Finding a place to live in Paris is one of the biggest nightmares for most people moving here for the first time… boy do I remember! Since The List – Paris is my way of giving back to those who helped me get through life here, I’ve created this page to explain and help those searching for a place.
If you have any other questions or clarifications about this post, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When to start looking?
If you can start looking in advance, I would do that JUST so you get an idea of what’s out there and so that it’s not a huge shock to your system when you arrive (ex: apartments are smaller and expensive here).
If you’re a student arriving in August and starting school in September, then I would start looking as soon as you arrive OR start looking in May/June prior for apartments that other students may be leaving.
August is a bit of a dead month here since many Parisians go on vacation. So it can be really hard and also very competitive to find a place during that time so beware!
Where to live in Paris?
There are 20 arrondissements in Paris (see below)
1e – The Louvre and Châtelet. It’s a usually pricey area considering it’s in the center and with the biggest connection station in the world right there.
2e – Opéra Garnier. It’s the Japanese area with lots of cool places to try plus some shopping too.
3e – Hôtel de Ville and Place des Vosges. This is the Marais, one of my favourite areas that also happens to be one of the most expensive. But lots of vintage shopping, cute streets and places to eat.
4e – Notre Dame. This is pretty much Cité and Île St Louis, so again expensive areas but really nice to live on. But obviously pretty touristy too.
5e – La Sorbonne. This is the Latin Quarter, where you’ll find schools and cafés to people watch. Nice area with lots of stores all around.
6e – Jardin du Luxembourg. This is where you’ll find the big park as well as the Sénat and the famous St Germain-de Prés area which is where you would famous writers hanging out back in the day.
7e – Tour Eiffel. Eiffel Tower takes up most of the attention in this area so if you’re looking for a view, here would be the place. Min you that because of the monument, the area is really expensive and not that feasible if you’re a student compared to other areas.
8e – Concorde. This area is pretty posh with fancy designer stores all around, the Président and it’s a middle point between the Louvre and les Champs Élysées. Fancy area = expensive.
9e – Moulin Rouge. Pigalle is the beginning of the “red” district of Paris where you’ll find sex stores but also places to go out. I wouldn’t recommend the area if you’re alone but some random streets here and there can be nice!
10e – Canal St Martin. This is hipster central. All the new restaurants, cafés and unique things you see on Instagram are probably in this area. The area shouldn’t be too expensive and it’s a nice place to explore that isn’t tourist packed (yet!)
11e – Between Bastille and Père Lachaise. This area is also a very hipster place to be and as it’s not dead center of Paris, it is possible to find not too expensive accommodation.
12e – Bercy. Gare de Lyon and Bercy village are the main contenders around here. It’s a nice area that’s still by the river and has places of its own. I wouldn’t go too east but otherwise it’s a cool place.
13e – Bibliothèque Nationale de France. I used to live in a CROUS in this area and it’s a very modern area. You won’t be seeing any Haussmannien buildings around here. But it’s a nice area to live with lots near by including China Town near Porte d’Ivry.
14e – Montparnasse. You know the big skyscraper (that ruins the beautiful Parisian skyscape)? Well it’s in Montparnasse, an area that is also known for artists and the like who used to hang around there. It’s a nice area to live with lots of stores nearby.
15e – Porte de Versailles. This is on the lower edge of the city, close to the Eiffel Tower but not quite. You’ll see lots more high rise apartment buildings in this area.
16e – Champs Élysées. Auuuuxx Champs Élysées! Well I don’t know if it’s obvious…. but this area is EXPENSIVE. But it is the place to be, but mainly if you have a big wallet too.
17e – Batignolles. This is a newer up in coming area that I haven’t really explored myself but have heard great things!
18e – Montmartre. With Sacré Coeur on the hill and the artsy market and area all around, it’s the old but cute area of Paris that you would love to live in. Accesibility to metro wise, I wouldn’t suggest it since there’s not much around and the other areas near by can be a bit sketchy.
19e – Parc de la Villette. Another area I don’t know too well except for the Villette area where you can find some nice cafés and restaurants to try. But living wise… I’m not too sure nor would I recommend.
20e – Belleville. This is an area of Paris that’s been revamped and is now “the place to be” (though I also have yet to really explore). I would consider this to be another hipster area but again it’s a bit on the edge of Paris but if you’d prefer the distance, then maybe this is the area for you.
What do you need? (Le dossier)
For the famous dossier, you will need:
- a French garant (someone who earns at least 3x the rent who can pay for rent if you are unable to do so); this usually is required for students/young professionals.
- Last three pay stubs
- Sometimes, your work contract to prove you have a job/income
Websites to use
- seloger.fr (louer = rent)
- appartager.com (for roommates/colocation)
- Airbnb.fr (for short-term is sometimes possible)
- Facebook groups such as: Bon plans Paris, Exchange groups, TAPIF group, Plan Appart, Plan Coloc
- You usually need to earn 3x the rent in order to qualify for a place. It’s a very silly rule in my opinion but it’s usually the case.
- If you need a garant, it needs to be someone who is French and lives in France. They will not accept international garants like your parents, but it’s worth mentioning alongside the French garant.
- Be prepared to spend lots of time and energy looking for a place and getting rejected or no answers. It’s a tough market and lots of competition (you may have to wait in line for apartment viewings)
- If you’re alone and are interested in working with kids, maybe consider the option of being an Au Pair. Usually the arrangement is that they pay for your lodging (with the family but sometimes can be separate), food and a small salary (around 100€ a week maybe more maybe less) in exchange for your help either speaking English or another language with the children, helping with homework and sometimes household chores. With the right family, it can be a great experience!
- Use your connections! Anyone you know whose lived in Paris or a friend of a friend, these people can help you get access to apartments and also earn the trust of the proprietaire. This is the main way people find apartments in Paris, so if you have them, use them!
- If you’re a student in Paris, look into housing in the CROUS (student housing). Certain ones can be pretty nice considering location and the place and it’s very cheap especially if you get CAF (financial aid, look into that too!)