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I'm currently giving serious considering to spending a couple of months living in Lille in northern France, mostly to try to improve my French. I'm planning to be there too long for just a hostel or hotels, so I'm after something more permanent. A flat/house share might be possible, but given the numbers of friends and family who've decided they'd quite like to come and visit, I might be better doing a short let on a flat.

I've had a look on Air BnB, and there are some suitable looking properties on offer there, so that's one option. However, I can't help but think that there will be more elsewhere, especially on French sites, if I only knew where to look! I might be wrong though, as I don't know much about French renting rules...

Beyond Air BnB, where should I be looking for a short (a few months) flat let in Lille? Any major websites to check? Any key phrases to google for? Any kind of special rental agency I should be trying to locate + speak to?

(Note that I'm not after "my friend Jim has a flat, speak to him", more like "almost everything like that in France ends up on website X" or "you need to find agencies that says they specialise in Y and work with them")

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it couldn't be easier. just click to holiday-rentals, which is easily, by far, the biggest site for this worldwide. I just answered a similar question ... I find it somewhat confusing that people recommend "airbnb" which is a tiny start up. It would literally be like recommending "bing" or something rather than "google" to do an internet search. – Joe Blow Aug 12 '14 at 12:43
@JoeBlow Holiday Rentals often work out very expensive on long rentals, they seem to be aimed at a handful of weeks, not several months. See comments on similar answers below – Gagravarr Aug 12 '14 at 12:46
@JoeBlow Given that, add an answer about finding a holiday rental and trying to haggle! (I ended up using Le Bon Coin as per Colette's answer, with the details from the accepted one) – Gagravarr Aug 12 '14 at 13:50
If you rent a furnished apartment on a standard lease, you can leave at any time with one month notice. It might not be very fair but could be doable – uztop Aug 12 '14 at 15:20
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis!

Airbnb is not such a bad otpion. The conditions are clear from the beginning. You can read the conditions in English etc. The chances of having a bad surprise are low. You have an intermediary with a certain reputation. That's not to be neglected.

You can also go for a private rental, for instance by scanning local sites. You will find them via google (see below). But then the landlords will probably ask for some deposit, they will be reluctant to let their flat for periods shorter than a year, you will have to cope with local legal idiosyncrasies, etc.

If go there to take French classes, ask your school. They may have some addresses to share.

Try the following in Google. A flat is called "studio" in French. If you want a furnished flat, add "meublé". Add "louer" or "location", as you want to rent something rather than buy it. A room in a shared house/apartment is a "colocation".

studio meublé Lille

location studio meublé Lille

louer studio meublé Lille


colocation Lille

It can also be a good idea to extend the search to greater Lille ("Lille Métropole"). Try e.g. Villeneuve-d'Ascq. It's home to a big university and a pleasant place to stay.

With these keywords you will have some "pain sur la planche", as the French say.

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I'm an English teacher living in France. If you're trying to learn French, I definitely recommend a 'colocation' (flatsharing). It's cheaper, less complicated, the electricity & phone are already connected, etc. (These are major headaches here, especially if your French isn't strong yet). Having a roommate gives you more contact with French & French people. You might be able to get your housemates to let your friends stay, but why not turn to Air bnb for their visits? You'd probably save enough on rent to afford that, and you might want to take short trips out of town with friends too.

As suggested above, try searching for a 'colocation' + name of city/neighborhood and you should pull up answers from sites like Le Bon Coin or Appartager.

You don't say how old you are. If you are a bona fide student under 28 (enrolled at a university or in higher education) be aware that you may be eligible for housing aid through the 'CAF' too, even if you are foreign and not there for a whole school year.

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nice idea ...... – Joe Blow Aug 12 '14 at 13:40

I will go ahead and put in an official answer rather than just long comments :)

1) IMO homeaway is by far the biggest and easiest place to find 1-week gites. vrbo (not yet part of the homeaway group, unless you're reading this in the future) is second biggest

2) there is IMO no specific "longer holiday rentals (two weeks plus)" site in france/europe

3) in fact a number of places (5%?) on homeaway are indeed marked "longer rentals welcome!"

4) i'd say today (2014) 100% of gite owners in france, will jump at the chance to rent for longer term: and they will slash the price. (this is even more true in italy, spain, etc)

In a word. IMO to "find a two month holiday rental" ... you would in fact just use homeaway (just like when you find a normal holiday rental) but you'd specify to the owner you want a much better price (which is totally standard for longer rentals). hope it helps someone!

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I think Abritel is somewhat comparable to Airbnb. It's certainly quite popular in France but the emphasis is mostly on rentals for a week or a couple of nights, not for one or two months.

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I know a fair number of Americans who use vrbo for longer vacation rentals in France. However, in my experience it requires a bit more digging to find a good option than Airbnb.

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VRBO looks to be part of the same group as Abritel from Annoyed's answer, so suffers from the same problem as looking more suited for days-weeks not months – Gagravarr Feb 6 '14 at 14:43
right, homeaway is as we speak trying to buy out the vrbo group, so then they will control everything – Joe Blow Aug 12 '14 at 13:41

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