There are several considerations when renting an apartment in Paris. Apartments vary considerably in age, quality and comfort and the arrondissement or district you live in will play a large role in your enjoyment of Paris.
Where to rent apartments in Paris?
Paris is made up of 20 districts or arrondissements which start at the 1st arrondissement in the centre of Paris and corkscrew out clockwise to the 20th arrondissement. The Paris city limit is marked by its ring road known as the Peripherique (or ‘periph’)
The city is divided geographically by the Seine river. North of the Seine is the ‘rive droite’ (right bank) and South is the ‘rive gauche’ (left bank).
Immediately outside of Paris are the close suburbs, which are linked to the centre by the metro and bus routes.
Although much of central Paris can be dated back to the 13th century and before, the most common form of apartment building dates to around the turn of the century and based on styles introduced by Baron Haussmann who transformed Paris during his 15 years spent at the head of the Préfecture de la Seine (1853-1868).
Haussmannian architecture prevails in Paris’ chic quarters but remnants of the medieval era still exist in the 3rd, 4th and 5th arrondissements.
As the city spreads outwards towards the Peripherique buildings become more modern and in certain areas redevelopment has produced quite modern apartment blocks.
Full details of each of Paris’ arrondissements can be found by taking our Virtual tour where you will find rent price comparisons, a description of the area and some photos.
Once past the Peripherique there is a mix of industry, more modern residential quarters and parks. Further out, the sprawl of Paris absorbs what were once independent towns and villages whose historical centres are enveloped in a mixture of 20th century developments.
Parisian Apartments - Furnished vs Unfurnished
If you are coming to Paris only for a short term, central Paris offers a great deal of furnished apartments. If you are staying long term you may wish to bring your own furniture with you. There are several considerations for each option.
Furnished apartments vary as much in style (see old vs new) as in their comfort. At the bottom of the scale furnishing may be the most basic flat pack furniture having had years of use by past tenants, at the top end you may have the latest designer furniture or priceless antiques. It is always a question of personal taste and that is something you can’t account for! The advantage of furnished apartments is that you are ‘operational’ immediately on your arrival in France.
Sometimes apartments are furnished with the tenant in mind and are practical but simple offering reasonable comfort, other times you will be renting someone’s cherished home while they themselves are away on business. In the later case, it can be difficult to feel ‘at home’ if you are constantly taking care not to damage the landlords furniture and fittings.
One important aspect of renting furnished apartments is that leases generally run for only one year. These are renewable with the right periods of notice being given.
Unfurnished leases usually run for a term of three years or more. Kitchens (see below) may be an issue if you need to be up and running as soon as you arrive. This will however feel more like your own place and you have the option of furnishing it with your existing goods, buying inexpensive furniture in France or even renting furniture during your stay.
If you do decide to bring your own furniture and goods it is worth reading our pre-move pages for details on electrical issues, furniture sizes and other important considerations.
Kitchens and Fixtures
One thing that baffles most overseas tenants is kitchen situation. Generally when you rent a property in France the kitchen is ENTIRELY EMPTY – normally there will only be a basin with a small cupboard underneath.
Why? I have also tried to understand why exiting tenants take fitted cupboards with them to try and fit in a new apartment. The nicest explanation I have heard is that nobody wants to assume the tastes of the new tenant – although not convinced… I’ll stick with it!
The increasing movement of expatriates in the area and the existence of cheaper kitchen units from stores like IKEA has meant that more apartments are available with fitted kitchens – although this is still the exception rather than the rule.
Kitchens will either be supplied:
Vide – empty with a sink and cupboard - assume this unless otherwise stated
Ammenagé – with cupboards but no equipment or white goods
Equipé – fully equipped (usually only in furnished rentals)
An open kitchen (cuisine americain) refers to a kitchen, which is built as part of another room, normally the dining room or the main sitting room. These are popular in smaller apartments and are usually fitted but not necessarily equipped.
Light fittings, curtain rails, picture hooks, and other fixtures are also not generally part of the apartment. Assume that there will be no fixtures unless otherwise stated.