is why so many of the locals flee the city for the entire month of August. But outside the summer months, Paris is quite cold. Because of this, not many apartments have air conditioning. Most Parisians think it’s just not worth it for the odd day that you’ll use it.
Some of the more luxury vacation rentals in Paris like the ones on All Luxury Apartments will have units installed, but it’s really not common. Instead there will be shutters (called volets) to block direct sunlight and keep the apartment cool during the heat of the day. If air conditioning in the summer is non-negotiable for you, then make sure you ask about it before booking.
Mistake 6: Expecting an elevator in your Paris vacation rentals
Parisian apartments, especially the older ones, often don’t have elevators, or if they do it might be much smaller than what you’re used to. An apartment on the 5th floor will mean a long walk up with your luggage. Be prepared and always check ahead if you have mobility issues or just don’t want to tackle a bunch of stairs multiple times per day. The last thing you want is to arrive in Paris and be met with an unmanageable climb. Especially in the summer heat.
Mistake 7: Getting caught off guard by cleaning fees
Most apartment rentals will have a cleaning fee added to the total cost. Depending on how long you stay for, and how often the cleaner visits, you may need to pay it more than once. It’s sometimes included in the price of the booking, but just check the listing carefully so that you’re not hit with any unexpected fees.
Mistake 8: Expecting everything to be provided
For non-luxury Paris apartment vacation rental sites, especially the French ones, it’s normal to charge an additional fee for towels and sheets if you don’t bring your own. When you arrive, there might be nothing available last minute, and you’ll have to purchase towels and sheets yourself. So always make sure you check the policy. You’ll almost always be able to request that bedding and towels are included, but you may just need to ask ahead.
However, higher end, more luxurious rental companies, like All Luxury Apartments include everything in the nightly price. Again, just read the listing carefully to avoid this costly mistake when look at vacation rentals in Paris.
This list of Paris vacation apartment rental mistakes might seem extensive but don’t let it put you off! Choosing a vacation rental for your vacation in Paris is the best way to get a feel for local life and will make sure you get an authentic, Parisian experience in the City of Lights. And remember, travel should be about broadening your horizons and expanding your mind, so you can plan as much as you like, but in the end, going with the flow will be the best way to experience the French capital and everything it has to offer.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored collaboration with All Luxury Apartments.
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