Where to stay in Paris

Paris is a gorgeous monster of a city which always makes it quite a challenge to figure out where to stay.  Which is the cool part?  Which parts are too far? Is this too expensive? Is this too touristy? Is it not touristy enough? Can I walk to the Louvre? What’s the metro station like? Is this a ‘dodgy’ bit? How much should I spend?

Original Paris Map

All of these questions, and more, are questions I’ve asked myself when looking for hotels in Paris. There are so many options that it can be a little overwhelming, as can be the price of the accommodation itself. When I first decided to visit, I had no point of reference.  I just looked at a list of hotels and picked one based on what I thought was reasonable criteria.

I’ve been asked a few times since then where I would recommend staying. Now that I feel that Paris and I are getting along quite swimmingly, I thought I’d run through the pros and cons of some of the different areas.

Staying in Châtelet, 1ere Arrondissement

On my first real trip to Paris I had no clue about what to see.  I had a guide book and I knew I needed to be somewhere central to be able to walk myself to as many of the places in that book that book that I could. The inexperienced traveller that I was, I picked a hotel which was as central as it could be; pricey (at €146 per night), but cute: the Grand Hotel Dechampaigne. It was near enough to the beautiful Hôtel de Ville and the Marais shopping area, was a hop and a skip away from the river and a short walk over the bridge to Notre Dame. It allowed me to walk everywhere and really explore Paris for the first time.

stay near the notre dame

My only downside about the area is that Châtelet Metro, despite having excellent connections, is one of the mos unpleasant metro stations in Paris. It’s dirty and often home to quite a few slightly disturbing characters and I’ve gone out of my way to avoid it many times since.

Gare du Nord / Porte Saint-Denis

When coming from London via Eurostar it’s tempting to plonk yourself somewhere near Gare du Nord, which is what we did on our first trip over from London last year.  Coming out of the tube in the 10eme Arrondissement – in our case from Chateau d’Eau – you quickly realise that this area is not the Paris you dreamed of.  On the plus side, the Rue de Fauberg St Denis and Cour des Petits Ecuries (where we stayed) have some very cool (and reasonably priced!) bars as well as some great restaurants. It is also in a lot of ways more ‘real’ than the touristy areas near the Louvre but, since it’s not actually a huge amount cheaper to stay round here, I would probably head further in to one of the next places on the list.

Gare de Lyon / Bastille

This is a great place to stay. It’s safe, pleasant, has excellent connections from Gare de Lyon, which is itself a lovely station with a restaurant in it that looks like it belongs in a palace rather than a station (I haven’t been there yet. It still lives on my to do list).  From here it’s a bit of a longer walk into The Marais or Notre Dame but it’s close to The Bastille and plenty of museums plus, it’s a great place to start walking along the river into town.  Plus, if you have a 7am train to the south of France, like we did, the next day from Gare de Lyon, it’s perfect.  Here we stayed in an apartment rather than a hotel which, if you’re in a group of a few people works out well for a stay in Paris over a hotel.  We paid €400 for three nights between three.

Montparnasse and the Latin Quarter

I wanted to stay near the Latin Quarter and couldn’t find anything that took our fancy (for a reasonable price) and Montparnasse seemed like a good bet.  It’s close enough to the Latin Quarter to have a good look around there but also, another quite a different part of Paris in itself. I felt completely safe here, went to restaurants and cafes that were much more local and therefore far less touristy in terms of price and general ambiance.  Plus, we got to rock up quite early to the Catacombs (which is essential if you want to get in before the ridiculous queues).  It’s also a good starting point for walking up to the Jardins de Luxembourg and St Germain de Pres, two great areas for people watching and meandering.

Montmartre

The bohemian suburb is one of my favourite parts of Paris.  With wonderful cafes and boutique shops, windy roads, artists and markets on the street, the Sacre-Coeur looking over the whole of the city and of course the famous Moulin Rouge, Montmartre is charming and is where the cool kids hang out.  But it also has it’s shadier parts, one of which is around the Moulin Rouge at night, so it’s hard to know exactly where to stay.  So far I’ve never stayed in this area, preferring to be closer to the centre, and popping up to Montmartre by tube, but I’m planning to on my next trip.

montmartre

Wherever we ended up staying the underground is so well connected that it’s hard not to be in a good location, but I’ve found that where I stay really changes how I feel about Paris every time I go.

I’ve never paid as much as I did that first time but it’s still expensive and you do have to be cautious when you find a deal that looks a bit too good to be true.  There’s plenty more research to be done and I’ll keep this post updated when I go next with further recommendations.

Until then, where’s your favourite place to stay in Paris?

33 Responses to Where to stay in Paris

  1. What an useful post. I am currently studying abroad in Rennes, France and plan to spend a few days in Paris with my boyfriend when he comes and visits me in March. I’ll definitely take your experiences into consideration!

    • anna says:

      Thanks Ksenija, glad you found it useful. I know there are other great places to stay too and even I manage to get there before March I’ll update the post :)

  2. Jenna says:

    This is so so helpful! I’ve never been to Paris (I know, I know), but when I do go I’ll probably take my mom. It’s great to know which areas would likely be a good pick for her :)

    • anna says:

      That’ll be lovely. I’m hoping to be able to take my mum soon too as she hasn’t been yet and really looking forward to showing her around.

  3. Erica says:

    This is so helpful! When we went we stayed in a 1-star hotel a couple hundred metres from the Gare du Nord. It really wasn’t so bad, though definitely showed me a different side to the city. In a way, though, it made me appreciate the beauty of the touristy areas even more, I loved seeing the contrasts! Plus it was helpful that we were leaving from the gare du nord in the afternoon and the hotel kept our luggage for us for free and we didn’t need to schlepp it through the rain :D Next time I’d consider the Gare de Lyon though :)

    • anna says:

      Yes! I think that’s a really good point – it is good to be able to experience the contrasts as it can be so different in different areas… or just above ground vs below ground in some places. And we came in and out of Gare de Lyon that time so the ease of access may have made me love it even more.

  4. Sammy Dorn says:

    I am going to Paris on Friday! Weeeee! We are staying in Montmartre. I don’t know Paris at all so will be interesting to see what the area is like.

  5. Robert says:

    I’ll be in Paris this weekend, staying in the Chatelet. I always stay in this area for exactly the reason you mention – everything is within walking distance, which makes it the perfect place to stay if you like wandering the streets! :)

    • anna says:

      Have a fantastic time! I loved staying around there – I think I walked for a solid eight hours or something ridiculous, fuelled by just macarons and croissants. Watch out for the crazy man who leaps over the barriers and stares you down on the underground ;)

  6. Agreed Paris is a huge city with so many options these are some great tips! I have stayed in the Montmartre area both times I have been to Paris and it is my favorite!

  7. I’ve been to Paris 3 times, and I’ve never stayed in the city. I’ve always stayed outside of the city and took the train in. I love it. 1) I love seeing how the locals live. 2) I love getting breakfast and pastries at a small bakery. 3) No other tourists! 4) Taking the train is always fun!
    http://liveitinerantly.com/

    • anna says:

      I’d never really considered it. Since we’re living in France we get to enjoy that (bakeries, locals,trains) at home so I tend to try and stay in the thick of it in Paris BUT you make some good points! Maybe I should try venturing outside of the city one time. Thanks!

  8. Kara Segedin says:

    I’ve stayed in Invalides before – nice, fairly central, but away from the crowds. Great pastry shops too!

  9. Kschattner says:

    Mmm, beautiful! Hopefully I visit Paris one day so I can take advantage of some of your suggestions!

  10. Agness says:

    Great post. I’ve been to Paris once and spent an amazing week there! This summer I’m planning on taking my mom there so I will keep this post on mind :).

  11. I’ve pinned this for future reference! The next time we go to Paris we are going to spend a little extra to get closer into the city. {We’ll just stay for less days to make up for the higher room price!} I like the idea of staying in Montmartre a lot!

    • anna says:

      I’ve never tried staying outside of the city but that would be quite a good idea as well to save money… but yes next time, Montmartre!

  12. Katie Cook says:

    Loved this!! When we took a short trip to Paris this summer we stayed in the Latin Quarter, as previously that had been my favorite place to stay! We stayed at The Cluny Sorbonne hotel and loved it! Romantic balcony, small, but full of character!! Love your blog, so glad I found it:) xxoo Katie

  13. anna says:

    Thank you Katie! x And thanks for the recommendation. The Latin Quarter is great and that sounds like a lovely hotel. Will keep it in mind :)

  14. Jana says:

    Wow! Thanks for the recommendations. I’ve never been to Paris but always wanted to go.

    http://janacalifornia.com

  15. I love every one of these areas, except for probably Gare du Nord! lol I did stay at an apartment there for two weeks while sorting out a more permanent place to live, and it was definitely not the Paris I knew and loved. But, each neighborhood has its own particular characteristics and charm. Just like any city! :)

  16. Ruth says:

    Great post! I’ve been looking for more insight about where to stay. I will be visiting Paris for a second time in honor of my 30th birthday later this year. I can’t wait to make more concrete plans with a place to stay. This was very helpful :)

  17. Kate says:

    Chatelet isn’t a very nice metro station, you are right. I always preferred coming into Saint Michel/Notre Dame and making my way down from there!

  18. In Paris I don’t think that the area or the arrondissement really counts, those are wide range areas where anything can happen. For example, the surroundings of Parc Monceau are quite nice but the 8th arrondissement also engages the Champs Elysses, wich is an awful place to stay or live. So what I would recommend is that you find a good spot within a good surrounding. For example: Parc Monceau (of course), Canal St Martin (near République), Marais (Rue des Francs Bourgeois, Rue Vielle du Temple) and St Germain des Près (near Musée Delacroix), I think these places are the most pleasant places to stay in Paris it just depends on the area you are most interested in visiting.

    http://passagedelessert.blogspot.fr/

    • anna says:

      That’s really good advice Teresa. It’s really hard to decide where to stay but first hand accounts generally help. It’s the same in London – you can go down one road and suddenly you’ve gone from a lovely area to a bit of a dodgy one. Thanks for the input.

  19. Sara Louise says:

    This is a great post Anna and I’m pinning it for future reference :)

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