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Paris - Choosing the Right Arrondisement - Help Please

Very special trip to Paris coming up. I've read everything in RS's France book and on the website describing his 4 Paris neighborhood suggestions. Still I'd love feedback on your experiences and preferences. Why do most of RS's traveller's stay in Rue Cler area? More peaceful, away from the frey? But does it feel far from everything else? Luxembourg Garden area and Marais are vying for top choice so far. But Ile St. Louis seems so central it could be perfect. Merci Beaucoup!

Posted by
2966 posts

It really depends on your budget. Paris is expensive and the most attractive, convenient neighborhoods have the most expensive hotels. Out of the 3 locations I stayed at, I preferred the Montparnasse area because it was very close to metro stops, under 10 minutes to get to most attractions, and walkable to some, yet away from the throngs and thus MUCH CHEAPER. Yet with some decent, non-touristy (also: cheaper) cafes and bars, also actual grocery stores for trying to save money on food. But if you're not on a tight budget, I'd go with Rick's recommendations.

Posted by
8199 posts

Have spent years in Paris, and my favorite neighborhood of all is Ile St. Louis. It's like a small village, very charming, very romantic, surrounded by the Seine river. And it's in the heart of my favorite area of Paris. After Ile St. Louis, I prefer the 5th (Latin Quarter) & 6th (St. Germain) arrondissements. Still in and close to the heart of Paris. I like being close to the Seine, whereas rue Cler is not. One of my top favorite places are the Luxembourg Gardens - beautiful and a great place to relax and be surrounded by Parisians enjoying themselves. I like the Marais as well, especially closer to the river. Rue Cler area is fine but for me, it's too boring, too far from the area of Paris I like best and too far from the river.

Posted by
10344 posts

"Why do most of RS's traveller's stay in Rue Cler area?" Really, because it's what The Master recommends. Yes, in all of Paris. He says Rue Cler is best. Get his book, read his reasons. If you're convinced, you're done. If you think you might be able to do better than Rue Cler, go with your own instincts, as expressed in your original post. And if you want more recommendations from here, go to the "how to search" stickie (top of this page) and search on the keywords Paris Lodgings. You'll find hundreds of recommendations from the rest of us.

Posted by
635 posts

I believe a lot of his basis is the price you'll pay in Rue Cler. There are significantly better prices for hotels there based on their quality. Rick may have easily vaulted into multimillionaire status but he is staying true to his Back Door roots. Rue Cler is also slightly less over-run than the more touristy (if any of it isn't) parts of Paris. I don't think Rue Cler is far from everything. It's just to get to anywhere but the Eiffel Tower, Rodin Museum and Napoleon's Tomb you will probably find yourself switching metro lines. That's a slight inconvenience. For ease of getting around, being close to Notre Dame gets you easy access to the major metro lines most tourists would use. It's also convenient for both RER-B & C to get to the airports and Versailles. I'm guessing that the premium for this location is anywhere from 30 to 50 euro per night.

Posted by
8199 posts

"There are significantly better prices for hotels there based on their quality." I don't think rue Cler has the advantage in that regard. I think you will find great value for money in the Marais, and other areas, as well. Carla, you didn't say what your price range is so we don't know if you're looking for budget hotels or not.

Posted by
565 posts

I just stayed in the 9th, near Gare St. Lazare, not mentioned by Rick at all, and I absolutely loved it. It's extremely close to the metro and Boulevard Clichy and its eateries, and the best bargain shopping in the city. Go with what you'd like. A good deal can be found in areas outside of the norm.

Posted by
1068 posts

@Kent - yep! Good advice about searching the site, too. Smaller numbers (arrondissements 1 -8) are "closer in" to tourist attractions. Larger numbers are "further out" (I use quotation marks because there are tourist attractions ALL OVER Paris, and all over France). I find Rue Cler to be a very expensive place and not nearly as magical as Rick Steves thinks it is, and while it's cute for a stroll, I never stay there. Of course, others simply adore it, so.... I guess it is really all about your tastes. As for "far from the fray" - Paris is a very compact and walkable city, so even something far out (we stay in the Passy neighborhood, which some consider far out) can be easy and convenient for getting anywhere you like. Wiki has a cool map that you can click through to see details of each arrondissement. Here it is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrondissements_of_Paris

Posted by
11450 posts

Hmm haven't stayed on Rue Cler,, and likely never will, I do not find the hotels cheaper, I find equally cheap ones in the 5th and 6th contrary to another posters claim,, but wonder , has he looked out of the Rue Cler area or is he just following the RS book. As for Rick Steves,, he does not put all his tour groups there anyways, my friend stayed in the 11th with his group, and I stayed in the 14th when I took one of his tours. I prefer the 6th to most areas,, but am flexible and have stayed in at least 5 or 6 different arrondissmonts. I also find the Rue Cler area to be a bit boring,, and not central to enjoying much in the evening.There are some quiet streets in EVERY area,, including the Latin Quarter, just do your homework . I always read the hotel reviews on tripadvisor.com as posters will often mention whether hotel was in a noisy area or not.

Posted by
228 posts

Carla, We just returned 2 weeks ago from a very speciaql trip to Paris. I am not a Paris expert, but I did keep my eyes open for places to stay when we do return. We made several big associations you will want to keep in mind as you look/decide. Paris, as charming and old as it is, is still a "Big City" such as New York and Los Angeles. Very loud and busy (as loud and as busy as a big-city can get) along the Boulevard's... very quiet along the Rue's. So, keep that in mind. Also, the higher your apartment is, the quieter and brighter it gets... as in away from the passing pedestrians/cars and up towards the sky in such narrow alleys/roads. But, on the lfip side, alot of apartments do not have elevators, and your luggage can be too much to handle if you;re lugging it up 6 stories! Stay as near to the Seine as possible... that is where EVERYTHING is at (with only a few exceptions) and ends up being your walking path. Also, stay as close to Notre Dame Cathedral as possible, as we noticed this too is where so much of Paris lies... in so many ways. Let me know if that helps you out.

Posted by
99 posts

The 6th arrondissement would be my recommendation. We have stayed many times at the Hotel d'Aubusson (not cheap!) but a wonderfull location (and great hotel) just steps from the Pont Neuf and Central Paris! Metro stations nearby and therefore the whole city awaits. Rue de Buci a few blocks in the other direction is a lively car free street with cafes, markets, and the like! Would not stay anywhere elese in Paris than the 6th. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
635 posts

Some one didn't like my comment that Rue Cler hotels were cheaper. I was referring to comparable quality hotel near Notre Dame. From my highly limited experience, this would include the area right along the river on Marais. You can get much better prices moving out away from the river. For the people that are seasoned Paris-pros, they probably don't have any issues with multiple Metro changes to get where they are going but I'm easily confused. I can also get lost easily. In picking a hotel I look for the convenience of direct routes on the Metro to where I want to go. It's nice being able to walk to multiple, close stations on different lines. Being close to any of the train stations is usually a good location for multiple Metro lines although there are other great spots. Prices are generally less expensive for comparable quality (based on TripAdvisor) than either near the Cite or Rue Cler.

Posted by
195 posts

I second the mentions of being near the Seine and Notre Dame! We recently rented a ground floor apartment through VRBO, which was in the 5th, steps away from the Seine and Notre Dame (could see the cathedral at night, all lit up...spectacular). Perfect location to everywhere, cafes, markets, Metro stop (St Michel)...we walked everywhere, took the train to Versailles, etc ...loved the location. Would stay there again with no question. Also very quiet and charming. Myself, I much prefer either the 5th, or maybe the 6th district.

Posted by
709 posts

I'd say stay central if you can. Ile St. Louis seems perfect, but I've never had a "bad" stay in Paris. I've even stayed in the Rue Cler, but didn't really see it's charm (excellent Chocolat Chaud, however). You are close to the ET, which was nice after relaxing in the park at night, then a short walk back to the hotel, but it felt pretty American to me (Old Glory flying in several places, many people spoke English). Don't get me wrong, it was fine, but the Marais or ISL would be higher on my list. I did find RC pretty affordable in comparison to some of the others.

Posted by
36 posts

Hello, Carla
Went to Paris 4 decades ago and returned this last month. First trip I stayed on Il St Louis, just behind Il de Cite. Visited each on the last trip and was struck by the change. Very tony and very expensive now. We found an apartment on rue Deuphine close to Pont Neuf, four blocks form Louvre. Not the best apartment but duable. Latin Quarter. If I were to return I would shoot for Marais and a hotel.If you can afford it, Il St Louis or Il de Cite would be very cool. Good luck.

Posted by
875 posts

Have never understood the fascination with Rue Cler, but to each his own.
We love the 6th and stay in an apt very close to the St. Michel fountain. It's so close to the metro, the RER, taxi stand, Note Dame, St. Chappelle, great restaurants and cafes, museums, and "walking along the river".

Posted by
30 posts

Carla, We last traveled to Paris in peak time (August) 2004 and stayed in Rue Cler and in the Marais. We didn't intend to split our stay, but limited lodging availability forced us to break up our lodging for the 5 days we were there. I recommend the Marais over Rue Cler if only because the Marais felt much more like a real neighborhood. We heard French more than any other language (our hotelier was polite and very patient, but never initiated a conversation in English, nor did she respond in English) the Metro is easy to get to, the neighborhood (gay and Orthodox Jewish within a 15 minute walk!) was far more interesting to experience. When we moved to our hotel in Rue Cler, I was dismayed to hear only English spoken in virtually every brassiere and cafe we went to near our hotel. I do think that first-time travelers would feel more comfortable in Rue Cler so I understand why RS recommends the area.

Posted by
358 posts

I have stayed in most of the central arrondisements and no matter where you stay each district has unique qualities. Presently I booked a room in the 3rd for the first time and the hotel is a bargain for 123 american dollars$/night. The hotel is the quietest I have stayed in Paris. The Villa Beaumarchais is a 4 star hotel between Bastille and Republica. To get to the central Marais district it is an easy 15 minute walk. My favorite district used to be the 6th however the Marais each year has improved with many new shops/restaurants. I stayed once in the Rue Cler which and not my favorite district. On sundays the marais come alive and packed with people as a lot of stores are closed on saturday.

Posted by
251 posts

Here is another vote for the Marais. We stayed the Villa Beaumarchais, it is on a quiet street, close to the Metro and bus sto, within walking distance of Place Bastille. Delicious breakfast buffet.

Posted by
358 posts

Our stay at the Villa Beaumarchais are been exceptional and do not hear any street noise. Hopefully when we come back to Paris we can get a resonable rate again via hotels.com. For vegeterians there is a loving hut within 2 blocks and the food is great my favorite vegeterian restaurant in Paris. The prices are resonable. In the marais had a chance twice to eat at my favorite place L'As du Falafel which has to be the busiest eating place in Paris as it is packed all hours of the day especially sundays. This is a RS recommended place.

Posted by
82 posts

Ile St. Louis is great and it is somewhat off the beaten path -- I like Rue Cler best because it really gives you the feeling that you are living in Paris. For me the Marais was too crowded. A final note -- you can find some good rentals on vrbo.com.

Posted by
1663 posts

If you are staying four or more nights, you might consider sampling two neighborhoods. We did that our last trip, it only took about an hour to change hotels, and it was nice to be near the ET at night (we used Relais Bosquet) for a few evenings, then near Notre Dame (Latin Quarter) at night for a few evenings.

Posted by
241 posts

Whatever, you'll need a good metro stop nearby (it's very easy to use). Have fun, it's a nice place.
S

Posted by
7 posts

All great replys. Can I throw in my thoughts? We stayed Rue Cler - and while amazing - it was easy and had everything I wanted - another area, such as the latin quarter, would have had more character. I don't find character and lack of safety going hand in hand, on the contrary, Europe seems safer in many ways than North America. Dive in! Jane