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Mike May 18th, 1997 08:07 PM

Interesting Small Hotels in Paris
My wife, 21 year old son, and I will be spending a week in Paris at the end of June. This is our first trip and would like to find a small hotel in the Marais area. I don't want to just pull a hotel name out of the guidebook. If anyone has had a good first-hand experience at one the small hotels, please let me know.

Thanks, Mike

Neal Sanders May 19th, 1997 04:26 AM

I'm not sure why, if this is your first trip to Paris, you're itent on staying in the Marais district. I can offer two small hotels in Paris at which my wife and I have stayed several times. The first is the Hotel de Sevigne, the second is the Hotel Tamise. The Sevigne is located on the Rue de Sevigne, between the Ave. Kleber and Ave. d'Iena and roughly four blocks south of the Arc de Triomphe. It's a small hotel, perhaps 50 rooms, and gets two stars under the French hotel rating system. The rooms, however, are quite spacious, and those rooms ending in "52" are corner rooms, overlooking a charming square. We request 352, which has french doors and a balcony, from which you can see to a beautiful park (Pl. Etas Unis). This is a primarily residential area with a few embassies thrown in for good measure. The nearby restautants cater principally to families. It is an easy stroll to the Trocadero and Eiffel Tower, and the Champs Elysee is just a few blocks north. It is apparently family owned as we've seen the same staff year after year. The Kleber Metro stop is one block away. For a central Paris location, I can highly recommend the Hotel Tamise. Located between the Rue St. Honore and the Rue de Rivoli, it sits within a stone's throw of the Tuilleries and the Louvre. In fact, the Hotel Meurice (a wonderful hotel if someone else is paying the $400 a night tariff) is right across the street. We've stayed at two rooms in this 30 room hotel, but our favorite is the fifth floor "garret," a long, narrow (10') room with three sets of french doors opening onto tiny balconies from which you can see across the rooftops of Paris. Both hotels have been well cared for. Neither are part of any reservations network. Booking directly, we've generally gotten our rooms at $85-115 per night, including continental breakfast.

karen May 19th, 1997 04:57 AM

Hi Neal--

Thanks for the info---it is our first trip to Paris--but my brother goes yearly--only he stays at the same place all the time-and that's all he knows, hotel-wise---but he loves the Marais area and feels certain we will too---so, that's why we're intent on the Marais area.
Do you know anything about Hotel du Vieus Marais--it's on rue du Platre-- I was concerned because my brother feels the closer you get to Pompidou Center, the worse the area--whatever he means by that! Or Hotel De Nice on Rue De Rivoli????
Thanks so much!

Neal Sanders May 20th, 1997 01:45 PM

I guess everyone has a resonant frequency, and for your brother, the Marais district does the trick. Try this: get a map of Paris and spread it out in front of you. Identify the places you want to go as a first time visitor (the Louvre, Musee de Orsay, Eiffel Tower, the old Opera house, Galeries Lafayette, Tuileries, Notre Dame, Ile de la Cite and Ile St. Louis, etc.). Now, decide how much of you visit to Paris you want to spend on subways. Granted, the Paris Metro is clean and quiet, but its charm goes only so far. About the only thing in the Marais district that I'd recommend to a first time visitor is the Place des Vosgues, a beautiful square. The eastern end of "Tourist" Paris, at least on the right bank, ends at roughly the Pont Neuf. To me (and granted, it is a personal opinion), staying in Marais is roughly equivalent to staying in Queens to see New York City, or Daly City to see San Francisco. Your brother is absolutely correct that the areas around the Center Pompidou are to be avoided -- you can't miss it, it's the ugliest thing in Paris (although the reasons to avoid it have more to do with panhandlers and pickpockets than esthetic sensibility). Anyway, the best way to find a location for a hotel in Paris is to put the point of a protractor in the Place de la Concorde and draw a 1.5 mile ring around it, extending the circle a bit immediately along the Seine. Inside that circle, you'll be able to easily walk to most of the sites you'll want to see. Incidentally, the Hotel de Sevigne (which is on the Rue de Belloy, not the Rue de Sevigne) is on the Franceway web site, together with a picture of the hotel. I still highly recommend it. The Tamise did not show up in any search engine I used, but that's not unusual as it doesn't pay commissions to travel agents. I originally found the hotel in a Gault-Millau guide under "romantic hotels." Bon voyage, and my apology for rambling.

Joyce May 21st, 1997 06:51 AM

Neal certainly gives excellent advice and recommendations. We have stayed in four different small hotels in Paris and have enjoyed all of them for the differing areas in which they are located. However, when next we go back (soon, I hope) you can bet we'll stay in one of Neal's picks. Paris is not all that hard to navigate, and really isn't as large as one would think. We all know the metros give super speedy service, but during our first trip I watched people taking buses and thought how much more you would see on your journey, so before our next trip I wrote to some agency in Paris and requested a map of the bus route. I don't remember now where I wrote, but you could get a map when you get there. It takes a little studying to figure out, but is really worth it in the long run. Also, you only have to climb up a couple of stairs onto the bus and the metro can involve several steep stairways up and down for each trip. Whatever, their transportation system seems phenomenal to us here in the L.A. area. You can use tickets interchangeably on both bus and metro. I agree so strongly with Neal that from the hotels he recommends you can walk to so many points of interest. And that's what Paris is all about. Whatever you do, I know you'll enjoy it.

Joyce May 21st, 1997 08:18 AM

I think what I was trying to say in the above is that you are not committed to stay forever in any one place. You no doubt will pick a place in the Marais district, but do take Neal's rec's along with you. You will definitely be in his neighborhoods on your general sightseeing, so just drop in his hotels and tell them you would like to see a room. This is the most common practice in the world in Europe and they think nothing of it. Frequently they give you keys to more than one room and tell you to look around. I think you may find that after three or four days in one area you have kind of used up the restaurants, etc., and will enjoy moving into another neighborhood. I know we did, and it doesn't take all that long.

Neal Sanders Jul 3rd, 1997 04:20 AM

I've had several e-mails from people asking about the Hotel de la Tamise. Here's how to reach them:
The Hotel de la Tamise is at 4 Rue d'Alger in the 1st Arr.
Their telephone number is 33-1-42-60-5154; their fax number is 42-86-8997. I did all my arrangements with them via fax, including specific room requests. The hotel is on a side street between the Rue de Rivoli and Rue St. Honore; the Tuileries Metro stop is on the corner of Rue d'Alger and Rue de Rivoli. You can throw a baguette from the hotel and hit the Tuileries; the entrance to the Louvre is a three minute walk. The neighborhood is excellent the Hotel Meurice is across the street (although it has a Rue St. Honore address). If anyone wants a restaurant recommendation for a very special evening, book a table at the Petit Laurent. It is across the river at 38 Rue de Varenne. To get there from the hotel, go through the Tuileries, cross the Pont Royal, and start walking south; it's roughly fifteen minutes from the Pont Royal. The food is excellent; the crowd is "from the neighborhood;" English is spoken; and the service memorable.

Libby Ong Jul 3rd, 1997 08:16 AM

Hi Neil, I have read your advice to Mike, the information is great! I am planning for a holiday to Paris for about 5 days in early October with my husband, my two children , one aged 5 and another 15mths old. As we are on tight budget and this is our first trip to Paris travelling on our own, we would appreciate if you could give us some advice like things to watch out for, is it adviseable and easy to drive around Paris, places that would interest kids, things to be aware of, interesting places not to be missed, etc. Thankssssssssssss a lot!

Libby Ong Jul 3rd, 1997 08:21 AM

Hi Neal, I have read your advice to Mike, the information is great! I am planning for a holiday to Paris for about 5 days in early October with my husband, my two children , one aged 5 and another 15mths old. As we are on tight budget and this is our first trip to Paris travelling on our own, we would appreciate if you could give us some advice like things to watch out for, is it adviseable and easy to drive around Paris, places that would interest kids, things to be aware of, interesting places not to be missed, etc. Thankssssssssssss a lot!

Joe Jul 3rd, 1997 09:56 AM

I'd like to offer a contrarian view about the Marais. First, my wife and I stayed in the Hotel de Vieux Marais on the rue de Platre in 1991 and were satisfied with the value for money that we received. The room was small but plesantly decorated and with a bath, and the staff were friendly. The cost was under $100. The Pompideau Center is certainly ugly, but in a way that's unusual and provides a great example of the end of Modern architecture. The area around it shows what I think of as one of the best parts of city life: a vibrant carnival atmosphere with lots of people enjoying themselves. There are vendors, street performers, kids roller blading, locals, tourists, and no doubt pickpockets and thieves. But it's certainly worth the minor risk. The Pompideau itself has a great art collection, a neat design store where you can buy kitchen gadgets and other items from cheap to expensive, and a wonderful view of the city from the top of the escalators (the view is free -- you don't have to pay to go up the escalators). I was back in Paris last fall and had a throughly enjoyable walk from the Pompideau, around the fountain with moving sculptures, and on towards St. Eustache and Les Halles, stopping at a vendor to buy a crepe along the way. There are certainly a million things to do and see in Paris, and I think the Marais is a nice contrast to more staid and traditional areas.

Donna Jul 3rd, 1997 07:29 PM

Wholeheartedly agree about taking busses. All the hallways and stairways of the metro sap one's energy which would be much better conserved for strolling above ground and through the incredible museums. On the busses, you enjoy the fabulous neighborhoods and scenery along the way. And, you can hop off and back on whenever you see an appealing area. Travelling by bus is not nearly as slow as the tour guides suggest. We thought the bus stops were much more conveniently located and the maps at each stop fairly easy to figure out. If you want to plan ahead of time, the Paris Pages website has a bus route map which you can print. Also, the large Paris Par Arrondisement by Michelin (which is invaluable for lots of other reasons, including street numbers - and you can photocopy the pages and plot restaurants and so forth) not only has an excellent bus route map, but lists the bus numbers and the major stops along the route.

Also agree that one should find accomodations in whatever neighborhood is most appealing. Between the metro, busses and RER, you can easily go anywhere - and no matter where you stay, you'll be going all over anyway! We found the neighborhoods to be distinctly different. The Eyewitness Guide, which is full of fantastic photographs, is excellent for getting a feel for the character of each neighborhood.

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