When I headed off to Paris a couple months ago, it was a bit of a last minute trip. I had been wanting to make the trip for quite some time, but had to make some changes to the actual travel dates at the last minute. You can make things work at the last minute, so if you find yourself in this position, don’t abandon your plans, just dig in and make it work.
When I set my travel dates, I set them around my schedule, and didn’t pay attention to what was going on in Paris. It turned out that the Rugby World Cup was being held during the time I planned to be there. The downside of that was that all the moderately priced hotels were booked up. In fact, I couldn’t find hotel availability at all, even stretching the budget to $500 night.
While my traveling companion would have been perfectly happy to stay at a local American chain, and that was the back up plan, I was determined to find something oozing with French charm and ambience.
Undaunted by the seemingly Herculean task in front of me, I checked out all the hotel websites that had anything in Paris. I sent off lots of emails and reservations requests. The answers were all the same — no availability for the time I was going to be there.
Next I emailed friends and bloggers who were in Europe, or those who had recently visited France, asking for suggestions and ideas. I got a ton of responses and helpful suggestions, but I still didn’t find any place with availability. Until one friend suggested trying to find an apartment.
Hmmmm! I hadn’t thought of that. What a great idea! With less than 48 hours before I had to get on an airplane, it was an idea that needed to be acted upon quickly.
There are a number of companies that handle apartment rentals in France. If I had thoroughly checked them out, I would be happy to list and link to them here. But I didn’t do any due diligence (something that I never recommending skipping), instead trusting my bank of travel karma to make it all work out.
I found a listing for a studio apartment in the 4th arrondissement, close to the Bastille métro, that sounded promising and affordable. There were photos, and although I tend not to trust these type of photos, I wasn’t in a position to be too choosy. It was conveniently located in a nice neighborhood, so it had to be full of the charm and ambience that I was looking for.
I placed the call, spoke to Michael, a very nice guy in New York, and with hours to spare we handled the business end of things. Before you could say bon voyage I was on a plane en route to Paris.
Upon arrival at Charles de Gaulle airport, I took the train into the city, made one transfer, and found myself coming out of the station for my first view of Paris.
The apartment was a very short walk from the métro but because of my bumbling about it took me about half an hour to walk the block and a half. I chalked it up to flying all night, little sleep, and my lack of French language along with a healthy dose of excitement about FINALLY getting to Paris.
The entrance was through a large green double door that opened into a terrace with a couple of small tables and chairs. I’m sure that during the warmer weather this is a very popular place to sit and have morning coffee or a glass of wine.
The apartment itself was just as described, with a lovely salon, a remarkably spacious and efficient bathroom (with shower), and a small kitchen (which I only used for opening wine and keeping water and cheese in the refrigerator).
Over the week that I was there, the neighborhood became familiar and comfortable. I felt safe walking around during the day and in the wee hours as well. I found my favorite cafe for my morning coffee and croissant, a frommagerie and wine shop, and some local restaurants. It was a perfect location for my days of exploration, whether by train or foot. It was everything that I had hoped for more.
While I certainly don’t recommend that you wait till the last minute to plan a trip, don’t let the fact that it’s a last minute opportunity get in the way. There are ways to make nearly everything work.
I didn’t stay in the hotel room that I had originally planned. But what worked out was even better. For a very short time I could feel like a resident of Paris.
NOTE: For anyone interested in specific information about the apartment, contact me directly. I’ll be happy to share specifics and contact information.
If you are interested in information about this apartment rental, you can email Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.