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Paris hotels: Bel Ami or Caron de Beaumarchais

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Mar 27th, 2005, 07:20 AM
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Paris hotels: Bel Ami or Caron de Beaumarchais

I am a woman in my 50's who will be staying by myself in Paris for 6 days in May. I've been to Paris before and stayed on the Ile St. Louis. It was lovely, but I'd like to try something new. I'm trying to decide between the Hotel Bel Ami in the St. Germaine des Pres area or the Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais in the Marais area. The Bel Ami is more expensive, but I'm willing to pay the extra if I can find a reason to. (From reading about them, it appears that both hotels are reasonably nice and comfortable--although I would like to hear any comments you have otherwise). Neighborhood is the most important factor to me. When traveling alone, I usually spend the entire day siteseeing or shopping and in the evening like to stroll in my neighborhood and/or sit comfortably by myself with a glass of wine and watch the world go by. The guidebooks don't get that specific, but, from trying to read between the lines, it seems that the St. Germaine des Pres areas may be more consistently lively and a bit more upscale than the Marais, where the activity seems to be concentrated in smaller pockets and more suited to a younger crowd. I would love to hear opinions on this subject from others more knowledgeable than I. Please respond with any guidance you care to share. Thanks.
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Mar 27th, 2005, 08:19 AM
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I would be hard pressed to make any distinction between those two areas in terms of liveliness, youth, and being upscale. Both are quite upscale and chic now, with expensive boutiques and shops, art galleries, antique stores, trendy restaurants and bars, etc. Both are very lively in the evening and both have places that attract young people. There are lots of bars, cinemas and clubs in St-Germain with a lot of young people. And both have areas that are just more residential and wouldn't have lots of people on the immediate streets, and both have areas with concentrated activity.

There are different to me, but in other ways. St Germain is larger, and even though it has plenty of small side streets, in general feels bigger to me and more open. There are a couple very well-known expensive cafes with upscale international crowds mixed with tons of tourists (ie, Deux Magots). The restaurants around Place des Vosges in the Marais are quite upscale and not youth-oriented, also, as one example, and there are gourmet stores there like Flo Prestige. I guess St-Germain has more upscale stores (like Armani, etc) because there are more possibilities for stores along bd St-Germain.

When you say you want to have a glass of wine, do you mean in a cafe, or just in your room or hotel? Because either has plenty of cafes for people-watching, but I think I'd give a nod to St-Germain for possibilities there. There are plenty of cafes/bars in St-Germain that attract a young crowd. I think you may be thinking of the Bastille/Oberkampf area more than the Marais in your characterization, not sure. I think the Marais location is closer to some jazz venues I personally like, and I'd choose there if I wanted to do that a lot (I know people will say there are jazz places in St-Germain, but not the ones I am thinking of).

In any case, I'd choose on other things than that. I'd choose based on how I liked each hotel and its cost and maybe what else I liked to do and ease of transportation. Personally, I would prefer the location of the Bel Ami to the Caron de Beaumarchais for some of these reasons, and I'm not as crazy about the Marais as some other folks on here.

Would I pay an extra 100 euro a night for that (which I think is the difference in those hotel room prices)? no, but that isn't really the choice as you could find hotels that were more comparable in price.

These hotels are very different in style, you know -- some people would have a gut reaction against one style. I personally will not stay in hotels with TVs in the corner of the ceiling as in a hospital or prison, and I know the Caron de Beaumarchais does that. I will accept that in a 2* hotel or a place for one night, but find it unacceptable in a higher level hotel. That's just one of my pet things, everybody has their own. I do know the rooms in the Caron de Beaumarchais are quite small, and the quieter rooms in the rear are the smaller ones. I don't know the size of those at Bel Ami, but I find out those things when I am staying longer term and definitely would at those rates (which I've never paid in Paris, and I still get room sizes before booking at rates half that level). The location of the Bel Ami is nice, however, being off the main boulevard in an area not quite in the hubbub, yet very convenient. If you wanted to stay in St-Germain, there are certainly cheaper hotels, however (I saw std room rates at 260 euro, which is what I'm going on).

those are my thoughts, FWIW
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Mar 27th, 2005, 09:12 AM
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Thanks to Christina for the information. My "glass of wine" would probably be taken in a cafe rather than a bar or jazz club. Christina is right about the cost of the Hotel Bel Ami. It is expensive. Any recommendations on other hotels in the St. Germaine area in the 150-200 Euro range?
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Mar 27th, 2005, 11:04 AM
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Keagan,
My husband and I stayed at the Caron de Beaumarchais in 2003 and really liked it. We had a room with a balcony and really enjoyed sitting on the balcony with a glass of wine people-watching on the street below (there is a little convenience store right on the corner where we would buy wine and beer to keep in our room). We thought the location was perfect -very convenient to all the sites.
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Mar 27th, 2005, 11:10 AM
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Kendra, was the room tiny and is it true about the television? I'm booked there myself but now having second thoughts.
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Mar 27th, 2005, 12:14 PM
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I stayed here a few years ago, we also had the room with the balcony, which are the front rooms, they are small, but I've had worse. The rooms which are very small and dark are facing the back of the building, they are cheeper but I wouldn't fell good in them. I usually stay in St Germain and moved over here to try it out, and I must say that although it is easy to get eveywhere , I didn't really like the cafes over there to just hang out it. I have moved back to the left bank and still like it the best. We stayed at Des Marroniers this last Feb, in a very very small single room for 110E, but you could also stay in a bigger(but not big)double for 153E. I really like the hotel, the people that work here and the location.
http://www.paris-hotel-marronniers.com/
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Mar 27th, 2005, 12:35 PM
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The Marais is younger in demographics and more eclectic, with some of the old Jewish quarter influence and a fairly large gay population, as well class in its varied boutiques and wonderful architecture, notably the Place de Vosges. St. Germain is more upscale and, I think, better fits the image of Paris fixed in Americans' minds before World War II. Both neighborhoods have their charms. I've recently set out my seventh decade, and much prefer the Marais for its liveliness. Both are perfectly safe for anyone with common sense. Stay in one, sample the other, and with luck you'll find your "spot" for many happy returns.
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Mar 27th, 2005, 12:35 PM
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Yeah, the room was pretty small and the t.v. is mounted on the wall like in a hospital. We were lucky to have great weather during our trip, so we spent a lot of time on the balcony.
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Mar 27th, 2005, 01:50 PM
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Thanks to all for taking the time to offer me advice. It was most helpful. I have decided to stay in the St. Germain area. I'm going to post a new message asking for advice on hotels in that area. Thanks again.
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