Well, that's a toughie. Speaking from personal experience, there's one place that's not in the heat of the action, but is clean and very convenient. It's the Foyer International d'Acceuil Paris (affectionately known as the FIAP), right between the metros Denfert-Rochereau and St-Jacques. The FIAP doesn't really have an American equivalent---it's somewhat like a hostel in that it's cheap, and the rooms are almost all small, narrow, 2 person/2 single bed setups. But here's the upside: the staff is used to an international clientele, so you shouldn't have trouble if your French isn't phenomenal, the rooms are bright and clean, you'll have your own bathroom (painted concrete floor in many cases, but again, very clean and relatively spacious), there's a cafeteria-style restaurant if you want to get some cheap meal tickets, and the ground floor has a huge atrium area with an outdoor patio, and a bar where you can easily meet some fellow wanderers. The location, as I mentioned, isn't exactly on the doorstep of
the Quartier Latin, but it is about 15 minutes' walk from the Jardins du Luxembourg, and about 5 minutes' walk from Denfert-Rochereau, where you can get the metro and also shuttles to the airport. And if you're feeling macabre, you can check out the Catacombs (entry to this underground wonder is on the grass island in the middle of the roundabout).
Have a great trip, and good luck.
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