Where to stay in Paris? Best areas & hotel recommendations
You’re planning a city trip to Paris and you’re wondering where to stay? Which part of Paris is the best place to look for a hotel? In this post, our Paris expert Meike shares her tips for finding the best place to stay and her Paris hotel tips.
Paris isn’t very big. In fact, it’s rather tiny compared to other cities.
There’s a ring road running around the city, the Périphérique, which forms the border of what most people consider to be the heart of Paris.
Paris proper only measures about 11 km from east to west and 9 km from north to south. London is about 15 times the size of Paris, and even Düsseldorf is more than twice as big.
That means that you can get to wherever you want in Paris very quickly, as the public transport system is excellent.
The districts of Paris are very diverse and each has its own unique pros and cons when it comes to accommodation.
This post gives you a rundown of what to expect in each area and what to look out for when choosing a place to stay.
General tips for staying in Paris
Before I get more specific with my tips for where to stay for Paris, I want to share some general information about hotels in Paris.
This will probably come as no surprise, but just so we’re clear: Paris isn’t a cheap place to stay.
With over 2.4 million inhabitants spread over just 100 square kilometres, living space is at a premium. And of course this is reflected in the prices and size of the rooms.
But there’s a wide selection of hotels in the price range from 100 to 300 euros per room and night.
The overall quality in this price range is widely inconsistent. So it’s always a good idea to browse hotel reviews to make sure you’re getting the best value for money. Comparing different room types is also worthwhile – in many cases you can get a much better room at the same hotel for just an extra ten euros.
Heads up: You should be able to find bargain deals for less than 100 euros per night, but you should take extra care to read the reviews to make sure the hotel lives up to your expectations.
Many of the hotels in the downtown Paris are set in classic townhouses that were built around 1850.
These townhouses are beautiful and exude an infinite amount of Parisian charm, but on the other hand, the buildings are over 150 years old.
If the building is renovated and well-maintained, then you can’t really go wrong. But there are many buildings that haven’t had any work done for decades, and they often tend to be on the musty and noisy side.
So check the reviews to see if people have complained about any of these issues. If so, then you should keep searching. It’s just not worth it, no matter how great the price is.
The high prices in Paris cause a ripple effect in the surrounding area. If you’re considering looking for a cheaper place to stay on the outskirts of the city, you’ll have to travel a long way from the center until the prices start to drop noticeably. And of course that means you’ll end up wasting valuable time each day traveling to and from the sights.
If you don’t mind the commute, at least make sure your hotel is located near a Métro station. Anything outside the Métro network isn’t worth the extra hassle just for the sake of saving a few euros.
The city tax isn’t always included in the room rate.
It ranges from 20 cents to 5 euros per night and person, depending on the hotel category.
For a three-star hotel, for example, it’s currently at €1.88.
While the city tax is generally included on booking.com, it is usually charged separately for direct bookings, payable upon arrival at the hotel.
If the city tax isn’t mentioned during the booking process, it’ll most probably be due at check-in.
Many hotels insist on cash payment for the tax, so make sure to have a few euros on hand.
Don’t expect to find a grand chamber behind your hotel room door – many rooms in Paris aren’t much bigger than the bed inside.
Personally speaking, I don’t really mind, because I rarely spend much time in my room when I visit Paris anyway, except to sleep.
Often there isn’t even a wardrobe, just a stool for you to put your suitcase.
That means you’ll be living out of your suitcase for a few days, so you’re better off bringing a trolley case rather than a backpack.
The rooms in some hotels tend to be a bit stingy with power outlets. That’s why I always bring a two-way adapter, just in case. But you need to make sure to get a flat Europlug adapter – thick, round plugs aren’t compatible with most French sockets.
Pro tip: For more tips on packing for your trip to Paris, check out Jenny and Basti’s post What to pack for a city trip.
French people generally don’t eat very much for breakfast. It’s pretty common for them just to take a cup of coffee in the morning. Maybe with a croissant to dunk in it if they’re feeling peckish.
Many hotels offer a more substantial breakfast for their foreign guests, but by no means all of them. So even if breakfast is included, that could mean just about anything from coffee with a croissant to a huge breakfast buffet.
If you like to start the day with an extensive breakfast, take a look at the pictures of the hotel on the Internet. Hotels that offer a breakfast buffet are happy to advertise it. Reviews by other guests can also be a useful guide.
If you’re happy with coffee and a croissant in the morning, there’s not much you can do wrong. Although in that case, you might be better off booking a room without breakfast included and start the day at a nice café surrounded by locals instead.
That way, you’ll get the true Paris experience at a much lower price!
Since the highlights are spread out throughout the city, you should make sure to book a hotel as close to the nearest Métro station as possible.
That’ll save you the hassle of having to schlep your luggage through the streets of Paris when you arrive, and you can travel to all the sights in no time at all.
If you’re going to be arriving by car, I’d recommend staying in the north of Paris, particularly if you’re traveling to Paris from England or Belgium.
That way, you can avoid having to navigate the busy roads of Paris. Many of the hotels on the fringes of the city offer underground parking.
Where to stay in Paris? The best districts on a map!
Even though Paris is relatively compact for a major city, it can still be a challenge to find your way around at first. That’s why I’ve prepared a map to help you find the best districts to stay.
Which parts of town are best places to stay in Paris?
- Notre-Dame and Saint-Michel: Ideal for your first visit. Right in the historic city center, lots of flair, very centrally located and still affordable.
- Champs-Élysées neighborhood: A great place for your first visit, luxury for slightly larger budgets, with shopping, museums and sights all nearby.
- Montmartre: Ideal for connoisseurs. Artists, food and nightlife.
- Canal: Hipsters and locals, cool cafes and bars. Paris for experienced travelers and scenesters.
- Northern fringe: A good option if you’re traveling by car.
- Budget accommodation: Clichy and Levallois-Perret are quiet suburbs with good public transport connections.
The next sections will help you decide which area is the best place to stay for you.
For first-timers: Staying in Notre-Dame and Saint-Michel
This area is ideal for a first visit to Paris because it’s easy to get to all the highlights from here.
The Seine flows straight through the middle of Paris, and the small island Île de la Cité lies in the middle of the Seine. Paris was founded on this island 2500 years ago. The island and the southern riverbanks are birthplace of modern-day Paris, and many of the tiny alleyways there date all the way back to the Middle Ages.
The neighborhood around Saint-Michel along the southern banks features a wide range of relatively affordable hotels and lots of surprisingly cheap restaurants and cocktail bars. Saint-Michel is a just a short walk from many of the major sights.
Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Gothic Saint-Chapelle are located right on the island. The Jardín du Luxembourg, the Panthéon and the Sorbonne are just a few meters down the road.
If you cross the bridge to the other side of the river, you’ll find the Marais district with the Centre Pompidou and many other museums.
A twenty-minute walk along the Seine will take you directly to the Louvre.
You can take the number 4 Métro line from Saint-Michel if you want to go north or south. On the other side of the island, you can catch five different lines at Châtelet station heading all over town.
Pros of staying in Saint-Michel:
- Very central, lots of flair
- Many sights are within walking distance
- Affordable restaurants
- Rooms between 150 and 300 euros
Cons of staying in Saint-Michel:
- Very touristy area
- The old buildings often have very thin walls (watch out for noise complaints in the reviews).
The best places to stay in Notre-Dame and Saint-Michel:
Travel back in time to the 1960s
Roof terrace with an amazing view
For luxury lovers: Staying in the Champs-Élysées neighborhood
An exquisite cocktail of history, luxury shopping and sights, where the city’s rich and famous live door-to-door with the French president.
Luxury lovers can take their pick from the panoply of five-star hotels around the Louvre. There are even more famous hotels in between the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, some of which offer fantastic views of the Tower.
If your pockets aren’t quite that deep, then you’ll also find hotels with rooms for under 300 euros in the streets to the left and right of the Champs-Élysées.
Thanks to the 70-meter-wide Avenue de Champs-Élysées and the Eiffel Tower, it’s virtually impossible to get lost in this part of town.
You’ll be within walking distance of the Louvre, the Place de la Concorde, the Arc de Triomphe, the Musée d’Orsay and the Eiffel Tower.
You can also get to pretty much anywhere in town from here with a total of seven of the fourteen Métro lines running along the Champs-Élysées.
Unfortunately, the central location with all its glitz and glamour comes at the expense of affordable dining options. You’ll find plenty of expensive restaurants along the Champs-Élysées, and at the Trocadéro, but most of them are extremely touristy and overcrowded.
If you’re looking for something a bit cozier, steer clear of the main roads for a much more pleasant and less overpriced dining experience.
Pros of staying in the Champs-Élysées neighborhood:
- Very central
- Very chic
- Easy orientation
- Lots of art and culture within walking distance
Cons of staying in the Champs-Élysées neighborhood:
- Very touristy
- Expensive restaurants
The best places to stay in the Champs-Élysées neighborhood:
For flâneurs & night owls: Staying in Montmartre
If you want to enjoy a good meal after a day full of impressions and end the evening with a glass of wine, then Montmartre is just the place for you.
There are countless cozy and typically French restaurants to choose from, which are both good and affordable.
For over 200 years, Montmartre Hill has been known as the art and entertainment district. Where van Gogh and Dalí once roamed the streets, today you’ll find soccer ball jugglers, street musicians, illustrators and cartoonists.
You’re all but guaranteed to stumbled upon the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, the Dalí Museum and the Musée de Montmartre while strolling through the neighborhood.
For night owls: There are several bars and clubs on Boulevard de Clichy, next to the Moulin Rouge. You can party here until dawn on the weekend.
Starting at 150 euros, there’s a wide variety of hotels for you to choose from. But you’ll most likely have to brave the cobblestone roads to get to your hotel unless you take a taxi.
My tip: If you’re taking the Métro to Abbesses station to get to your hotel for the first time, wait for the elevator downstairs. No matter how long the line is. It’s an 80-meter climb to the top, and you probably don’t want to have to drag your suitcase all the way up the stairs.
Abbesses is the only Métro station with an entrance at the top of the hill. It takes about 10 minutes on line 12 to get to the city center at Place de la Concorde from here. There are more Métro stations at the foot of the hill, on Boulevard de Clichy.
Pros of staying in Montmartre:
- Great atmosphere in the evening
- Lots of restaurants, cafés and bars
- Great selections of hotels between 100 and 300 euros
- Excellent view of the city from many locations
Cons of staying in Montmartre:
- Many slopes and cobblestone roads
- The center isn’t within walking distance.
- Boulevard de Clichy is noisy at night during the weekend.
The best places to stay in Montmartre:
Amazing location! But getting there is quite a hike.
Apartment hotel, no breakfast included
For scenesters: Staying by the Canal
If you want to steer clear of the tourist crowds, but still want to stay in a relatively central location, then the area around the Canal is what you’re looking for. The place to be for cool cafés, hipsters and lots of street art.
The Canal Saint-Martin is the heart of this area. When it’s nice out, you can sit on the banks of the canal with the locals and enjoy the day with a bottle of wine, a baguette and a slice of camembert cheese.
In Rue Oberkampf, you can wander from bar to bar until late at night in true Parisian style.
The hotel density here is nowhere near as high as in other parts of the city, but it has a great local flair. You’ll be surrounded by real Parisians immersed in their daily lives.
You won’t find a souvenir shop or a restaurant with pictures on the menu anywhere near here. But be bold and give it a try!
Most French people are much friendlier than their reputation and are happy to explain the dishes on the French menus to you. Well not all, but most of them.
The Place de la République, where five Métro lines converge, is within walking distance. So you can quickly get to anywhere you want in town from there.
Pros of staying by the Canal:
- Among locals
- Great atmosphere by the water in summer
- Cool cafés, bars, and restaurants
- Street art
Cons of staying by the Canal:
- The center and highlights are too far to walk.
The best places to stay by the Canal:
For drivers: Staying in the northern fringe of Paris
If you’re traveling to Paris by car, you should look for hotels on the northern fringe of the city. The ring road will take you straight to your hotel without any detours through the city.
There are quite a few hotels on the northern fringe of Paris, but you’ll still mostly be surrounded by locals while the tourists spend the day in the city.
You’ll find lots of supermarkets and bakeries where you can buy cheap snacks for the day. It takes about 15 minutes to get to the center by Métro.
Many hotels in this area have parking spaces or underground garages. They generally charge a fee, but it’s definitely worth the price.
In theory, you can also park out on the street. However, the vast majority of public parking spaces have parking meters, so parking here isn’t free even if you manage to find a spot.
If I were you, I really wouldn’t recommend parking my car in the streets of Paris. Not because of burglary or theft, although that’s always a risk you have to consider, but because Parisian drivers have absolutely no qualms about parking bumper to bumper.
When Parisians park, they back up their cars until they’re more or less touching the car behind them – often taking scrapes and dents in stride, to the utter horror of motorists from other countries.
Pros of staying in the northern fringe of the city:
- Parking spaces
Cons of staying in the northern fringe of the city:
- The center is way beyond walking distance.
- Very little Parisian flair
- Not very many restaurants
The best places to stay in the northern fringe of the city:
Budget accommodation in Paris: Staying in Clichy and Levallois-Perret
If you don’t mind a 15-minute Métro ride to get to the main sights, but would like to save a few euros on your hotel bill, I recommend the northern suburbs of Clichy and Levallois-Perret.
Both are very quiet and laid-back, but still perfectly connected to the Paris Métro network.
Some Parisian suburbs have a bit of a shady reputation. That definitely doesn’t apply to Clichy and Levallois-Perret. They’re both pleasant residential areas with many families with children who prefer to live in a quieter neighborhood.
There are plenty of local supermarkets and bakeries with prices much lower than in the city.
The main advantage: A good mid-range hotel costs less here than in other areas. With a bit of luck, you can get a good hotel room in Clichy or Levallois-Perrot for less than 100 euros per night.
Since the Métro stations around here aren’t as closely clustered as in Paris, you should make sure that your hotel isn’t too far from the nearest Métro station. It’s a 15-minute ride from here to the center of Paris.
All the hotels we recommend here are close to a Métro station.
Pros of staying in Clichy or Levallois-Perret:
- Laid-back area
- Few tourists
- Among locals
Cons of staying in Clichy or Levallois-Perret:
- The center is way beyond walking distance.
- Few restaurants
- Only a few Métro stations
- Not in the city of Paris
The best places to stay in Clichy and Levallois-Perret
Where did you stay in Paris?
Those were all my hotel tips for Paris. But how about you? Have you ever been to Paris? What part of town did you stay in? Can you recommend a hotel? Leave a comment.