What area(s) of Paris are best to stay in as far as proximity to historical sites, cafés, markets ect...?
I personally love the Marais....
lots of great cafes, reasonable restaurants close to many sites such as Notre Dame, Latin Quarter, Place Des Vosages and many metro lines go into this area so it is easy to get around.
I like Montmartre. It feels like a small city within the larger city of Paris.
For walkability, I choose the Latin Quarter. It is possible to spend a week walking, eating, visiting churches/Notre Dame, and enjoying life without once visiting the Metro. I spend most of my nights in the rue Cler area. I love stepping out the door and being "there."
My favorite area in all of Paris are the 2 islands, Ile de la Cite and Ile St. Louis. Also my favorite area, the Luxembourg Gardens. Absolument Superbe!
In all honesty, it all depends on your taste. I agree that Montmartre is a great area, but it is not centrally located. I've stayed right off St Germain in the latin quarter and also right on Rue cler at the Grand Hotel Levique. If you stay on Rue Cler you really are an authentic Parisian for a brief period. It's walking distance to the Eifel Tower and about 2 blocks from a metro stop which will take you anywhere else. Teh accomodations are nothing special, but it's affordable, at least for Paris.
It really depends on your budget. Rue Cler, Montmarte, Ile, St germain are all great but can be a huge diff in hotel rates
Latin Qtr close to so many sights; don't miss the Musee du Moyen Age which has the Cluny unicorn tapestries; many great restaurants on Ile la Cite and Ile St Louis; bird market (Marche aux Oiseaux) interesting & colorful---Sunday
not close to LQ but wonderful if you like Monet: Musee Marmottan
I've stayed twice in the Latin Qtr @ Hotel Grand Ecoles with no regrets. It sounds like a place you may be interested in. Also try the near by Perraudin Restaurant.
However, on the next trip we're staying in Rue Cler. It's summer & I wanted a Hotel with A/C.
I would not stay in Montmartre. It is not centrally located as others have stated. I might consider renting an apartment and hanging there for a couple of weeks though. But I recommend the Marais, St. Germain, Rue Cler area, and anything you can get in the 1st and 2nd arrondisements. You will be within walking distance of many great sights and the wonderful city as well. I rented an apartment near rue Montogueil (sp?) last year and really liked this area. Rick does not mention it, probably because there may not be many hotels in the are, but rue Montorgueil is fantastic pedestrian street similiar to rue Cler -- and there are tons of great restaurants and stores around -- interesting area and people, more down to earth, young family scene, and lively nightlife - bars, cafes, etc. If you want action, stay here! I was able to walk to the Louvre, the Seine, Notre Dame each day with no problem.