When we planned to spend five days in Paris with kids, we knew we’d be on a budget. To make it possible for us, we chose to book a HomeAway apartment rental in an outer arrondissement. This arrangement allowed us enough sleeping space for our family of five, a kitchen to cook some meals in, and a washing machine for our laundry. We already trusted HomeAway, as we use this site for ski vacations in the States. Abroad, we had the same positive experience we’re already accustomed to, even in Paris on a budget.
Why stay in the Montmartre neighborhood:
Montmartre is a neighborhood of contradictions: it’s both touristy and authentic, tacky and elegant. During our week-long stay, we found that the atmosphere changes as you climb the hill: at the bottom, you’ll find a working class neighborhood with more than its share of night clubs, but at the top, the elegance of Sacre Coeur awaits, with smaller cafes and street artists. The latter is filled with tourists, but below, we found a more genuine Paris experience, where the restaurants and stores served the locals…and were priced accordingly.
- Staying outside the most popular arrondissements can save money on accommodations.
- The Montmartre neighborhood (and the 18th arrondissement) has a local, artsy vibe that’s fun for older kids and teens.
- The Chateau Rogue metro station is convenient to downtown.
- While Montmartre is a destination in itself, it’s not in the heart of the go-to tourist attractions: you’re a metro ride away.
- Can be loud at night in some areas.
Paris on a budget: Why apartment living is where it’s at:
We set up camp at this HomeAway apartment, located just steps from the Metro station and a five minute walk from Sacre Coeur. In the heart of the holiday season, we paid only $500 total for five nights, which is drastically less than we’d spend on two hotel rooms per night for our family of five.
While the space was small, we all had our own beds, and the space was functional. We saved even more money by eating in several nights during our stay. Directly down the street from our apartment was a convenient grocery store where we stocked up on essentials, and several bakeries were just below us. We stocked up on breakfast items, coffee, bottled water, snacks, and the makings of a few easy meals, such as soup and baguette. We still ate most our meals out, but having some in saved us time and money.
You never know how hands-on or hands-off your host will be when you book through HomeAway, but this time, we hit the jackpot. The owner of this apartment was very communicative and helpful, both before our trip and during. She met us with a smile when we arrived tired after a transcontinental flight, and spoke English well enough to give us a tour of the small apartment (we don’t speak French). Renting this apartment also gave us access to free WiFi, a laundry machine, and the extra space of a living room.
A few HomeAway tips:
- Download the app for easy communication with your host.
- Book early for the best pricing, but don’t be afraid to try for a last-minute booking…some hosts discount their properties if unsold during peak weeks.
- Read the fine print: check to see if you’ll need to leave a damage deposit or any required city tax fee, and whether it will need to be in cash. For our rental, a €250 cash deposit was required (returned on departure), and this would have been a pretty big hiccup if I hadn’t been prepared ahead of time.
- Check both the map in the listing and the reviews. Look for information on the host as well as on the property itself.
Montmartre during the Christmas season:
While I’m now sold on staying in Montmartre during any time of year, it was particularly magical during the Christmas season. A ten minute walk from our apartment found us at the top of the hill by Sacre Coeur, where we had a great view of the Eiffel Tower and festive lights twinkled from every corner.
The above post was written in partnership with HomeAway. As always, all opinions remain my own.