Cheap hotels in 11th/12th: Bastille / Gare de Lyon, Paris
Main attractions: The Bastille is located just east of the Marais in the 11th arrondissement, centered around the Place de la Bastille, once home to the infamous Bastille prison which was destroyed during the revolution (1789) and now anchored by a modern opera house that is the aesthetic opposite of the Opéra Garnier across town. The 12th is home to the Viaduc des Arts, a series of artisan studios with giant picture windows facing the street that runs beneath the garden pathway on the site of a defunct railway track, the Promenade plantée, that was the inspiration for NYC’s High Line.
Neighborhood atmosphere: The appealingly grungy rue Oberkampf has a young, carefree Parisian vibe and the area in general is one of the more laid back quarters of the city. Apart from the attractions listed above, the 12th is one of the least exciting neighborhoods in Paris, though it will give you a sense of how ordinary Parisians live.
Stay Here If: You are looking for a fairly central neighborhood near the Marais with a slightly lower pricetag, with plenty of cheap bars, shops and nightlife in the 11th.
Don’t Stay Here If: You are sensitive to noise or prefer a less grungy atmosphere.