You know what you want to pay for a night's accommodation, but where should you stay? Our Paris guide will help you sort it all out.
RepubliqueLocated at the intersection of the 3rd, 10th and 11th arrondissements, Place de la République is a bustling, sometimes manic, place. Cars whiz around the giant arched monument and tourists arrive (or transfer) from all directions. This area is convenient, though not bursting with tourist attractions.
The neighborhood spanning from Republique north to the Gare du Nord and Gare de l'Est is likewise busy by day and filled with budget hotel options. Like nearby Grand Boulevards, this area doesn't go out of its way to charm and certain parts can be sketchy at night. But the sheer number of low-priced hotels and easy train and pedestrian access can make it an attractive option.
Gare Du NordIf you're arriving in Paris via train from the north (Amsterdam, Copenhagen, London, etc.), there is a chance that the Gare du Nord will be your first impression of Paris. The station itself is located in the 10th arrondissement. It's the grandest of the 19th century train stations, boxed in by major traffic thoroughfares the Boulevard de Magenta and the Boulevard de La Chapelle. The area has little to offer on the cultural or historical front. It does, however, boast an abundance of transportation options and budget hotels. The incredible diversity of the neighborhood is also reflected in its exotic shops, where anything from plantains to halal meat to organic groceries can be found.
BastilleThe Bastille, often overlooked by tourists, is located just east of the Marais in the 11th arrondissement. The neighborhood is centered around the Place de la Bastille, once home to the infamous Bastille prison which was destroyed during the revolution (1789).
Today, the square is home to shops, very trendy bars and a strikingly modern (and still controversial) opera house. Hotels around the Bastille are easily accessed by public transportation and within walking distance of central Paris.
Place d'ItalieThese hotels are near Place d'Italie, on the Left Bank, within walking distance of the popular restaurants and cafés in Montparnasse and the Latin Quarter.
EtoileThese hotels are located near the Arc de Triomphe, a major transportation hub and tourist sight on the Right Bank. From here, it's a short walk to the shops and restaurants on the Champs-Elysees. Most of these hotels are in the 16th and 17th arrondissement.
MontmartreOverlooking Paris, Montmartre's winding streets have inspired generations of starving artists and bohemians. That charm now co-exists with a theme park of the original village, centered on the Place du Tertre, complete with postcard touts, tourist-ready restaurants and bars, and "artists" offering to sketch your portrait or sell you their lurid oil paintings.
Happily, other parts of Montmartre still resemble country hamlets, replete with ivy-clad cottages and cobbled squares. Take a walk along the lovely rue des Saules to see the tiny vineyard and the legendary restaurant-cabaret Au Lapin Agile, the headquarters of the arty crowd circa 1900, where Picasso paid for a meal with one of the Harlequin paintings. Place des Abbesses has a picturesque square and leads onto the rue des Abbesses and its lively eating and drinking scene. To get the best out of Montmartre, be prepared to do a lot of walking.
ChateletSmack in the center of town, Châtelet's Right Bank locale is within walking distance of the Centre Pompidou, the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Marais, and the docks of the Seine. Known mostly for the mammoth Métro-RER station Châtelet-Les Halles, the Forum des Halles shopping mall, and sex shops, Châtelet has a grittier feel than its haughty neighbors the Marais and Latin Quarter. Often overlooked by tourists, Châtelet boasts world-class jazz clubs, bustling shopping and Cheapo-friendly hotels. A highlight of this area is the stunning Eglise Saint-Eustache and adjacent gardens.
Shopping remains Châtelet’s biggest attraction, however. Parisians crowd the American-style Forum des Halles shopping mall and also flock to the designer boutiques found in and around the quarter. At night Châtelet does become a bit seedy in some patches, especially in the north, and this despite heavy police presence. That said, Châtelet offers tourists authentic Parisian shopping and music, both of which can get lost in the tourist kitsch of the Latin Quarter.
Near the LouvreLocated to the west of Châtelet, the area surrounding the Louvre museum is an art lover's playground. The quarter boasts grand Haussmann-style boulevards leading to the gold dome of the Opéra and the banks of the Seine. From here tourists are within walking distance of the Place de la Concorde, Champs Elysées, and the Bibliotheque National.
Ultimately, the quarter's biggest draw is the Louvre museum and the Seine-side Jardin des Tuileries. The neighborhood is also home to the ultra chic rue Saint Honoré and is peaceful and quiet at night. Many quality budget sleeps can be found near the Louvre.
Père Lachaise-BellevilleThese hotels are located in the 20th arrondissement, near Père Lachaise cemetery (final resting place of famous artists and politicians) and the vibrant Belleville neighborhood. This area is located in Paris' northeast.
BourseThe Bourse, centrally located in Paris' 1st and 2nd arrondissements, is the home of the French stock exchange and France's national library, the Bibliotheque Nationale Richelieu. This business district is within quick walking distance the Chatelet and the Louvre. Think busy streets, upscale shops, and guys in suits.
MaraisStretching from Châtelet to the Place de la Bastille, and from République to the Seine, the Marais is the trendiest neighborhood on our list. Its narrow, winding streets are full of funky boutiques, hip bars, and tiny bistros. The Marais is home to the city's historic Jewish quarter and is the center of gay Parisian life. Many of its 17th-century mansions house museums and cultural centers, making this neighborhood very popular for locals and visitors alike. It’s a safe and lively area for nightlife, particularly around the Rue Vieille du Temple.
The increasing number of contemporary art galleries and avant-garde fashion boutiques in the Marais has fueled increases in hotel rates over the past decade. Nonetheless, there are bargains to be found along the quieter side streets, where visitors will find the exposed wooden beams and bonsai-sized rooms also on offer in Latin Quarter hotels.
Latin QuarterThe student district of Paris since the 13th century, the Latin Quarter is located in the Left Bank's 5th arrondissement, and includes the Ile de la Cité in the center of the Seine. It's home to the Sorbonne University, the vast Jardin des Plantes on its eastern end, the Place St-Michel, the Panthéon on the Ste-Geneviève hilltop, and Notre Dame Cathedral on the Ile de la Cité. It's a lively area of Paris completely overrun with students and tourists and the cheap shops and eateries that cater to both constituencies.
After dark, the masses congregate in the pubs around the Place de la Contrescarpe and the clubs off the winding Rue de la Huchette. Many of the buildings in the Latin Quarter date back to the 1600s, something to keep in mind when choosing a hotel where ancient wooden beams and exposed stone walls come with winding, uneven stairs and tiny rooms.
MontparnasseThe left bank area just south of the Boulevard Montparnasse is located in the 14th and 15th arrondissements. This leafy part of town, the former artistic and intellectual hub of Paris a century ago, remains central, well-kept, and active. You can still visit the cafes and restaurants frequented by the "Lost Generation" writers. Today the neighborhood is dominated by the Tour Montparnasse, a massive 59-story skyscraper that many Parisians are still mad about. (Note: It also provides one of the most beautiful views in Paris!) The nearby cemetery, Cimetière du Montparnasse, is one of the largest in Paris and houses many notable inhabitants including Sartre, Baudelaire, and Man Ray.
St. Germain des PresJust west of the Latin Quarter in the direction of the Eiffel Tower, St. Germain des Prés is a class act. Located in the 6th arrondissment, St. Germain is flanked by two Parisian gems—the Luxembourg Gardens to the south and the banks of the Seine to the north. The iconic neighborhood borrows its name from the church of St. Germain des Prés. It is defined by the boulevard of the same name, which slices through the quarter’s winding streets. St. Germain's designer fashion boutiques and world famous cafés pack the neighborhood.
St. Germain is the perfect place for unguided walks. Art galleries and swank shops can be found on just about every corner. Everything costs a little bit more here; from cocktails to double rooms, visitors should be prepared for higher rates and pricetags. Nonetheless, St. Germain is home to some moderately expensive (and quite charming) sleeps.
InvalidesThe Invalides, a stately part of town, is ideally situated along the Seine's left bank, just east of the Eiffel Tower. Commissioned by Louis XIV as a hospital for wounded soldiers, the massive, golden-domed Hotel Invalides was transformed after the revolution by Napoleon into a monument to himself. It currently houses an impressive military museum and Napoleon's famous tomb.
Like neighboring St. Germain des Pres, the area surrounding the Invalides is an upscale residential neighborhood with expensive shopping and dining. Don't look for any wild nightlife here. The area is within walking distance of all of central Paris and is well-served by the Metro and bus systems.
Near the Eiffel TowerThe western Left Bank's 7th arrondissement is anchored by two of the city’s most prominent monuments: the Eiffel Tower and the gilded dome of Les Invalides. Both are framed by vast stretches of open lawns. Other major tourist sights in the neighborhood include the Orsay and Quai Branly museums on the Seine, though, truth be told, this area is predominantly a diplomatic district. Its elegant mansions house foreign embassies, government ministries, and UNESCO headquarters.
The district's wide, tree-lined boulevards are calm at night, with a small pockets of cafés and shops around the Rue Cler market street and the Rue du Bac. Though by no means the social epicenter of Paris, this neighborhood is a short Metro ride to most major sights, and is perfect for those looking for a little more space than they'll find for the same price in the ritzier St-Germain-des-Prés district next door.
Grands BoulevardsThe Grands Boulevards neighborhood is dominated by, well, a grand boulevard stretching through central Paris, just north of the Bourse and Les Halles - Chatelet neighborhoods. The main drag changes its name three times, known at times as Boulevard Haussmann, Boulevard Montmartre, and Boulevard de Bonne Nouvelle.
The area north and south of the boulevard spans the 2nd, 8th, 9th and 10th arrondissements and is home to department stores, chain restaurants, nightclubs, bars, and cinemas. This part of Paris is well-served by public transportation and is within walking distance of Paris's right-bank sights. Like its neighbor, the Opéra Garnier, the Grands Boulevards offers many hotel values—though many are simply snoozers.
Opera & PigalleThis section of the right bank, located between Paris's splendid Opera Garnier and the noisy nightlife of Pigalle, is packed with 2 and 3-star hotels. It also squeezes in apartment buildings, famous department stores, bustling brasseries and clamoring cafes. Situated to the east of our "Grand Boulevard" neighborhood, this area continues westward to the Gare St. Lazare.
While not our favorite part of town, there is excellent shopping to be found (both Galeries Lafayette and Au Printemps are big tourist destinations), and the streets hum with activity. The area is easily accessed by train, bus, and foot.