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Paris Apartment on east side of 1st arrondissement- safe?

My 68 year old mother and I will be staying a week in Paris in May. I'm about to book an apartment on the east side of 1st arrondissement near 25 boulevard de Sebastopol. Now I am reading things that make it sound like this is not a nice area after dark. I'm looking for input as to whether this is safe as well as is it a neighborhood feel or commercial area.
Any help is appreciated.

Posted by
4066 posts

It is a handy location for connecting to tourist sites but it is more commercial than residential. The usual rules for night-time safety apply: Stay where people are and don't take shortcuts through dark alley-ways. You may see a few homeless in the area, maybe bedding down on matresses that are put out on the street, but I've never encountered aggressive begging.

Posted by
4684 posts

Yep, there's quite a bit of sex trade in the area around rue St Denis, which is the next parallel street west. I wouldn't say it's dangerous, but you might find the atmosphere sleazy. There could well be some nightlife noise as well.

There are much better areas if you're looking for somewhere quiet.

Posted by
8 posts

Thanks for your quick reply!
I'm reading that the further north on St. Deny and Sebastopol the dicier it gets but do you know if the area very near Rue Saint Honore has the prostitution and heavier night life as well?

Posted by
10364 posts

I looked at google maps. You have a pedestrian street right next to it, leading to Les Halles. There are two cafes with outdoor seating, a restaurant, a couple of banks and more. Across Bd. de Sebastopol, the pedestrian street leads to the Centre Pompidou. You are in the heart of the action. A lot of people will be walking around. For me the deal breaker would be if the bedroom windows gave onto the street rather than the courtyard or if it were on a low floor with the steady flow of traffic under my window. This is the main north-south passageway--laid out by the Romans--and very heavily used today by buses, motorcycles, trucks, cars.

Posted by
47 posts

Meh. You can definitely do better. It's not an area that I experienced as overtly dangerous, it's just not overtly NICE, either. Kind of dirty, not a ton to offer in terms of restaurants, shops or markets, etc. That said, if you can't unwind the reservation without a huge penalty, and/or if you want to keep it because it's a nice apartment / well priced / whatever, you can always go into it knowing you'll take best advantage of its very central location by thinking of the apt as your crash pad that allows you to spend most of your outside-the-apt time in other areas. You'll be super close walking distance to the Marais, St Germain, both the islands, easy to get any direction you might want to go. And that's ok!

Posted by
3802 posts

Totally agree with Michelle.

Posted by
8 posts

Thanks for your thoughts! Darn because I really like the apartment. It has a lovely terrace and the comments are great. Even mentions that it is a quiet neighborhood. But it does look pretty commercial and somewhat dingy in the surrounding area. It is very near the river so not too far into the less appealing areas but someone please tell me how charming it is! :)
THANKS!! I've never used a forum and this is so helpful!

Posted by
47 posts

Lauralane, sorry if I came across as a debbie downer -- that was not my intention! I will say this. When I went to Paris with my mother a couple of years ago, we stayed in a less picturesque area (near the river in the 5th) in favor of a central location. And that was 100% the right decision for that trip and our goals (a mix of seeing the major sites and venturing into some of the neighborhoods, as easily as possible). If I had that trip to do over again, I wouldn't change locations. It's just a matter of your expectations. As long as you don't go into it thinking you'll be in a storybook location, but focusing instead on the value of being able to zip around easily and the nice apartment itself, you will have a terrific experience!

Posted by
6670 posts

Laura -- I've stayed near there and I wouldn't be concerned at all about personal safety. It's a busy street and the pedestrian streets will be noisy at night, as others observed. Pickpocket precautions are advisable anywhere, but especially in crowded areas. But very convenient for sightseeing, airport connections, many dining options, strolling, etc. If you like the apartment itself, I'd say go for it.

Sounds like it's on a high floor -- is there an elevator? Lots of stairs could be tough on your mom.

We enjoyed a little restaurant called Quincambosse, at 13 Rue Quincampoix, a little street a block east of Sabastopol off the SW corner of the square near the Pompidou Center. Irregular hours, not always open when the card says, don't take reservations, but great food and atmosphere. Worth a try, and about a block from your apartment.

Posted by
3802 posts

I would not bank on going to Quincambosse. It closed about a year or two ago.

Posted by
10364 posts

It's in the eyes of the beholder. I spent six months on a real grungy street near the Gare de l'Est, but even there it was safe--with some exceptions. What sort of things are you reading about it not being nice after dark? A lot of people have different expectations. I wouldn't want to stay near rue Cler as it's too sterile, but this area may not be nice enough for other people but it's fine for me and most people I know.

Posted by
12 posts

I prefer the other side of Paris because it is so much QUIETER...what another poster described as "sterile." While I don't find it sterile, I do find it much more peaceful and Paris is one LOUD city (and this comes from someone who spends a lot of time in NYC). Even my husband said it was nice to return to our apartment in a quieter area at the end of a loud, noisy, bustling day. I prefer to stay in more residential areas (which usually still have everything you need steps away) than in the throes of the action. Some here will make the 7th or the 15th sound like Siberia, but it is just an extra metro stop or two away...very much worth it for the more serene atmosphere in our opinion.

Posted by
2466 posts

I live near this area, and can categorically state that the "rampant sex trade and prostitutes" are pretty much a thing of the past.
It's true that there are a few shops selling sex toys, but if you don't go inside, you won't be offended. The few older prostitutes who work in the area concentrate on fleecing Chinese business tourists, because they carry lots of cash - but they are discreet about it, and they won't approach you.

Heading East from blvd Sebastopol does become grimy, the streets are much more narrow (and so are the sidewalks), and it will seem darker and not so nice at night. There are lots of bars in this area, lots of noise, and you should expect the usual problems from people who've had too much to drink. If you have a sensitive nose, I would avoid this area. If you are looking for a calmer neighborhood, look nearer the river - either in the 4th or 6th arrondissements.

If this is your first trip to Paris - and especially if you don't speak French - you might think about booking a hotel room instead of an apartment. You'll have the resources of the front desk when you need it, instead of being left to fend for yourselves. You might not know that the majority of vacation apartments in Paris are illegal, and the Mayor is cracking down on them. But if you need a kitchen and a bit more room, you can choose to book a legal apart'hotel such as Citadines, Adagio, or Hotel Residence Henri IV. Make sure to choose an apart'hotel with a 24-hour reception staff - if this isn't listed in the amenities, it is not a legal rental.

Posted by
2261 posts

" if this isn't listed in the amenities, it is not a legal rental."

Not sure I understand your point here, chexbres.

To the OP, as you are probably aware by now, due diligence is required to successfully rent a Paris-or anywhere-apartment. Don't be frightened off from the manner in which you choose to visit this great city!

Posted by
2466 posts

Dave, this is due to the fact that most of the illegal rentals are now calling themselves "apart'hotels", which leads the client to believe they might be legal, when this is not the case.
A 24-hour reception staff - with a desk, computers, etc - means that this is a legal hotel or apart'hotel.

Posted by
2261 posts

Ah, gotcha, I had not heard of that angle in reference to apart'hotel's. Thanks for the clarification, chexbres, I appreciate it.

Posted by
9436 posts

Good info chexbres, thanks.

There are so many charming areas in Paris (with a Mêtro stop nearby) convenient for sightseeing, airport, cafés, restaurants, etc., this area would not appeal to me. Especially for a first time visit.

Posted by
8 posts

Thanks everyone! In the end, we booked in a great spot in the Marais. We stay there in the past and loved the neighborhood atmosphere. Apartment isn't quite as pretty with a patio like in my original question but it has big windows and I think we'll enjoy the less commercial feel. THANKS EVERYONE! I will definitely use this format again. So helpful.
Laura