Let’s face it: Planning a big trip can be overwhelming. And at least for me, choosing lodging is always the most overwhelming part of the process—magnified times a million when the destination is overseas or for a special occasion. So needless to say, hotel shopping for my Parisian honeymoon was almost enough to make me rethink the wonders of holing up in a no-frills lakeside cabin, especially when you factored in a modest post-wedding budget and devaluing dollar abroad.
Searching online for budget hotels in Paris could have been easy enough, but reading user reviews was brutal. I could handle tiny rooms and appreciate off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods, but bedbugs and paper-thin walls? Non, merci. So after weeks of drowning in scathing reviews on TripAdvisor, my fiancé and I opted instead for more uncharted (or at least less-reviewed) territory: renting a privately owned apartment.
The experience had its quirks, to be sure, but none that overshadowed the thrill of slipping a key into the door on an ordinary façade in Montmartre, filled with real Parisians living their lives all around us. Plus, our tiny home-away-from-home had a kitchen (albeit proportionately teensy)
stocked with a few essentials like a coffeemaker and corkscrew, and paintings by the apartment’s artist-owner hung on the walls.
The only downside? Lodging like a local might mean closer proximity to other apartment-dwellers, but at least for us, it meant less interaction with others, too. Perfect, perhaps, for a honeymoon, but a bummer if you’re looking to mingle.
Then I read about Pour Vous Paris,
a group of Parisians looking to host travelers in their homes for modest prices and take them on neighborhood walking tours, shopping excursions, and even on picnics and crêpes soirées—all for free (that is, after paying a small annual membership fee).
Rooms tend to be budget-friendly, starting around 45 euros ($66) for a single, and the group is open to anyone and offers helpful information on their website, from local members’ picks for their favorite restaurants to advice on how and where to tip.
Here at IT, we’re all about free things to do in Paris: Read how to indulge in some of the City of Light’s sweetest luxuries gratuit sweetest luxuries gratuit, get inspired with our newly uploaded Paris photo gallery, and check out the March issue of National Geographic Traveler (on newsstands now!) for our 47 amazing picks for authentic Parisian experiences.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Photos: Katie Knorovsky