In the fall, we are traveling to France for the Feast of Tabernacles, and we will be spending some time in Paris prior to that! We are so very excited - this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and we will try to make the most of it.
Anyway, I've been searching for places to stay in Paris for a couple months now. I began with hotels. Wow - anything remotely close to the center of town was VERY expensive. And anything toward the outskirts had iffy reviews from previous customers - scary neighborhood, dirty room, etc. Then I looked for bed & breakfasts nearby. They had great reviews, but they were either too far away or too costly.
I began to despair. And then I typed in the search "cheap places to stay in Paris", and I was introduced to a whole new venue - vacation apartments for rent! (as the British say, "self-catering apartments") And I began the hunt all over again. After a couple weeks of finding apartments that were too costly (i.e., $2500 per night!) or not available on the days we needed or didn't have parking for the rental car (75 euros to park nearby for 5 days!), I began to get desperate! The apartment photos all began to blur together, and I couldn't remember if I had looked at that particular one before or not...
Finally, I found one just outside the "circle" of Paris, with parking for our rental car and not an outlandish price. AND it was available for the five days we needed it! And it had a little kitchen with a frig and stove and a washer/dryer unit, and it is very close to a metro station. Whew!! I never knew finding a Paris vacation rental would be so difficult in what I would consider the "off" season for tourism!
But, the search wasn't over yet. We would be returning to Paris for two days after our stay in Orbey but before our flight home. Oh, boy. Here we go again! I thought I would look for hotels near the airport. I ran into the same predicament as before - too expensive or not a great place to stay. I searched through all the rental apartments again - many of them have a 3-night minimum stay. So I began looking for bed and breakfasts again, since we wanted to be outside the city and near the airport anyway. Many of them were so very nice - beautiful historical French farmhouses converted into bed and breakfasts. And not bad prices. But they were on the opposite side of Paris from the airport, or at the least about an hour away. (our flight leaves at 8:30 a.m. - I didn't want to have to be up at 4:30 a.m.!)
And then one came across my radar that was totally and completely unique! And I knew we had to try for it!
It's a houseboat - on the River Seine! How much more romantic and Parisian can you get?! But not the kind of houseboat you're thinking of - not like the ones we have here in the States. They call it a peniche, a French longboat or a canal boat. From francehomestyle.com: "The most common kind of Paris houseboat is the peniche or barge. This is a flat bottomed vessel specifically designed for narrow canals or rivers. The peniche are not necessarily cramped living spaces as you might have imagined a boat to be, in fact a peniche can cover 220m² and include outside terraces and spacious interiors." (If you ever watched the Highlander TV show, Duncan McLeod used to live on one of these.) It was so intriguing and unique that I just had to inquire about it. Sure enough, it was available when we needed it, and there is parking next door. We booked it!!!
We are learning French, in the meantime. I think that is the one thing that intimidates me most about this trip - being almost completely lost, language-wise. Although we have traveled internationally before, most of our destinations have been primarily English-speaking. So, we keep practicing our Francais and hope that we don't bungle words up too much and offend someone!
Bon jour for now!