How to find the perfect chambres d'hôtes (bed and breakfast) in Paris

The B&B concept—a handful of rooms run as an inn by a family in their own home—has spread throughout France, where it is called chambres d'hôtes (shaamb-doat).

Note there is a sub-category of B&B called chambres chez l'habitant ("rooms in the house of the inhabitant"), which operate bit more like a rental room than a full-service B&B (and cost a bit less).

How much does a B&B in Paris cost?

Most Paris B&Bs charge about €50 to €120 ($65 to $155) for a double room.

For particularly nice or historic properties, prices might be in the €170 to €250 bracket ($220 to $325)—any time you see the words charme or charactre on a lodging in France, the price is going to go up.

What is a Paris B&B like?

A bed and breakfast or guesthouse essentially works something like a small hotel, one which provides breakfast and is located in the owner's home (or at least an a converted apartment in their building). In practice, this means a cozy, welcoming, friendly place and plenty of interaction with your hosts.

  • The number of rooms is usually limited, by varying charter rules for various B&B associations, to no more than 3 to 12 rooms (typically more on the order of 1 to 5 rooms).
  • B&Bs are usually anywhere from 5% to 40% cheaper than hotels.
  • Many impose a minimum stay of 2 or 3 nights. (But do you really want to be in Praris for less than that?)
  • Private baths are rare (but getting less so), but the service is almost usually friendly and personable.
  • There's no guarantee you'll get that prototypical kindly older couple and mansion of huge rooms loaded with chintz and doilies, charmingly creaky wooden floors, and a sumptuous breakfast spread at a communal table that will leave you needing to crawl back into your canopy bed for a nap before you head out for the day.
  • These days as many B&Bs are installed in modern city apartments as in grand old townhouses, and many no longer even feature the resident-owner. Usually, however, a friendly, family, home-like atmosphere prevails.
How does a B&B compare to a hotel?

There are sometimes drawbacks to the B&B. With a hotel, you are guaranteed a certain degree of anonymity: you just ask for your key at the desk and then are left alone.

This is often the opposite of a B&B, where chitchat is considered part of le charme—but sometimes, you just don't want to make small-talk with the owners and other guests.

On the other hand, a B&B can be a great opportunity to meet some local folks and really get an inside scoop on the culture.

Also, at a B&B there's often a curfew, either stated or implied—after all, you wouldn't want to wake that kindly older couple up at 2am when you stagger back to your room, now would you?

How to book a Paris B&B

Booking engines

This is the easiest and most direct way to pick precisely the B&B you want and book it immediately.

  • BBParis.com (www.2binparis.com) - The biggest of the local B&Bs listing sites, listing whopping 340 bed and breakfasts in Paris starting at €42 for a double.
  • PartnerAirbnb.com (www.airbnb.com) - A network of B&Bs and homestays (96 in Paris)—plus apartments and houses for rent (4,600+ in Paris). The idea of someone inflating the old air mattress for you is just a metaphor. Usually, you stay in a guest bedroom, futon, or fold-out couch. It's kind of like couchsurfing—only you pay to stay, anywhere from $50 to $250 per night.
  • PartnerBedandBreakfast.comPartner (www.bedandbreakfast.comParnter) - Massive global booking engine, representing about three-dozen B&Bs in Paris.
  • Bed & Breakfast (www.bedbreak.com) - Thirty B&Bs in Paris from €56.
  • Fleurs de Soleil - Les Maisons d'Amis en France (www.chambresdhotes-paris.org) - Twenty-one B&Bs within the périphérique ring road, with anotehr 15 in the greater Paris region. Most interesting: a mansard suite a few blocks from city hall and the Louvre for €125, and a houseboat moored in the Seine near the Musée d'Orsay from €100.
  • PartnerVenere.com (www.venere.com) - Generalist lodging booking site based in Europe with a smattering of Paris B&Bs (along with hundreds of hotels, apartments, residences, and hostels).

Paris B&B agencies

With an agency, you get a pretty wide selection and a guaranteed quality/level of service (if you use one of these agencies approved by the mayor's office). Some agencies also represent apartments and cultural experiences.

However, the properties listed tend not to be as cheap—there is an agency fee, after all—and the info on individual B&Bs can be a bit sparse beyond a brief description, location, and price range.

Oddly, most agencies will not let you book a specific B&B directly from the Web site. You have to fill out an e-mail form with all your details, dates, and requirements and they get back to you with a list of available B&Bs. (What is this, the 1990s?)

I therefore list these roughly in order of how useful they are:

» More B&Bs in Paris: Booking.com, Venere.com, Bedandbreakfast.com, Getaroom.com

 

 

 



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