Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 2467: At Home in Paris, Letellier
1bed/1bath apartment in 15th arrondissement, Paris
Jan-Jun 2005, 6 months
The agent and his agency proved to be a problem, but the location was great - local students and families rather than tourists; in a residential street and around the corner from a busy shopping street with everything I needed from day-to-day; a couple of blocks south of Metro Motte Picquet Grenelle Metro, with three metro lines handy; I often walked to the inner arrondissments or sites (Eiffel Tower and Champ de Mars was 10 minutes walk away); and I felt safe at any hour.
A shopping street (rue du Copmmerce) was at end of my street, and had plenty of food, fashion and beauty shops, plus a couple of supermarkets,a florist, and half a dozen brasseries/cafes.
Building: 18th century; 3-4 levels, with two apartments on each level; no lift; digicode street door; no intercom; clean and well-maintained exterior and common areas; working French windows and shutters; polite and considerate neighbours.
A little courtyard served as an access path to a house behind the apartment building; nice for light and air but not used for sitting.
Decor was not unpleasant, but place had average-to-worn furnishings and provided some surprises in the cleanliness stakes. See problems/surprises below.
Bedroom and bathroom reasonably large for French apartment this size. Shower was large and modern, though had its own secret hot-cold water logic.
Old and poor-to-average quality utensils and crockery; small benchtop 'oven'; small but workable space; okay to cook for up to three people; also housed fridge and a little washing machine.
Problems or Bonuses
Several bad surprises awaited, despite planning and communication with agency beforehand.
On arrival, the place was untidy, with the owners' personal belongings (old shoes, old contraceptive pills, old shopping bags) scattered throughout the cupboards, so we put them all in one cupboard. Then we discovered the place was not just untidy but unclean (e.g. a cat litter tray and unwashed cat food bowls in wardrobe; fingernail clippings under the couch; hair plugs in the drains; soap-scummed shower and sinks; unwashed handtowels) so we spent a few days cleaning. The promised bedding/manchester turned out to be old and smelly sleeping bags and a worn pillow, so we went and bought a new quilt and pillows, in addition to towels and sheets that we knew would not be provided. After this effort and expense, the place eventually felt more clean and comfortable.
The agent had also provided incorrect advice about the telephone and gas connection arrangements, and I needed to spend time and money fixing that up.
During the stay, I asked for a set of spare keys for visiting friends, and discovered that the spare keys had been given to "a workman." The agency reluctantly arranged for them to be given to us.
On departure, the independent inspector said that I left the place in a better state than I had found it, and instructed the agency to refund my security deposit of AUS$4000 in full. However, despite my numerous contacts with the agency (formal and informal), the agent kept the money for over a year and only refunded the deposit after I exhausted other official avenues and hired a French lawyer to represent me in court. I spent AU$1000 and a lot of time in getting back money that was legally mine.
I was able to succeed in getting my deposit back because I had sufficient French language and sufficient funds to navigate my way around the French legal system. I suspect a person without both of those would have very little chance at all. I therefore strongly recommend that people avoid At Home in Paris.
The good points were the apartment's location, safety, good price and decent size, and cosiness in winter.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Initially, the agent and agency seemed reasonably professional, however, they provided incorrect advice, and then took over a year to return my security deposit - and only after I hired a lawyer to reprsent me in court ... (see problems/surprises above).
Agency is listed as bilingual, but the main agent told me he did not speak English, and the rental contract was provided in French (as I understand is required by law) but without a translation.
For January to June, the price was €1100 per month, plus €2200 security deposit, plus insurance, plus VAT, plus agency fees.
Note from SlowTrav: There are other vacation rentals represented by other agencies/owners on this street.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Avoid this agent and agency.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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