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Quartier Latin vs. Saint-Germain vs. Le Marais

There is a good possibility that I will be spending a few days in Paris this summer, most likely during the week. I'm trying to decide what area to look for a hotel that is locally-owned and surrounded by cafes, markets, and a metro station within walking distance. Which one of these three areas best captures the true, historical "essence" of Paris?

Posted by
3336 posts

The Marais is the oldest part of Paris with higgelty-piggelty streets, very ancient, leaning buildings, and wonderful shops, cafes, and restaurants. The other two neighborhoods are also choc full of these things but are "newer" relative to the Marais. They are also very Parisian though, have sections that are quite old as well, and you wouldn't be disappointed with them if you chose to stay there! The Marais is on the right bank (north of the Seine) while St.Germain and the Latin Quarter are on the left bank (to the south of the river). They are all three in the very center of the city and all have plenty of metro stations that can be accessed.

Posted by
8295 posts

All 3 are equally great. Just got back and this time I especially loved the Marais. Lots of new shops, young/fun energy and vibrancy, tons of history and charm. But I love them all.

The Marais is not the oldest part of Paris. Ile de la Cité (the larger island where Nôtre Dame is) is actually the oldest part of Paris and where Paris started.
The Latin Quarter/5th arrondissement dates back to the 1st century and is much older than the Marais which dates back to the 13th century.
Rue Mouffetard in the 5th (Latin Quarter) is the oldest street in Paris, it was once a Roman road.

Posted by
2893 posts

I think that many people perceive Le Marais as being the oldest part of Paris because it is one of the few parts of the city that escaped the Haussmann modernization of Paris in the 1800s. Development of Le Marais began in the 113th century and at that point the Latin Quarter had been around for a while; it is actually the oldest area of Paris other than Ile de la Cite as noted above. As a result of being missed by the Haussmannian makeover of Paris, Le Maras is darker than other parts of Paris because it generally lacks large boulevards/avenues and the Haussmannian style buildings that some people think of when they think of Paris. That is not to say that there are no Haussmannian style buildings in Le Marais (I own an apartment in one) but they tend to be on on the edges. But that architectural style is relatively new in the scheme of things. Paris is so old that I don't think that any one neighborhood can capture its historical essence. All three neighborhoods have cafes, markets and loads of good metro connections. When you think the essence of Paris, are you picturing Haussmannian style spaces (large windows, chevron flooring, etc.) and avenues or are you picturing beamed ceilings and cozier settings? If it is the latter, I suggest Le Marais. Some of your decision may also have to do with budget. Generally speaking hotels in the the Latin Quarter are less expensive than those in Saint German or Le Marais.

Posted by
2466 posts

Most people would say the Marais or the Latin Quarter. Saint-Germain is more expensive in general.

In the Latin Quarter, Hotel Saint Andre des Arts is in the middle of cafes, shops and very good for transportation. No idea if it's family-owned - most hotels are not - but the staff is friendly:
http://www.hotel-saintandredesarts.fr/

The Grand Hotel Malher is family-owned and in the Marais. It was renovated in 2013. Very convenient to transportation and walking around to see the sights.
http://www.grandhotelmalher.com/index-en.html?gclid=Cj0KEQiA3Y7GBRD29f-7kYuO1-ABEiQAodAvwKxtODRslYsHUSJ4PxsxQdeS5_tGrlh1QaIIjibr2KsaAiGa8P8HAQ

Posted by
8295 posts

Alan, all 3 areas have cafés, markets and mêtro stops in abundance.

Posted by
6627 posts

All are fine. It always boils down to which block and which street. Any of these are fine for a first visit. There are dozens of other neighborhoods that also meet these criteria but it is good to be central and near the river on a first visit.

Posted by
14 posts

I've actually been to Paris twice before, but with a tour each time, so I had no choice of hotel. I would still prefer to be close to the center of the city. I was told that the Rue Cler / Champs de Mars neighborhood is much more expensive than the areas I asked about above. I have added the above-mentioned hotels to my list of possibilities along with a few of the ones that Rick mentioned in his Pocket Paris book last year. Thanks for all the replies! I'll keep checking back if anyone has any additional information.

Posted by
2466 posts

Rue Cler is kind of "out of the way", if you want to walk to see the things most people come to Paris to see. If you stay here, you'll only see the Eiffel Tower, les Invalides and possibly the Trocadero and rue Cler.

I'd suggest either the Marais or the Latin Quarter for ease in getting around - plus, there are many items of interest that are clustered together in these areas.
It would be a good idea to try and locate the things you most want to see on a map.

Posted by
8295 posts

I agree with chexbres about rue Cler and where to stay, in the Marais (3rd & 4th) or the Latin Quarter (5th). Nôtre Dame is the center of Paris and most sites are easily walkable from the 4th, 5th or 6th (St Germain) if you're closer to the river. Rue Cler is not convenient to walk to most sites. And Rue Cler is not more expensive than the 4th or 6th.

Booking.com is a good source for hotels. Read reviews. Then book directly w/hotel.