Welcome / Bienvenue

This is our diary/log of where we’ve been and enjoyed in France, with a few comments thrown in. If anyone out there finds it useful, all the better, we are happy to share our fondness of Paris and especially the countryside — and to encourage others to experience the same!
Also: Although dining in a French restaurant isn’t rocket science (as a Paris food writer friend of ours says on her blog, “It’s only food, folks”) — a number of folks have commented that they especially appreciate our section (a chapter of a book that never materialized), How to blend in . . . .
As usual, comments and suggestions are welcome.
— Jake & Maureen (Mo) Dear, June 2016

Hotels and apartments in Paris

Which is best — hotel or apartment?

It depends.  For most of our first visits to Paris, we stayed in hotels. Among the advantages: The hotel’s receptionist/ front desk will gladly make restaurant reservations for you, and arrange for your taxi back to the airport or train station, etc. — these kinds of things are very useful if your French is poor or rusty.

Most of our recent stays have been in apartments. Apartments will give you more space for the cost, but even more important to us, we find the overall apartment experience to be culturally richer. We get to know the neighborhood merchants — especially the people at the morning boulangerie, but also those at the fromagerie, and the weekly market, and flower stand, etc. We’ve discovered that we really miss these kinds of interactions when staying in a Paris hotel. And frankly, we’ve grown to like the process of daily taking down to the ground floor our own garbage and recycling — it reminds us (or at least makes us believe) that we’re living in another culture — not “just” visiting.

Hotels (and two B & Bs)

We've often used the Guides de Charme Web site to find Paris hotels. On our little list below, the St. Beuve is by far the most elegant and stylish. We have stayed at, and generally recommend, the following Paris hotels and apartments:

La Villa Paris, 33, rue de la Fontaine a Mulard — outer 13th arrondissement.  This four-room B & B is located on a good bus line that takes you into the city center in about 15 minutes.  Marie is a lovely and patient hostess, and it's no surprise why this place gets great reviews in TripAdvisor.  We enjoyed and would return to the chambre Concorde.

Hotel St.-Beuve (****) — 6th arrondissement, near the Luxembourg gardens/ boul. Montparnasse. This is a classy and stylish place, with a couple very nice restaurants just steps from the front door (Le Timbre and Moustache). We've stayed here many times (it previously was (***).  The receptionist/ front desk woman insists on testing or poor French with rapid fire bursts, but we hang in there, and she's very helpful.

Le Six (****) — 6th arrondissement, near the St. Beuve, but although it costs more, we like it less.

Hotel Pavillon St Louis Bastille (***) — 12th arrondissement. We were looking for a place in the less-touristy 12eme, and for this it fit the bill for a four-night stay in mid-September. It was OK (we had a “superior” room, and as usual, the web site photos made it appear much bigger than it was), but we do not plan to return.

B & B 127 rue Notre-Dame des Champs (Gilles et Cecile Darmois) — 6th arrondissement. We really enjoyed this place for the location, quality of accommodation, and most impressively, the delightful proprietors, Gilles & Cecile Darmois. As they explained to us in perfect English, after their sons left home, and Mayor Bertrand Delanoë asked those with ability to open their homes as B&Bs, they complied. We will happily return.

Hotel Familia (**) — 5th arrondissement. This is the next-to-least expensive hotel on our list. The location is good, especially for first-time visitors. It’s quite nice, not at all fancy, but the owners are friendly and have been in the business for many decades. Expect lots of American tourists. We also expect small hotel rooms in Paris, but this one — a top floor room for three, overlooking the street, with a cot bed for our son — was one of the most cramped we've ever experienced. At least we had a small balcony, and a nice bathroom. We've been in other rooms in the same hotel, and they too are very small. Note: The owners have a second hotel (***), right next door; it looks a bit more upscale than the Famalia.

Hotel Leveque (**) — 7th arrondissement. This is similar to the Familia, described above, but we don't plan to stay here again. The Leveque is on a pedestrian food-shopping street, rue Cler — but it's not our favorite area of Paris, and because the street is highly touted by Rick Steves, expect many Americans carrying his book.

Hotel de Lutece (***) and the Hotel deux Iles (***) — 4th arrondissement, both on the Ile St. Louis. The rooms are fairly small, but we've enjoyed room 662, on the top floor, with lots of light and a rooftop view. The main reason to stay here is to enjoy this little island, upstream from the Ile de la Cite, and providing a great view of the backside of Notre Dame. The Ile St. Louis is especially beautiful at night when the crowds leave and the island is bathed in incandescent light. Note: In the summer, the island can be overcrowded with tourists; we enjoy it most in the late fall and winter, when it's a bit less populated.

Hotel du Danube (***) — 6th arrondissement, near the Seine. This is a nice (but not great) hotel at very fine location for exploring the St. Germain area. The Musee d'Orsay is near, as is the great bistro, Allard. Our room, looking into an interior courtyard, was small, and yet very clean and comfortable. (The shower, in the tiny bathroom, was one of those module contraptions, but at least it had a door!) The various persons at the front desk were very helpful in making our requested restaurant recommendations. There's a nice sitting room near the lobby, and a rather austere narrow breakfast room in the back. We have since recommended the Danube to friends and family, and all have been pleased.

Hotel L’Arve (**) — 15th arrondissement, somewhat near the Tour Eiffel, and close to a number of useful Métro lines. This is our least expensive listing. It’s a bit more out of the way, and it's certainly not the place for a special occasion. But it's clean, has character, and is a very good value. We normally don't take breakfast in Paris hotels (we prefer to go to a local boulangerie or patisserie), but we needed to take a taxi to CDG, and we found the early morning breakfast on the patio pleasant.

Apartments

We have stayed in nine apartments, but some are no longer available, and in any event we recommend only six:

53 rue du Cherche-Midi, 6eme. Our favorite, and on one of our favorite streets.  And we like the agency, ParisAddress.   

27 rue Clauzel, http://edgarapartment.free.fr/Site/ENGLISH.html, 9eme, “La Nouvelle Athènes,” about 100 meters from Metro St. Georges.  What a nice place in a good neighborhood.  An excellent food shopping street, rue des Martyrs, is right around the corner.  The fourth floor apartment (with elevator) is smartly furnished in a classy way.  We found the owner, Edgar, very good to deal with, and we will be glad to return.   

1 rue Maitre Albert (5th arrondissement). For staying in the center of the city, this is our favorite. It’s part of the Roth/Ray collection. The location, only about 50 steps from the Seine (and very close the back left side of Notre Dame) is very quiet and sufficiently removed from the nearby and cheesy part of the 5th. The apartment is spacious, well furnished, and very beautiful. As a bonus, the Eric Kayser boulangerie, and the Fromagerie Laurent Dubois, are both within a couple minutes walk.  (But note, this apartment may no longer be available.)

14 rue Francaise (2nd arrondissement). This well appointed studio, also part of the Roth/Ray collection, is located on a pedestrian street near the rue Montorgueil shopping area, making for convenient "at home" breakfasts and lunches. It's generally very quiet, but on warm Friday and Saturday nights you can expect some street noise emanating from a couple nearby night clubs.

9 Rue de Square Carpeaux (18th arrondissement). This charming "room with a view" apartment offers a "Mary Poppins" rooftop expanse of Montmartre. It is near a convenient bus line (and metro stops), and it's not too far from the center of the city, but it feels far away from most tourists. The neighborhood is very enjoyable and real, with fine market streets and local restaurants. (And it's very easy to communicate and make arrangements with the owners, who live in Los Angeles but have a local contact to greet and present keys, etc.)

2 rue de Grand-Prieure, 11th, near Oberkampf. We enjoyed exploring this area, somewhat near the Canal St. Martin. The apartment is smaller than the web photos may suggest, but it's well appointed and was very comfortable.

Notes:

The Roth/Ray Web site offers approximately 10 nice apartments. Ray, who is British, meets you at the apartment, and is quite helpful. Each Roth/Ray apartment comes with a metered phone, making international calls (including to the U.S.) easy and quite inexpensive. But beware of the Rue des Lombards apartment (4th arrondissement) — it’s a beautiful two-bedroom place, and yet as we learned in April 2005, there is a very loud gay Cuban/Brazilian bar directly below that bumps, grinds, and vibrates the 17th century building framing until 2:30 a.m. nightly.

3 comments:

Sizzling LEO said...

Hotel online booking websites provide an easy solution for travelers to source for their ideal hotel and compare prices and facilities among different hotels in Paris with just a click of the mouse from the comfort of their own home.

Jake Dear said...

Hello Sizzling,
I normally delete posts that seek only to promote a business, but here I'll make an exception to say:

For many reasons, I would never do anything except book directly with a hotel. (Same principle applies for for booking flights -- I'd never use a third-party provider again; they are no help when things go wrong.)

And if we were to make an exception to that rule, your linked site still would not be in the running. It's poorly set up and does not even allow one to search by arrondissement. This does not inspire confidence. Bonne chance! -- Jake

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