Where To Stay in Paris - The Ultimate Guide

The Plum Guide team share their suggestions for where to stay in Paris if you're a first time visitor


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Ah, Paris. Who hasn’t dreamed of holidaying in this beautiful city that lives and breathes charm and sophistication? 

We can see it now. There you are picnicking along the Seine with artisanal cheese, fresh baguettes, and wine in tow. You’re taking in famous works of art, expertly commenting on the use of lines and colour. Each evening you’ll be dining on the best haute cuisine at the fanciest restaurants. This is Paris, is it not?

Whether for love of art, food, or something else, our guide for where to stay in Paris will help you capture a little bit of that “je ne sais quoi” that makes Paris so iconic.

A city where life and love seem to have endless possibilities. A place where your heart’s desires come to light in the City of Lights. A city to fall in love in, a city to fall in love with, a city to find love, or at the very least, a city where a chance of a romantic rendezvous can lie just a cobblestone street away. 

Where to Stay in Paris

Le Marais

Paris’s young and hip have turned the aristocratic Jewish quarter in the 4th arrondissement into a bustling artistic hub teeming with fashion boutiques, funky galleries, and popular new restaurants featuring the hottest young chefs. 

Some may roll their eyes at the “bobo” (the charming French expression for the “bohemian bourgeoisie”) who wander these streets, or the sheer number of social media “influencers” holding impromptu shoots in the Instagrammable courtyards that this district is known for. But it’s hard to deny or ignore the fact that the influx of energy, creativity, and new money has created a neighbourhood worth exploring.

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Being the first amongst your friends to discover the latest trends or the first to score dinner reservations at the city’s most coveted restaurant. 

A TYPICAL DAY IN LE MARAIS:

Everyone knows that fashionistas and bobos love a leisurely morning. While you’re waiting for shops and cafes to open up, grab a fresh buttery pastry or two from Du Pain et des Idées. This bakery has a cult following of Parisian locals who venture across town to Le Marais just for the baked specialities from this oven.  

Sink your teeth into your French pastries while you explore Paris’s top local designers and vintage luxury consignment stores. Those into modern designs and aesthetics should make their way to Merci, an eclectic fashion and home concept store housed in an old wallpaper factory. Trés trendy! And that exquisite, near-perfect Chanel suit from Thank God I’m a V.I.P will have coworkers seething with envy on Monday morning. That alone is worth the price tag.  

Little Red Door

"If you’re the curious type, enter through the little red door of the aptly named Little Red Door bar. You’ll soon be falling down the bartender’s rabbit hole of inventive and delicious cocktails."

When you feel peckish, swing into any of the numerous bistros in the neighbourhood. Favourites in the vicinity include Les Enfants Rouges and Le Colimaçon. Feel like indulging in an afternoon sweet treat? Look no further than world-renowned French baker Lionel Poilâne at the Le Marais location of his bakery Poilâne. Grab a few of his bite-sized buttery creations for later. Trust us; these melt-in-your-mouth biscuits are life-changing.

Le Marais truly comes alive at night. What else will the fashionable do but drink a few decadent cocktails inside a swanky bar? We love Le Mary Celeste for their Hellmouth cocktail, and not just for its badass name. If you’re the curious type, enter through the little red door of the aptly named Little Red Door bar. You’ll soon be falling down the bartender’s rabbit hole of inventive and delicious cocktails. 

Latin Quarter 

Universites de Paris building

The Latin Quarter is perfect for all you sophisticated bookish types to show off your smarts. Home to a number of universities including the world-famous Sorbonne (the oldest university in Paris) and bookshops like the landmark Shakespeare and Company, the area is teeming with academics, intellectuals, and the well-read. 

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History, literature, culture, iconic monuments, and a rambunctious crowd of university students mixed with international tourists.

A TYPICAL DAY IN THE LATIN QUARTER:

While the students are running off to their morning class, breathe a sigh of relief that you’re on holiday at Jozi Cafe, a South African cafe with incredible pastries and fluffy American pancakes. You may not be late for class, but that doesn’t mean your brain isn’t looking for some stimulation. Hit up the Pantheon for a lesson in classical architecture and draw inspiration from the likes of Alexandre Dumas, Marie Curie, Emile Zola, amongst others.

Fancy a picnic?

"Rue Mouffetard street market is a great spot to pick up fresh produce, baked goods, and cured meats for a quick picnic"


Next, head to Shakespeare and Company to stock up on some texts to keep your brain elevated. If biology and zoology is more your thing, head to the French National Museum of Natural History. Here, you can expand your scientific knowledge with exhibitions in palaeontology, mineralogy, and geology.

The famed Rue Mouffetard street market is a great spot to pick up fresh produce, baked goods, and cured meats for a quick picnic at nearby Square Saint Medard. Fill your afternoon with Arab studies at the Institut du Monde Arabe and the Grande Mosquée de Paris or become a seasoned botanist at the Jardin des Plantes instead. You can even squeeze in both for extra credit. 

Take a deserved break from all your studies in the evening. Spend your night exploring the bustling bars and cafes in the Latin Quarter. Our favourites include Le Caveau des Oubliettes for the live jazz and the medieval dungeon setting, Le Piano Vache, and the cosy intimacy of La Machinerie.

Montmartre 

Sacred Heart, Paris, France, Montmartre, Church

The hill atop the 18th arrondissement may be most famous for the Sacre-Coeur Basilica and its sweeping views of the City of Lights, but look a little closer and you’ll find the true essence of Paris. Winding, narrow cobblestone lanes, bohemian street artists and performers peddling their various talents to passersby, and quaint cafes churning out delicate pastries and shots of espresso.  

This is where to stay in Paris if you're looking to see the iconic city the world has come to know and love, through the eyes of artists like Monet and Degas who found endless inspiration in the village of Montmartre. 

STAY HERE IF YOU LIKE:  

The romance and allure of the Belle Epoque of Paris, but don’t mind having to weave your way through tourists and the multitude of mimes while you’re at it.  

A TYPICAL DAY IN MONTMARTRE:

Wake up early to wander the nearly empty morning streets of Montmartre. You should head up to the famed Sacre-Coeur Basilica to take in the panoramic view of Paris before entering the Roman Catholic church to have a moment of reflection before the Blessed Sacrament. Simply gazing at the fine architecture and golden mosaics that adorn the interior will keep you occupied. 

You’re sure to be famished after all of that. Le Relais Gascon is a popular French restaurant known for its classic menu and reasonable prices. It is, however, often crowded with tourists, somewhat taking away from the authentic feel of a true Parisian bistro. If you’re more into something less, let’s say, well-known by non-locals, try Hardware Societe for international and Instagrammable fare beloved by hip Parisians.

Once you’ve been aptly fed, let your arty, bohemian side run wild with the best of them. Immerse yourself in the storied past of the Montmartre art scene at the Museé de Montmartre, a museum founded in 1960 inside one of the oldest buildings in the neighbourhood. It was once home to such geniuses as Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Suzanne Valadon, the first woman ever admitted into the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. Explore the Surrealist art of Salvador Dalí at the Dalí Paris, its permanent exhibition focuses primarily on the wacky Spaniard’s otherworldly sculptures and engravings.

For dinner, snag a reservation at Seb’on, the tiny husband-and-wife run 10-seater restaurant that serves complex, beautifully plated dishes that contrast with the simple and chic farmhouse decor. Afterwards, if you’re looking to end your Montmartre experience with another quintessential outing, head to the Moulin Rouge. Yes, that Moulin Rouge. Located just outside of Montmartre, the famous cabaret is still so much a part of the district’s mystique that we’ll still count it, despite the tourist trap feel and overpriced entrance fee. For a more authentic cabaret, or when you're not willing to part with nearly 80 quid for a show, head to Au Lapin Agile instead.

SAINT-GERMAIN-DES-PRÉS

Paris, France, Landmark, Sky, Clouds, Jardin Du

Fancy and sophisticated, just like you. Whether out on the town for the night or just heading to the corner shop for milk, you’re always well-heeled and put together. The chic enclave of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, once a hotspot for writers and intellectuals, is now where to stay in Paris for stylish shops, trendy cafes, fine art galleries, and quality antique stores.

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Living life like you’re strutting down a fashion runway. 

A TYPICAL DAY IN SAINT-GERMAIN-DES-PRÉS:

It might be a little touristy, but even the locals can’t deny the appeal of breakfast at Les Deux Magots. One of the oldest cafes in all of Paris, it's still a cultural mainstay after all these years.  Enjoy the late morning from inside the sprawling Jardin du Luxembourg, considered to be one of the most beautiful gardens in Paris.

Le Bon Marche

"Don’t forget to stop by the fully stocked wine shop on the lower level to discover wines from all over France"

When you’re ready for a light lunch and high-end shopping, head over to Le Bon Marche. It was the very first department store in the world and still offers some of the best luxury retail therapy in town. Keep your energy levels up to make the most of your shopping spree with a break across the street at La Grande Epicerie, a gourmet grocery store and a haven for food lovers and chefs around the world. From fresh oysters to warm flaky croissants, you’ll find exactly what you need to revitalise you. Don’t forget to stop by the fully stocked wine shop on the lower level to discover wines from all over France.

Reservations are a must at the regal Relais Louis XIII, the Michelin starred restaurant featuring classic French fare by chef Manuel Martinez. Being the savvy traveller that you are, you’ve already booked your table well in advance. The cost of dinner fetches a handsome price, but you’ll be treated like a king. It's a small price to pay to feel like royalty for a night. Despite the splurge on dinner, make room in your stomach and wallet for the mille-feuille.

If you’re still in the mood for late night drinks, the Prescription Cocktail Club will sort you out.

BASTILLE

Bastille pulses like a heart with unrelenting life, urgency, and vitality. Perhaps this can be attributed to the same rebelliousness and quest for freedom that kicked off the French Revolution here. Centred around the Place de la Bastille, the imposing column with the famous golden “Spirit of Freedom” atop it to commemorate the site of the former fortress prison.

Bastille is vibrant, thriving, and there’s always something exciting going on. Are you ready to start a revolution of your own? You’ve come to the right place.  

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Having a good time and don’t necessarily need complete silence to get a good night’s sleep.

A TYPICAL DAY IN BASTILLE

Having spent most of the night up until the early hours, Bastille is generally a little slower to wake up. Bring yourself back to life with a stroll along the Bassin de l’Arsenal, the houseboat basin that connects the Canal Saint-Martin with the Seine. Grab a coffee to go at Oh Lally or Passager for your walk. If you’re really suffering from last night’s exploits, sit down for breakfast at La Seine Cafe. Sit outside facing the canal and let the soft sunshine soothe last night's debauchery away.

Explore the cute inner courtyards and narrow passageways off the Rue du Faubourg St-Antoine, the main thoroughfare once famed for its legendary cabinet makers, furniture upholsterers, and skilled woodworkers. Many have since been replaced with smart boutiques where you can now pick up the latest fashions fresh off the Parisian runway.

Continue walking further east until you reach Viaduc des Arts, a renovated complex of design studios and ateliers within the old arches that held up a now-defunct railway. Above the viaduct lies the Promenade Plantée, a lovely 3-mile long pedestrian walkway built over the old railway tracks. It’s a great way to see impressive French architecture. The fact that the greenbelt is hardly ever crowded makes it a much-needed respite from the throngs of tourists found elsewhere in the city.

Come evening time, you’ll be spoilt for dinner and drinks options in Bastille. Between all the hottest new restaurant and long-standing local favourites, you know it won't be mediocre meal wherever you choose. Open for a number of years now, Septime is still one of Paris’s top-rated restaurants with the most coveted tables. Set your alarm for this one. You’ve got to call exactly three weeks ahead of your desired date in order to snag a table before it’s snatched up by some other lucky diner.

OBERKAMPF

This diverse and still rough-around-the-edges neighbourhood in the 11th arrondissement doesn’t have much by way of sights and attractions that would normally draw a visitor to Paris. What it does have though is a lot of character, quirkiness, and flair that will give your Paris experience a unique life of its own.

The district is covered in vibrant street art, eclectic vintage stores and a wide range of international restaurants, grocers, and shops. This is where to stay in Paris for a glimpse into the frenetic energy that is the heart and soul of Parisian life.

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A sense of adventure and exploring off the beaten path.

A TYPICAL DAY IN OBERKAMPF: 

Start your day with the local grocers at Marché des Enfants Rouges, Paris’s oldest known market still in operation after 400 years. Even if you’re not planning on doing any cooking of your own, their selection of fresh produce and locally made goods will make your mouth salivate. It’s a good thing that a number of the merchants are generous with their offerings of samples. Enjoy your tastings.

Fill up your time in Oberkampf by exploring the small yet beautiful Saint-Ambroise church. Stop by the Musée du Fumeur, the oddly fascinating museum focussed on all things smoking. While you’re walking, keep an eye out for the street art covering the sides of buildings and alleyways, particularly on Rue Dénoyez. The street was once filled with boutiques but fell on hard times. With one shop closing after another, the thoroughfare was left abandoned and derelict before street artists took over.

“Where’d you get that incredible piece?”

Fill your closet with unique vintage finds in Oberkampf.

When you’re ready for lunch, head to Passage Brady, referred to lovingly by locals as Little India for lunch. It’s tucked away and hard to find, but enter through Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin and you’ll be rewarded with a treasure trove of Indian, Pakistani, and Mauritian gut-busting dishes that will still leave your wallet surprisingly full too.

Fill your closet with unique vintage finds that will have your friends and family asking you, “Where’d you get that incredible piece?” Oberkampf is full of great finds if you’re willing to take the time to sift through the racks at BIS Boutique Solidaire, Alasinglinglin, Nice Piece, and the many other vintage shops in the vicinity.

End the night at Ober Mamma for a fresh take on Italian pasta and pizzas or La Gouttière for a North African meal that will soon become your new favourite cuisine. If partaking in the area’s alternative nightlife scene is of interest, try catching a show at the L’Alhambra, a small art-deco inspired venue offering unique concerts, theatre shows, and comedy specials nightly.

BEST FOR…

BEST AREA TO STAY IN PARIS FOR FAMILIES

Make travel with kids easy and stress-free in the 16th arrondissement, particularly in the Chaillot neighbourhood which is conveniently sandwiched between the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. 

The sprawling Bagatelle park, which contains a number of smaller parks with playgrounds, open lawns, and pavilions will help your kids release that endless energy young ones are known to possess. The Jardin d’Acclimatation is a long-standing amusement park complete with roller coasters, carnival games, and a petting zoo. 

BEST AREA TO STAY IN PARIS FOR ROMANTIC GETAWAYS

What can possibly be more romantic in Paris than walking hand in hand along the Seine? On the small island of Île Saint-Louis in the centre of Paris, you’ll be flanked on both sides by the famous river where you can take romantic walks whenever you feel like it. Built by King Louis XIII as a retreat for the wealthy, the island's breathtaking mansions still retain their grandeur and allure. 

Don’t forget to visit the Pont Marie, or “the lover’s bridge.” Tradition requires you to kiss your companion and make a wish for everlasting love. Love is always sweeter together at Berthillon Glacier where you can share a scoop or two of ice cream of the much-loved warm weather treat. 

BEST AREA TO STAY IN PARIS FOR ART LOVERS

Stay in the small district of Invalides which centres around Les Invalides, the grand complex of Baroque style buildings that honour France’s military history. The area’s stately architecture oozes with glamour. Its close proximity to Musée d'Orsay, Musée Rodin, Musée Maillol, and Musée de l'Orangerie makes it one of Paris’s most desirable neighbourhoods for art lovers. 

For a delicious meal that’s also a feast for the eyes (and also one of our all-time favourite restaurants in the city) make a reservation at the superb Savarin la Table.

BEST AREA TO STAY IN PARIS FOR YOUNG TRAVELLERS

Young travellers will feel right at home within the Latin Quarter of the 5th arrondissement, thanks to the proximity to the Sorbonne and other universities, inexpensive world cafes, lively bistros, and eclectic bookshops lining the narrow streets. The energetic atmosphere and vibe will have students and travellers enjoying all that Paris has to offer, without leaving you skint.

In the mood for a delicious lunch? Head to Café Le Papillon, an adorable French-style cafe serving up incredible Japanese street food. We’re huge fans of the yokozuna classic bun, and trust us, you’ll be too. Of course, the hard-knock student life often requires a pint or two to help you de-stress. Brewberry beer hall on Rue du Pot de Fer has you covered with hundreds of beer options.

BEST AREA TO STAY IN PARIS FOR SIGHTSEEING

You’re in Paris to take in all the sights and you don’t plan to waste any time ticking those check marks off your bucket list. Palais Royal, the stunning historic district in the 1st arrondissement is right in the centre of it all. The area is just a stone’s throw from the Louvre museum, Pont Neuf, the Tuileries Garden, and the namesake of the area, the Palais Royal, the former royal palace that is now the seat of the Ministry of Culture. The inner courtyards are open daily to visitors and feature a remarkable sculpture by Daniel Buren that you won’t want to miss. 

If you can afford to, splurge on an unforgettable meal choose Le Grand Véfour, a 2 Michelin-starred French restaurant that is steeped in opulence.

BEST AREA TO STAY IN PARIS FOR NIGHT-LIFE

Bastille is all about celebrating life and celebrating it loud. Night owls, cocktail queens, music lovers, and club goers can hit up the party scene in the always lively Bastille district. Rock out to live music at the Bataclan. Sip on creative cocktails at the Moonshiner, a secret bar hidden behind a pizzeria, or Lone Palm on Rue Keller, a mid-century cocktail bar with a fancy Tiki feel.

BEST AREA TO STAY IN PARIS FOR WORK TRIPS

Business travellers may want to stay near their office, which will most likely be in La Défense, the biggest business district in Europe. Although it's roughly six kilometres west of the city centre, it's a very accessible Metro ride into the better-known sights and attractions. 

There are plenty of reasons to stay in the area besides work - Paris isn't a city designed for all work and no play! La Défense boasts over 60 monumental works of art by notable artists such as Joan Miró, Richard Serra, and Alexander Calder. These are scattered throughout the 160 hectare-wide district so you can catch a few if you manage to sneak out during your lunch break.

BEST AREA TO STAY IN PARIS FOR WALKING

Despite the uphill climb leading into the Montmartre district of Paris, it’s still the best area to stay for those who love exploring new destinations on foot. The narrow cobblestone alleyways, detailed architecture, and vibrant street life make it ideal for early morning walks, afternoon jaunts, and evening wanders. Take one look at the art all around and you’ll understand why renowned artists like Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Monet found their muses amongst the streets of Montmartre. 

Just don’t forget to pack comfortable walking shoes! We’re not kidding about that uphill climb.

BEST AREA TO STAY IN PARIS FOR FOODIES

Come on, we’re talking about Paris. You know any area is going to be a great area for food. If we were forced to choose just one that’s really exciting us these days, we’d have to go with Canal Saint-Martin. The area has undergone a transformation in recent years, and with it, a plethora of inventive new international restaurants have popped up. Places we can’t get enough of? Panda Panda for homemade Chinese food, Philou for seasonal French fare, Japanese bistro Koko, and revamped houseboat-turned-restaurant and bar Péniche Antipode.


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