What it’s like to rent an apartment in Paris

You’ve asked, and here it is…our “home” in Paris for two weeks. Usually I try to photograph our lodgings immediately upon arrival before we’ve unpacked. But we arrived late at night, and by the next morning had begun unpacking, so I waited to take photos until we were packed up and ready to leave (and had a bit more light).

The apartment was on the 2nd floor (which would be the 3rd floor in the US). No elevator, and a very steep, narrow, spiral staircase was the only access. The gentleman who met us to provide keys and show us around very kindly helped us get some of the luggage up the stairs. If you saw my video in Instagram Stories last week, you get a sense of the climb. Good exercise, though! 😉

“Our” Paris apartment

Paris apartment rental kitchen.

You enter the apartment through the kitchen, which was pretty spacious for a Paris apartment. It was also updated and well appointed with a toaster, kettle, Nespresso machine, and even a dishwasher! We didn’t do any fancy cooking, but found whatever we needed for simple meals or re-heating leftovers.

Paris apartment rental living room from kitchen.

From the kitchen, there’s a step down into the living room, which was also quite a nice size. (The sofa is also a sofa bed, if needed.) The door in the corner goes to the W.C. and bathroom. (Toilets are often in a separate space from the rest of the bathroom.)

Paris apartment rental: living room looking back toward kitchen.

Above, looking back from the bathroom door to the kitchen. I love that they’ve kept those charming wood beams visible.

Paris apartment rental: bathroom.

Here’s the shower/sink area of the bathroom. While a compact space, it was workable and nicely appointed. The shower is actually quite large by Paris standards. There was a (good) hair dryer provided too, and a heated towel rack.

Paris apartment rental bedroom.

And the bedroom. The bed is queen size, and was quite comfortable. All of the bedding is linen. To the right of where I’m standing is an armoire for clothing (and with a programmable safe). Behind me is a washer/dryer. It was a newish model, and once I figured it out, it worked quite well.

A few more notes about “our” Paris apartment


  • Location, location, location! We were right in the heart of the 1st arrondissement, close to 2 metro stops and walking distance to most areas within the 2nd-9th arrondissements. It was really easy to get around from there!
  • Responsive owner. Whenever we had questions or something didn’t seem to be working, they were on it within a day.
  • A comfortable, well laid-out space that’s well-maintained.
  • Lots of good restaurants and “to-go” food options nearby.
  • The owners provided a booklet with clear details (in English and French) of how everything works, where the local marchés, grocery stores, shopping, and recommended restaurants, as well as transportation, etc.


  • Not a lot of natural light. All of the windows faced tall buildings next door.
  • Those stairs, again. (Really only an issue coming/going with luggage.)
  • There was some construction/refurbishment going on in the courtyard entry to the building. While we didn’t notice any noise, it did mean having to be careful moving around guys on ladders and construction materials when coming and going.

Overall, it was quite workable and certainly cost less than a stay at hotel would have. We enjoyed being able to eat in occasionally, and have a home base from which to take a short 2-day trip out to Epernay.

Here’s the rental as it’s listed on Vrbo. (This owner has two apartments, and photos from both appear in the listing.)

Have you rented a vacation apartment in Paris or other cities? Any tips and suggestions?

Our side trip to Epernay, in the Champagne region:

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  1. looks like a great space, and as you said, excellent location. we almost always rent an apartment when we’re visiting another city. it’s a wonderful treat to have more space to relax in, and having even modest kitchen facilities — and a kitchen or dining table — makes it possible and enjoyable to have a break from eating all meals out. I still have never quite figured out European washing machines or combo washer/dryers, though :~).

    in terms of vacation budgeting, we usually say we’ll “save in the city and splurge in the country”. that’s because even modest hotels in cities, especially in the most desirable areas, tend to be more expensive than a decent apartment, and in the countryside it’s easier to find more luxurious places to stay for less $$.

    1. Good morning, we never thought about staying in the country side. Any suggestions site? would be appreciated. Or certain areas?

      1. We had a lovely visit out to Epernay, in the Champagne region. It’s a quick (90 min?) train ride from Paris, and was a real treat. I’ll be writing more about this soon. You might also consider areas in Normandy, like Giverny or some of the beach areas.

        1. Most of my rental stays were for uni or graduate studies; I’ve also stayed in flats working on certain contracts such as conference interpreting or facilitating seminars. Always in towns or cities; I’m a hardcore urbanite and have no way of accessing most country places unless they are close to a railway or coach station.

          That kitchen is very spacious for central Paris; I have friends with larger kitchens (they are accomplished and eager cooks) but they live in old dwellings (usually townhouses/row houses or duplexes; yes they spent time and francs/euros on renovating charming but slightly rundown dwellings in old suburbs adjacent to Paris proper.

          I’d certainly eat in more than une femme and Monsieur, not because I’d spend my travel time cooking but because there are so many takeaway options in Paris and I enjoy having friends over.

          As of now I’d also consider a stay near the T3 tramline that circles Paris. I had a stroke (an odd event, caused by a problem assimilating vitamins) and while I’m much better, I’d have trouble navigating some of the older métro stations. Paris avenues are spokes (some cities in the Americas have copied this design) and nowhere along the tramline to the city centre is a challenging walk.

  2. For a stay of more than a few days, we almost always rent an apartment. My dietary restrictions make it difficult to eat out all the time, and without a kitchen, it’s impossible to enjoy all the yummy food you can buy in France. Plus, for the price of a very modest hotel – or less – you get so much more space. We have used various agencies, including the semi-official Gîtes de France which are widespread in the countryside and smaller towns. All of the agencies seem to have pros and cons, and of course each apartment (and owner) has its quirks. But trying different places is how you learn to deal with ovens with one unmarked knob and other challenging appliances!

  3. I find the site quite confusing. I cannot figure out where to find your appartment, just the other one. But it doesn’t matter, we are not going to stay a whole month anyway, as we previously planned. But you did well with this appartment. And you don’t really need views as you are out most of the time.

    1. Hi Greetje,
      If you are still interested you can look under the pictures on the linked website. There is a text link on the far right that says “other units”. Click on that to get to the Ecrin Robspierre Apt. information. That is the apt. that Susan rented. Cheers!

  4. We rented an apartment in the 6th arrondissement several years ago from a company called Ville et Village. It was spacious and comfortable. I loved the feeling of coming “home” at the end of the day and being in a building with French residents. The apartment looked over an inner courtyard with a very attentive concierge on the first floor who had a charming pet rabbit.

  5. The apartment looks lovely; I’ll be sharing this with my brother and sister-in-law who will be looking for a place to stay in September. The apartment seems to be particularly well-located and that’s a great price. We always stay in the 7th/15th (where I’ll be this summer) but this might be fun on a solo trip when I want to branch out!

    For me, nice bathrooms make a difference and those are spectacular. As for the stairs, if Robespierre once lived in that building it’s pretty old – hence the beams (the good) and the narrow stairs (the bad). But it’s the ‘everyday history’ one finds in Paris that for me is its biggest charm, and I’d happily navigate the narrow stairway knowing that Robespierre once did the same thing.. Thank you for this.

  6. wow. very nice apartment. but it must have cost a fortune! we stayed in a small room with shower in the 7th arrondisement for $350 a night! we did have a view of the Eifel Tower though!

    1. Surprisingly (considering the size), it was quite a bit less than that, and we found it a VERY good value.

  7. We rented a villa in Italy last summer to rendezvous with family who live in Spain. Everyone says never to visit Italy in august but we had a fabulous time. The rental was even nicer than pictures indicated and ideally located in the old area of Lucca. We were especially to be in a home because we were traveling with baby. Also we appreciated being in a small city, not in the countryside, because we could easily walk to coffee shops, restaurants, markets, everything.

  8. I find that Vrbo or other rental properties are a much more cost-effective way, not to mention far more comfortable, to stay for a week or longer in most countries. We have stayed in many attractive, convenient apartments that cost far less on a daily basis than a hotel room.

  9. Susan it looks like you did well with the apartment
    We always rent all over the world. It is important to note stairs and locations (neighborhoods) to be near metro and trains if you don’t rent a car.
    We travel for a couple months at a time so 3 weeks has been the most in one place. It is great to have coffee and breakfast at the rental before starting the day
    Even with just two of us, we look for two baths and two beds. One room is for suitcases on long trips.
    The only issues we’ve run into in our dozens of rentals, is construction noise in the building or next door and hosts cancelling a couple of times at the last minute. Airbnb does find you another rental, but it’s not fun. It does happen for various reasons.
    We have plans for Paris and London Nov/Dec and our places are rented already but a late cancellation by a host is the only worry as many apartments are already booked for the holidays.
    So glad you enjoyed. The trip sounds wonderful.

  10. Ten years ago, we took our teenaged sons to Paris and rented through France: Homestyle. We had an awesome two bedroom apartment down the street from Le Bon Marche! It was perfect. Since then, we always rent apartments for the convenience and comfort. (And the stairs might be why French people often seem so fit lol!)

  11. We are traveling with our adult children this summer to British Columbia and wanted to stay in a VRBO or AirBnb, but the terrible cancellation policy gave us pause (full refund only 48 hours after making the reservation, and then 50% after that). It was too much money to gamble with, so we ended up booking two hotel rooms, which we can cancel as late as 24 hours before arrival with a full refund. We aren’t established users of VRBO or AIrBnb–do you get a better cancellation policy the more you use it?

    1. Tracy, as far as I know, the cancellation policy varies based on the owner, it is not sitewide – I believe there is a filter when you are searching for places that allows you to select those with more lenient cancellation policies. It takes a bit more searching but is worth it!

  12. Thank you for a little glimpse of Paris, one of my absolute favourite places. We did rent an apartment in the 6th about 5 years ago. Loved everything about it except for the week day construction in the courtyard… We often rent apartments whenever we have stays that exceed 3-4 days. So far, that has been in Iceland, Scotland, Barbados, Uruguay, Argentina, Hawaii, and Australia as well as Paris. (For a lark, we also rented a camper van in Australia for a leisurely drive from Brisbane to Cairns – eye opening and a hoot!) We have rented a place in Lisbon this summer and I am very excited about our first international trip since 2018!

    As well as being much more cost effective than hotels, apartments allow me to indulge my love of exploring food markets and stores in different countries and then be able to create passable meals with my inevitable hauls. Have discovered many “loves” this way – hello Icelandic wild thyme salt 🙂 While we have never had a reservation cancelled at the last minute, the possibility is always in the back of my mind until we are actually settled in our accommodations. I won’t rent a place if the owner had ever cancelled on someone before (always review the reviews) and I always thoroughly reviews the contract/terms and have a viable alternate plan just in case things go sideways.

    1. I Agree that it is important to read the reviews. I on;y rent from super hosts on AirBnB. And if the rental was ever cancelled at the last minute, I pass over it.

  13. I’ve only been to France once, but we rented an apartment on the Ile St. Louis and would do it again. We were also up a flight of stone stairs, but once there, the luggage stayed. We liked being able to make our own coffee and breakfast. Sometimes we picked up take-out at a Marks & Spencer so we could just relax with a glass of wine and not have to go out again. I would definitely encourage others to give it a try.. Our landlord was also very responsive. We didn’t cook a lot but we could have as the kitchen had everything necessary. We also had a washer for clothes. I think we got lucky in our choice of an apartment since I had never been there before but the location was very good and it was easy to take off sightseeing in the morning. We did take a day trip by train. Metro stops and bridges within easy enough reach. We made the apartment our home for the time we were there and that made it more relaxing than staying in a hotel.

  14. Great location and lovely apartment. I love staying in apartments — the access to a kitchen, esp for breakfasts and lunches (usually tucked into a tote bag), and washer/dryer is always so helpful and such a huge savings, and yes, as a base for other trips, so you don’t have to travel with everything for jut a few days. We also love to walk through the markets wherever we travel, and it can be frustrating to stay in a hotel without a way to cook so many local wonderful items.

    The apartment reminds me of the old Michelin rating system/catchphrase, “Vaut le voyage” (worth the trip) — in this case, the apartment is worth the stairs!

  15. We rented a Paris apartment in the 6th arrondissement through Vacation Perfect in 2919. They have lots of listings for Paris and other cities. We had a good experience. I’ve stayed on their email list for a future trip.

  16. We’ve rented apartments in Rome and Florence. In Rome, we were traveling with a group of 8. Found a lovely 3 bedroom/2 bath apartment near the Piazza Navona. Great location, plus the owner had a van available to pick us up from the airport & take us back (for an extra fee, but way cheaper than taxis!). In Florence we were quite near the Duomo; this time 3 people, 2 bedroom/2 bath with a little rooftop terrace. Perfect for a glass of local wine and charcuterie after a day of sightseeing. Also I had a great view of the Duomo from my bathroom window! Only downside was the angled ceiling in our bedroom, complete with heavy ceiling beam, on which I whacked my head a time or two!

    Love the apartment rentals if staying a few days in one place. I like having a cup of tea and light breakfast before venturing out for the day. And the aforementioned wine & snacks for happy hour! Very important to read the reviews before booking, though. We were lucky to have responsive landlords, which could make all the difference.

  17. Since 2003, we have rented appartements every time we have been in Paris – 2 nights to 3 months duration. We mostly use Paris Autrement, which focuses on the Marais. We have been very happy with their pricing and efficiency of move in/move out. Several of their places have been repeats for us.

    1. Because our London stay was scheduled to be shorter, we booked a hotel for this portion of the trip.

  18. I can echo the others who have responded…we rented a house in San Miguel de Allende 9 years ago for the month of April and it was fabulous, and very reasonable. It close to the city bus but in a less crowded neighborhood and an easy walk into town. Of course at that time my husband and I were 73 years old and undaunted by the “hike” to our Spanish class downtown. The house was well furnished and came with a maid to clean it, and a gardener to water the array of potted plants on the top floor terrace and the bottom floor patios.

    Due to our dietary restrictions, having a kitchen and the convenience of eating breakfast and many dinners at home was invaluable.
    I would love to be able to do it again but at our ages we may have to stick to cruises and travel by car to explore areas near us.

  19. Have rented apartments several times in Paris (the 5th. Ile St. Louis, the Marais) and after the first time,, will only rent in buildings with an elevator if we’re not on the ground floor. My husband has some mobility issues, and we decided t=it just wasn’t fun. Parisian apartment elevators are hilariously small, of course – we generally have to go up one at a time with our luggage!

  20. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I’m finding clothing, in general, either unappealing or predictable. It is getting harder and harder to find things I actually like and am able to get. This post, though, really got my old “decorating juices” flowing and that translated to moving some vases and pillows around to creating a cool new outfit from old threads and now I’m in the studio painting a new thought out. It is so fascinating to see how connected everything is!

    1. Yes, I was thrilled with this subject and this post. Since the “colours” consultation, my taste in clothing has been very different from Susan’s (which is fine!) I hate pastels and am not fond of bright blue – of course living in very different climate zones leads to different palettes.
      There is no right or wrong in this respect,

      I lost considerable weight while hospitalised and was pleased to give clothing, including four nearly-new jeans, to a charity shop, as well as several household items.

  21. Great to learn about other rental company options. Lately we find AirBnb so unreliable in the states -I’d never be brave enough to try it abroad. We used to be avid Airbnbers but not anymore. Problems with cleanliness and uncomfortable beds abound. Cancellation policies vary by what the owners decide, and it is particularly important to give that some thought these days.

  22. Thanks Susan. It’s so helpful to get a personal recommendation. We pretty much just do Airbnb/VRBO so this is so helpful!

  23. We did an Airbnb in Paris three years ago and it was a nightmare. Owner didn’t provide all the keys necessary for the several rooms and was unreachable by phone. The apartment was nothing like the description. The photos were of another apartment in the same building. The list goes on. Never again!

    1. It’s a shame you had such an awful experience. It can be challenging to find a place that is as solid as it seems, and may require a lot of sleuthing and checking other sites and reading the reviews so carefully. The correspondence between owner and renter can be key as well — we’ve stepped away from a few options because I just didn’t get a great vibe from the emails or messages. Here’s hoping all of your future accommodations, no matter whether hotel, B&B or apartment, are stellar!

  24. I own and rent an ocean side property and for the life of me cannot understand why an operator would cancel at the last minute…obviously fire, infrastructure breakdown, pandemics, hurricanes etc are exempt. If you can rent where there is municipal or state licensing rules, that can help as far as quality of the properties is concerned. . I do not use platforms like VRBO or Air B&B to advertise my property as they are a bit ‘grabby’ I use a platform that reflects my ‘niche’ and pay a flat fee for the use of their site, my guests pay the fee I advertise so there are no surprises. I have full control over who I rent to and have declined parties if I don’t feel my property is a good fit for them. I do have a cancellation policy because I am not part of a multinational hotel chain! If you cancel 60 days prior to arrival I remit 50% of the down payment ( which is 50% of the total fee) 30 days or less notice and you lose 100%. Remember that, unlike a hotel I don’t have a line up of guests to fill in cancelled weeks. Guests often bring on these rules because of their own bad behaviour. I have had people book my place then shop around or wait on another property. If they find something else they cancel, leaving me with nothing to show but I still have expenses and a cleaner to pay. I agree that It is a gamble if one is booking months ahead but I have only cancelled due to government appointed pandemic sanctions and returned 100% of the money paid. No body has ever cancelled on me and suggested I keep the fee, lol..so I completely understand the reasons for cancellation policies but a last minute cancellation by an operator… ce n’est pas gentil!

  25. I’ve rented apartments a number of times, mostly in Europe. It can be tricky and sometimes there are surprises like more flights of stairs than I’d have chosen, or staying in Paris in an apartment that was a converted storefront with three levels and an extra shower in the kitchen.

    For me, one of the great advantages over a hotel is not having to conform to hotel staff schedules. I’ve known housekeeping people to start rolling at 8 a.m. and also to ignore the “Do Not Disturb” sign and try the door. I’ve left the room at cleaning time only to return to an undone room. When on vacation, I’d sooner keep to my own schedule.

  26. The last time we were in Paris, there were 6 of us, we rented a house in Gennevilliers, more out in the suburbs, but it was great. Easy access to the metro and central Paris. VRBO and AirBnB are super easy to use. I have only had one bad experience. Unfortunately, the owner was not responsive so I had to go directly to AirBnB. They handled it quickly. Definitely prefer a flat to a hotel room!

  27. Since I usually travel by myself, I prefer hotels to apartments, although I have stayed in an apartment on my own from time to time (promptly lost the keys, one of the reasons I like hotels). My daughter, however, prefers airBnB or similar, and rented an apartment for 40 days in 2017. It was a great size for her, and very airy, lots of cool breezes (considering it was 92˚ F that was very welcome), good size kitchen, large bathroom, in Montmartre. Downside was a neighbor who bitterly complained to my daughter almost every single day (and once to me) about the apartment being used as an airBnB, which she claimed was against the rules, and the airBnB owner claimed was not. I personally cannot do the winding stairs or 4th floor walkup on a daily basis due to spinal issues, but my daughter was very enthusiastic about it.

  28. We lived in Paris for a few years (~10 years ago), so we always look for an apartment in our old neighborhood. I love being able to shop at the market, visit my favorite bakery and get back to my old Monoprix. We really love the 11th/12th arrondissement area near the Marche d’Aligre. I will say that I generally book an apartment only in places I am revisiting. I’ve had more success finding good apartments when I’m familiar with neighborhoods, general cost of the city, etc. I think you develop an eye for what listings might translate into in real life after time.

    1. Kate, I’m very fond of that area as well; also of the 19th/20th arrondissement near the Père-Lachaise cemetery and Buttes-Chaumont park. Not as central as une femme (et un homme) chose but more greenery and some lovely cafés and restaurants with modest prices. Don’t overlook the Paris bus system, which is clean and dependable.

  29. A cute apt and such a reasonable price ..but third floor no elevator would not suit me, sadly… for various reasons.