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!
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!
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 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 accept your smartphone email confirmation, or bar-coded ticket voucher or anything else you may have been sent by the company issuing your tourist entrance tickets. The surprise for us came after we had successfully seen the King’s private apartments at Versaille (best 7 Euros I ever spent!) and the rest of the Palace tour using the Versaille Passport (also booked ahead online for 20 Euros).
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-sitting 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, because I was house-sitting in Paris I felt I could justify the spend, especially in the evening it goes without saying that you ask the fare before the driver starts on the route. What we found this trip was just how many price bands had evolved and how ridiculously one particular ride proved to be because the driver claimed to have to cover two price bands during our 30 min ride in the evening. After that we 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: House-sitting in Paris – Caring for your Host’s Home
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, just basic cleaning required, watering the plants and care and feeding for 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.
Our other duties while house-sitting in Paris were to ensure the balcony plants were well watered, this being the warmest Easter in Paris for years it proved an important task. And as apartment dwellers in any city will tell you if there is a balcony garden it is often very important to them. And as any French apartment dweller would have it, “me fait du bien”. So best to keep it front of mind and water on a regular basis.
Why not try house-sitting… house-sitting in Paris was fun!
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