where is would be the best area to stay while visiting Paris...want to get a feel for the city and be able to access all major attractions.
When I think about it, virtually everywhere inside the old city walls, the 20 arrondissments has something going for it. RS loves the 7th (Rue Cler!) and the Marais. Virtually everything is accessible with the Metro. The 10th, 11th, and 12th in the northwest and west used to be gritty, but are quickly getting gentrified by the new generation of Parisians. Little bit like the Lower East was 20 years ago and Brooklyn is now. The 5th, on the Left Bank is still the University district. Staying out of the center (1st and 2nd) will give you more of the feel of a neighborhood, with its own shops, restaurant and bar scene.
A guide book more detailed than RS will probably give you a better feel for all of the diversity in the city.
loretta, You'll probably find that the "best area" is mostly a matter of opinion, as everyone here has their favourites. I prefer staying in the 7th in the Rue Cler area. It's within walking distance to the Eiffel Tower and other sights, has some nice hotels and restaurants and good Metro access. I was there again in July, and had a wonderful time. You might find it helpful to have a look at the Paris or France Guidebooks, as they have listings for hotels in various parts of Paris, and in various price ranges. Bon Voyage!
Most first timers enjoy staying in the most central areas, the 4th( Marais) the 5th ( Latin Quarter) and the 6th( St Germain). From these areas if nearer rather then farther from the river you can walk to many sites, Notre Dame, Cluny, Orsay, Louvre, etc.. if you stay in 6th you can walk to Eiffel Tower.. I find I only visit the Tower once so don't care to stay too close to it as that area is a bit quieter then some areas, and has less transport hubs. If you suggest you budget range folks can suggest hotels they have actually stayed in and liked. I have stayed in hotels in the 1st, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, and 14th and liked them all.. I agree there is no one best area. Alot depends on personal factors . .. I took a friend to Paris who had never been once,, and her comment on the area of the hotel I had chosen was "this is exactly how I imagined Paris to be".We had stayed at the Hotel Le Regent in the 6th, its in an older area of paving stone streets, cafes, markets , shops all around.. very "cute" . It was a bit pricier then I usually pay though, but splitting it with a friend made it affordable.
Loretta, if you swich your question around to "NYC", i think you will see how open your question is. ive only been to Paris once so far, but with its awsome tube system and bus, you can get around in a heart beat. I hear (toungg in cheeck) that NYC has a tube system too so i would expect the same results. what you can do is to plot out your "things to do and see list" on a map and figure out whats accessable for you. I stayted near the eiffel tower in the Rue Cler area. I didnt have any issues with the traffic noise other than the huge bottle recycling recepticles being swapped out in the early am. i did love walking around/under the Eiffel tower on my walks and i had a tube entrance 1 block away. when i go back, i will probably stay in a different area and see how that is. right now my fav area is Paris as a whole. not enough time to say any one place is "the best". happy trails.
The 7th, Rue Cler area cannot be beat for great hotels, cafes and close proximity to the Eiffel Tower. My husband & I stayed at Hotel de l'Empereur on Rue Chevert and walked everywhere... to the Louvre, Tuilleries, Musee Rodin, Musee d'Orsey, Ille d'le Cite, Notre Dame and everything in between. Bon Voyage!
I have to say that I am always puzzled by the rue Cler fans declaring how wonderful it is being so close to the tour Eiffel. Now you have to wonder, well, I mean I have to wonder, how many times do they actually go to see it? I often stay at a hotel in the 15th arrond. and take Bus No. 42 to go elsewhere in Paris. The bus passes the Tour Eiffel both going and coming back so I get to see the Tower every day, and I don't have to stay on boring old rue Cler.
Pat is exactly right, for a first-time visitor to Paris I think the 4th, 5th or 6th is the best. Those areas are closest to most tourist sites. They happen to be my favorite areas as well, even after living there and visiting often. The 7th is too far from most sites, other than the ET. I find the area boring and too full of Americans (thanks to Rick Steves). Yes, you'll see Americans in other parts of Paris (excluding tourist sites where, of course, you'll see lots of Americans) but no where near as many as in the 7th (I don't go to Paris to be surrounded by Americans as much as I love my country). The 4th, 5th and 6th has tons of wonderful cafes, bistros, restaurants, fun shops, outdoor markets, parks (don't miss the Luxembourg Gardens!), boat rides, metro stops, tourist sites, street musicians, street entertainers, quaintness and charm. My favorite area of all is Ile St. Louis (little island east of Notre Dame in the 4th) which is in the very heart of Paris. It is SO wonderful... my favorite hotels are there: Hotel St. Louis en l'Isle, Hotel de Lutece and Hotel des Deux Iles. Enjoy! And I agree with Norma!.. who was typing at the same time I was.
I just returned from Paris in July/August, and I absolutely LOVED the Hotel Saint Jacques in the Latin Quarter. Very centrally located (5-10 minute walk to the Notre Dame), large rooms & uber charming! http://www.hotel-saintjacques.com/ While there, you must try the restaurant across the street, La Petite Perigourdine. Wow, was it good! We ate there on 3 of the 5 nights we had in Paris!
I stayed in Rue Cler the first time I traveled to Paris as an adult. I wouldn't stay there again. It's more NYC than Paris...many Americans. We now enjoy staying in a Parisian neighborhood, 17th Arrondissement. We stay within a few blocks of the Arc de Triomphe on the same street as a daily street market: http://www.hotel-des-deux-avenues.com. There are many restaurants and bistro's in the neighborhood. Then up to the Arc de Triomphe and transport anywhere in the city. But that's just me, I like to feel part of the neighborhood.
I've stayed at Hotel St. Jacques twice and like it, but I still like Ile St. Louis and the hotels I recommended best.