House-sitting in Paris – Top Tips
An opportunity came up for house-sitting in Paris, so I dug up one of my favourite books. I have in front of me a a curling paperback edition of an old Paris guidebook, and even though it is pretty old (1986!) I still hold onto it and dip into the pages to explore the tourist sites, well they couldn’t have changed that much! And as a house sitter I was saving money, so the book fits!
Naturally, I was wrong. Much has changed since I was last a tourist in Paris (only six years ago actually!). Many things for the better, however, there were some changes that were not obvious to me as a tourist, so I decided to jot some notes for others planning to visit the city of light this Spring. What better way than to try house-sitting in Paris!
Catsitters in Paris
As cat sitters in Paris we had a solid reason to stay in the homeowner’s apartment for free. We offered cat sitting services for free in exchange for free accommodation. It made sense and everyone was happy.
Tip #1: House-sitting in Paris – Getting around
Buy Metro tickets in a carnet of 10, not individually.
Buying tickets in bulk can certainly save you money, especially in Paris. The Metro is so easy to use, and so accessible that it pays to use this fast mode of transport. Persist with the ticket machines, although they do not easily accept credit cards other than the Carte Bleue. I was travelling with an American and this proved an issue. However, all was solved when we found a manned kiosk underground, the Metro employee was very helpful.
Tip #2: House-sitting in Paris – Book tickets for the famous sites ahead online…
…and print out your tickets
You can save yourself hours of standing in line if you book a few days ahead on the internet. But, caveat emptor, be sure to print your tickets and bring them with you. This may be a challenge if you are house-sitting in Paris. Not every apartment has a printer, but there is always a way. Ask your hosts ahead of time for how they print tickets and documents.
There may even be a little shop around the corner that can help. That way you can avoid any unpleasant situations with the site administrators who choose not to view or accept your smartphone email confirmation. It happened to us that the guard refused our bar-coded paid ticket voucher viewable on my smartphone. The surprise for us came after we had successfully seen the King’s private apartments at Versailles (best 7 Euros I ever spent!). We also saw the rest of the Palace tour using the Versailles Passport (also booked ahead online for 20 Euros).
Versailles despite the smartphone ticket issue
Then, when finally we came to the gardens (promised as part of the tour in our Passport literature) we were refused entry by a guard who said that without a printed ticket no one could enter. After 30 minutes of heated debate in French we ended up having to walk half way across the town to find the Office of Tourism to print out the tickets. On returning to the gardens and facing the same sullen face in his pinnacle of power (the guard’s hut) he finally waived us in tearing off half the ticket to ensure it was thoroughly used and couldn’t be re-purposed. A word to the wise, print your tickets before you go, don’t believe the helpful seemingly modern instructions of ‘we will accept your entry ticket on a smartphone’. Not all of them do!
Tip #3: House-sitter in Paris – How to book Taxis
While it may be a sight for sore eyes to hail a taxi on the cobbled streets of Montmartre or the length of the Champs Elysee after a full day’s sight seeing on your feet, be aware that taxis charge a variety of different rates and can be selective about how many people they let on board.
If you do take a taxi, and because I was house-sitting in Paris I felt I could justify the spend, ask for the fare before getting in. This is especially important in the evening it goes without saying. What we found this trip was just how many price bands had evolved. What is more, one particular ride proved to be ridiculously priced because the driver claimed to have to cover two price bands during our 30 min ride!
After that experience we asked a neighbour and pre-booked a taxi through Les Taxi Bleues. Much better, the site was easy to use, prices predicted before you actually book on line, and the drivers always arrive on time. Paris has gone mad for them!
Tip #4: Catsitter in Paris – Caring for your Host’s Home and Pet
Any house-sitting duties must be taken seriously, naturally. And whatever the responsibilities given you to you and agreed with the owner before you are left in charge it is wise to plan a routine at the beginning and end of your day to ensure you have all bases covered.
In our case we were very fortunate that our hosts have a very easy care home. There was just basic cleaning required. The watering of the plants was key but not onerous.
Cat sit in Paris
Most importantly as cat sitters in Paris we needed to care for and feed the resident cat – Feline! It was fun house-sitting in Paris.
They prefer their much loved cat to be cared for at home, Feline is mature and is becoming increasingly delicate.
A final word on housesitting in Paris
Our other duties while house-sitting in Paris were to ensure the balcony plants were watered. This was the warmest Easter in Paris for years and it proved an important task. And as apartment dwellers in any city will tell you if there is a balcony garden that space is very important. And as any French apartment homeowner would have it, “ca me fait du bien”. So best to keep it front of mind and water on a regular basis.
Why not try house-sitting… being a house-sitter in Paris was great fun and made for an affordable trip!
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