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Sleeping on a park bench along the Seine is romantic, right?

Have you ever booked a vacation rental?

Several months ago, a coworker planted the idea of renting a condo in Paris during our honeymoon. And I fell in love! What better to use as a home base for sight-seeing than our own little apartment, where we could run across the street to the little Parisian outdoor market for fresh fruit and bread and cheese? We could come back to this inviting little space to eat our breakfast on the balcony overlooking the rooftops, then prepare a sack lunch to take along on the tour bus. Having a refrigerator and stove-top at our disposal, not to mention the hominess of an apartment filled with artwork and books, sure beats out the idea of a sterile hotel room that may or may not have an en suite toilet.

But you know what? The vacation rental process is long and scary. It's sort of like starting a new job at a tiny company when you're used to working for a big corporation. You're making a change because you didn't love your old job (or sterile hotel room), but it was familiar. You knew what to expect and how it works and you had faith that you'd get a paycheck every two weeks if you put in your hours (...get the room you paid for if you made your reservation?).

And this new job (apartment rental) has the potential to be awesome and a thousand times better than what you knew and maybe only endured in the past, but you don't know what to expect. It's not tried-and-true, and that tiny company might not be representing themselves truthfully, and there's no way to check because it's a tiny, private company. You just have to take the leap, if you've decided it's worth the risk.

I have been looking and looking at vacation rentals for months, and we are now about seven weeks from arriving in Paris, and I STILL have not booked anything. (To be fair, I did book a sterile hotel room with potentially no en suite toilet, just as a back-up, but I'm hoping for that apartment!)

I've been communicating with several people, and it's a struggle. There was a very nice woman who responded immediately, but I really had my eye on a different apartment I had fallen in love with, so I waited to hear from them. When they finally responded, the price was about 30 Euros a night more expensive than advertised, and I'm sorry, but 30 Euros a night (for five nights) adds up! I would so much rather use that money on the Louvre or a bottle of wine renting a bicycle to ride along the Seine, or something. Scratch that apartment off the list.

So then I went back to the first woman, but in the meantime, someone had booked two of our five nights. She continued to be incredibly helpful, sending a list of hotels in the area should we want to stay there for those two nights, and then move to her apartment for the remaining three. But we'll have already just moved from Nice to Paris at that point, and to move again in Paris seemed like too much.

Back to the drawing board. I was emailing with a lovely girl also named Kate, back and forth with info on her apartment. I asked her a few final questions, and got no response. I emailed her again, saying I was very interested in booking her apartment pending the answers to those last two questions, and... nothing. Ooo-kay. Scratch that, too.

So I emailed a fourth apartment owner. Everything sounds good, but she was asking for a 300 Euro security deposit. The reviews on her posting on FlipKey spoke to the ease of receiving the security deposit back, but that seems like a lot of money to put out without a rental contract, or something. So I asked for one. She replied that she would be happy to send me a rental agreement, and to look for it "tomorrow". Tomorrow was yesterday. Is this one falling through, too?

Bah! I booked that back-up hotel because I was starting to be afraid that I'd end up sleeping on a park bench along the banks of the Seine if none of these apartments worked out. And if I wasn't so attached to the idea of staying in Paris like a Parisian, I'd just go with the hotel. But I'd really, really like an apartment to work out. I just wish it wasn't so stressful!

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