The great thing about a city as big and full as Paris is that it has nearly endless options of things to do, attractions to see, food to sample, and places to stay, so don’t settle for the first low rate that pops up in your search engine. Quality, affordable hotels are all over the place. Personalize your trip—discover the things you want to experience most, and make it your Paris vacation.
Paris is gigantic; it features twenty neighborhoods, called arrondissements, spiraling outward from the center. Looking for cheap hotels in a city this big might seem overwhelming, so to simplify the process, choose which neighborhoods you might like to stay in or which sights you want to be near before you start the process of looking for a hotel.
You can always alter your search later if you don’t find the prices you want, but so much of your trip depends on what you do and see while you’re there. Make it into your dream vacation by staying near the things you came to see, or in an arrondissement with the right ambience. Some neighborhoods are known to be glitzy (like the 8th, which houses the Champs Elysees) and some are quieter without being too expensive (such as the 14th.) A little research will point you towards the perfect area.
If you’re looking to be in the heart of everything, try the Latin Quarter. The Latin Quarter is comprised of the 5th and 6th arrondissements and is very centrally located. It tends to be full of students and tourists because the Sorbonne is near and so many sights are within walking distance. The Latin Quarter is one of the oldest parts of town as well, so if you stay here you’ll be surrounded by streets and buildings that are nearly a thousand years old.
Just because the Latin Quarter is a popular, central place doesn’t mean the prices for good hotels are exorbitant. Try the Hotel Devillas, Acte V, or the Hotel la Demeure for modern rooms and stylish furnishings on a budget.
The Latin Quarter is full of restaurants and shopping; you can find almost any type of cuisine and a lot of unique boutiques filled with everything from clothes to books to trinkets. Visit the Pantheon, the Musee de Cluny, and the stunning Luxembourg Gardens.
If you’ve seen the Baz Luhrmann film Moulin Rouge, you might recognize the name Montmartre. A hill in the 18th arrondissement, Montmartre is a historic district full of close, winding streets and every kind of art imaginable. While the center of Montmartre is known for its nightclubs and has a reputation for being a bit seedy, the neighborhood is out of the way of the rest of Paris’s hustle and bustle. The surrounding streets are quieter, and since the hill is on the edge of Paris, lodging here is a little cheaper. Parts of Montmartre are very quaint, belying its reputation.
Stay near Place des Abbesses, which is busy without being touristy, full of good food, and right near a Metro station. Try the Timhotel Montmartre, Hotel Regyn’s Montmartre, or Le Relais Montmartre for great rates and charming rooms. Breakfasting on croissants at a little café while looking down the hill at the entirety of Paris is an experience unparalleled; the views of the city from Montmartre are breathtaking.
If you stay in Montmartre, you might be a bit farther away from Paris’s main draws, but the 18th arrondissement is full of cool things to see. Montmartre’s most famous spots are the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur, Paris’s beautiful white Roman Catholic church, and the Place du Tertre, where artists draw and paint tourists with varying degrees of skill.
As with hotels, it’s a good idea to choose your hostel based on reputation and location. Some Paris hostels are clean and reputable and some are not. Paris offers a wide array of hostels in varying locations. Hostels are significantly cheaper than hotels, so if you want to save significant money, this is a great way to do it. You can find private rooms for under $30 and dorm accommodations for under $25. Students and frequent travelers often stay in hostels. If you want to meet people from all around the world on your trip, a hostel may be just the ticket.
Oops Design Hostel is located in the 13th arrondissement within walking distance of the Latin Quarter and was featured as one of the top 10 hostels in the world on The Guardian. Known for its cleanliness, Café Hotel de l’Avenir is more like a hotel, with private rooms that include a shower and a sink. Toilets are shared amongst each floor.
A third lodging option is to rent a flat through Airbnb. If you’re going for an extended stay or you simply don’t want to stay in a hostel or a hotel, some Parisians rent their apartments to tourists when they’re not using them. Renting an apartment in the short term runs about the same price as a hotel. You can find some for $60 a night and some for $300 a night, depending on location, quality, and size.
Apartments come fully furnished, and some people may find that living in a home setting is easier than staying in a hostel or a hotel, especially if you want to do some cooking. When exploring short-term apartment rentals, read reviews and details about each property, since the experience can be a mixed bag if you don’t do your research first. However, if you find the right place, staying in a real Paris apartment can be a real treat, as Paris’s older buildings have beautiful architecture.
Though Paris is a very walkable city, and the Metro will take you almost anywhere else, you may want to stay within a block or two of the things you came to see. Just because these attractions are majorly famous doesn’t mean you can’t find a good hotel deal, either.
Serious art and history lovers may want to stay near the Louvre, which is a great location because the Louvre is also within walking distance of the Musee d’Orsay, an Impressionist museum located in an old train station. Timhotel Le Louvre is an affordable hotel with 56 guest rooms about a tenth of a mile from the Louvre, and half a mile from Notre Dame. Another great value, the Tonic Hotel du Louvre, is 1,200 feet away from the Louvre and quiet at night.
The River Seine winds its way through Paris, and if you want to stay on the banks of this famous river, you’ve got a lot of options. A tour down La Seine will bring with it sights of Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and many other beautiful Paris attractions. It borders half of the arrondissements, so finding an affordable hotel on or near the river is a matter of location. Hotel Apogia Paris and Adagio Access Paris Quai D’Ivry will take you near the banks of the river without breaking your bank account.
Those who love glitz, glamor, and shopping might want to stay near the Arc de Triomphe, which sits at one end of the famous Champs Elysees and in the center of a large circle from which twelve avenues radiate. Because of the upscale nature of the area, hotels are a little more expensive than in Montmartre or parts of the Latin Quarter. However, an affordable room near the Arc is absolutely possible. At the right time of year, Hotel Arc de Triomphe, Best Western Star Champs Elysees, and Monceau Paris Wagram will put you near, and you won’t have to spend much more than $100 a night.
If you want to go all out on your Paris vacation, stay at a hotel near the Eiffel Tower. Many hotels in this location are understandably pricey because of the spectacular view, but affordable options do exist. If you’re willing to pay a little over $100, you can get good rooms at Hotel du Petit Louvre Eiffel Tower, Hotel Beaugrenelle Tour Eiffel, and Hotel de la Tour Eiffel. These hotels have the added bonus of being just a few blocks from the bank of La Seine.
As much as you can, walk from place to place in Paris. It may take you more time, but the streets and buildings between your destinations will be as beautiful as the sights you came to see. You might happen upon a cute café or store you never would have seen otherwise, and you’ll be treated to sights of centuries-old architecture. Plus, walking is an easy way to save money on daily transportation. Use public transportation to take you across the city, but map out your sightseeing journeys so you can walk to as many locations as possible.
When you can’t walk, the Metro is an extremely convenient way to get around. With roughly 300 stations, almost everywhere in Paris is within a few blocks of a Metro station. You can pay per ride, or you can buy daily or weekly passes that allow you unlimited rides on the Metro and bus network. The hours of operation are very similar to the London tube. Lines open at 5:30 AM and close at 12:40 AM on weekdays and 1:40 AM on weekends and the day preceding a holiday. For anyone used to taking night rides on New York’s subway, you’ll have to remember to find alternate ways home if you’re out in the middle of the night.
A glance at the Metro map shows a network of tracks that looks rather overwhelming. Thankfully, as the cliché goes, there’s an app for that. Metro Paris Subway app (www.presselite.com/iphone/metroparis/index_en.html) is 99 cents, and will map out your route for you, saving you a lot of time spent trying to figure out which line to take.
Paris also has a bus line with stops in the city and the suburbs, though bus stops are not quite as ubiquitous as the Metro stations are. However, the bus does include nightbus lines, just in case you need them. If you just want to sit back and enjoy the ride no matter what time of day, grab a taxi.
Tourist season in Paris is spring and summer, and while spring in France is quite beautiful, airfare and lodging go way up in pricing. The city will be more crowded, the lines for attractions will be longer, and you’ll have to book your hotel rooms and flights much further in advance, because things fill up quickly.
Fall and winter are better times to travel to Paris if you’re looking for good deals. Make sure you plan your activities in advance if you visit Paris in the fall, because the French tend to take time off around August, so things might be closed. Paris’s main attractions will still be available to you, but if you have any specific activities in mind it doesn’t hurt to do some research to make sure they’ll be open during your visit.
Winter is Paris’ off season, so if you don’t mind some cold weather, visit the City of Light when the temperature starts to drop. Fewer crowds and much better prices on airfare and hotels make winter an ideal time to travel to Paris, especially since you won’t have to wait in line nearly as long to see sights like the Louvre and Notre Dame. Don’t be too bummed about missing summer, either—many of Paris’s older hotels lack air conditioning.
Avoid the Christmas festivals, which bring a rise in tourism, if you plan to visit in winter. Otherwise, enjoy the holiday spirit. Parisians decorate their city beautifully to celebrate the holiday season, and a stroll through the streets and parks is truly stunning. Go ice skating at the Hotel de Ville (city hall) on the huge open air skating rink that’s set up outside every winter. January brings Fashion Week, with sales galore. You can also experience Chinese New Year as seen through the eyes of the Chinese-French by attending some of their exciting festivals.
Paris has two international airports: Charles de Gaulle Airport and Orly Airport. Charles de Gaulle, also known as Roissy, is France’s largest airport, and is one of the busiest airports in the world. If you take a direct flight across the Atlantic, your plane is probably going to land here. Charles de Gaulle flies most major American airlines as well as major airlines from around the world.
Orly Airport gets more domestic traffic than Charles de Gaulle, so flying from another part of France will probably land you at Orly. Orly connects with many major European cities as well, making it a good choice if Paris is one stop on a tour across Europe. It’s the second busiest airport in France, so be prepared for large crowds when flying into Orly.
Hotels near Charles de Gaulle Airport or Orly Airport are not going to be near the center of Paris. Traveling to the major sights and locations isn’t going to be as easy at an airport hotel. However, if you’re traveling for work or are only stopping over in Paris for a night, an airport hotel may be a great option for you due to better pricing and convenience.
A hotel out of the way of major tourist attractions is going to have better rates than one in the heart of the city. The Park Inn Paris Charles de Gaulle, the Ibis Charles de Gaulle, and the Hotel Premiere Classe Roissy Charles de Gaulle are all quite close to the airport and offer cheaper prices than central hotels do. If you’re flying into or out of Orly, take a look at the Hotel Ibis Orly Aeroport, the Orly Superior Hotel, or the Kyriad Hotel Orly Rungis for good rates.
The City of Light awaits. Experience history, art, landmarks, churches, architecture, the catacombs, and more good food than you can imagine. One trip may not be enough to fully satisfy everything you want to do in Paris, but it’s certain to be one of the most memorable vacations you ever take. As Audrey Hepburn said in “Sabrina,” Paris is always a good idea.
© 2015 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.
© 2015 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.