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Where to Stay in Paris
Paris is officially divided into 20 distinct and numbered districts called “arrondissments,” and these areas are further divided into two uneven clusters by the Seine River running through the city. The 14 arrondissments on the north side of the river constitute the Right Bank, where you’ll find many of the most opulent hotels and popular attractions like the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe and the Moulin Rouge. The smaller group of six arrondissments on the south side of the Seine, known as the Left Bank, were once considered the less-savory areas frequented by starving artists. While the Left Bank is still considered less luxurious than its cross-river counterpart, in modern times it has grown to include many finer lodging options, some of the most in-demand restaurants and nightlife destinations, and several popular neighborhoods for tourists. Still, many of the best cheap hotel deals in Paris can be found on the Left Bank. On the Right Bank, the greatest concentration of hotels, including the finest options, can be found in the 1st and 4th Arrondissments. On the Left Bank, you’ll find the most variety in the 5th, 6th and 7th Arrondissments.
Paris Hotel Tips
The easiest way to evaluate your hotel options in Paris is to check the official star rating assigned to each by the French government. A complex formula is used to designate each hotel with one to four stars; one star usually means small, simplistic accommodations with no frills and low rates. Thorough reading of details and reviews is especially important when choosing from this riskier category, but many one star discount hotels can be comfortable. Two star hotels tend to be simple but high quality, and may include many chain hotel brands. Three star accommodations include the finer chains and hotels with mid-level luxury amenities. Room rates at this level tend to be on the expensive side. Four star ratings are reserved for the most expensive and exclusive luxury resorts and hotels.
Paris Hotel Recommendations
If you want to do Paris in style and stay near the Louvre in the 1st Arrondissment, the Hotel Ritz is among your best bets. One of Paris’ few palace hotels and the oldest Ritz hotel of them all, each of the 159 rooms in this historic palace are individually appointed with antiques, luxury linens and the finest furnishings. While more classically elegant than modern, the Hotel Ritz ensures complete comfort through excellent service and perks like its on-site restaurant L’Espadon, one of the best in Paris.
In the neighboring 4th Arrondissment, near Notre Dame Cathedral, Hotel Duo is a modern and fashionable three star hotel with very competitive rates considering its Right Bank location. For a balance between luxury and affordability, this is a good option to keep in mind.
On the Left Bank, the Hotel Le Bellechasse is among the 7th Arrondissment’s most popular hotels. Its four star rating may be surprising considering its competitive rates with other hotels in this category, but its location is still excellent. The Musee d’Orsay is a short walk away, as is the nearest metro station, your link to the rest of Paris. If you really want to save, look nearby in the 5th Arrondissment for the Hotel Moderne Saint-Germain, a charming three-star option in an area frequented by students. Its accommodations are small but comfortable, and they provide a great way to see Paris on a budget.
Paris’ metro system is generally fast, safe and well-connected through all areas of the city. While not overly complicated, it is less straightforward than some other European metro systems, so you may want to dedicate a little time to studying the maps and planning your routes while enjoying your flight to Paris. Once you arrive, a speedy Reseau Express Regional train is the cheapest and fastest way to get from Charles de Gaulle Airport to the metro station nearest your final destination. Affordable tourist passes for unlimited metro rides can be purchased at the airport train stations and most others throughout the city.
Buses are available during the daytime on weekdays and on limited schedules during weekends, but they’re far less efficient than the metro. The upside, of course, is that most bus rides will provide you with more scenic views of the city as you travel. An often faster alternative for moving east-to-west through the city is to take the Batobus, a large seasonal ferry that travels the Seine River and makes stops at its most prominent tourist attractions.
Taxis are another option, and are easy to hail on the street or from taxi stands during most hours of the day and night. During rush hour and major festivals and events in Paris, however, they can be very difficult to catch.