Who doesn’t dream of a trip to Paris? It’s the city that’s on everyone’s bucket list. After spending two wonderful weeks in the south of France in my late twenties — a trip that never brought me to Paris, much to my regret — I finally returned this year to the land of fine wine, fabulous food and balanced lifestyles. This time, I made a beeline for what may be the world’s most beautiful city, and I didn’t leave until I had seen every great landmark.
After researching Parisian hotels for years, I knew which districts were my top choices for lodging as I planned my trip, and I also knew that I was in for a hefty price tag if I planned to commit to those choices. But then I spent some time on the AirBnB website, and a whole new world of options opened up to me. As a user of the HomeAway and VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) sites for more than 20 years, the idea of staying in someone else’s home wasn’t new to me. So AirBnB was a natural choice — even though it seemed like a bit of a leap of faith to try it out for the first time on such a big trip.
I found the AirBnB site to be easy to navigate, offering reviews, plenty of photos and fast-loading pages. You can opt for a shared room, a private room or the entire place, and we chose the third option. Next, we were able to zero in on the arrondissements, or districts, that appealed the most to us. We quickly came across an adorable and affordable apartment on Ile’ Saint-Louis, an elegant island in the heart of Paris. Ile’ Saint-Louis is connected to the rest of the city by four bridges over the River Seine. It is walking distance to an abundance of great sights including Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, and the popular Marais and Saint Germain districts — and about as central as you can get.
Our nightly rate was $170 — for a clean and comfortable 4th floor apartment. To access the building, we entered an oversized wooden door, which was (surprisingly) somewhat easy to miss as we strolled down the island’s small but busy central thoroughfare. The password-protected door opened up to a cozy cobblestone courtyard beneath the 4-story white building, which was marked by blue doors and shutters, as well as plenty of French charm. When we entered the apartment, we were surprised to find that it was even nicer than portrayed in the AirBnB photos.
Each night we opened the big windows in the living room as wide as we could, reveling in the wonderful summer weather and feeling safe and secure with the gated courtyard below. Although we didn’t cook much, we had access to our own modern kitchen within the apartment, along with a washer and dryer, and a bathroom that was just the right size for two adults.
At $170/night for one of the best locations in Paris, we almost felt as though we were cheating the system. And maybe we were, as word on the street is that the Parisian government isn’t exactly welcoming AirBnB with open arms. My hope is that the powers that be will recognize a good thing when they see it. I want to return to Paris soon, and AirBnB is one big reason I know I’ll be able to afford it.
Please return to the blog soon as we plan more posts in the month ahead on our AirBnB experiences in France’s equally beautiful Luberon and Cote d’ Azur regions.