a person cycling through the streets of Paris


Posted: 12/16/2018 | December 16th, 2018

Paris: The city of Lights. With 20 arrondissements (neighborhoods), attractions throughout the sprawling city, and thousands of hotels, hostels, and apartments to choose from, finding the best place to stay can be a challenge for first-time visitors with a lot of questions:

What’s the best overall neighborhood?
What’s the cheapest neighborhood?
Where do all the cool kids stay?
Where’s a good spot for families?
What’s close the city center?

Over the course of dozens of visits to Paris, I’ve stayed all over town and in all types of different accommodations. Every neighborhood in Paris has its own unique personality and its own pros and cons. There’s always a trade-off to be made here.

So, I’ve taken my experience and created this guide to the neighborhoods of Paris to help you figure that out! I’ve included a brief description of each area, why I like it, and my favorite accommodations.

Bastille

Bastille, Paris; photo by patrick janicek (flickr:@marsupilami92


Bastille takes its name from the famous prison that used to occupy this neighborhood (the storming of which started the French Revolution). Today, the prison is gone, and this animated part of town has become known for its bars and clubs that are popular with Parisian youth. If you are looking for a fun arrondissement to stay in, I’d recommend this one. It’s centrally located, and the tiny cobblestone streets give you the most Parisian feeling!

Best places to stay in Bastille

  • BUDGET: Auberge Internationale des Jeunes – This is a safe and well-maintained hostel, but the amenities are basic: there is no kitchen for cooking your own meals, but there is a microwave and free breakfast is served daily 7-9:45am. There is also a common room with vending machines where people like to hang out, and a secure luggage storage area. Note: You have to be under 30 years old to stay here!
  • MID-RANGE: Paris Bastille – Located right across from the Opera House and near the Gare de Lyon, the Paris Bastille is an elegant, quiet hotel with soundproofed rooms and large walk-in showers. You can start your morning with a coffee and fresh croissant in the hotel bar while reading one of the free newspapers.
  • LUXURY: Hôtel l’Antoine – This boutique hotel was once a 17th century convent, but its modern décor of brightly patterned cement tiles and wallpapers make it an eccentric space. No two rooms are alike here. There’s an snack bar and lounge, and a hearty breakfast buffet each morning. The fitness room has a sauna with a cold shower too!

Latin Quarter

Latin Quarter, Paris; Photo by xiquinhosilva (flickr:@xiquinho)


The Latin Quarter, one of my favorite areas of Paris, is filled with narrow streets that turn at weird angles and open onto little café-lined squares. I love wandering around here: it always feels like you’re stepping back a few hundred years in history. It’s a busy area and not as quiet as other sections of Paris — there are a lot of restaurants, bars, and jazz clubs — but you’ll be in the middle of the action!

Best places to stay in the Latin Quarter

  • BUDGET: Young & Happy Hostel – This hostel has pretty simple rooms but comfy beds, small but well-cleaned showers, and a large kitchen space. The common room is an old cellar lined with stone, making for a cozy and unique spot to hang out. The staff will sometimes host evening events, and there’s a daily happy hour for mingling with other travelers. They also offer a free breakfast of croissants, coffee, and juice.
  • MID-RANGE: Hôtel Minerve – On a quiet street near Notre Dame and the Sorbonne, Hôtel Minerve is housed inside a historic 1864 Haussmannian building complete with flowered balconies. This place has been recently renovated to give it some quirky charm, like walls of stone, visible beams, and original artwork throughout. There’s a large central courtyard as well. You can get a decent breakfast spread each morning for 9 EUR, and there’s a handy airport shuttle.
  • LUXURY: Grand Hôtel Saint Michel – Grand Hôtel Saint Michel is within walking distance to the some of the area’s best attractions, like the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Panthéon. It caters quite a bit to business travelers, but it isn’t stuffy, and the location is unbeatable. There are a bunch of high-end services on-site, like a concierge, a fitness center, and even a hammam!

Champs-Élysées

Champs-Élysées, Paris


The most famous and upscale street in Paris is lined with cinemas, cafés, luxury specialty shops, big brand-name stores, and chain restaurants. It’s a fun place to club-hop at night or snap photos and shop during the day. The area surrounding the street is one of the most upscale and luxurious in Paris. If you stay off the main street, you’ll find it to be very quiet. It’s nice and centrally located to everything, but there’s not a lot of “cool” things to do in the area.

Best places to stay in Champs-Élysées

  • BUDGET: BVJ Champs-Elysées – This hostel in a former mansion is one of the most historic in Paris, having been around since 1948. They have a free French breakfast each morning, free luggage storage, and a sunny private courtyard to hang out in.
  • MID-RANGE: Hôtel Magda Champs Elysées – This hotel has modern, clean, and stylish rooms. The bar makes for a good spot to work while having a cocktail (or some complimentary coffee). They even put smartphones in the room so you can make free phone calls, watch Netflix, and more. There’s an excellent courtyard here too.
  • LUXURY: Marquis Faubourg Saint-Honoré – This is a chic hotel! The rooms are super plush (if not a bit small) with marble fixtures and clawfoot bathtubs. Skip the breakfast; it’s overpriced.
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Le Marais

Le Marais, Paris; Photo by Ninara (flickr:@ninara)


Le Marais (meaning “the marsh”) has been revitalized in the last few years and is now a stylish, lively area filled with hip art galleries, boutiques, and cafés. The tight, winding streets are lined with old architecture, half-hidden courtyards, and quite a few museums. You’ll also find some of the best restaurants and bars in town here. It’s my favorite area of Paris. Additionally, it’s the center of Paris’s gay life, so you’ll be able to find a lot of gay bars, cafés, and shops here, as well as plenty of gay-friendly restaurants.

Best places to stay in Le Marais

  • BUDGET: Auberge de Jeunesse MIJE Fourcy – This is a unique budget hostel, as it’s three 17th century buildings renovated to create a hostel trio: MIJE Fourcy, Fauconnier, and Maubuisson. The rooms are pretty basic, but there’s a free breakfast. Don’t miss the beautiful courtyard.
  • MID-RANGE: Villa Beaumarchais – This tiny and attractive hotel is on a quiet side street within walking distance of the Opéra Garnier and Place de la Madeleine. The rooms are antique, with a lot of wood furniture and floral wallpaper. It’s very cozy. Try to get a room that overlooks the interior courtyard. The American-style breakfast buffet is also good!
  • LUXURY: Pavillon de la Reine – Pavillon de la Reine is in the Place des Vosges, one of the most beautiful and oldest squares in the world, and the vine-covered building is gorgeous. The rooms have amazing, unique décor, with antique furnishings and enormous windows, and there’s a spa and a fitness center on-site. This is a wonderful little hideaway, and Queen Anne of Austria actually once stayed here. Eat at Restaurant Anne if you feel like splurging.

Montmartre

Montmartre, Paris


Home to starving artists for decades, Montmartre offers a stunning view of Paris, arty cafés and bars, cobblestone streets, and the only winery within the city limits. It’s one of the hipper parts of Paris, even if it has lost some of its old grandeur. It’s home to a lot of students, as the rents in this part of town are much cheaper than elsewhere. It’s also pretty loud at night, so try to stay on one of the beautiful side streets.

Best places to stay in Montmartre

  • BUDGET: Le Village Montmartre By Hiphophostels – This small, cozy hostel with a view of Sacré-Coeur is literally surrounded by bars, restaurants, and supermarkets. There’s a French breakfast each morning for 6 EUR, or you can just take advantage of the large kitchen to cook your own meals.
  • MID-RANGE: Le Relais Montmartre – This hotel is on a quiet street in Montmartre. It’s a great value. The rooms have a rustic charm with exposed beams and vintage furniture. Check out the breakfast – it’s really good and the cellar restaurant is unique.
  • LUXURY: Terrass Hôtel Montmartre by MH – The hotel bar’s views of Paris are stunning, and the sunset is spectacular. The rooms are larger than most in town and have beautiful décor in a classic Parisian style. The hotel offers yoga classes and spa treatments. Make sure to have brunch on the terrace.

Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis

Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis, Paris


These two islands in the Seine are the historic center of Paris. The Romans set up camp on Île de la Cité in 52 BC, and the island is now home to Notre-Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, administrative buildings, and the Conciergerie. It’s also super loud. Île Saint-Louis, on the other hand, is a quiet neighborhood for Paris’s rich and powerful, filled with well-preserved historic homes and streets. If you want luxury and quiet, stay here. It’s fancy hotels and little else.

Best places to stay in Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis

  • BUDGET: HA! That doesn’t exist here!
  • MID-RANGE: Hôtel De Lutèce – Notre-Dame – This is surprisingly affordable, considering it’s on Île Saint-Louis. It’s on the smaller side, but with a lot of cozy touches, like working fireplaces. There are only 23 rooms, but each one is air-conditioned and soundproofed. It feels more like a house than a hotel.
  • LUXURY: Hôtel Saint-Louis en L’Isle – This hotel is located in a 17th-century townhouse that has retained most of its original charm, like exposed wooden beams and stone walls. The rooms are spacious and regal. It’s one of the most luxurious hotels in the area and will make you feel like royalty. Breakfast is served in the stone-vaulted cellar!
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Montparnasse

Montparnasse, Paris; Photo by Guilhem Vellut (flickr:@o_0)


Montparnasse is one of the more modern parts of Paris, with a lot of more office buildings, new apartments, and a more local feel to it. Located near the train station of the same name, Montparnasse has inexpensive accommodations and a good number of restaurants. It’s not as classically pretty as other parts of town, but it’s a lot more “local” than other districts.

Best places to stay in Montparnasse

  • BUDGET: FIAP Jean Monnet – This is not a party hostel – there are often school groups, and it is similar to a hotel conference center. It’s in a quiet neighborhood. However, you can’t bring in your own food (they check!). Dorms are available only those 18 to 30 years old.
  • MID-RANGE: Novotel Paris Centre Gare Montparnasse – This comfortable, business-style chain hotel has everything you’d expect from a chain. The rooms have large walk-in showers and memory foam mattresses. It’s modern and bright. They offer free coffee and tea, and if you have kids, they’ll love the balloon animals the staff make!
  • LUXURY: Niepce Paris Hotel – This small boutique hotel is charming. It’s a new hotel, so everything is still shiny. Some rooms have outside patios with jacuzzi tubs, but even the junior rooms are modern and luxurious. The restaurant serves unique Japanese/French fusion cuisine.

Les Halles

Les Halles, Paris; Photo by Sheila Thomson (flickr:@sheilaellen)


This chic, bustling neighborhood is centered around Paris’s former central marketplace, Les Halles (pronounced lay-AL), which was torn down in 1971. The market was “the stomach of Paris” for centuries. Now there’s an underground shopping mall, and the surrounding streets are filled with designer stores, cafés, and artisanal food shops. Staying here puts you in the center of all the action.

Best places to stay in Les Halles

  • BUDGET: Appi Hotel – It’s hard to find a good budget option in this part of town, but Appi Hotel is the best place. There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about it, but the rooms are private and clean. Keep in mind that not all of them come with private bathrooms, however.
  • MID-RANGE: Hôtel du Cygne – Hôtel du Cygne will make you feel like you’re at — literally! The owner’s mother has hand-sewn all of the bed linens and curtains. There are just a few tiny rooms in this hotel, but it’s a comfortable spot and located just a quick walk to the Etienne-Marcel Metro Station. There’s a breakfast each morning (which you have to pay for).
  • LUXURY: Hôtel Novotel Paris Les Halles – Air-conditioned rooms, 24-hour room service, giant beds — what’s not to love? Novotel Paris Les Halles is next to the big shopping areas (like Rue de Rivoli) and also within walking distance of the Louvre and other attractions. There’s a lovely patio where you can enjoy traditional French meals or cocktails, or hang out in the lounge with the other guests.

Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris; Photo by Fred Romero (flickr:@corno.fulgur75)


Saint-Germain-des-Prés used to be home to artists, writers, and thinkers. Now it’s one of the most expensive and trendy neighborhoods in Paris (home to celebrities), with high-priced art galleries, designer shops, and fancy restaurants. It’s not cheap to stay in, but it’s a beautiful area to walk through and one of my favorite in town. It’s everything you imagine Paris to be.

Best places to stay in Saint-Germain-des-Prés

  • BUDGET: Hôtel de Nesle – There are unfortunately not too many budget accommodations in this part of town. If you like kitsch, Nesle is the place for you! There’s hardly a single wall that isn’t covered in some kind of adornment. Some rooms have private bathrooms with showers, while others are shared. There’s an inner garden where you can relax.
  • MID-RANGE: Hôtel M Saint Germain – This boutique hotel is super stylish, and each air-conditioned room is decorated with bright pops of color! Some rooms have small balconies. There’s a delicious breakfast here too.
  • LUXURY: Hôtel Récamier – The staff is extremely helpful with arranging any outings you’d like to do, and the complimentary afternoon tea is a nice touch. The rooms are spacious and air-conditioned (I also love the mattresses), and the building is historic and beautiful.

Belleville

Belleville, Paris; Photo by Urban Isthmus (flickr:@66944824@N05)


Belleville is definitely one of the grittier parts of town, with a busy Chinatown and a whole melting pot of different cultures. The center of Paris’s immigrant community, Belleville is slowly becoming popular with hipsters and younger kids. Some of the best ethnic food is food here; there’s an awesome street market, and it’s right next to the Le Marais, so you can always walk over and get some fancy French food. I find myself staying in this part of town more and more.

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Best places to stay in Belleville

  • BUDGET: Les Piaules – This newish hostel has a fantastic chimney lounge and a rooftop space. The bar/restaurant on the ground floor is popular with locals and groups, so it’s always a fun time. The rooms are super modern and the beds comfy. It’s one of my favorite hostels in town.
  • MID-RANGE: Hôtel des Pyrénées – While there is nothing particularly stand-out about this hotel, it has recently undergone some big renovations, so you’ll find sleek and modern rooms at affordable prices. There are family rooms for up to four people.
  • LUXURY: Hôtel Scarlett – This is a trendy, refurbished hotel with seriously beautiful spaces. The beds are large and comfortable, and each room comes with a flat-screen TV. The helpful concierge will help you find your way around Paris, no problem.

Eiffel Tower/Champs de Mars

Champs de Mar, Paris


As you might have guessed, Eiffel Tower/Champs de Mars is the place to be if your main reason for visiting Paris is to see the iconic Eiffel Tower (and to have easy access to some other huge attractions). Other than the impressive architecture, there are several great natural history and modern art museums to check out, as well as the sprawling Parc du Champ-de-Mars.

Best places to stay in Eiffel Tower/Champs de Mars

  • BUDGET: 3 Ducks Hostel – A 10-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower, 3 Ducks has one of the best locations in town. The staff is friendly, the rooms are small but comfortable, and the showers are clean. This is a more upscale hostel with recently revamped décor.
  • MID-RANGE: Hôtel Eiffel Kensington – A no-frills hotel, but it’s meters from the Eiffel Tower, and you can get private single rooms at decent prices. The rooms are spacious enough and come with a desk. I like the fluffy pillows.
  • LUXURY: Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel – The rooms here are all modern and minimalist, with leather furniture and sleek finishings. Most have a desk and a little couch. There’s a fitness room and a really nice terrace for dining. Each room comes with amazing views over the city, and some come with balconies looking onto the tower.

***

No matter where you choose to stay in Paris, you can’t go wrong. It’s super well connected via metro, there’s no such thing as an area with bad food, and every area is beautiful (it is Paris after all!).

For me, Le Marais, the Latin Quarter, Bastille, and Saint-Germain-des-Prés are the four best neighborhoods to stay in when visiting Paris.

But every neighborhood has something for someone, so just pick the one that suits your needs!

Get Your In-Depth Budget Guide to Paris!

Nomadic Matt's Guide to ParisFor more in-depth information, check out my guidebook to Paris written for budget travelers like yourself! It cuts out the fluff found in other guides and gets straight to the practical information you need to travel and save money in one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world. You’ll find suggested itineraries, budgets, ways to save money, on- and off-the-beaten-path things to see and do, non-touristy restaurants, markets, and bars, and much more! Click here to learn more and get started.

Book Your Trip to Paris: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines, because they search websites and airlines around the globe, so you always know no stone is being left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com, as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use it all the time.

Here’s a list of my favorite hostels in Paris in case you want more options than what is listed here!

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it, as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • World Nomads (for everyone below 70)
  • Insure My Trip (for those over 70)

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use — and I think they will help you too!

Looking for more information on visiting Paris?
Check out my in-depth destination guide to Paris with more tips on what to see and do, ways to save, and much, much more!

Photo credits: 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, 11