Where to stay in Paris

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As one of world's most popular destinations, Paris has no shortage of hotels. There are so many, in fact, that it can become overwhelming for a first-time visitor. So it's a good idea to limit your search to a particular area.
Ritz Hotel,
Place Vendôme
Before you decide where to stay in Paris, get yourself acquainted with the city's layout. The center of Paris is almost perfectly circular and surrounded by a highway, known as the Périphérique. Outside this Périphérique lie the suburbs of Paris. Inside the Périphérique is Paris proper, which is divided into 20 arrondissements that spiral clockwise from the center outward. Here you will find most of the city's famous sights and this is also where most of the hotels are located.

Paris is very much walkable and as long as you stay within the Périphérique you will never be further than 500 meters from the nearest subway station. And if you stay in one of the first eight arrondissements, chances are you'll spend most of your time walking from sight to sight.

Despite the architectural homogeneity of Paris the different neighborhoods all have a distinct character; some are very quiet while others are lively and crowded. Below a selection of some neighborhoods that are popular with visitors.

Saint-Germain-des-Prés (arrondissement 6)

When you hear people talking about the 'real Paris', chances are they are referring to the Quartier Saint-Germain-des-Prés, a small but charming neighborhood on the left bank of the Seine, centered around the eponymous 12th-century church.

During much of the 20th century this was the literary heart of Paris; writers and philosophers gathered in the many cafés to discuss literature, arts and world problems. Several of these now famous cafés still exist, such as 'Les Deux Magots' where Ernest Hemingway was a regular and 'Café de Flore', once frequented by philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.

Saint-Germain-des-Prés also has its fair share of brasseries, restaurants and upscale boutiques. The neighborhood is close to the historic center of Paris and many of the major attractions such as the Notre Dame, the Louvre and Orsay Museum are within walking distance.
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Marais (arrondissement 4)

Place des Vosges
The Marais district is another popular area and one of the few areas where you can see what Paris must have looked like in the Middle Ages. It is the only district in the center of Paris that was left virtually untouched by the renovations of Baron Haussmann, who was responsible for giving the city a uniform architecture.

Until the 17th century the Marais was a favorite with aristocrats who built magnificent mansions - so-called Hôtels Particulier, many of which have been turned into museums. The Marais is also home to one of the world's most beautiful public spaces, the Place des Vosges.

Other points of interest include the Hôtel de Sens, the Hôtel de Sully, the house of Victor Hugo, the Musée Carnavalet and the Picasso Museum. There are few shops in the Marais, but there are still plenty of cafés such as the popular Café Charlot.
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Louvre (arrondissement 1)

If you plan on visiting the enormous Louvre Museum, the first arrondissement is also a good starting point for exploring Paris. Close to the heart of the city, the area around the Louvre has plenty of interesting sights including the Palais Royal, the Tuileries and the Arc du Carrousel. The area is dissected by the Rue de Rivoli, where you find plenty of upscale boutiques and ritzy hotels.
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Montmartre (arrondissement 18)

Montmartre, a historic district just north of the city center, is a favorite with visitors thanks to its picturesque narrow streets and village-like atmosphere. In the 19th century many artists including Matisse, Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec flocked to Montmartre, which at the time was an independent village.

Today Montmartre is often inundated with tourists, but it's one of the most lovely places in Paris nonetheless. The main attraction is the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, a large basilica perched on top of a hill. Another point of interest is the Place du Tertre, a small square where artists display their artwork and set up their easels to paint portraits of tourists.

There aren't many hotels in the center of Montmartre though and due to its relatively remote location it is not the best starting point for visiting other tourist toppers; you'll have to take the subway to reach most of Paris's main attractions. The area just south of Montmartre (Pigalle) is also one of the city's sleaziest.
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Quartier Latin (arrondissement 5)

The Quartier Latin is a district on the south bank of the Seine river. The name of the district - Latin Quarter - stems from the many educational institutions - in particular the Sorbonne University, the Lycée Henri IV and Louis le Grand - that used to teach in Latin.

Thanks to these schools the district is one of the liveliest in Paris, with plenty of restaurants, cafés, bars, eateries and food stalls catering to the many students. You'll also find movie theaters, specialty boutiques and inexpensive stores in the narrow streets around the main boulevards.
Notable tourist attractions in the area include the Jardin du Luxembourg - one of the world's greatest parks - and the monumental Pantheon.
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Plenty more choices

Galeries Lafayette
There are many more neighborhoods where visitors to Paris tend to flock to, and depending on what you plan on doing once in Paris they might turn out to be a good choice.

First-time visitors often want to be near the Eiffel Tower or the Champs Elysées. The area around the Eiffel Tower (7th arrondissement), while nice and clean, can be deserted at times and there are few interesting shops and restaurants in the area. But if you only have time to visit the Eiffel Tower, then this might be a good location for you. The 8th arrondissement - around the Champs-Elysées and near the Arc de Triomphe - tends to be overpriced and touristy.

If you do want to stay in a luxury hotel, you might want to look at the Place Vendôme (1st arrondissement), where many of the ritziest hotels - and shops - are located. Place Vendôme is also close to the Place de la Concorde, the Tuileries, Louvre Museum and Palais Royal.

If shopping is your thing the Grand Boulevards near the Opera Garnier (9th arrondissement) will be a great starting point. Here you'll find the famous department stores Galeries Lafayette and Printemps as well as numerous other stores, restaurants and cafés.
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