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Best area to stay in Paris for first timers

Hi there! Starting prep for Dec 2015 trip. What arrondissement do you recommend for first timers? And if you have hotels to recommend that would be great. We will be there 4 nights and want to do the usual first timer things.

Posted by
565 posts

Hello jsdsnv. It would be helpful if we knew a few things. What kind of budget do you have? Are you comfortable enough on public transit that it isn't intimidating? What areas do you like to be in, quaint and more quiet, or lively and entertaining?

Most people here will recommend the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th. I stayed in the 9th and loved it. I personally like staying in areas with lots of people, places to eat, and entertainment options close to my front door. Others may like places a bit quieter, older, and residential. The choice is yours.

A rule of thumb (always some exceptions): the lower the arrondissement number, the more expensive the lodging usually is.

Posted by
28 posts

Hi Emily! Our budget is moderate to high. We are absolutely ok with public transit. Would like something quaint and places to eat/drink within walking distance. Maybe a little bit of shopping including places to buy picnic type food.

Posted by
565 posts

The Marais is a wonderful neighborhood (4th) as is St. Germain de Pres (6th) and Montmartre (18th). I'm also a fan of Rue de Amsterdam in the 9th, where I stayed, and the street scene on Rue St. Denis (1st, leading into 10th).

You might like Rue Cler (7th). I did not. Some do not care for Montmartre, as some parts feel "seedy" to some. It did not to me.

I stayed at the Opera Deauville Hotel, right down the street from Gare St. Lazare, and a short distance to the Place de Clichy dining/bar scene. The hotel is nice, although not necessarily high budget. It is very close to several Metro stops, 10 minutes walk to a self-serve laundromat, and across the street from a bakery for fresh croissants in the morning.

EDIT: Just so you are aware, Rue St. Denis has a lot of sex shops and legal prostitution. These do not bother me in the slightest as I am not their target demographic. I do enjoy the small breweries and restaurants that co-exist (usually peacefully) on the street.

Posted by
227 posts

First trip across from the Louvre. Second trip in the Marais which we loved. Next was Ile St. Louis in an apartment - would not trade it for the world. This fall we are trying Montmatre as it's most convenient to all the side trips we are taking. Checked out Rue Cler twice while there....too many American's.

Posted by
2251 posts

I see you in the 5th or 6th near Luxembourg Gardens. Not a lot of nightlife-cafe scene in the 7th by comparison.

Check this out, we are hoping to stay here one day ;-)

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g187147-d269966-Reviews-Hotel_Luxembourg_Parc-Paris_Ile_de_France.html

And by the way, this restaurant is just across the street:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187147-d3243644-Reviews-La_Cuisine_de_Philippe-Paris_Ile_de_France.html

Posted by
162 posts

I will agree with Kent. The RS guide provides copious information on Rue Cler. It is a comfortable location for a first timer to Paris, as we were in 2008. It is lined with shops and restaurants, and is a thoroughfare to the local school where you can see small children off to learn to be schooled to be proper Frenchman. The Marais is the chic place to stay, but Rue Cler works well for those who appreciate the Rick Steves travel philosophy. Have fun planning!

Posted by
101 posts

We are just back from France. I feel the Rue Cler area is too far away from major sites. That area is close to the Eiffel Tower, Invalides and Rodin but that is about it. We stayed near St Germain in the Latin Qtr at Hotel Millesime. http://www.millesimehotel.fr. It was wonderful. We had wine on ice for us when we checked into our room. We received complimentary fruit and chocolates every day. Best of all, it was an easy walk to the Louve, Notre Dame, many museums and Luxemberg Gardens. There are 2 metro lines within 4-5 blocks. I would highly recommend it.

Posted by
5265 posts

If you can afford the Ile St-Louis it's a great location. Several boutique hotels there, recommended in the RS guide and others. I'll also put in a plug for the Hotel des Grandes Ecoles in the Latin Quarter (5th arr), where we stayed on our first trip to Paris. The lovely courtyard might not be as appealing in winter as it was in late summer. They start taking December reservations in mid-July.

Generally the closer to the river you are the more convenient to more sights, and more expensive. There are many fine hotels in Paris, in those and other neighborhoods, that I'm sure would work for you. You'll get a lot of suggestions on this thread.

Posted by
796 posts

The 1st arrondissement is ideal. You are right in the center of attractions, shops, restaurants, etc and can walk to many plus there is public transport. It is near the Louvre and Jardin des Tuileries. I can recommend 4 hotels in this arrondissement:

(1) Hotel Mayfair Paris- www.paris-hotel-mayfair.com/en/hotel-paris-concorde.html

(2) Regina Hotel- www.leshotelsbaverez.com/en/home/regina/

(3) Renaissance Paris Vendome- www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/parvd-renaissance-paris-vendome-hotel/

(4) Hotel Royal Saint-Honore- www.leshotelsduroy.com/en/royal-saint-honore

As for Rue Cler, I love the area but it is a quiet residential area and not near attractions. It is full of Americans. It's good to live in but not so great as a central location to see the sights. It has little shops and markets but that's it.

Posted by
697 posts

A central location is great. We've stayed in the 6th and 4th. We preferred the apartment in the 6th but the location in the 4th couldn't be beat. Shopping, places to eat and drink, museums, lots within walking distance too. I would definitely stay as close to the river as possible. We've never stayed in the Rue Cler area so I can't comment on that but it does seem a little out of the way from a lot of the sites you will want to see. Good luck and enjoy Pahree!!!

Posted by
45 posts

I have stayed in the Rue Cler area twice. Yes, it is a little farther out but the tube gets you everywhere fast. We love Rue Cler area for its quaint "little France" feel. Loved going out every morning to various bakeries for fresh French pastries. There are a number of restaurants at your fingertips and the Eiffel tower is close by. That being said, there isn't a lot of shopping opportunities....if that is what you are interested in. We stayed at Les Jardins d'Eiffel....it was fine....the room was large enough and the beds were comfortable. We never ate there so can't comment on the food. Have a great trip!

Posted by
2788 posts

I fly this Friday to Paris and will be staying in the Rue Cler neighborhood for the third time. I like its feel. Do you have a RS Paris Guide Book yet? If so, great. If not you should get one soon as it is an invaluable source of information that helps one plan for a trip that we have been using for a couple of months now. If you need one you can purchase one elsewhere on this web site. Happy travels.

Posted by
28 posts

Hi Charlie! Yes I have the book and probably wouldn't know what questions to ask without it. 😊

Have a great trip!

Posted by
7139 posts

4th or 5th for me, the Marais or Latin Quarter, as long as you are close to a metro stop and within 10 mins walk of Notre Dame.

Posted by
2 posts

Rue Cler is fine, but the 7th often has a dry or bankers or government quality to me. For a first time, as your budget seems to allow, I'd stay on Isle St. Louis. You will feel like you own the city. Nightime romantic walks. The island becomes yours after dark. Easy to Notre Dame. Pretty easy to Metro Line #1. You will find a good bakery, cheese, wine etc. Not at all up to Rue Cler for all the different food shops, but enough to construct a decent picnic. The 7th feels like a suburb in comparison. In later visits you can branch out to new nhoods, but for now, why not start in the center?

Posted by
113 posts

We stayed in the Marais just off the Place du Marche Ste. Catherine. Quiet but just a block off Rue St. Antoine (main road which becomes the Rue de Rivoli as you head back towards the Louvre). Laundromat is on Rue St. Antoine near the metro stop. Lots of restaurants & shops nearby, Place des Voges, Place de la Bastille, hotel de Ville, the cathedral St. Paul (a hidden gem), the Carnavalet museum, the Centre Georges Pompidou, and walking distance to a couple different metro stops (St. Paul & Bastille).

We walked or took the metro everywhere and were very happy with our location.
Good luck & have fun.

Posted by
21 posts

Can't believe no one mentioned the les Halles area and Rue Montorgueil. Stayed on Rue St Sauver in an apartment and had everything right outside my door on Rue Montorfueil. Also found this area to be habited more by local than tourists. I avoid Rue Cler because it is so well known as a tourist stop. I agree that the 7th is way too quiet. I love the Marais too. I have also stayed near Rue St Denis and felt totally ok with that too. Again an area with much to see and do, but more like the real Paris and close enough to walk to lots of "sights"

Posted by
10344 posts

Get Rick's Paris guidebook with its detailed descriptions of the Rue Cler neighborhood.
Branch out to other neighborhoods on later trips.

Posted by
3656 posts

Agree with Dick from WA. If you can afford the Ile St-Louis then do so. It's a great location, easy access to the Metro, and many good restaurants. We stayed at Hotel des Deux-Iles and were very pleased. I think they also own Hotel de Lutece, but might be wrong.

Posted by
2929 posts

For a different take on Paris, I would suggest staying here: http://www.hotel-des-deux-avenues.com This is a 5 minute walk from the L'Arc de Triomphe and the metro. This hotel has an open market on its street most if not all days we were there, which was a week. This was several years ago so double check. The hotel has been upgraded since we were there. My daughter lived with a family in this neighborhood for her junior year abroad. It is a wonderful, real neighborhood. There is everything you need there and many restaurants. We did walk the Champs Elysee to the Seine but usually took the metro from whichever arrondissement we were visiting. It is also very near Parc Monceau, which is a lively, adorable park. If you read the Inspector Maigret series of mysteries, then you'll recognize much of the area! Anyway, this is an area with not many tourists, but easy access to all the sites. I have stayed in Rue Cler but found there were too many Americans and seems to be quite touristy. Either way, Paris is a wonderful city. Wray

Posted by
17 posts

I was in Paris for the first time in May. We had a medium to high budget and stayed at the Hotel Du Jeu de Paume on the Ile of St Louis. I highly recommend this hotel. We opted for a larger room, and it was great. The staff is very very helpful. My boyfriend has been to Paris about 7 times, and this stay was his all time favorite. Great location.

Posted by
8411 posts

My favorites are the 4th, 5th and 6th but my most favorite neighborhood is Ile St. Louis (4th). The little island next to the bigger island where Notre Dame is. It's like a little village in the very heart of Paris, surrounded by the Seine river and beautiful views. Has restaurants, cafes, pharmacies, post office, great shops, grocery store, produce shop with the best fresh squeezed OJ we've ever had, bakeries and plenty of locals who live there. You can walk to tons of places from there.

My hotel recs:
Hotel Saint Louis en l'Ile
Hotel de Lutece
Hotel des Deux Iles

Edit: Just read Erin's post above and her hotel is wonderful but the most expensive on the island. I'm sure it's worth every penny. The ones I recommend are also super nice.

Posted by
28 posts

Wow my topic has come back to life! We have decided to stay at the Hotel Saint-Louis en i'lle. Everything I've read is positive and it seems like a nice area.

You have all been so kind with all of your suggestions--thank you so much!

Posted by
8411 posts

jsdsnv, I'm so glad you chose that hotel... you are going to absolutely love it and the location.

Posted by
5265 posts

I'm sure you'll love it, have a wonderful time!