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Secrets to Finding an Apartment in Paris, Episode 153

Secrets to Finding an Apartment in Paris, Episode 153


Secrets to Finding an Apartment in Paris, Phil Goldsmith with Eiffel Tower in the background

Introduction

Renting an apartment in Paris is a great option, especially if you’re planning on staying in Paris one week or longer. It is probably not ideal for first-time Paris visitors who don’t know the area yet, but even for them, it can be a good option if they are coming with children or extended family. In this episode Phil Goldsmith shares the secrets to finding an apartment in Paris and he breaks it down into simple steps that anybody can follow. If you’ve rented apartments in Paris and would like to share your own nuggets of wisdom, call the voice mail line 801-816-1015. Also stay tuned until after the interview with Phil to hear from Inaugural Tour Member Sue Walsh. Enjoy the show!

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

What You Will Learn about in Today’s Episode

40″ On today’s episode, Phil Goldsmith shares his tips and secrets for finding an apartment in Paris.

43″ Our next Paris Tour is scheduled for Oct 1 through Oct 7th 2017; we would love to have you join us in France, not only through the podcast but also in real life.

2’16 Interview with Phil Goldsmith starts

5’11 Why rent an apartment and stay at a hotel? An apartment gives you more of a chance of living like a local. Hotels are a lot more anonymous. Apartments are also more likely to be situated in a residential area rather than a business/commercial area. For instance there are few apartments for rent in the 2nd arrondissement, but there are lots of hotels there. When staying in an apartment you probably won’t get your breakfast at a café, but you may walk to the local bakery and get a chocolatine while observing real life.

7′ It is true that there is nobody living on the Ile de la Cité who is not either a millionaire or someone staying at a hotel.

7’34 Will renting an apartment save me money? We’ll come back to this question later in the episode also, but renting an apartment doesn’t so much save you money as it gets you better value for your money. Renting is cost effective for people who are staying for several weeks.

8’50 If you’re going for just a few days, just get a hotel. Finding the right apartment takes a long time. There is no standard rating system for apartments, each agency does things their own way, you have to spend time looking into the place you are considering renting.

9’54 You get more room in an apartment than in a hotel. Apartments are great for kids or extended families too. Apartments make it easy to accommodate bigger groups.

11′ Gite de France are made for families, they typically have mom and dad and two or three kids. Those are mostly in the countryside.

11’38 Because apartments are a little less expensive, you can leave the apartment for a few days and explore other areas nearby.

12’12 The disadvantages of renting an apartment:

  • You have to do a lot of research to find an apartment.
  • People sometimes wonder if this is a legitimate rental. You’re better off going through a reputable agency than Craig’s List!
  • 2-bedroom apartments are harder to find, but it can be done.
  • The apartment will be quirky or charming depending on how you want to look at this.

13’36 Some of the crazy places Phil has rented in the past: rickety tiny stairs and steep stairs without handrails or bathroom where you have to go out on the terrace to get to the bathroom.

15’30 Be prepared to deal with a security deposit. Different agencies handle this differently: some put a hold on your credit card, some what you to bring cash to give to the owner that you will get back when you check out. For some of the longer rentals there may be charges for cleaning and electrical bills. You know about this ahead of time if you read the website.

18′ What you need to know about rental agencies: there are countless numbers of them. They are either direct rental platforms like AirB&B or managed apartments. You may have heard of VBRO or HomeAway, AirB&B, Home to Go: those are the big ones. There are also a lot of local Paris-based agencies that are in the managed apartment business. They manage the apartments on behalf of the owner. They all seem to have the word Paris in their name: Paris Attitude, Paris Stay, Paris à la carte, Paris Perfect, Vacation in Paris, etc. They know the Paris market better and their websites are designed for the quirkiness of the area. Their apartment descriptions are usually more detailed.

21’`4 Some agencies will take the reservation with a credit card. Some will require an international wire transfer. Sometimes transferring money between the US and France is a pain, it can be done.

22’55 There will be some cancellation policy imposed by the agency. It’s not usually unreasonable, but you need to understand it. With a hotel room you normally only lose the first night, with a rental you may lose the whole thing.

24’30 Where do you want to stay in Paris? If it’s your first time in Paris you need to understand how the city is organized. Look at the map and learn what the arrondissements mean and why it matters. The Latin Quarter is close to everything you want to see. If it’s your first visit to Paris, stay as close as you can to Notre Dame.

28′ If you plan on taking the RER between the CDG Airport and the center of Paris, you have to know that it stops in the 5th arrondissement, so it’s an easy transfer. So long as you don’t have to change lines you should be OK.

29’35 The Ile de la Cité is a business area, in the day-time it is bustling. But at night it empties and you’re left with just tourists. It is the opposite on the Ile Saint Louis.

30’50 You can choose a busy street or a quieter side street. You will also have the choice of facing the courtyard or the busy street. Pay attention to that.

31’43 Ask yourself what goes on at night on that street. You may pick a quiet street next to a night-club and if you’re not used to city life you won’t enjoy it. Make that choice carefully.

32’30 None of these apartments have parking. Take a walk of the neighborhood using Google Street View before you rent.

35′ Once you’ve found an apartment you’re interested in, you need to decipher the listing. It’ll give you the number of square meters (multiply by 9 to get the square feet). A studio apartment might be around 35 square meters. By comparison, the average hotel room in the center of Paris is 8 square meters!

37’25 Most apartments are non-smoking and most do not allow pets. Many are not air conditioned. Some apartments can supply a crib if you wish.

38’15 It is important to Phil to know what sort of building you’re staying in. Is it a Haussmann building? Is it more recent? That makes a lot of difference in terms of ceiling height, decor, and light.

40’25 Some of the buildings will not be lit well because French people are obsessed with saving electricity. There will be timers in the halls. Use your cell phone as a flashlight in some of those older buildings with stingy occupants.

42′ The first floor in France is what Americans call the second floor. There may be some stairs involved even if the building has an elevator. If this matters to you, inquire about that.

43′ Passcode lock: most places nowadays have a passcode lock instead of a key. Some of the listings have floor plans, most only have photos. Look at the photos really carefully. AC is rare in France but WiFi is common these days.

French locks are very different from American locks. If you’re not used to a simple American lock and don’t live in a high security building, you will probably be surprised by what it takes to open a door in France. Most places have security locks.  Some places have locks where if you don’t move the door handle all the way up, it will not lock. You may have to have somebody show you how it’s done if it’s not immediately obvious. Make sure you have a number you can call if you run into a problem.

47′ From the photos, take a good look at the quality of the furnishings. If there are slip covers or a sheet on the sofa, it indicates that it’s not great.

48′ Many rental apartments will not have an oven. Some will not have a microwave. Take a close look at what’s there.

49′ Bed sizes in France. In the description you’ll often read that the bed is King, Queen or Double, but those descriptions are an indication of size, it will not be what you’re used to. Double beds are the most common size you’ll see. French size are 140 (double) or 160 (queen) or 180+ king. French people never have enough pillows in apartments.

51’40 Water closet is separate in France. The bathroom is where you’ll find a shower or bathtub + a sink. The toilet is separate. This is because French people think it’s filthy to go to the bathroom where you brush your teeth.

53’47 Take a look at the reviews, most people will say it was great, what’s even more important is that this place has been rented in the past.

55′ Checking in and out. There is no concierge or front desk, you need to make arrangements to meet someone. Allow enough time to get to the apartment from Charles de Gaulle airport (typically 90 to 120 minutes). Most apartment managers will ask you to call them when you are on your way.

56’44 Deposit in cash can be a problem because you’ll have to carry the cash, but then what do you do with the cash when they give it back to you at the end? Ask if you can pay your cash deposit if dollars, so at least when you get it back you don’t have to convert it back before you can use it.

58′ There is usually a house rules binder in the apartment that will explain how things work in the apartment. Avoid using the small home dryers, they are awful. Just wash and hang dry.

60′ There are very few American food items that you can’t find at French grocery stores. Chili powder is one, coffee creamer is another.

61′ When you checkout, set a time with the apartment manager. Some places will ask you to replace things that you finish. They may ask you to strip the beds and empty the garbage.

63′ In Provence rentals are very expensive April thru November and cheap thru the winter months.

64′ Annie’s arguments against renting an apartment:

  • If you’re going the apartment route, you may be tempted to stay somewhere longer than you need to. Some place won’t rent for less than one week and there are lots of places in France where the only way to make that work is if you rent a car and you use the apartment as a central point to go visit lots of things.
  • For people who already know that they know and like France, it’s good to stay a while, but if it’s all new to you, don’t stay too long in one place or you’ll get bored.

Conclusion

Phil likens the process of renting an apartment in Paris to the fast, good, or cheap paradigm. You need to decide if it’s most important to you to have your apartment with easy access to attractions (fast), how many amenities you want (good) or how much you’re willing to pay (cheap). You can have two of the three, but probably not all three at the same time. With this episode you’re now better equipped to decide which two matter most to you.

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Tips for Using Uber in Paris, Episode 151


Blair Bell and her husband, Tips for using Uber in Paris

On this short episode of Join Us in France we are discussing tips on using Uber in Paris and those tips apply to a lot of big cites in France also. Blair compares the cost of Uber with taxis and public transportation. This was Blair’s third trip to Paris and because she was 34 weeks pregnant, she and her husband decided to mostly use Uber whereas in previous trips she had mostly used other modes of transportation.

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

 Tips for Using Uber in Paris, Episode 151

What You Will Learn in this Episode with Timestamps

2’52 The biggest difference between using Uber in the US and in France is the language barrier.

3’25 Uber Pool vs. Uber Black: If you use the Uber Pool option, because it’s a big city, you will have a lot of people riding with you and it will add on to the time it takes to get where you want to go. Uber Pool is sometimes half the price of Uber Black, so it’s worth it if you’re not in a hurry.

4’05 No Uber Pop in France: Uber Pop is the Uber service with older cars.

4’30 To get an accurate bid you need to set your pin location properly. Sometimes you have to enter the address manually.

6’00 It’s hard to get a good estimate of how long before the driver will pick you up with Uber in Paris because of the traffic conditions.

7’10 Tips on what to do on May 1st in France. Blair suggests taking an organized tour on that day and going away from Paris with a group where everything is organized.

8’33 When using Uber in Paris you will get to use your French, and it’s good to also have the Google Translate App.

9’15 Uber Pool is a better option in the US than in Paris, that could be that it’s because there are fewer Uber drivers in Paris.

9’40 Uber in Paris is cheaper in August than during the rest of the year. That’s probably because it’s mostly tourists calling Uber in August, demand goes down, so prices go down as well.

10’25 Uber is worth it if you have more than two people in your party. To go from one of the Paris airports to either the city center or to Disneyland Paris, it’s definitely worth it. A taxi between CDG Airport and the left bank will run you over 60€, the same ride on Uber is at least 15€ cheaper.

11’35 Comparing the price of metro tickets to Uber in Paris. Blair and her husband took 20 trips with Uber in Paris. Twenty metro tickets for 20 trips for two would cots 60€ if bought in packs of 10 (it would be 76€ if buying single tickets). Those same trips with Uber cost them 185€. So Uber is about 3 times the price of taking the metro.

13′ Install the Uber App before you come to France, you will use the same App with the same credit card.

13’40 French cars also have a license plate on both the front and back of the car, so it’s easier to recognize the car if you don’t know European cars.

15′ Basic French phrases you will need when using Uber in Paris:

  • c’est à gauche = it’s on the left
  • c’est à droite = it’s on the right
  • allumez la climatisation s’il vous plaît = turn on the AC please

16’30 Some things Blair and her husband enjoyed in Paris: Paris Picnic. Blue Bike Tour was great too.

19′ What else did you wish you knew before you went? Uber in August is cheaper, if you go the rest of the year consider mixing things up and maybe using the bus system (see our episode on comparing the Paris Metro with the Paris Bus and details on how to use them both).

19’50 To go back and forth to the airport definitely use Uber. Here is information from the Uber website on where to wait for your Uber at CDG: from terminals 1, 2A, 2C, 2D and 2F, exit on the departure level. From terminals 2E, 2G and 3, exit on the arrivals level. Head outside and wait at the curb. Then enter your terminal and door number so your driver knows where to find you.

21’45 Air France buses between CDG and Paris city center.

Conclusion

Using Uber in Paris is a good option in many situations, even if you’re on a budget. Between the airport (CDG) and the center of Paris Uber turns out to be cheaper than RER tickets for 4 people, it’s also a lot more pleasant. Listen to this episode so you understand the ins and outs of ironing out the pesky details.

If you’ve used Uber in Paris and would like to give voice feedback to be included in an upcoming episode of the podcast, call 801-806-1015.

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Paris on a Budget, Episode 141

Paris on a Budget


Paris on a budget, euro bills and coins

On today’s episode, Annie shares tips for visiting Paris on a budget. Maybe you’re financially challenged at the moment, maybe you’re bringing your kids and don’t need or want anything fancy. Maybe you’re just the kind of person, like me, who likes to feel like you got great value for your dollar, maybe this is a business trip and your boss is cheap.  No matter what your situation is, if you want to come to Paris without burning an irreparable hole into your bank account, this episode is for you!

What do I mean by Paris on a budget? 150€ per day for two people. It is possible to go even cheaper I’m sure, but I can’t help you there. You could hitch-hike and do couch surfing I suppose, not for moi!

Today I’m going to tell you how to come to Paris with your significant other, or a friend, or your kid, and only spend 150€ per day. I am excluding airfare, but am including hotel, transportation, food and entertainment. That’s the minimum for me to be comfortable and have a good time. I am not a fancy person, but I do like to be comfortable and safe, so stay tuned because I’m sure that matters to you too.

The airfare to come to Paris is expensive, but you know, sometimes you get lucky. One of my friend’s sons found an incredible fair to Paris and it was so good he booked it on the spot. If you can can find airfare under 500€ between continental US and France, it’s a great fair, grab it while you can. I can’t give you tips on how to do that other than setup airfare alerts and act fast.

If you enjoyed this episode, also listen to Episode 80 on Free Museums in Paris, and Episode 142 on Paris Metro or Bus?

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

 Episode Highlights

Annie’s secrets for enjoying Paris on a budget:

  1. Travel in Jan thru March or November thru mid-Dec
  2. Always check out hotel price before you book your flight
  3. Once in Paris, the most expensive ticket item is the hotel, then meals, then transportation, then entertainment
  4. Annie’s favorite budget hotel in Paris: Ibis in Charenton-le-Pont
  5. Annie’s food schedule: hotel breakfast, lunch out, snack and wine in the room at night. You can have a nice lunch in Paris for 14€-20€ per person, ask for a “une carafe d’eau s’il vous plaît” for tap water (which tastes fine and is totally safe in Paris and is what most people drink at lunch).
  6. Pack carefully (see packing list episode 137) a charging cable will run you 10€, and umbrella 25€, Advil is 6€ and Band-Aids aren’t cheap either!
  7. Budget hotels don’t supply much: no safe, no extra pillows, no soap, no wash-cloths
  8. Go to free museums (see Episode 80) and splurge on one or two that you’ve really wanted to see, maybe the Louvre or the Orsay
  9. Museum pass is expensive (78€ for 6 days, only worth it if you are sure to see 2 museums per day, not worth it just to skip the line
  10. You can reserve a timed entrance to the Louvre from home and that line is always much shorter than the other two
  11. Transportation pass not worth it , buy a pack of 10 tickets for 16€ and walk a lot
  12. Transfers between bus and metro not possible in Paris, choose  your route carefully using the RATP App
  13. You need phone data, buy that at home with your carrier
  14. Don’t get robbed or ripped off
    • Plan your pockets: you need a safe pocket for your phone and credit cards/cash, always put your stuff back in the same pocket
    • You don’t need a fancy travel pack with titanium lining, you simply need to remember to zip up your pockets!
    • Don’t talk to anyone with a clipboard and don’t fall for the “You don’t want to talk to me? What’s wrong? Isn’t Paris not treating you right?” routine
    • Big crowds and tight quarters: your phone and wallet need to be in your hands
    • Camera around your neck and a note about expensive camera equipment
    • Small backpacks/purses or you can’t get in venues

 

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