Under the excellent advice of Miss Internet Squirrel Erin, we used Airbnb to find an apartment in Paris. This is both a maddening and delightful process. In the hands of someone more decisive it might be less maddening, perhaps. Easier also, in a city I knew better, I think. Still, I can't recommend this route enough. Finding hotels for a family of three is a tricky task, especially in Europe, and it's a pricy proposition as well.
Staying in an apartment gave us room to spread out and better than that, we truly felt that we were having a Parisian experience. Since the rest of our visit turned out to be rather touristy, this part felt delightfully not so.
Our apartment was in the 18th, which was somewhat out of the way of sites and activities. I have mixed feelings about the location. While it was delightful to be in a true Parisian neighborhood and wander the street on market day, it was a bit far out from the city center if you only have a few days and want mainly to see the sites. Still, we were about a 10 minute walk to the Metro and a 15 minute ride (with a change or two, depending on where you're headed).
The apartment? A delight. Four floors up and just what you'd want from an apartment in Paris. Burnished wood floors, high, high ceilings, tall windows, white walls and gorgeous moldings. Neel and I had the master bedroom which looked out onto the courtyard, while Cal cozied up in the sleeper sofa in the living room. It was a perfect blend of modern and old world Paris. Just the kind of place you'd hope to stay.
Our host Christophe met us there when we arrived on Thursday morning and showed us how all the bits worked. As well, he'd left us some snacks, a bottle of wine (Coke for Cal) and spent a good bit of time making a list of things for us to do in and around the neighborhood and the city. Meeting Christophe and getting the lay of the land was the best welcome to the city.
For me, our best moment came on our last night. We returned to the apartment early and planned to have dinner in our neighborhood. Since we were leaving early the next morning, we spent a little time packing up before heading out to eat. Neel opened the windows. The breeze fluttered the filmy curtains as the heavenly smells of someone's dinner wafted up to us. We could hear the clink of silverware on dished and snatched of French conversation. This was it. Paris.