If you have no previous direct knowledge of Paris, you'll likely spend much time during the trip-planning phase trying to figure out where to stay. Which neighborhood will serve as the ideal home base and hub during your sojourn, and what sort of accommodations will suit your needs-- hotel, guest house, holiday flat rental, hostel? Much will depend on personal preferences, budget, and other factors; there's certainly no straightforward advice I can give on the "best" places to stay. I generally eschew one size-fits-all approaches to travel; my objective is to empower you to learn more and make choices that truly suit your style and needs.
In that spirit, I've put together this guide to help you consider your options and narrow your choices, hopefully reducing the sense of overwhelm and empowering you to make well-informed decisions. Click through the slideshow for all of our advice.
Step #1: Get Acquainted With Paris Neighborhoods and Areas
Before you start scouring those hotel reviews online in search of the perfect accommodations, much less getting out your credit card to book, I recommend that you first take some time getting acquainted with how the city is laid out, and familiarizing yourself with Paris' diverse neighborhoods and districts. You should get a sense of the main attractions found in each area, as well as their relative proximity to shopping, public transportation, restaurants and supermarkets.
For some of you, a stay in classic, tried-and-true districts such as the Latin Quarter or Saint-Germain-des-Pres will be highly preferred, thanks to their proximity to the most popular Parisian sights and attractions and their iconic, old-world charms. For others wishing to encounter a more cosmopolitan, contemporary Paris (primarily found on the right bank of the Seine), you might consider staying in areas such as the Canal St Martin district, Belleville, or, on the more upscale end, the Marais, with its elegant 16th century mansions, squares, and boutiques.
Consult These Resources for More Information and Tips:
- Facts and Practical Information About Paris
- Paris by Arrondissement: A Complete Guide to the City's Neighborhoods
- All About the Left Bank (Rive Gauche) of Paris
- All About the Right Bank (Rive Droite) of Paris
- What is the "Ile de la Cité"?
- Paris Maps, Past and Present
- How to Ride the Paris Metro: Lines, Tickets, and More
Step #2: Choose the Right Accommodations (Hint: Hotels Are Only One Option!)
Once you've familiarized yourself with the city's 20 arrondissements and gotten a sense of where the neighborhoods of most interest lie in relation to the sights and attractions you plan to target during your stay in Paris, you're ready to start looking for accommodations in your chosen area/s. But before committing to anything, you'll need to also consider what kind of accommodation is best. Are you on a tight budget? Have a family or pets in tow? If you're a student or young traveler, a decent hostel might do the trick, and help you save money for more exciting things. Enjoy cooking, and want to attempt to see the city from a more local perspective, and at a less tourist-y speed? An apartment rental might be a far better choice.
Consult These Resources for More Info:
- Top Mid-Range Paris Hotels
- Best Luxury and Boutique Hotels in Paris
- Top Cheap and Budget Hotels in Paris (from About.com France Travel)
- Romantic Hotels in Paris (About.com France Travel)
- Hotels at and Around Disneyland Paris
- Top Ten Paris Hostels (for cheap and cheerful lodging, especially for students)
- In Review: NY Habitat Apartment Rentals in Paris
- In Review: Perfectly Paris Apartment Rentals
- Visiting Paris With Kids
Step #3: Book Your Stay-- After Reading the Fine Print
Found a place to stay that seems to fit the bill, or need to do more comparing before making a final decision on whether to reserve?
My Last Advice: Read the Fine Print Before You Book
Before you hit the "book" button for any hotel stay or other accommodations offer, I strongly advise reading the fine print. Are cancellations permitted? If so, within what timeframe? It's generally a good idea to have some flexibility on that point, in case your travel plans or needs change, especially when reserving several months in advance.
Also make sure that you've read carefully through the hotel or accommodations company's policies on questions such as pets (are they allowed?), small children, (believe it or not, some smaller establishments don't allow them), smoking, and other details.