Where to stay in Paris for first timers

Location on a vacation can make or break your trip. However if you have never been to a particular city, how do you know where you should stay. How many times do I see specials to Washington DC that list in the fine print, a hotel in Arlington Virginia? But how would someone know that’s really not in DC proper?

Voltaire Quay

Having traveled to Paris each year, I have a set area I like to stay in which has all the things I love and enjoy.  My trips however are not your typical Paris tourist visit. Quite like living in Washington DC and not visiting the monuments, aside from walking across the Louvre grounds or in front of Notre Dame, I rarely visit any of the Paris tourist sites any longer. I still do love seeing them and photographing them, just usually from the outside….

Paris visuals

This post is in answer to the ton of questions I get asked about where to stay while in Paris.

For a first time visitor, here are my top suggestions for areas to stay in Paris that you will enjoy. Paris areas are called arrondissements and there are 20 of them…. To be close to all the sites, here are my personal suggestions:

The Louvre- 1st/2nd arrondissement– When I first started coming to Paris, I stayed here. It’s like being on 5th Avenue in NY with luxury hotels and trendy boutiques. If your goal to impress/ stay in top style and you’ve got deep pockets for the trip, this does it. Decent location to get to all areas although not as typical of a Paris neighborhood as other The Louvre

Le Marais- 4th Arrondissement – Known for its narrow streets and lively nightlife, very similar to Soho in NY. Fun, safe, but again not as central to tourist attractions.  For someone who has visited Paris before, this is a trendy, lively area to be based in.

Paris visuals

Saint Germain des Pres- 6th arrondissement – My all time favorite neighborhood with chic cafes and art galleries. To me this the quintessential Paris area as soon as you walk out your hotel door. Terrific people watching cafes, a small street market, fab restaurants and it contains my favorite French pharmacy (see separate post).Liken this area to a vibrant Tribeca in NY.

Les Deux Magots Cafe

Other areas for thought:

Champs Elysees – 8th arrondissement – Like being in Times Square in fact, you might think you are in NY since you will find all the typical H&M, bath and body works etc. on the boulevard with a ton of tourists walking up and down. While I don’t recommend staying here, I get that a lot of people feel comfortable with what they know. You will hear more English spoken here.

Eiffel Tower 7th arrondissement. A lot of people recommend this area but I feel like except for the Eiffel tower, depending where you actually book, you can be far from other tourist sites and kind of isolated.

Happy visit to Paris!

Paris visuals

2 Responses

  1. Hi Anne! We just got back from Paris, and I want to let you know where we stayed for the week. It was my first time to Paris (Shane’s 4th or 5th). The Hotel Jeu de Plume (http://www.jeudepaumehotel.com/en/page/4-star-saint-louis-hotel.1.html) is on the Île Saint-Louis, and it was like living in a little French town. No loud traffic noise, but loads of people day and night. The location was ideal…right in the heart of Paris, close to Batobus, Metro, RER, bus, and walkable to so many places just across the bridges. We had wine picnics with the locals almost every evening along the island’s edge. We bought wine and cheese from the local shops on the island! The hotel itself was extremely charming, and the staff very attentive and helpful. Maybe check it out next time you go?

    • Anne

      I love Ile Saint-Louis!! My fav! I usually eat dinner there at some point but have never stayed there. When I wrote my piece I was thinking at night it might be a little too calm there at night for a first timer but maybe I should re-think that. Thanks! Will check out the hotel.

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