A unique budget hotel and mainstay of the neighborhood, the Chopin confirms its 1846 birth date with a creaky-floored lobby, aged woodwork, and a decor from another era. The hotel entrance is located in the historic Passage Jouffroy, one of Paris's 36 remaining 19th-century shopping arcades, and guests benefit from a view onto its quaint toy shops and antique booksellers.
Passage Jouffroy connects to the Passage Verdeau, and the highly picturesque Passage des Panoramas, Paris's oldest remaining covered passageway (1799), just across the Boulevard Haussmann. Galerie Vivienne, Paris's most elegant passage, is only a five-minute walk away.
Basic but comfortable rooms are on the old-fashioned side but are being slowly upgraded one by one. Top-floor rooms gaze out over the rooftops of Paris, but none face the busy streets (No. 407 has a view of the Musée Grévin Wax Museum's ateliers.)
YOU SHOULD KNOW Rooms can accommodate up to three people, ruling out families of four (unless you book separate rooms). There is no air conditioning.
Bathrooms, all with a shower-in-tub arrangement and all the basic amenities (except hair dryers, which are available at the front desk), are ample enough and contemporary, since they've been upgraded over the years.
The small, cozy lobby is a throwback to another century, and you may be fortunate enough to meet one of the resident cats who like to snooze there.
Grands Boulevards metro station is two minutes from the hotel, and Auber RER station (serving line A) is about a five-minute walk. There are also many buses on Boulevard Haussmann, a minute from the hotel.
Your tour of historic Paris begins in the hotel's unique setting in one of Paris's historic "passages," which also contains the city's wax museum, the Musée Grévin and links to two other charming covered galleries. You're also within a ten-minute walk to two of Paris's Grand Dame department stores, Printemps and Galeries Lafayette. The landmark Grand Rex, a superb Art Decor movie house (Europe's largest), is a few minutes from the hotel, and tucked in around the corner, Chartier brasserie is one of Paris's oldest bouillons, serving typical French cuisine, with tuxedoed waiters, globe lamps, mirrors, and all the codes of this deeply Parisian institution. At the exit of Passage Verdeau, don't miss A La Mère de la Famille, the oldest confisserie (candy store) in Paris, with some to-die-for chocolates and marzipan.
In the Passage des Panoramas, across the street, you'll find several wonderful restaurants, for any budget, starting with Racines, an adorable wine bar specializing in natural wines, fine charcuterie, and market-fresh products. Gyoza Bar serves Japanese dumplings made right before your eyes and served at the bar, and at Passage 53 (at no. 53), a two-Michelin star restaurant, you'll dine on Japanese-inflected gastronomic fare. There are also several atmospheric cafés to choose from. At historic Chartier Brasserie, you'll get French comfort food—jambon de pays, boeuf vinaigrette, salade frisée, etc.—at insanely reasonable prices in an atmosphere that hasn't change in 100 years.
La Conserverie (a few blocks away), a big open space covering two floors that miraculously manages to be cozy, attracts a hip young crowd for its excellent menu of craft cocktails. In Galerie Vivienne (another covered passageway about 10 minutes from the hotel--you might as well see them all), Danico, the cocktail bar attached to gourmet pizza restaurant Darico, is a chic spot for a delicious pour.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Whether you call it charming, picturesque, or a bit tired—and it's been called all three—it's still a bargain. No frills to be sure, but the Chopin has its own authentic atmosphere in a brisk Parisian neighborhood that's within walking distance to great shopping and many must-see monuments.