Ah, Paris. Maybe by now you’ve booked your flight to this most remarkable city.
I believe that where you stay has a big impact on your experience in the city. When I was eleven my family stayed in a cheap hotel outside of Gare du Nord in the 10th. The smell of the musky old hallway leading upstairs to our room and the red floral carpet on the steps is so vivid to me. I still remember watching the crowds rush in and out of the station and the perfectly average chow mien my grandparents and I ate after a long afternoon out in the city. When I’m in the area I’ll stop over on the street just to smile, entertaining ghosts of another time.
The summer I turned eighteen in the city I remember the garden room in the 9th my mom and I stayed in and how Parisian I felt looking out the window to the quiet courtyard, admiring the vines that so carefully traced the aged walls. One year at Christmas I stayed down the street from Porte Saint-Denis and had one of the best bowls of soup right down on the street below our flat.
When I lived in Paris back to back summers I researched for literally dozens of hours finding the very best place to call home with all the right amenities, that was safe and in budget in the first arrondissement. I am extremely particular in my lodging decisions as I do firmly believe it can enhance the entire trip. In recent years I’ve stayed nights and a week here and there in several districts based on where I’m working or what I’m keen on exploring that trip. I’ve scouted and gathered and here’s my scoop on where to stay and where to book.
First things first. Paris is made up of 20 different neighborhoods, arrondissements, that form the shape of a snail on a map [zipcodes indicate 75001-75020]. The center of the city has the first four and circles around from there. They are all very well connected by the Metro, RER-Metro, Bus, Taxis, Bikes and sidewalks. Uber is also very much a thing here, though spendy. Unless you’re only staying a night or two I wouldn’t worry about staying close to the train station you came in or are leaving from. It’s fairly easy to get around the city.
Currency is Euros and expect to pay 85-120€ for a modest place in a great area. This varies seasonally with obviously much more lavish and affordable options available.
Most Parisian lodging is quite old from the inside out and most rooms tend to be on the smaller side no matter where you are. Expect long staircases, entryway alleys and hidden courtyards within buildings. All part of that Parisian charm.
First  + Fourth : Center of it all and often with a price. Close to almost anywhere you want to go including the Louvre, Palais Royal and Notre Dame with views of the Eiffel Tower down the Seine and the Opera from down the street. The First is more refined and can be more expensive, I tend to stay here when I travel alone because I feel the safest. The Fourth, il-de la cite comprising of two islands from the Seine and is the oldest part of the city.
Second + Ninth : This neighborhood is always bustling with local foot traffic during and filled with bars in hidden streets where the business crowds are hanging to avoid the tourists after work. Little Japan is here as well as some great hole in the wall bakeries and cafes. The Ninth is the official theater district close to the Opera Garnier, Theater Magador and movie theaters. Good location for shopping too with Galleries Lafayette or Printemps. Look for edges closer to the center, great quiet neighborhood and still close to it all.
Sixth : This is my favorite. Depending on the season it can be hard to find something in budget here but this neighborhood is the secret gem of Paris. Artists would flock here in the day and the neighborhood with still filled with the best antique and art shops. My favorite cheese shop is there with D’Orsay and your pick of local foods, quiet cafes and bookstores. It’s next to the University and Federal Government Headquarters so it stay pretty safe and secure.
Other notables: The Eighth  closer to Grand Palais, Tuilleries or Madeleine. The Fourteenth  around the Catacombs or the Modern Art Museum, The Eleventh  closer to Places des Vosges and the Bastille, Bercy and Neuilly-sur-Seine are cute too if you have to be further out.
When and Where to Book:
Book ASAP. Paris is the most visited city in the world so you’ll want to book early to get your pick. I’ve learned this the hard way many times, DO NOT wait last minute to book your place! Not the place to wing it, especially if you are going in peak summer or winter season.
I’m a big fan of Airbnb, this is always what I use when staying in the city. Countless unique, incredibly affordable and authentic ‘Parisian experience‘ options. Updates daily with new calendar listings and reviews to help give you a good idea of what you’re getting into.
My criteria is always:
2. great view
3. close proximity to what I am doing
Find what’s important to you in your search. Most all have some sort of cute window, useable kitchen and French charm.
Booking.com has some great options if you are just staying a couple nights. Skyscanner is another favorite and Kayak. These are good as last minute resources too.
Long Term stays try Lodgis, ParisStay or Paris Attitude [expect to pay agent fees with the last two]
A thought on traveling alone as a woman
I travel alone often and rarely feel scared or unsafe in the Paris. When booking either on Airbnb or another hotel site carefully read the reviews to make sure others vouch for the safety, the neighborhood and that the host is trustworthy. I usually don’t mention I am traveling alone unless I have to. As with any city, stay alert and keep to streets that have some kind of foot traffic unless you know the area. The sense of community is strong in all of Europe and true in France. A simple ‘Bonjour’ or ‘Bonsoir’ from a stranger is common and always makes me feel comforted. That we look out and care for one another on the streets, especially in current times of unrest. I can honestly say I feel safer on the streets of Paris than I do in the streets of Los Angeles. I have stories where that comes from.
A few of my favorite stays in Paris
The city is full of places to stay, are there any I forgot? Hoping this helps you in your search and gets you excited to go! I would love to know how you do in finding your place in Pareé <3