I have decided to stay in Paris as a base and take day trips to explore areas that we are interested in. I am taking my 11 year old daughter. Thoughts on where to stay--one hotel? an apartment? switch hotels in the middle to get the feel of a different area?
If this is your first time in Paris, I recommend staying at one hotel, and working from there. If you chose carefully there is no need to change hotels in the middle of your trip. Why spend extra time packing and unpacking? What day trips do you plan to take? You may want a hotel near the metro or train station to plan to use. If you haven't already, I suggest getting the latest Rick Steves Paris guidebook and going with some of his suggestions.
I'm sure some will disagree with me but personally I'm not a fan of moving hotels just to 'experience' a different neighborhood. Especially in Paris where getting around by metro/bus/boat/on foot is easy and efficient, you can experience other neighborhoods by visiting them, rather than moving hotels to stay in them. I stayed in one apartment in Paris for a month and experienced all of the neighborhoods that I was interested in by walking or public transportation. I liked going to the markets in different areas of the city and then wandering around the surrounding areas to get a feel for that area. It is important to get an apt or hotel that is convenient to at least 2 metro and/or bus stops to make getting around easier.
As for hotel vs apartment, for 10 days I would definitely get an apartment, either through an apt rental agency or at an apart-hotel. Just something with some space to spread out and facilities to do some quick and simple meals. It's not just convenient and budget friendly, it's fun to shop the markets and grocery stores to find unique and different foods that we might not be used to in the US.
I agree that it doesn't really make sense to change hotels in the same city. Paris is easy to get around via public transit, and the neighborhoods are so beautiful for walking around.
We stayed in an apartment when we visited, and that is my preferred lodging in general, and being a family of 4, it is much more affordable than two hotel rooms (as required in so many place). We rented through a local agency. It was nice to be in a local neighborhood and be able to eat breakfast or even a few dinners in our apartment. I picked the Saint Germain area and really loved it- I would stay in that area again.
10 days is a perfect first visit to Paris. For 10 days I would get an apartment and plan to do a little market shopping if only to pick up prepared foods like choucrout garnie or chickens. ONe of the favorite things we do in Paris is go fetch the breakfast bread. Bakeries are full of wonderful breakfast pastries in addition to our favorite the simple baguette and dessert pastries. I usually get a baguette, maybe a breakfast pastry or two, and then one fancy dessert pastry for that evening while my husband is making the coffee. There is some insecurity with apartments these days so be sure you have a legal one (registration number posted on the site). or get a hotel room that has a bit of kitchen like one of the aparthotels. Especially with a child, being able to have foods available and not to have to eat in a restaurant three times a day is nice. And it saves a ton of money. We probably eat dinner out on average once a week when we are in Paris.
Make sure your daughter plans much of the trip as well. We took our daughter the first time when she was about that age and she loved doing the things she had planned like the Cluny, the Eiffel Tower, and climbing the Notre Dame Tower, and our trip to Giverny. There are dozens of great day trips. Here are a couple of our recent ones:
I would particularly recommend one of the guignettes; a real taste of something different. Chartres and Vaux le Vicomte are also terrific.
I would definitely recommend an apartment for 10 days and just stay in one area. I would pick a central area - my favourite is the 6th near Luxembourg Gardens. It is so easy to get around in Paris - either walking, bus or metro.
For day trips I would highly recomment Provins. I am going to Paris for 3 1/2 weeks in May and plan on day trips to Giverny, Chantilly as I have been to Provins a few years ago
Also, as someone has mentioned involve your daughter in the planning as she probably will have ideas differnet to yours
Well, I guess I am the contrarian here because I think changing hotels is a fine idea. I do it all the time for trips of more than four days, especially in Paris where there are so many wonderful, unique properties. It probably depends on how much time it takes you to pack and unpack but I pack in about 30 minutes and unpack in less time so changing hotels is not a big deal.
I would for sure get an apartment. More space and the opportunity to have some meals on site as well as laundry. As others have said, I wouldn't move around. I would find one that is centrally located ad then use public transportation.
I am thinking how enthralling it would be for an 11 year old girl to stay in a hotel in Paris. Wouldn't have to make her own bed for one thing and the bathroom all shiny and clean with towels in place when she and her mother return at day's end. Probably the front desk people would greet her, too, each morning and evening, adding to the thrill of being in a foreign land.
I would (and do) choose an apartment any time I spend more than 2 days in a place. I like being able to cook, plus I think it saves money. I also like feeling like I "live" there, so I would stay in the same place the whole time. That being said, you need to decide what YOU want out of your trip--do you plan on cooking, or will you go out for most meals? Do you want to really get to know the area you're staying in, or do you want the excitement of discovering a new location? Do you want to feel like a resident, or do you want the luxury of having someone clean your room for you?
On a related note, when we took our 11 yr old to France last year, she LOVED staying in various apartments because they're so quirky and very different than what you find in the US. She was very excited to help me choose our apts for our summer trip this year (we're going for 2 weeks and booking one place for each week, in 2 different cities)
Since many apartments rent week to week, why not a couple of days in a hotel, then an apartment?