Where to stay for your holiday in France (Airbnb or Hotels)?
The travel advisories kept changing. Our minds were divided on which VTL country to go to. By the time we decided on France, we only had 2.5 weeks to our departure. Accommodation options were limited because tourism was still very much active in that part of the world. Hence, the prices stated in this article are for reference only. The pricing is dependent on various factors such as length of the stay (weekly stay discount), and forces of demand and supply (weekends and last minute bookings).
With a family of four, two young children in tow, an apartment is our preferred choice. Separate rooms to separate out the cries, a kitchen to prepare a few meals, and a washer to do laundry. Thus, the first portal we searched on is Airbnb. Online forums recommended Vrbo as an alternative to Airbnb for cheaper rates. We didn’t look into Vrbo because we were used to Airbnb and didn’t have time to figure it out.
We stayed at three different places in France. The first and last accommodation are from Airbnb and our second leg was a hotel booked from booking.com.
I recommend all three accommodations for adults without children. As for whether they are children friendly, you got to read on. ;)
Serris (Paris Disneyland Airbnb)
Period of Stay: 22 Nov – 25 Nov 2021 (Mon – Thurs), 4 Nights
- Check-in, Check-Out: 4:00PM, 12:00PM
- We booked an extra night so we could check-in in the morning.
Price per night: S$124.96 (4 nights)
“This house seems to come out of Instagram!” In other words, Instagrammable. That’s my first thought when Laura opened the house door. She had welcomed us by the road when we arrived in our airport shuttle van and brought us through the courtyard and to the apartment. On the last day, she gave us a ride to the train station. Thumbs up for hospitality.
We stepped into the nice cosy place, and it clearly looked like it was renovated recently with Hansgrohe bathroom fixtures. ;) The utensils available were from IKEA and looked new. I appreciate that she provided children’s utensils as well. There were nice touches of Disney items in the house to excite the children too. The heating was good and hot water was readily available for our shower.
Just next to the place is La Vallee Village, a luxury outlet shopping with 120 designer brands at discounted rates. It’s more like a mall with good promotions, rather than what you have in the US outlets. Some people do take a day trip from Paris to shop here.
Walking through the long stretch of the mall, we would reach Val d’Europe train station. Take one stop and we would reach Disneyland Paris. However, the walk from the Airbnb to the station was not as near as we thought. It’s perhaps a 10 to 15-minute walk without children, provided you are not distracted by the allure of the shops.
On the morning of Disneyland, we wanted to take the train to Disneyland. However, the main door of the shopping mall was locked because they only opened at 10:00 AM! So we had to walk outside of the mall, which meant a longer and colder route. Bad idea for us.
We could take the public bus, but we had no time to figure the logistics (like the fare and stops). Hence we decided to just UBER and have more time in Disneyland. The UBER costs £10.80 one way, and it was the first Tesla we had ever taken! Big screen and see-through rooftop. For comparison, the two-way train would cost £10 in total for two adults and one child.
I would highly recommend this place for those who want to shop at La Vallee and visit Disneyland. This Airbnb would be good for people who are visiting Disneyland Paris for the second time, or those who plan to come back a second time. One could save quite a bit.
If given a chance, we might stay in a Disney hotel. Staying a station away meant we didn’t have time to explore the Disney village. We chose to stay in an Airbnb because there was no meet and greet during our stay due to covid restrictions. Also, I thought a Disney hotel might be more worth it when the children are older. In that way, they can enjoy a fuller experience of staying in a Disney hotel.
I really love this place and don’t mind living a week in it!
Strasbourg (Ibis Strasbourg Centre Gare)
Period of Stay: 25 – 27 Nov 2021 (Thurs – Sat), 2 Nights
- Check-in, Check-Out: 4:00PM, 12:00 pm
- 26 Nov was the start of Strasbourg Christmas market and that drove up accommodation prices sharply.
Price per night: S$231.54
URL: www.booking.com/hotel/fr/ibis-strasbourg-centre-gare (Book through Shopback)
“The sofa bed is not made set up again even though I requested!” Because of what happened in Rasa Sentosa, I specifically emailed the Ibis hotel about the cot and sofa bed, confirming again at the reception. Saving grace, the check-in officer was friendly and helpful.
The Hotel Room
Bedsheets were hung on the armrest of the sofa. We pulled out the sofa bed and the blankets were seen. Was the hotel expecting us to make the bed ourselves? But we had no pillows. So we called and waited for a while for the housekeeping to set up the sofa bed. At least the baby cot was already set up and fitted with sheets.
The hotel room is a no-frills business hotel room. There is not even a small space/table with a kettle and cups. The walkway became quite narrow after we opened up our luggage and the sofa bed. Very minimal amenities — towels, paper cups for mouth rinse, and all-purpose soap in a pump bottle at the basin and another bottle at the shower area. The bottle at the basin was spoilt and we couldn’t wait any longer for the housekeeping to resolve it, so we leave it as it is.
Good room heating while hot water for showers is readily available too. There is no bathtub, just a shower area. No bath soaks, but at least the young children wouldn’t need to climb in and out for a shower, and thus safer.
Very good location. The hotel is a 3-minute walk away from Strasbourg train station. We can see the hotel from the station, and the station from our balcony. We appreciated this nearness especially when we were so cold and tired after our train ride to Strasbourg. Moreover, with our huge luggage and children, being able to find and reach our hotel quickly was a bonus. The hotel is also extremely walkable to Strasbourg’s tourist sites, about 10 minutes to Petite France and 15 minutes walk to the Cathedral.
The accommodation prices around Strasbourg was super bumped up on our second night because 26 November 2021 was the first day of Strasbourg’s Christkindelsmärik, the oldest Christmas market in France. It was cancelled last year because of Covid.
Highly recommended for business travellers, in fact, all adult travellers. As for families, it’s not too bad for a short 1 to 2 nights’ stay. Just take note of space constraints and lack of amenities to stir up a simple cup of coffee or tea for breakfast. So if you have babies that require hot water for milk, you might want to reconsider.
Period of Stay: 27 Nov 2021 – 6 Dec 2021 (Sat – Mon), 9 Nights
- Check-in, Check-Out: 4:00PM, 11:00AM
- We booked at the last minute, and there weren’t many choices. Look out for weekly stay discounts!
Price per night: S$318.30
“This feels like home. I think we can settle in Paris in this kind of house.” It was not a wow like I had at the Disneyland Airbnb, but warming to the heart.
Charles is a friendly host. He greeted us when we arrived and sent us off early at 7:00 AM. He even gave us a bottle of red wine as a welcome gift, wow! He readily answers any questions I have, however, not all answers were helpful like a professional might have provided.
More and more Airbnb apartments are professionally managed. So it came as a surprise that this is where Charles and his family lived for the past few years and their belongs are still there. It’s been a long time since I stayed in someone else’s house, like what Airbnb sets out to do initially.
The place is full of the owner’s stuff – it’s like they have gone for vacation and we went in to stay. Perhaps that explains the cosiness of the place. And the kitchen set up with its bar counter is our family favourite space to gather and talk. It inspires us to renovate our future place in this way. The sofa was a nice place for a rest and a snuggle too.
I would say the kitchen is well-equipped for us to cook. Many pots and pans and utensils were available to prepare our meals. However, a downside is that it’s all in glass and there were no children-friendly dishes and utensils.
This might not affect you, but because of my spiritual sensitivity, I wasn’t that comfortable with the Asian artefacts hanging around the apartment. My daughter was also disturbed by some of the posters pasted on her room wall.
Oh, there are very few ceiling lights, so the place can get a bit dim in the night, even with the table and standing lamps provided.
The apartment heating is working well and hot water is readily available for our shower. However, I’m not sure why the toilet is icy cold. So if I could, I would control my bladder and not walk over there for my night pees.
Charles provided toiletries and towels. The washer and dryer were also available for us to use. This helped us greatly in our laundry.
However, the set-up of the bathroom makes it quite hard for the children to step in and out of the bathtub to shower. They would step into the bathtub’s slope and so would want to hold the glass pane divider as support. However, the glass shifted once when I gently touched it (later I learned from Charles that someone spoilt it.). That was so dangerous as the glass pane might shift and shatter. So the glass was totally off-limits for us. It was a precarious moment each time the children have to go in and out for their shower.
The children and I are amazed by the tiny lift in the old French apartment building and how it works (video below). However, the lift is quite a squeeze even for a small stroller like GB Pockit, plus an adult. The steps and heavy doors to the building don’t make it stroller or children friendly, same as it is elsewhere in Paris. Though I know there are quite a few young children in the building. For example, I spotted a stroller on the ground floor.
I have two very active girls, with activity levels to match the boys. So having a house full of things meant we have to nag at them frequently to not touch and put things back. Also, they jumped and ran quite a lot. The soundproofing of the floor is not good and so we kept telling them to keep it down and walk only. However, they are children and sometimes just unstoppable when having fun.
So on our last night at 8+PM, the neighbour living below couldn’t take it anymore. He came up to tell us to be quieter because they also have a baby. He was being nice about it, and we actually saw the family twice, once on our first day and they greeted us. On another day, we came home around the same time. While climbing up the narrow winding stairs, hubby found out they were living below us. This time, the Chinese/Asian wife didn’t even say Bonjour to us anymore. We’re sorry! We felt bad, so thankfully it’s our last night. If not, it’s quite stressful for us to keep ensuring the children don’t make a ruckus.
I think the price is on the higher side since it was quite last minute to be looking for a place that’s available for consecutive nine days. Cheaper options were gone fairly quickly. Unless you have the budget, I think it’s quite expensive to stay here for more than a week.
The best part about this apartment is the location. It’s near Place Denfert Rochereau with RER train access, direct airport bus, and Metro lines 4 and 6. Direct RER train to the airport is great if you don’t have big luggage. It’s quite a long walk and many up and down the stairs (and I mean many). We used Metro line 4 quite a bit so it’s good to have it near us. Even when Line 4 was shut down one Sunday, we can rely on other bus and train alternatives. Yes, the buses available nearby brought us directly to a few places we were going during our stay. Taking a bus is a great option because we didn’t need to carry the stroller up and down the train station’s stairs.
The apartment is also quite near the supermarket and a bustling stretch of bakery, fruits stalls, seafood stores, and restaurants. I strangely felt at home to shop there. I didn’t feel as touristy as I felt in Strasbourg. Felt like I’m back to civilisation.
It’s also very walkable to the Catacombs of Paris, although ironically we didn’t visit the attraction.
Those with young children might want to reconsider somewhere else. To protect Charles’ property and to reduce disturbance to other neighbours. ;)
Having said the above, I still appreciate the chance to stay in an apartment that’s typically Parisian, in a Haussmannian style. There’s a lot of charm to it. It feels like I am living like the locals. I think adult travellers would love this place.
Love what I recommended? Or have you found better places to stay in France to share? Love to hear from you, leave your comments below!
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