Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page > Paris: What Area to Stay? Is it "Walker-Friendly?"
Notices

Paris: What Area to Stay? Is it "Walker-Friendly?"

Reply

Oct 13th, 2012, 12:06 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,433
Paris: What Area to Stay? Is it "Walker-Friendly?"

Hi --

I haven't been to Paris in almost 40 years -- and with my horrid memory, I might as well have never been there. Besides, when I was there, virtually every museum was on strike.

Now ... DP and me (gay men, 56 & 60) are planning 4 or 5 nights following a business commitment in Ireland. That means we're stuck with late Feb./early March.

We're not fussy about hotels but we are somewhat budget conscious, so will likely book through Priceline or Hotwire.

We'll want to see the standard tourist sites: the Louvre; Notre Dame; Eiffel Tower; the Parthenon (KIDDING!). Also the catacombs.

Are there areas that would be more centrally located for us? There are sooo many "zones" to choose from on Priceline & Hotwire.

Is Paris easy to get around on foot? Are the tourist attractions relatively near each other? We love walking (but it will be cold).

One other question ... we don't speak a word of French (other than "bonjour," "ooh, la, la" and "oui"). Will it be difficult for us to communicate? My recollection is that 40 years ago, no one seemed able (or willing) to speak English.

Thanks for you help!
Songdoc is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 13th, 2012, 12:37 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,190
If you stay in the 5th or 6th you'll be very close to the Louvre, Notre Dame, and the Pantheon. This is an area with lots of cafes and restaurants and a lively area where there are people on the streets throughout the evening.

Paris (like every city I've been to) is very walkable. Public transportation is also good for when you need to go a bit farther.

You don't need to speak French in Paris as English is the second language in much of Europe for people dealing with tourists but learning a few words would be polite.
adrienne is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 13th, 2012, 01:11 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 2,672
If you stay in Arrondisements 1-8, you will be fairly centrally located and able to walk to most of the tourist sights. We prefer the 6th but all are pretty well located.

You can walk most everywhere in the central part of Paris but the Metro and the bus system are very easy to use, too.

No need to speak French but learning phrases of greeting and other commonly used phrases is appreciated by the French.

In addition to the Louvre, Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower, include Ste. Chapelle, the Orangerie where Monet's waterlily murals are housed, and many other sights. Get a good guide to plan your visit.
mamcalice is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 13th, 2012, 01:15 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 4,238
Take a look at http://www.venere.com/france/paris/ .

Get a good map of Paris, one that you can refer to over and over again, BEFORE you even go.

This will help you a lot on accomodations.

I like sticking in the arrondisements 1-8 (think postal code).
My personal favorites for the first time traveler are 6-7.

The Metro system is close to being the best in the world, punctual, direct, cheap (for multiples of tickets) and easy to use, with a little practice.

To not get tired, my motto is sit if you can, stand if you must, and walk if you have to. That's what makes the metro so good.

I've been to Paris over 15 times (lost count)so there is too much I know for one answer.
Rastaguytoday is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 13th, 2012, 01:16 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 50,341
what adrienne said.

The 5th or 6th [arrondissements] would be ideal for your interests and give you plenty of walking. [FYI, the arrondisements spiral out from the centre of Paris like a snail's shell, starting with the 1st in the middle].

As well as Priceline you might try direct booking; for example last year we got a 50% discount by booking direct in September for a weekend in the following March. [we stayed here: http://www.hoteleurope.net/]

also no need to worry about not speaking french. Paris sees tourists from all over the world daily, and the vast majority speak less french than you do.

have a great trip!
annhig is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 13th, 2012, 01:17 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 4,238
Sorry, my verere link was for today.

http://www.venere.com/france/paris/ Use this one.
Rastaguytoday is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 13th, 2012, 02:13 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,979
Songdoc, I agree with the above posters. My preference is for the 6th. My recent TR about five days in Paris would give you an idea of how far I walked to various sites from my hotel near Pont Neuf.

No doubt, you will have to take the Metro also which I found a challenge.

Enjoy Paris…
latedaytraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 13th, 2012, 02:15 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 20,187
I am one of those people who do not believe that it is important to stay in the center, particularly if you want to save money. Staying in the more economical outer arrondissements will add about 10 minutes to your travel time but about 30% to your savings.
kerouac is online now  
Reply With Quote
Oct 13th, 2012, 02:28 PM
  #9
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,056
I think you will find Paris much more user-friendly than it was 40 years ago. You are older and presumably more affluent, and the French are more familiar with dealing with tourists. My French has not improved significantly but I find it much easier to be understood these days. On the whole, if you greet shopkeepers and restaurant staff, they will treat you in a human way too.
tarquin is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 13th, 2012, 03:29 PM
  #10
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,300
Following up Kerouac's advice, a more important consideration than the arrondisment itself is how close your hotel will be to a Metro station. A stop served by more than one line is particularly advantageous as it gives a choice of routes to your destinations.
Also screen for hotels with Internet connections, preferably free WiFi. Take a small laptop or other Internet device to use for news in English, e-mails home, and on-going research. For instance, the net can sketch out the route you want to take on the Metro so you aren't standing puzzled in front of the station map being trampled by commuters.
Walking remains the best attraction the city has to offer and even you old guys could walk from one side of the centre to the other in a couple of hours. You would be walking briskly at that chilly time of year. Walk the Moufftard, one of the few remaining old streets, and also along the Canal St-Martin from the Bastille. Also consider the Promenade Plantee east of Bastille http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Promenade_Plant%C3%A9e and the tantalizaing ateliers on street level below it.

Check out Kerouac's links to his many photo-tours of the city, which are nearly as much fun as being there.
Southam is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 13th, 2012, 10:30 PM
  #11
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 7,552
If you stay in the 4th, 5th , or 6th, closer to river then farther from river, you will be able to walk to most sites, (not all of course). People always say if you are near the metro you are near everything, and in a way I agree, but some people ( like me) love walking, and Paris is a great walking city, cool little surprise sites as you wander etc.

I will also suggest you consider not using a booking site, booking hotels directly is often better, any problems are easy to deal with.. .

Its so easy to do nowadays too.

Google for these hotels , they are clean, safe, central and budget to moderate prices

Hotel Diana-clean, cheap, like one block out of the chaos of the busy area of the Latin Quarter. Nice bathrooms

Hotel Eugenie -this place is so central, I enjoyed it very much, staff were nice too,

Hotel College du France- this i sthe only hotel I haven't stayed at myself, but its well reviewed

Hotel Place du Louvre ( this one is in the 1st, across from Louvre on a quiet side street but only 1/2 block from Seine and bridge to 5th)

Hotel Le Regent ( if you can afford the deluxe rooms only , the standards are the tinest rooms in Paris, and yes, I have stayed in alot of small rooms, ) The deluxe rooms are great and I love the area(6th) cafes shops right out the door.
justineparis is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 13th, 2012, 11:28 PM
  #12
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,421
I would just say that Priceline and Hotwire are not the bargains they used to be, though you may get lucky for late Feb/early March.

Do keep an eye on TravelZoo, where I've been exceptionally lucky.

Back to Priceline/Hotwire, know that, of course, the hotel could be at the very outer edge of any of their "areas" which are drawn to include same.

You have plenty of time to learn some basic French, especially the pleasantries and essential phrases. You can do fine without, but much better with.

It's extremely easy to get around Paris. The RATP website is a magnificent resource, as are many apps if you have a Smartphone of any sort.

No, the tourists sights are not all within walking distance of one another - they're spread out. And, a Priceline/Hotwire bargain is not likely to get you in "Tourist Central" where you can walk to any of them.

Yes, it will be cold, so it's essential to have appropriate outerwear (layers) so as to be comfortable while out and about.
djkbooks is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 13th, 2012, 11:53 PM
  #13
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,433
Thank you all SO much. This is FANTASTIC information. Now it's time to start researching.

At the moment I'm in Hawaii (Kauai) and met up with a Fodorite who is staying in the same complex. I love these forums.
Songdoc is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 14th, 2012, 12:19 AM
  #14
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 50,341
Following up Kerouac's advice, a more important consideration than the arrondisment itself is how close your hotel will be to a Metro station. A stop served by more than one line is particularly advantageous as it gives a choice of routes to your destinations.>>

good point Southam.

for that reason we always try to pick a hotel within walking distance of an RER B stop as we generally arrive and leave through CDG. our last 3 choices have all met that criterion and that has made transfer from and to the airport very easy.
annhig is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 14th, 2012, 01:12 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 37
Justinparis had great advice. I stay in the 4th, the Marais, near the St. Paul and Bastille metro stations, but I love to walk and prefer it to taking the metro everywhere. I suggest reading about the areas in the 4th,5th and 6th. The St. Michel stop on the RER puts you near hotels in walking distance of the river. I also agree on contacting hotels directly. That's much better than using a website like the ones suggested above because I'm guessing you don't want a hotel or dreary neighborhood that lacks all charm and convenience.
caboom is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 14th, 2012, 05:53 AM
  #16
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 20,122
We recently rented an apt. in the Marais section (4th). It was very close to the Hotel de Ville. Great location close to the metro, Notre Dame, the river, shops, cafes and a super market.
cybor is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 14th, 2012, 09:51 AM
  #17
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 254
I agree that that the nearest Metro stop should be the important factor. As long as it takes you in multiple directions, it doesn't matter that you have to ride an extra 2-3 stops. We stayed at a hotel about a 5 minute walk to the Bastille stop but not in the Marais. It was more residential but had lots of shops, restaurants and cafes and it was cheaper.
We organized our sightseeing by grouping the sites. So we took the metro and then walked in the area we were visiting.
Taltul is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 14th, 2012, 10:10 AM
  #18
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 20,187
Being near a metro station isn't just good advice for tourists. When I bought my apartment, I chose one that is directly on an intersection with a metro station -- less than 50 meters from my front door. It really makes a huge amount of difference, especially when the weather is horrible. When it is pouring rain or freezing cold, even when you are completely equipped, the fact that you know that you will be in the metro in less than 2 minutes is sometimes what gives you the courage to go out.
kerouac is online now  
Reply With Quote
Oct 14th, 2012, 10:17 AM
  #19
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,647
I am a big believer in being in the center of things. Who want to have to trek to a Metro and then ride 20 minutes before you get near anything you want to see. We typically stay in the 5th or 6th now - but close to the river - and a couple of times in the past have stayed in the 4th or the 8th (also close to river). Yes, it's important to be near a Metro - but I want to be no more than 10 minute walk to at least some of the sights.

As for speaking French - take a week and learn the basic polite phrases - it will do wonders in terms of how you are welcomed - even if everything else is done in English.
nytraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 14th, 2012, 10:38 AM
  #20
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 27,838
I a, about to stay at a great apartment in the Maria's, the 4th. It is the same one cybor stayed in and it will be our second stay.

Perfect location, great apt, terrific owner who is easy to work with and the price is excellent.

http://www.vrbo.com/339804
DebitNM is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:51 PM.