I’m pleased to report that I’ve made arrangements to spend six weeks in Paris this spring! (May 13 to June 29) I’ve rented a lovely-looking apartment in the 2ème arrondissement, just two blocks from my beloved rue Montorgueil. Here’s a glimpse of the living room:The full description of the apartment is at this link. These were the criteria I used to select this place from hundreds of online options:
- Location is of course a primary consideration. I wanted to rent near the center of the city, in or near an animated area (bakeries, food stores, shops, cafés, restaurants, etc.), but not in an area that is too heavily trampled by tourists. This apartment is two blocks from bustling rue Montorgueil, which is active without being too touristy. The only wild card is whether daytime commercial activity on rue des Jeuneurs may be somewhat annoying. I’m sure it will be quiet at night, though, and while I loved looking out on the activity of rue Montorgueil I think it will be a lot easier to get to sleep in this apartment.
- Decor. Last year’s apartment was very well located, but it looked a bit rundown from the photos, and it turned out to be dirty and poorly maintained. It was 500 euros per month less than this one, but when you are spending 6-8 weeks in a place you really do want it to be pleasant. The photos of this place make it look truly inviting, even though it lacks the exposed beams that have graced most of my previous rental places.
- Stairs/Elevator. My first year both places I rented were on the French 5th floor — five flights up — with no elevator. The stairs weren’t a physical challenge but I felt psychologically distanced from the ground. For example, I would sometimes eat a stale baguette for breakfast instead of going down to buy a fresh one! In subsequent years I’ve rented on the French 3rd floor and had no issues. This apartment is on the French 3rd but also — a first for me — has an elevator! I hope I’ll mostly use the stairs but it will be nice not to have to schlep my big suitcase up three flights when I arrive.
- Amenities. High-speed internet and WiFi are now typical, but it would be a huge inconvenience to rent somewhere that didn’t offer them. I like a place with a washer/dryer, keeping in mind that most French units do a poor job of drying so you must plan on hanging most of your clothes anyway. A dishwasher isn’t essential, but is nice to have. I personally like to have a desk and chair for my computer, which this place offers.
- Layout and View. French apartments usually have no air conditioning, so it’s important to make sure they have good ventilation. The ideal configuration — which I found this year — is through ventilation between windows on the street and windows on the courtyard. It’s also appealing to get some sun and a view in the living room, while having the bedroom open onto the (usually) quieter courtyard. Because I like to invite friends to visit I prefer to have the toilet accessible both from the bedroom and from the sofa bed in the living room. (The apartment on the corner of rue Montorgueil and rue Saint-Sauveur that I rented for several years was in most respects wonderful, but having to go through the bedroom to get to the toilet was suboptimal.)
- Cost. I set a budget limit of 2,200 euros per month this year, and this apartment came in right at the top of my range. The extraordinary fall in the euro relative to the U.S. dollar will make this year’s petit sejour in Paris much cheaper than in prior years, however. In the past 12 months the euro has dropped from $1.38 to $1.09: US Dollar to Euro Exchange Rate Graph – Mar 10, 2014 to Mar 6, 2015