Finding summer accommodation in Paris
March 11, 2013 1:47 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to Paris in July and August this summer to take a language course at the Sorbonne. Yay! However, my original plan to stay at a friend's flat has fallen through, and I'm going to have to search for my own accommodation. I don't know where to start... and my French isn't great. Help!

My priority is location (near a metro station and safe), access to a kitchen, cost (cheap as possible, absolute maximum €1000/month) and security. Size/comfort/decour is unimportant. I've never flathunted before, not even in my own country, and it all seems overwhelming. From searching there seems to be a few options:

a) Go to Paris and look for an apartment on foot. I've heard that this is the fastest and easiest method, but I'd feel very uncomfortable turning up to a new place without a guarantee of a roof over my head unless this is the only way.

b) Rent a short-term apartment on sites like Parisstay. I've never done this before though, and I don't know how trustworthy such agencies/websites are?

c) Find a hostel/dormitory-style arrangement - however these seem to be geared for actual French college students who rent it out long-term (6 months~1 year), or for short-term tourists (~2 weeks).

d) Find a homestay. I've never done this and have no idea how to go about finding one.

Other info: I'm female, 20s, from the UK, could find a French guarantor if needed, and can theoretically go to Paris to flat-hunt later this month or in June if necessary.

Do you have any advice on how to look for a short-term place in Paris? Would it be better value for money if I rent an apartment, or is 2 months too short? Many websites I come across are solely in French and with my only rudimentary grasp of the language it's proving to be a bit of a headache.

Many thanks.
posted by pikeandshield to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I would start with Air BnB if I were you. The search functions are in English and will help you find what you're looking for. I've never used it in France, but I've stayed all over Italy and Spain and I've found most of the hosts speak at least basic English.
posted by justjess at 1:54 PM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

I stayed at a Citadines serviced apartment on my last Paris trip.
posted by brujita at 2:04 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was also going to suggest AirBnB. I have never used it myself, but my sister-in-law just came back from a trip to Paris two days ago and had used them to find a place to stay. She and her friend were were very satisfied with the apartment they found and everything went smoothly.
posted by Bearded Dave at 2:07 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris (click through for English) has short term (only a month or two) and long term (up to two years) student and artist and researcher accommodation. Well within your range, right on the RER. It's not your regular Paris vibe...

But I loves it!
posted by jujulalia at 2:13 PM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

- I would not do (A) because finding a place here in Paris can be a long, hard slog in the best of circumstances. People spend 2 months looking for an apartment, and that is the length of your stay!
- (B) is fine, I also have seen the Citadines places and they seem like decent medium-stay hotels. Do your homework on one before contacting! I can check my old emails for ones that friends have used, if you are interested.
- (C) and (D) would be awesome if you want to actually interact with people. If you are here for a French course, that should be one of your goals, right? Check out websites like,, and, to find homestays or shared flats. A lot of other French learners are looking for the same thing; do not feel too intimidated! Some will find it a bonus, others won't be interested. No problem.

The suggestions for airBnB and Cite U are great. I don't know how the Cite U process is during the summer, though; it can be hard to get space there during the year.

If you need feedback on locations feel free to send me a message later. I live here and can always use an excuse to check out a new corner of the city.
posted by whatzit at 2:18 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have stayed in many flats in Paris via airbnb (I go about once a month) and there are some great deals. If you want to stay by yourself you should easily be able to find something under a thousand Euros a month, and airbnb takes care of the deposit (it's held on your credit card) so you don't have to worry about getting it back. Send me memail and I can point you to some decent flats, and answer questions about neighborhoods (I lived in the 10th for a year, going to school in the 5th, and have also stayed in flats in the 19th and 20th).

If you want to live around other students you should definitely check out the Cité; it's in the south and is not a bad connection to the Sorbonne if you're going to the campus in the 5th.
posted by tractorfeed at 2:40 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

may i suggest staying with a roommate or 4? when i was learning french, the best times i had were AFTER school - chatting with my roommate, stumbling through french dates, meeting groups of friends-of-friends to sip wine next to the canal...

if you're going to be in france for just a few months, living with locals will give you someone to talk to and make you feel "at home". plus, it will be WAY cheaper.

you can try airbnb, or even (that would reallllly be taking things to a rustic level, but you can also meet people who are interested in a short-term friendship with a foreigner with an adorable accent).

bonne chance!
posted by andreapandrea at 6:41 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

AirBnb is a good possibility - it is what I used when I first came to Paris while I was looking for a more permanent place - I can give you the name of my host if you are interested, he was very friendly and spoke reasonable English.

I eventually found my long-term apartment through - you do have to pay for the membership but I found the ads to be much higher quality than Craigslist. I share my apartment with a French roommate, and I would recommend that option if you speak even basic French - I think my French has improved much more from my living situation than from my French classes! is another good site.

My priority is location (near a metro station and safe), access to a kitchen, cost (cheap as possible, absolute maximum €1000/month) and security.

Pretty much anywhere within the Boulevard Peripherique will be near a metro station - I don't think I have ever gone anywhere in Paris that was more than 10 minutes walk from a station. You can use Google Maps to check how long it will take you to get to the Sorbonne.

Re: safety and security, Paris is a very safe city, particularly within the 20 arrondissements. Take all the usual "big city" precautions and you will be fine.

Good luck! I went through this just a few months ago, and I know how stressful it can be. I hope you find somewhere awesome.
posted by fresh bouquets every day at 3:44 AM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just finished reserving a short-term apartment in Paris through VRBO and found the experience fairly nice. But I don't think you'll find many apartments in the short-term rental market in Paris for under €1000/month so this might not be the best option given your budget.

VRBO seems to be focused on English-speaking travelers, and almost all of the property owners/managers I contacted wrote back to me in English (even though I emailed them in French).

I haven't actually made the trip yet so I can't vouch for trustworthiness, but I know other people who have done this multiple times without problems. VRBO/HomeAway is a bit like eBay; you will want to be aware of possible scams to avoid if you use it. They have security advice on their web site and you can find related discussion in past Ask Metafilter threads like this one.
posted by mbrubeck at 11:07 AM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thank you all for your replies! I have made an application to Cite U and also to some foyers. I've been scouring AirBnB and I think I may go for it if I don't have other options, though I do feel a bit apprehensive about the whole setup as it's with an individual, rather than with an agency/company. For those of you that offered specific location help etc, many thanks for your offer - I may indeed be messaging you in the near future. ;)
posted by pikeandshield at 2:29 PM on March 13, 2013

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