Monday, September 23, 2013

8+ Ways To Get the Most Out of Paris: Hotel Hop, Apartment Swap, Meet the French & More

By Jacquelin Carnegie - (Paris, France) 

Les Parisiens by Kanako  
(Mairie de Paris, My Little Paris & Editions du Chêne)
Paris is all about neighborhoods. Instead of spending your whole stay in the same hotel, discover Paris' many wonderful neighborhoods by moving around! You can accomplish this in several different ways: Do a mix-and-match of hotel stays, apartment rentals, and bed & breakfasts. Yes, packing and unpacking is a drag, but this is such a great way to really get to know the city, just pack light.
Paris has 20 districts (arrondissements), each with a distinct personality. Do some research beforehand, and explore the cafes, shops, and sights unique to each neighborhood. [To figure out an arrondissement, just look at the last 2 digits of the address's zip code: i.e., 75008 = 8th arrondissement.]

Hotel Hop: Try Different Neighborhoods
Several major chains have hotels in different neighborhoods. Spend two or three nights in a variety of locations. While you're assured of a similar level of service, each hotel has its own style to match the arrondissement.

Hotel Chains


Renaissance Paris le Parc Trocadero, 16th
Marriott has 13 Paris hotels (including Renaissance & Courtyard) 

Novotel has 10+ Paris hotels (which can be selected by arrondissement) 
The Leading Hotels of The World has 7 luxury Paris hotels (for a splurge)
Boutique Hotels:
These are lovely, smaller hotels with lots of character. There are so many to choose from, it's hard to know where to begin. Perhaps pick a sight you'd like to explore, then see what's nearby. For example: 

Hôtel Observatoire Luxembourg (107, Blvd St Michel, 75005 Paris; 
Tel: +33- (0)1-46-34-10-12; www.observatoirehotel.com) - This little gem is right across from the famous Luxembourg Gardens.
Design Hotels recommends 8 Paris boutique hotels (with oodles of style) 

Chez Grace (photo: Owen Franken)
Feel at Home: Bed & Breakfasts
Usually, a Bed & Breakfast (Chambres d'hôtes) means a room--a very nice room--in someone's Paris apartment. Not only does this give you the chance to experience a slice of life in the City of Light, it also gives you the opportunity to meet real Parisians. You can find Chambres d’hôtes in every arrondissement with your criteria (i.e., no smoking, free Wi-Fi, etc.) and, since they're booked by the night, combine a few in different neighborhoods:
Meeting the French (Tel: +33 (0)1-42-51-19-80; en.meetingthefrench.com)
No friends in Paris? Meet some. This B&B company lists wonderful accommodations and also arranges dinners where you can meet the locals as well as offering tours and French cooking classes.
Airbnb (www.airbnb.com) When renting a room you can sometimes luck out with an interesting 
host, willing to show you around the neighborhood or suggest great, local hangouts. 
Pretend You Live There: Rent an Apartment 
The most important aspect when renting an apartment abroad is a feeling of trust. When arriving in a strange city, where you may not speak the language, the last thing you want is for things to go wrong. While listings on Craigslist may be the most affordable, they're not necessarily the most reliable. So, in addition to checking out photos of apartments online:
- Make sure someone with responsibility will meet you with the key (door locks can be tricky & you'll need a code to get into most Paris buildings).
- Be sure to have a contact phone number (not just an email) for someone who can help if anything needs to be fixed during your stay.
- As soon as you walk in, make sure everything works (stove, shower, etc.) and that you know how to turn appliances on/off.
- Find out the refund policy beforehand should the apartment not be as advertised. 
Paris Through Expatriate Eyes (Tel: +33-(0)6-7098-1368; www.paris-expat.com) Run by transplanted-American Terrance Gelenter, this company rents apartments in several different neighborhoods. Terrance, who's a real character and loads of fun, also organizes private tours and interesting events. 

(photo: Amélie Dupont © Paris Tourist Office)
Your Holiday Home Abroad (US Tel: 609-924-7520)
If you're looking for someplace classy, John Cuadrado & Gloria Moskowitz rent upscale apartments. They don't have a website because it's all done by referral.  

Place Dauphine (photo: Myrabella)
VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner) - I've heard only good things from people who've used this service.
Other Options: House Sit or Swap
Instead of renting, you can swap apartments or house sit (this usually involves pet sitting). There are so many online sites to choose from, try to get
recommendations from people you know who've done it and had positive experiences. Here are some sites:  
House Sit (most require fee to join): Housecarers.com; www.mindmyhouse.com; www.luxuryhousesitting.com; www.caretaker.org
Swap: www.ihen.com; Knok.com
Couchsurfing & Servas: Members of both organizations will put you up for free. While Couchsurfing is a newer, online service--all the rage with the twentysomething set, Servas has been around since 1949 and has a philosophy behind it: Gandhi’s concept of promoting world peace through intercultural exchange.
A Good Source: The Paris tourism office, Paris Info, always has the latest on new hotels, B&B, apartment rentals, etc. Check their comprehensive list, constantly updated with new options: http://bit.ly/16nNaOZ


No comments:

Post a Comment