The Eiffel Tower awaits! You have just booked that dream of a lifetime, a flight to Paris, and are now looking for a place to stay. Hotels are expensive, and you are looking for that true Parisian experience. Should you risk an Airbnb?
I can’t answer that for you, but I will give you a checklist of what to look out for before renting an Airbnb in Paris. The city of Paris is cracking down and certain airbnbs are illegal. This guide will cover what to look out for, what rental apartments in Paris are like, and how to make sure that your airbnb meets your needs. We don’t want you to faint from culture shock on the day you’ve arrived, now do we!?
Table of Contents
16 Questions to ask before booking your Airbnb in Paris
1) How big is the apartment, and how many people are you traveling with?
French word: Pied à terreEnglish translation: Small place that you stay in the city for a short time.
The keyword in the definition above of “pied à terre” is small. Airbnb ads usually don’t state the apartment size, so you have to decide if you want to email the owner to find out.
But if you are arriving as a family of 4 with large luggage, strollers and other paraphernalia, you will find that the one-bedroom apartment that you rented is quite small. Keep your luggage to the essentials (guide here).
So be prepared mentally, and pack lightly. You will find yourself happier for it.
2) How many rooms is it?
In France, we count rooms, not bedrooms. So a “2 pieces” means actually one-bedroom, because the living room counts as a room.
The apartment that says it has “2 rooms and 2 beds”, means that it is possibly a 1 bedroom with a bed in it, and the 2nd bed is actually the couch which turns into a sofabed.
To avoid surprises, read the Airbnb listing carefully and look at the pictures to count how many many beds you see.
3) What bed size do you need?
King size beds are rare in France. I’ve only ever seen them in hotels. If you are hoping for a king-size, Airbnb is probably not the way to go.
Queen size beds are more common. But the standard size is 160x190cm (63in × 74in), not the 160 x 200 cm (63in × 79in) that we are used to in North America.
Also quite common in Paris (given the space issue) are twin size beds, which are advertised as for 2 people. Twin size beds are a standard 140x190cm (55 in × 74 in).
So if you are tall/big and bed size is important to you, check the listing carefully or email the owner to find out.
4) In the summertime, does the apartment have airconditioning?
Parisian apartments don’t usually have air-conditioning. Long-time readers of this blog know that I rant and rave about this, but there is nothing to be done. It is not part of the building norms in France, and even brand new buildings do not have air-conditioning.
All hotels are not guaranteed to have air-conditioning either. If this is a priority for you, you will have to reevaluate your plans, and the time of year you plan to come to France.
Check what the weather forecast is supposed to be, and be prepared. (A hot water bottle that you can put in the freezer, is a very handy way to cool down if necessary!)
5) What floor is the apartment on?
Ground floor: In France, the ground floor is floor zero. Ground floor apartments are more likely to have street-level windows that look into the apartment and have a higher risk of break-ins.
1st floor: And what we call 2nd floor in North America is actually the 1st floor in France. The problem with 1st-floor apartments, depending on the area, is that it could be quite in close proximity to a bar or restaurant, and so you could have quite a bit of noise at night.
Top floor: Conversely, apartments on the top floor have other issues. The lead and iron roofs just above mean that they are freezing cold in winter and boiling hot in the summer.
6) Does it have an elevator?
Elevators were not around in the 18th century, and French buildings of that era will either not have an elevator, or will have one retrofitted in.
This means that it will likely be quite small, and possibly oddly shaped. I’ve been in more than 1 elevator where I’ve sent up my luggage in the lift, but walked up the stairs myself, because we did not all fit.
Parents with large strollers, there is a good chance that your stroller will not fit into the elevator so you may have to carry it up! Even if the elevator looks big enough, like the one below, it is the doors that are too narrow to let most strollers in.
7) What amenities are there in the kitchen?
Parisian kitchens are generally tiny, and if cooking is important to you, look and see if the kitchen has a stove and an oven. Or is there just a hotplate? Do you need a microwave?
Also, there may not be a freezer, washer-dryer or a dishwasher in the apartment, if those things are important to you.
(Yes, in France, the washer is regularly in the kitchen. And there may not be a dryer.)
8) Are there pictures of the bathroom and toilet?
If the washer-dryer is not in the kitchen, it could be in the bathroom. Also look at the size of the shower stall if you are particularly tall and big. I’m generalizing a bit, but French men and women on average are much smaller than, for example, Americans or Dutch people.
Also, this might seem odd, but if it is a top floor apartment, check that you are not being rented a “chambre de bonne”. Chambre de bonnes were servants quarter, and often on the top floor of buildings. The problem here is that many of them had shared toilets. So check and see that you can see the toilet in the unit of the apartment.
9) Does the place have wifi?
Wifi is in most places, but it is better to check, unless you want to risk running up giant bills on your home network!
10) How close is it to the metro?
Depending on if you are looking at the center of Paris, or slightly outside in the suburbs, you should evaluate how close the apartment is to a metro stop.
Within Paris, most should be within 5 minutes. But there are also certain metro stops that have a “reputation” and you should probably be a bit more wary of walking around at night:
- Chateau Rouge
- Barbès – Rochechouart
- La Chapelle
- Gare du Nord
- Northern suburbs outside Paris
11) What neighborhood is it in?
Beyond how close the metro is, you should also get a feel for what type of neighborhood it is. Paris is broken down into 20 arrondissements (districts) are they are as different as chalk and cheese.
Some are more quiet and bourgeois, while others are more young and hipster. To learn more about the arrondissements of Paris, I’ve put together a guide below.
☞ RELATED POST: Where to stay? A Guide to the arrondissements of Paris
12) Is it registered with the City Hall of Paris?
The City of Paris requires that official sub-letting apartments are registered with the City hall, after which they issue a 15 digit registration number, which is usually listed on the Airbnb ad.
The only apartments that are exempt from this requirement are those rented less than 90 days/year, or places where only a small portion of the apartment is being rented.
The Mairie (city hall) does spot checks, so it is better to be sure that you are renting from an officially listed place.
A quick way to check is if the Airbnb listing doesn’t have a registration number but is available to rent for long periods of time. If it doesn’t have a registration number listed, it could be an illegal listing.
13) Is the apartment being rented by the landlord or a tenant?
This one relates to the point above. Only the landlord legally has the right to rent out the apartment (unless the tenant has express written consent.)
You can’t obviously email all the listings on Airbnb to see if it is owner-rented. But seeing a registration number on the listing will be a big clue that this is, in fact, a legal apartment.
14) Are they renting a room or the whole flat?
I’ve seen many listings in Paris where the person still plans on being present in the apartment and is just renting out a room. Personally, I find these arrangements quite awkward (again, the theme of this article is that Parisian apartments are small).
So unless you are traveling by yourself, book the entire apartment. (Am I a snob? Maybe, but I don’t care to share!)
15) What are the rules of the apartment?
Always read through the rules of the apartment before renting. There could be restrictions on noise, who you can have over, etc. French apartments are not that well insulated (especially old ones), so read through the rules.
16) What do the reviews say?
And finally the reviews. The reviews often give as good insight, if not better than the Airbnb description, so always read through them to find any peculiarities.
And there you have it, the checklist for booking an Airbnb in Paris. Be sure to book and pay online directly on the Airbnb site. This way, in case of problems, you can apply for a refund.
Bon voyage and à bientôt!
- Motivation to Research
Checklist of items to verify before renting an Airbnb in Paris:
- Size of apartment
- How many bedrooms and beds?
- What floor is the apartment located on?
- Kitchen: oven, stove, microwave, freezer, dishwasher?
- Bathroom: Toilet, bathtub, shower, washer-dryer?
- How close is it to the metro?
- What neighborhood is it in? (Refer to Guide to Paris arrondissements.)
- City of Paris Airbnb Registration number?
- Renting a room or full apartment?
- What are the Rules of the apartment?
- What do the reviews say?
Bon voyage and à bientôt!