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Paris Hotel Bonaparte: Is this a neighborhood with good bistro, people watching, etc?

Paris Hotel Bonaparte: Is this a neighborhood with good bistro, people watching, etc?

Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 06:20 AM
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Paris Hotel Bonaparte: Is this a neighborhood with good bistro, people watching, etc?

We are still deciding on an area to stay in Paris. Originally thought the Marais area or Latin Quarter. Many Fodorites like Hotel Bonaparte. Is this a great area for "after a day of touring?"
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Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 06:39 AM
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Absolutely. Cafe Bonaparte and Cafe de Flore are two that I have been to, both are on the square of St Germain des Pres, easy walk from hotel. The St Germain area is a very nice place to stay with plenty of patisseries, boulangeries, street markets and parks to visit. Restaurant wise, this is the area that I usually end up eating in, since there is a range of basic to gourmet restaurants. The 6th also has some nice museums, good shopping and easy access to Metro and RER (eg. to get to airport, Versailles)
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Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 07:22 AM
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The hotel is only a few paces away from the Pl Sulpice - where there are lots of outside cafes. Also about 5 min walk to the Cafe de Flore & Deux Magots & a half dozen other cafes around the St Germain church. It's not quite as active in the evening as the Magots area & the Marais, however, but that might be preferable. We were in the Marais about 3 weeks ago on a Sat, & it was way too crowded for me.

Excellent bus access from the Bonapart to other sites & neighborhoods in Paris.

Stu Dudley
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Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 08:38 AM
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Michel_Paris & StuDudley: Have you stayed at the Bonaparte before? I know Ira likes this hotel but Elaine did not give it a good review.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 08:58 AM
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As a Parisian, I would say this Saint Germain area people in this forum rave about is now a very gentrified, very touristy one, which has lost much of its authenticity. It is basically an open-air, upmarket shopping mall. The local cafes are "tourist cafes". Everything is a matter of taste...
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Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 09:05 AM
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Hi Tru

>The local cafes are "tourist cafes".

Hmmmmmmmmmmm. If you sit at a little table in front of the Cafe de Mairie across from St. Sulpice with all of the folks who are waiting to take a bus home, you might change your mind.

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Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 09:16 AM
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And you might not. There are tons of tourists around there, even though there are some people who work there and wait for buses to go home, and certainly some French people in the cafes there. But it's still very very touristy and very expensive. I personally wouldn't step foot in Deux Magots, but to each his own, as they say. I used to like it, but it's really changed in the last 10 years or so. At least Hune is still there (I hope), but many of the other stores have closed and are now expensive designer boutiques. But for the OP, it certainly is a place that is a convenient location and has lots of places to eat easily, so I think it is a fine alternative to the other locations (assuming Latin Qtr means a block or so around St Michel metro, as it often does when people use that term), as they are very similar in many ways in terms of being gentrified and lots of tourists (at least some parts of the Marais, not all of it). The Latin Qtr isn't that gentrified, though, or expensive, and I like it but not the part to where this is probably referring.

Sylvian, are you sure Elaine gave it a bad review? maybe I don't know which Elaine, but the Elaine I know had issues with their reservation and cancellation fee policy (which is stiff), but never stayed there, as I recall. She did give a bad review to another place some folks like (Grands Balcons), but not the Bonaparte.

But if you want plenty of places
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Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 09:25 AM
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I've stayed at the Bonaparte multiple times and I think the location is fabulous!

Yes, there are tourists around there as well as plenty of locals. There are lots of cafes and restaurants, and great shopping. (I happen to like all those upscale boutiques! )

The decor at the Bonaparte is nothing fancy, but it's very clean and the staff is terrific. I consider the Bonaparte an excellent value and a great location.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 10:08 AM
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Christina: Whoops, the Elaine I was speaking of was on TripAdvisor. She traveled many times to Paris and Prague and London. sorry about that Fodor's Elaine.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 10:17 AM
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I stayed at Hotel Bonaparte based on the suggestions from this forum and loved the area and the Hotel. I am going back and will will be staying in the area but not the hotel because they cannot fit 4 to a room for my wife and kids. I did not find the area touristy and found it extremely convenient to all the sites, including taking the train from the airport. The rooms are nice and they have free wifi in the breakfast area. The staff was very very helpful, fun and spoke english. I would go back and stay there if it was just my wife and I. It is right next to the Latin Quarter and it was not noisy at all. It all depends what you are looking for in a hotel and location. I love busy, full of life locations where I travel. It worked very well for me.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 05:41 PM
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I just came back from my umpteenth trip to Paris, and I stayed both in the area around St. Sulpice, (which IS considered the Latin Quarter, btw) but then I switched up to the 10th, around the Canal St. Martin/Jaures metro stop and LOVED IT.

There's no denying that the area around Blvd. St. Germain is touristy. I had just arrived in Paris from some 6 weeks in Italy and in that entire time in Italy I had not seen nor heard Americans to the extent I did in the area around Rue Guisarde, St. Germain, Cluny, Notre Dame-I only escaped it somewhat when I went northwards-honestly it did seem last month that a quarter of the US population had decamped to the Latin Quarter- wherever I went, I heard American voices-could not escape it-and I don't go to Paris to hang around Americans, that's for sure.

But St. Germain/Odeon/Mabillon 5th/6th arr. IS still a charming area, nonetheless. I too, think it has gotten quite gentrified-and far more expensive. Just as an example, I had a cafe au lait (standing, as I usually do, at the bar) at a little bistro/cafe on Rue Christine or Rue Guisarde-a little tiny cup-was 2 Euros- in all of Italy I never paid more than 1.10 Euro for a caffe latte/espresso/cappucino at a bar.

When you go out of this area, the bistro food tends to be a bit better, and cheaper. I ate at the "Cafe des Jaures" which is a really lively, happening bistro across from Canal St. Martin (even up into the wee hours of the morning), and had a great meal of fresh fish, salad, vegetables, potatoes and a half carafe of white for about 15 Euros-and there was an interesting, decidedly bohemian, non touristy clientele to boot.

That bohemian atmosphere (and I realize, that's not a preference for most tourists) is long gone from the Latin Quarter, and there are very few, if any, inexpensive bistros in the area as well. My Parisian friend tells me that the 10th is the new "boho" area, so (yet, at least) there is not this sense of "total tourist takeover"-it's a more working class area, but with a picturesque location by the canals, and a lot of hip shops/ateliers now...gentrification setting in here as well.

As far as the Bonaparte, that would not be a hotel choice for me, but the area around St. Sulpice/Mabillon/Odeon-would be-it's quite central to the sights, you can walk to the Louvre if you want, and it is ever charming and picturesque, and of course, the Seine is but a few minutes walk away. If you don't know Paris well, or are a first time visitor I would definitely recommend this area- and to go and do the tourist thing of sitting in one of the grand cafes-Deux Magots/Cafe de Flore, or some of the others along the Blvd. and in Mabillon/Odeon area. If I didn't know Paris well, and hadn't sat at these cafes myself through 20 plus years of going to Paris, then I would definitely play tourist and check them out. It's fun, for maybe the first couple of times...

The Latin Quarter is still the romantic Latin Quarter-no denying that-it is precisely because the area still retains so much of its charm, and is so central to the sights, that it is, and ever will be, the tourist magnet. But at the same time, it has changed a lot through the last 10 years, it is a LOT more expensive, more chain stores have moved in (there's a big GAP store there, in a small shopping mall by Rue Guisarde-the GAP is not seen in Italy) so it has become much more corporate/commercial than ever before.

I do like this area, but I can take it or leave it now. There are other more interesting areas (to me) to stay in Paris, with their own distinct charms, that are not yet quite so overrun with mass tourism. The area around the 10th, the 13th, the lst, all of these formerly sleepy arrondissments are newly hip-Paris keeps changing, and it is my observation that the city is friendlier and more hospitable than I ever remember it being (even more than a year and a half ago, when I was last there), infused with more energy, more dynamism, more culture, more optimism, more happening events, just more of everything good that I value, Paris is IT.



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Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 10:01 PM
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The formerly Fodors Elaine did give Bonaparte a bad review here:
http://tinyurl.com/u5fom
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Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 10:28 PM
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Girlspytravel...it's great that you travel so often. What do you do when you are in Paris for the umpteenth time, or Italy, too? I'm not being facetious. It would be just great to hear. Thanks for the input here. cabo
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Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 11:16 PM
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To complement my earlier post, St. Germain especially, the Latin Quarter and the Marais are also examples of how local commerce evolves in very gentrified neighbourhoods. Everything is taken over by the upmarket garment trade, fashion accessories, home decoration, etc. The variety of yore is gone, giving the place a sanitised, artificial look, as if local businesses no longer catered to the resident.

These are also the areas with some of the most expensive real estate in Paris (8000-13000 Euros per square metre in St Germain). Even if the visitor is not there to buy property, the prices he'll or she'll pay reflect that fact too.

Paris is a very compact city (about 40 square miles), and there are perfectly safe middle-class areas to stay in the 9th, 10th, 11th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 18th arrondissements, with food shopping streets, which can give a more authentic Paris experience, even to the first time visitor, and as much value as possible in a capital in terms of dining and accomodation.

In New York City terms, would a local recommend an European to find accomodation at Times Square or in the Village? Maybe yes, maybe not.

This is just my thoughts as a Paris resident, with no interest whatsover in any tourism-related business. I have no experience of the hotel cited above, but I think this forum and others should help prospective visitors to look beyond the obvious and maybe not direct them systematically to the most disneyfied areas (while offering free advertising to the same establishments).
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Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 11:55 PM
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There's nothing charming about most of St. Germain and the Latin Quarter. Last June I walked around rue de Buci one evening and couldn't wait to get out of there. I find that Hotel Regent that is so often praised here is located in one of the worst, noisy, busy streets in Paris and I would never stay there.

The area of the Bonaparte is a little more relaxed, but I still wouldn't pay 95 Euros and above for a 2-star in Paris when I could pay much less and get a hotel in location that I conseider far better.

I actually think it's quite a bad area for "after a day of touring", because it's so crowded and noisy. Both the 7th and the 8th arrondissements are quieter. And of course, my preferrence is almost always for the outer arrondissements - much more relaxing and reasonable.
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Old Oct 24th, 2006, 12:02 AM
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Thank you for your post, Trudaine.
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Old Oct 24th, 2006, 12:22 AM
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I can hardly pass judgement on the hotel(not having been there) but I understand in a posting by Ira that there is no breakfast room and the included breakfast is given in one's room. Not for me, merci,especially when most rooms are rather small.
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Old Oct 24th, 2006, 01:59 AM
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I had inquired at the Bonaparte myself not long ago, and was told that breakfast could be taken either in a breakfast room or delivered to the room. It doesn't sound as if that has changed. That newest tripadvisor review is at
http://tinyurl.com/y7sa2g

I personally don't think of any part of the 6th as the Latin Quarter; to me, the LQ is entirely in the 5th, around Place St Michel and the Sorbonne but I don't know if any official boundaries have ever been set.
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Old Oct 24th, 2006, 05:33 AM
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Hi Bigal,

>..the included breakfast is given in one's room. Not for me, merci,especially when most rooms are rather small.<

Chacun à son goût.

My mother felt the same way, until she actually had it delivered to the room and found that she didn't have to get dressed and made up before bkfst.

Changed her entire outlook on the day.

Re Elaine's post:

We all have our expectations. Some places meet them, others don't.

There are over 1500 hotels in Paris, the Bonaparte is only one - and a very small one at that.

Hi GST,

>There's no denying that the area around Blvd. St. Germain is touristy. I had just arrived in Paris from some 6 weeks in Italy and in that entire time in Italy I had not seen nor heard Americans to the extent I did in the area around Rue Guisarde, St. Germain, Cluny, Notre Dame-...<

Does that mean that African, Asian, Australian, Canadian, European and South American tourists are OK?

Hi Tru,

>As a Parisian, I would say this Saint Germain area people in this forum rave about is now a very gentrified, very touristy one, which has lost much of its authenticity.<

On my first visit to Paris, they said the same thing about Montmartre. The Latin Quarter was the place to go.

Later they said the same thing about the LQ. St Germain was the place to go.

Then it became the Marais.

"Plus ça change, plus c'est le meme chose".

Yes, the sixth is very different from what it was in 1981, but so are we all.

>I think this forum and others should help prospective visitors to look beyond the obvious and maybe not direct them systematically to the most disneyfied areas (while offering free advertising to the same establishments).

Visiting a city, especially for the first time, is very different from living there.

Using your example, how many New Yorkers go to the Empire State Building, Times Square, The Village, take a Circle Line Tour, see the Rockettes, etc in their lifetime?

Tourists (or travelers) are not necessarily interested in watching their laundry whirl around while engaged in rapt conversation with their neighbors about the latest doings of the Interior Minister.

As for "free advertising": I think that almost all of us are simply trying to inform others of what we liked and didn't like about our own experiences in different places. It is in no way a form of advertising.


Who will continue to stay at the Bonaparte, unless it changes drastically, despite there being a YSL shop on one corner, Pierre Herme' across the street and Laduree down the block.
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Old Oct 24th, 2006, 05:54 AM
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Had breakfast at Cafe Bonaparte a few years ago on Christmas Day after mass at St. Germain de Pres (sure I spelled that wrong). It was a miserable day, rainy and cold, but the staff were very nice and people just came in and out. I remember one little old lady with her dog and how nice the waiters were to her. Obviously a well-known local who didn't mind sitting with us peasants, oh I mean, tourists.
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