When I visit a new city I always search for the best place to stay as a tourist. Paris, like most big cities, can be confusing but I know the city like the back of my hand. This is a quick and easy guide to where to stay in Paris.
Each time I visit Paris I feel like I have come home. This is probably because I have spent so much time in the city over the last 30 years. It has a magic and an energy that I love and even though I have seen the sights before I still take a great deal of pleasure in exploring the city. I always find something new to enjoy.
Most people only have one opportunity to visit Paris so it is important that the area you stay in is right for you. I would hate you to be disappointed and not enjoy your stay.
I am not going to go into detail about all of the Parisian neighbourhoods, but only those that I think will be interesting to you as a first time visitor to the city.
The easy guide to Where to stay in Paris
I like to think of Paris as a number of villages, all with their own unique personality. There are 20 of these neighbourhoods called arrondissements. The numbering starts on the right bank of the Seine. The numbers then increase as they spiral, like a snails shell, through the city. The outer ring of the city comprises the numbers 12-20. So, the lower the number, the closer you are to the centre, which is also called Kilometre Zero and is located in front of Notre Dame. The area covers 105 km² and has more than 2 million inhabitants. Don’t get confused if you see an arrondissement numbered 5e for example. It is the French way of writing the 5th.
The Louvre: 1st
The first arrondissement is on the right bank of the Seine and this is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city. It is split further into four individual quarters: Quartier de la Place Vendome, Quartier du Palais Royale, Quartier des Halles and Quartier Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois. It also includes the tip of the Île de la Cité.
As you have no doubt worked out this was where the king lived. The architecture is regal to say the very least and there are some beautiful buildings in the area. Much of the area is pedestrianised and you are spoilt for choice when it comes to cafés and upmarket shops. There are relatively few people living in this part of town so accommodation comes with a hefty price tag.
- The Louvre
- Musée de l’Orangerie which houses works by Monet.
- If you fancy a stroll then the Tuileries or the Palais Royal Gardens are just perfect to enjoy the outdoors.
- Don’t miss visiting the beautiful Sainte- Chapelle, the Conciergerie and the smart Vendôme Square.
- Window shop on the Rue de Rivoli
- If you need a bit of retail therapy then the Forum des Halles is an ideal choice. This is where I head to, especially if the weather is bad, to shop.
- Cross the majestic Pont Neuf Bridge, the oldest bridge in Paris, to the Ile de la Cité.
The Marais: 3rd & 4th
The Marais is also an old part of Paris and spreads across 2 arrondissements. It was built over a swamp hence the name “Marais”. It is also sometimes called the Jewish quarter.
This was where the aristocracy lived between the 13th and 17th centuries. It still has a medieval feel to it and the streets are lined with beautiful buildings of a bygone era and a labyrinth of pretty cobbled streets.
Paris looked a bit like this in a pre-Napoleonic era. When Napoleon came to power he wanted to build grand boulevards and huge squares like Place de la Concorde so most of Paris was razed to the ground and rebuilt.
It is a trendy area filled with independent boutique shops, luxury shopping and fabulous markets. If it’s cool and hip that you are after, designer hotels and art galleries then you will love the Marais
- Rue de Rosiers the historic heart of the quarter, filled with delis, restaurants, shops and vintage clothing.
- Place de Voges was built by Henry IV and is the oldest planned square in Paris. Victor Hugo lived here when he wrote Les Miserables
- The Pompidou Centre
- Hotel de Ville – the city hall
- Picasso Museum
- Notre Dame
I love the wackiness of the Stravinsky fountain at the Pompidou Centre. This is just 1 of the 16 works of art that are part of it. This is naturally called L'Amour (Love). . . . .#romanticparis #thisisparis #paris #france #travelblogger #exploretheworld #Parisjetaime #beautifuldestinations #igersparis #photooftheday #picoftheday #travel #France #visitFrance #travelgram #exploreParis #parisian #parismetro #wanderlust #pompidoucentre #pompidou #fountain
Île Saint-Louis & Île de la Cité: 1st & 4th
The two islands proudly sit in the middle of the Seine. The Eastern part of the Île de la Cité, as well as the Île Saint-Louis, are also part of the 4th arrondissement. This is the heart of Paris. Long before the Romans arrived a Gallic tribe the Parisi built their home here.
The Île Saint-Louis is not quite as glamorous as its neighbour. There are gorgeous restaurants, boutiques and cafes to unwind in. It is less crowded than most parts of the city, but accommodation is extremely limited.
- Sainte Chapelle
- The Conciergerie – Where Marie Antoinette waited before her execution in 1793.
- Marché aux Fleurs
- Pont Neuf
- Rue Saint- Louis en l’ Île – a quaint .road to shop for souvenirs
- Palais de Justice
The Latin Quarter: 5th Arrondissement
The last 800 years the Latin Quarter has been a popular student hangout. Tourists also love the area and there is a great deal of value for money and budget accommodation in the area. There are also a lot of inexpensive options when it comes to choosing a meal as well. The streets are lined with wine shops, arty movie theatres and markets.
It is the Bohemian part of the city and there are good deals to be had unlike most of the rest of central Paris.
- Shakespeare & Company bookstore
- The Sorbonne – although admission to the hallowed halls in extremely difficult
- Musée Cluny – home to La Dame a la Licorne” (The Lady and the Unicorn), the 15th century Bayeux Tapestry
- The Pantheon – the mausoleum housing the remains of some of the greats – Victor Hugo, Rousseau, Voltaire, Marie Curie and Alexandre Dumas
- Rue Mouffetard – a vibrant market street
- The Eglise Saint- Séverin – a gothic gem
St Germain: 6th Arrondissement
If you are uber trendy and arty then you will feel right at home in St. Germain. Be sure to wear your Sunday best in this area. This is an expensive part of town with not many major sights. There are loads of small galleries and art dealers for you to browse through to find the perfect piece of art for your walls back home, but it’s still close to many of the tourist spots.
If you like café culture then this is where will find some of the most famous cafés. It is also a great area to walk around in. If you saw Midnight in Paris then you will recognise much of this area.
- Jardin du Luxembourg – a beautiful formal park
- Café de Flore – Picasso’s local haunt
- Café Les Deux Magots – Hemmingway, Satre and Simone de Beauvoir preferred this café
- Brasserie Lipp
- Ecole des Beaux Arts
- Odeon Theatre
- Eglise Saint Sulpice
Tour Eiffel: 7th Arrondissement
The 7th arrondissement is well situated for tourists. This is the home of the Eiffel Tower and who doesn’t want a room with a view? These views usually have a large price tag attached, but there are also more affordable options for accommodation in this area. You don’t have to venture very far to enjoy the sights in this area.
- Musée d’Orsay – A dream if you like Impressionist art. Home to works by Monet, Degas, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Surat, Manet and Gauguin
- Musée du Quai Branly
- Musée Rodin
- Les Invalides – Napoleons tomb
- Eiffel Tower
- Champs de Mars- the huge space in front of the Eiffel Tower. A stroll along it will give you some stunning views. It is also the perfect place for a picnic.
Elysée: 8th Arrondissement
If designer shopping is your favourite activity then you will be in heaven. I love walking along the Champs-Elysées, especially at night. At Christmas, it is even more beautiful with all the decorations that line the street. You can even hire a fancy sports car to drive around for 15 minute periods or you can enjoy people watching at any of the number of restaurants that line the road. I have eaten at a number of them and for the most part, the food does not have a wow factor and it is expensive. I just accept the fact that I am paying for the experience. These days I am more likely just to enjoy a glass of wine or a cup of coffee and move on elsewhere for a meal. Naturally, the accommodation around here is also pricey.
- The Champs-Elysées – running form the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concord
- Arc de Triomphe – Don’t miss the fabulous view from the top
- Tomb of the unknown soldier – beneath the Arc de Triomphe
- Place de la Concorde
- Le Palais de l’Elysée- The official home of the French President
- Église de la Madeleine
- Grand Palais– exhibition hall, often there is an art exhibition on.
- Petit Palais
Montmartre: 18th Arrondissement
Montmartre has a local feel to it. It is a foodie heaven as well as being an arty part of town. It is filled with cafés, boutiques, great food and the last 3 remaining windmills in Paris.
It also includes the lively immigrant neighbourhoods of Barbes and La Goutte d’Or.
It is also far more affordable than most of the other areas of Paris. You do however have to be careful. Parts of it are lovely, while other parts are quite seedy.
The best advice that I can offer is to use Google maps and have a look at the street view if you are not sure about the area. Also, read some accommodation reviews before you decide if you are making the right choice.
- Stunning views across Paris
- Clos Montmartre – The last remaining vineyard in Paris
- Basilica of the Sacré Cœur
- Place du Tertre
- Moulin Rouge – on the doorstep, but not the 18th
- Mur des Je t’aime- Place des Abbesses
More tips on where to stay in Paris
Don’t be tempted to stay outside the main 20 arrondissements. You will be far from the centre of town and you will have to travel quite a way to see the sights.
Don’t stay in a hotel near the airport. If you have an early flight then obviously it makes sense for 1 night. The airports are quite a way out of town.
Have a look at public transport. I always make a point of checking how far the hotel is from a metro or bus stop. A 10-minute walk may not sound too bad, but if it’s snowing or raining it’s no fun. It’s also not great to walk home late at night in an area that you don’t know, especially if you are on your own.
Rooms are small. Paris hotel rooms are usually quite small. When you book check how many sq metres are specified so that you do not have a nasty shock when you arrive. You can naturally find large rooms, but you have to be willing to pay for them.
Don’t select a hotel based on an attraction. Paris has an excellent transport system, but some arrondissements are closer to the main sights and it is easy to walk to many of them. You don’t need to stay at the Eiffel Tower to visit it.
Choose a location carefully. Decide what is important to you. It might be food, restaurants or designer shops. It’s great to have things on your doorstep and be able to walk to them.
I hope that this guide to where to stay in Paris, the beautiful City Of Light, has made it easier for you to choose your ideal place to stay. All that’s left is to pack a bag and have an amazing time!
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