© Tiberius Gracchus - Fotolia.comDoes living amongst the locals, walking to the boulangerie each day for your morning croissant or cooking up a storm with the freshest produce bought today from the local market appeal to you? Then renting an apartment for your stay in Paris is for you.

Whilst hotels are great for a one or two night stay, an apartment gives you more flexibility and the ability to eat ‘at home’ if you wish and Paris is home to hundreds (if not thousands) of apartments that are available for short-term holiday rentals. Surprisingly, a reasonable number of these are Australian-owned.

No matter what arrondissement (suburb) of Paris you wish to stay in, there will be an apartment to suit. I’ve stayed in apartments in the 11th, 5th and 1st and all arrondissements offer their own charm. And one good thing about Paris is the Metro – no matter where you’re staying, the underground rail system makes it fast and easy to get around.

The booking process

So, how do you go about finding the perfect apartment in Paris? Websites like Holidays to Europe offer a range of apartments to choose from, owned by Australians. A quick email or phone call to the owner (English-speaking – what a blessing!) to check availability and ask any questions you have (what’s the nearest Metro station, is there a market nearby, how far away is the Eiffel Tower? etc) should help you to whittle down your list of possibilities and make a decision.

After choosing your apartment, a deposit is usually required to confirm the reservation, with the balance payable 30 – 60 days prior to your arrival. In the case of an Australian-owned apartment, the rental payment is usually accepted in Australian dollars, helping to eliminate any currency fluctuations and saving on international bank transfer fees.

Upon making your final payment, the apartment owner will provide detailed information about the apartment and its neighbourhood and how to collect the key and/or meet the apartment manager on your arrival. Sometimes a security bond will be payable on arrival at the apartment to cover any breakages that may occur. This information should be supplied at the time of booking.

What to expect

Paris apartments are generally not what you’d call large, so be prepared for compact living! What’s referred to as a ‘studio’ is normally one room housing the kitchen, living and sleeping quarters and a separate bathroom and these are most suitable for a couple. Make sure you confirm the kitchen facilities – a studio may include just a hot plate and small refrigerator rather than a full kitchen with oven, so ask in advance and there’ll be no unwelcome surprises.

If you prefer to have a separate room for sleeping, you’ll need to choose accordingly. A one bedroom apartment may also include a fold-out sofa bed in the living area so if you are travelling with younger children, this may be adequate. Two- and three-bedroom apartments (and sometimes larger) are also available.

Most studios and apartments will include a washing machine (and probably a clothes dryer, too), a real advantage if you’re staying for a few days. Check with the apartment owner for details on access to WiFi, and if there’s a telephone and TV, if these things are important to you.

More often than not, your apartment will be in a residential building. On the stairs or in the lift you are likely to see real Parisians going about their daily lives: heading off to work, doing their grocery shopping, or going out to meet friends. Take the time to say bonjour and make the most of living like a Parisian for a short while – it beats staying in an impersonal hotel any day.

  • Carolyn Schonafinger is editor of www.HolidaysToEurope.com.au, an online resource helping Australians to plan the perfect European holiday.
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