Last updated on March 7th, 2018 at 10:55 pm
Paris is the most visited European capital and there is a good reason for that. It’s magical.
The flights are booked and you have decided to spend sometime in the city. But where are the best places to stay in Paris? what is the best area to stay?
Let me say that being in a wrong district may ruin your experience. Booking in a wrong area may take you to walk for most of the day, with a limited time for any attraction.
But wait, there is much more.
Are you travelling for the first time, in a family, with kids, for a romantic weekend.
This guide will answer a simple, however complicated question: where to stay in Paris based on your type of trip, not just a list of areas.
Now, here is the awesome news: you will be spoiled by the great choice of hotels and accomodations. In some respects it can even be a bit intimidating.
But let’s start with an overview of the areas
Let me introduce a new word that you will hear constantly when around in the city : Arrondissement.
It is a french word for district or neighbourhood.
The city is subdivided in 20 of them.
You may have a more detailed and historical overview on the Wikipedia page, however, if not interested on why it was organised this way then just keep in mind these few points
The above map gives a generic indications of the areas to stay in Paris. There is not a clear demarcation between arrondissements. There is no border LOL.
As an example, You will be likely to find more options for nightlife in arrondissement 5 than in the 8th. Just use it as a rule of thumb.
Moreover, you can have your accommodation in one area and visit another one with the metro, which takes me to the next point, how to move around Paris
What I love the most of some European capital cities is the wide subway/underground network and Paris has most definitely one of the best.
What it means is that the closer your accommodation will be to a metro station the easier will be your experience in Paris.
Personally, when I decide to spend just few days in this lovely city, I always put the distance of my accommodation to the metro station as one of the most important filters in my selection.
The reason is simple, having just 3-4 days in the city means I do not want to spend much time “commuting” to the metro station.
The metro has 16 lines (from number 1 to 14 and than 3bis and 7bis) and it runs from 5:40am to 12:40am (extending to 1:40am on Friday/Saturday night), covering most of the tourists needs unless you plan to spend a late night in a club.
You can download the pdf file of the Network on the Paris By Train website and keep it on your mobile, very useful of course.
And now a great tip: if you can try to stay close to a station with at least 2 crossing lines. This will make the life easier and moving around the city will be quicker.
You can buy a ticket at any station. It costs 1.90Euro and it will allow to have one ride, doesn’t matter where or the distance (even if you change line).
If in Paris for few days it may convenient to buy a 10-tickets “carnet” for 14.90Euros.
If staying for even longer you may look at all the different options as weekly tickets or multiple daily tickets.
Kids till 9 years old pay much less however only when you buy a “carnet” of 10 tickets. It’s free for up to 3 years old.
And lastly, you need to have a smart chip credit card if you don’t want to pay cash otherwise both the machines and the ticket windows will not accept it.
The most famous attractions in Paris are probably:
They are mostly located in the city centre (arrondissements 1 to 4) with the exception of the Eiffel Tower.
I have organised an interactive map (at the end of the post) with a guide to around 20 attractions and things to do in Paris, from the expected names as the Louvre Museum to other more unusual places as the Père Lachaise Cemetery.
Of course any site I highlighted is very subjective to the personal interest. For example, I consider the Louis Vuitton Foundation a must see place but it may completely boring to someone else not interested in design and art.
There are few great places to stay in Paris close to everything.
To the iconic sites, to the Seine river, to la Ile de la Cité (Notre Dame) and, best of all, in the middle of the old arty Paris made of small lanes and amazing buildings.
These accommodations are in an area called Le Marais and it covers arrondissements 3 and 4.
It’s probably the priciest part of Paris however you will almost feel like in a small French town full of restaurants, cafes, tiny streets, small lanes, the charmy part of the city you may look for.
The Citadines Les Halles Paris Hotel is one of my favorite in this area. It’s categorized as a 3 start however, in my opinion it offers much more than that. Its proximity to 2 Metro stations (Chalet and Les Halles) makes it ideal for any underground ride. Moreover it’s a stone away from the Seine, Notre Dame and other attractions. The area has lots of cafes, restaurants and groceries. The rooms include a small kitchenette which makes it very handy, especially with kids. Breakfast is usually included in the great price. It’s a very popular choice, try not to book last minute
Another alternative is the Hotel Gramont Opera, also very central and close to 2 metro lines (Quatre-Septembre and Richelieu Drouot). Very quiet and in the similar price range.
After reading all of the above you probably have already an idea of how Paris is organised and where to stay.
Being the first time you probably want to book an hotel closer to the major attractions.
My suggestion is to write down the list of things to do and, based on the locations, you can select the area to stay in Paris.
It is hard for me to suggest any specific area as it is based on your to-do list.
It also depends on the type of visit you are planning. It’s all about attractions or is it also about experiencing some nice food, or a croissant in a cool café or maybe about having some awesome night time, with local and international DJs.
Let me try here to give 3 suggestions.
It’s time for a choice, what is the most important thing you want to visit. Is it the Eiffel Tower? Is it the Carrousel du Louvre? Are you just looking forward to the famous Les Deux Magots café?
By the way, what is the Les Deux Magots café? The central point of the poets’, the writers, the painters, the elite of the city. It was used also in famous movies as “Inception”, with Di Caprio.
The Les Deux Magots café is another place to add to the bucket list, although the coffee is not that great, like most of the french coffee btw….ops, well I must admit I am a bit spoiled by the Melbourne coffee LOL
If you are after an hotel with view of the Eiffel Tower than keep reading as I have added a couple of suggestions in the next chapter.
Otherwise there are other few options:
I have left the Arrondissement 7 a bit at the end of this post.
Because this is where you finally find the city icon, the Eiffel Tower.
What is everyone dream?
Probably waking up in the morning, opening the window and have the view of the Eiffel Tower.
Fantastic….till you find out that the view promised by the hotel is actually so small and far away and you can actually spot the tower only if you open the window and you stick your head out half a meter.
My tip is really to check photos and reviews before building a dream of a fabulous view.
Honestly, yes, you can find hotels with an open end view but at a price, lux price. It’s a privilege, it’s a unique view.
Beside the view, having an accommodation in the Arrondissement 7 is actually a good idea as you will be steps away from the tower and the metro stations are well connected with any attraction in Paris.
With the Eiffel Tower view in mind I personally suggest these 2 options, both meters away from the Trocadéro Metro station.
They are not actually in the Arrondissement 7 but in the 16th, on the opposite side of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower, facing the Trocadéro Gardens. And great view to the tower and the famous roof skyline
The first option is the Hôtel Eiffel Trocadéro which is, in my opinion one of the best bargain you can find in the city. It is a cosy hotel with less than 20 rooms. Try to catch a room on the 5th or 6th floor for a great view to the tower and the Arc de Triomphe.
The other option is the Shangri-La Hotel Paris. This is one of the gems of Paris, formerly the residence of Prince Roland Bonaparte, a unic historic building. A lux 5-star hotel with an amazing service. The restaurant is a destination by itself (book a table well in advance). From time to time they have discounted prices too 😮
Who doesn’t want to fall in love in this city?
Where are the most romantic accommodations in Paris for couples? I believe they are in the hilly Montmartre area (arrondissement 18), close to the Pigalle (2 lines crossing) and Blanche metro stations.
Staying in Montmartre is like sleeping and waking up in a French village however with a view to the city and its marvelous roofs.
And once in the street, you will walk through small lanes made of cobblestones with tiny cafes and restaurants. It’s romantic at its best. You will feel part of a Cezanne or a Van Gogh paint.
Van Gogh lived here for 2 years, in 1886, and he dedicated a group of work to Montmartre. Have a check to its series of Le Moulin de la Galette (Moulin Radet) and visit the place, still existing, although used by a restaurant
How can you not fall in love for this area?
I could spend hours drinking coffees and wine just watching the life passing by, especially in the evening. I still remember my last time there, trying to communicate with my little French (wine helps LOL).
Try to stay closer to the Pigalle or Blanche metro. Montmartre is beautiful however most of the famous attractions are far away and you really need to take the underground.
You have also the uber and the taxi option. Just keep in mind the peak hour traffic. For the night, uber works fantastic and cheaper.
If you are after just an amazing place, an incredible hotel, a honeymoon destination, a romantic room to spend some time with your partner then the Hotel Plaza Athenee may be just what you are looking for. Expect a very upmarket hotel, with an 18th century inspired interior design and a boutique central yard for breakfast and drinks. Expensive however exclusive and unique. Just do not feel intimidated if you meet any celebrity.
Indeed you can stay in Paris on a budget.
You have two options:
If you are after a double room and you really want to stay in the city then the arrondissements 11 and 19 are the best bets.
If you can convince your children to get away from Disneyworld, you will discover that Paris offers many other attractions. An unknown gem is the Parc Asterix, a few kilometers to the north, animated by the protagonists of the comics of Goscinny and Uderzo.
This park also offers themed attractions not just for the little ones.
Besides being a great area to explore, the Bois de Boulogne is full of curiosities.
The Jardin d’Acclimatation contains a zoological garden and puppet shows.
The children can discover the park on the back of camels and ponies, beside the famous small train. Another option are the small ferries that runs along the waterways of the park.
Another attraction for kids in Paris is the the Exploradome, a museum that brings together fun and education. Models and audiovisual installations will bring the little ones on a journey through science.
Technology has no secrets at the Musée de l’air et de l’espace, near the Paris-Le Bouget airport, just beyond the northern suburbs. The main attraction is the Planète Pilote, beside the aircrafts that made the history of aviation.
Here kids have the chance to feel like a pilot for a day in an almost real size airplane.
If you are looking for kids gifts, the city will give you everything you are looking for. In fact, in Paris, high fashion and design are not just for adults. Boutiques like Bonton or Bonpoint are an unmissable must to dress children for every occasion, from the most special ones to the most daring adventures. At Balouga or Tartine et Chocolat even the furniture and toys are fashionable and fun.
For some food, a moment of relaxation and a play area, visit the Hippopotamus restaurant, a very popular chain with a dedicated kids menu beside a space where they can play with new friends.
A great family friendly hotels in Paris is the Gardette Park Hotel. It’s well priced and it has family accommodation (based on 2 bedrooms). The great point is that it is just opposite a playground in a little garden, perfect for some fun time with the kids, and, admittedly, quite rare in the busy city.