will be in Paris for 4 nites in December. Any suggestions where to stay so we can be near the happening markets, bazaars...metro.... I was told zone 1??No idea what that means...
Zone 1 is probably the central Paris travel zone, which covers the whole of central Paris. If you're looking for hipster-related stuff, probably the best place to stay is the Marais, which is in the 3rd and 4th of the "arrondisements" that central Paris is politically and postally divided into. It may be cheaper to stay a little further east in the 11th or 12th arrondisements. The Oberkampf area in the 11th is also a big nightlife area.
vrg, I prefer the 7th Arrondissement (Rue Cler area) near the Eiffel Tower. There are lots of good Hotels and Restaurants in the area, lots of small shops, bakeries, etc. It also has easy Metro access via the Ecole Militaire station. Some may consider it too "touristy" but I like the atmosphere there, and it's also in convenient walking distance to many of the sights. Happy travels!
vrg, As Norma mentioned, B&B's are a bit "scarce" in Paris. I'd suggest using a budget hotel, as most of them include breakfast as well (although it will likely be a different breakfast than you're used to). I'd highly recommend buying a copy of the Paris or Pocket Paris Guidebooks, as they have listings for hotels in various parts of Paris and in different price ranges. With that information you'll be able to choose lodgings that best fit your criteria. The book will also be a VERY valuable resource in planning sightseeing, such as knowing which days different sights will be closed, admission prices, ways to get through the queues faster, etc. (a Paris Musuem Pass is often a good investment). The "night life" on Rue Cler is mostly in the restaurants in the area (which is true in other areas as well). I don't find that to be a problem as it's so easy to get to any neighborhood in Paris via Metro. I'm typically only in the hotel to shower and sleep, so night life is not much of a concern. Cheers!
Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements (abbreviated "arr"). They start in the center and spiral outwards. Wikipedia map here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Paris_arr_jms-num.gif Many are large enough to be diverse. For instance, while the Latin Quarter is in the 5th arr, that's only part of it; other parts of the 5th are not like the Latin Quarter. So, in addition to the arrondissement, you have to pay attention to the actual neighborhood. When you were told "zone 1" I'm not sure if they meant the first arrondissement or the transit zone 1. Transit zone 1 is all of Paris proper (not the suburbs), so that's not much help. The first arr is in the center, near the Louvre, and is anything but "happening." Rick loves the Rue Cler area in the 7th, but again, it is not a "happening" area. The recommendations of the Marais and the Republique/Oberkampf areas are good for your interests. But remember that Paris isn't large and the Metro goes everywhere, so you can stay where you want and still get to other areas easily. Guidebooks and websites will have descriptions of the various neighborhoods. Here's one: http://www.eurocheapo.com/paris/hoods/.
thanks all for the wonderful replies. I am travelling with my 21 year old son so was looking for a safe neighborhood to stay and plus some night life close by. What are your recommendations on bed and breakfast place??? better to stay in them than hotels???
B&Bs are thin on the ground in Paris. Two star hotels would be fine. Have a look at booking.com's list of 2 star hotels or just google "budget hotels paris" and then check out the ones you like on trip adviser. You can start with a look at Hotel Ideal on ave Emile-Zola to see what a 2 star place can be like.