Hotel or Apartment?
Hotels are usually a nice choice for couples or small families. Your hotel choices will generally be cleaner, provide maid service, and be closer to the center of things. Most of your meals will be eaten out which gets pricey but also enables you to enjoy that part of the culture as well.
Apartments are generally not to the same cleanliness standards as hotels and don’t come with a maid, but they give you a quick glimpse of the Parisian lifestyle, allow for larger families or groups of friends traveling together for a fraction of a multiple-room hotel price, and they have kitchens which give you the option of cooking in instead of eating every meal out.
We’ve done both and both were great experiences; however, for a large family, the apartment was definitely a better deal and saved a lot of money.
A quick web search for Paris hotel and you could be looking through listings for weeks. There is no shortage of places to stay. Word of mouth is great (so if you go and stay somewhere, let me know so we can post it), but searches can work too. Just study a map and ask around.
I like these sites: http://www.vacationrentals.com and http://www.vrbo.com/vacation-rentals/europe/france/ile-de-france/paris for apartments.
Paris is divided into “arrondissements” or districts/neighborhoods. Most websites will tell you the general location of the hotel or apartment based on which arrondissements it’s in. Some will mark that with the number and a tiny letter e printed by it like an exponent. For lodging and trip planning, it is important to know a little about those districts, where things are, and what the general feel of the area is. There are higher crime areas, so, of course, you want to avoid these.
Wikitravel has a great article listing the arrondissements and giving links for more detailed information. When you book a place, check out this article and get a good idea where you are going.
Whether you stay at an apartment or a hotel, you can save money and eat well by grocery shopping for breakfast. There are Monoprix and other grocery store and patisseries everywhere. Locate your nearest Monoprix and your nearest bakery and you’ll be set.
For 10-20 Euros a person, we got average room service at the hotel we stayed. For about 15 Euros, 6 of us were absolutely stuffed when I shopped in the morning. Fresh breads and pastries from the local bakery (patisserie) and fruit, juices, and delicious French cheeses from the Monoprix. French also make delicious jams if you’d rather that on your baguette, so you won’t go hungry.
- An extra towel or two if you are traveling with your family.
- A corkscrew if you drink wine.
- In a hotel, a small cutting board and paring knife are invaluable.
- Paper towels.
(This will be added to as you send in your experiences… or if I go back a few more times)
This is a French military officer’s hotel, so it is available for military officers only and, as of this posting, the officer must be present to stay (i.e. A spouse can’t stay there unless the military member is also staying there at that time.)
Wow. This place is like a palace. Finished in 1928 along side the beautiful church of St. Augustin next door, it is a beautiful example of Art Deco architecture. The inside is beautiful and the service is great. Not all staff members speak English, but there are several that do and can assist you.
The rooms are small and modest in comparison to the rest of the hotel, but the are also clean. Our first stay, we were able to squeeze 6 bodies into one room, but it was quite a tight fit. There was no shower curtain, so bathing is creative. There is a bathtub and a removable shower head to use. Truly, the building is beautiful and the restaurants are very nice, but the rooms don’t have the same glamour. They are small. I’d still stay there – but with a small group or more rooms.
Breakfast (room service) is good, but you’ll enjoy a bakery/Monoprix breakfast better for less money. The Monoprix is on the corner of the large intersection just opposite the hotel to the left. The grocery department is to the left when you enter the store. The Patisserie is right around the corner from the hotel on the way to the Monoprix.
Dinner is another story. We didn’t eat at the Grand Carte, but Petit Carte still has served us our best meal in Paris and for the least amount of money. Shop at Monoprix for breakfast and then eat there exclusively and you will have saved a lot of money for souvenirs. The meals are in courses, the staff is very friendly, and it’s all delicious.
The location of this place is great. There are two metro lines very close by (which get you to the heart of Paris quickly). The St. Austustin stop is less than a block away and literally around the corner. The Miromesnil line is about 5 blocks down, but near a great Japanese restaurant and a Starbucks. North of this are is a nice shopping area around the train station: Gare St. Lazare that is a 5-10 minute walk. You can also easily walk from the hotel to the Concord and the Champs Elysees. With a grocery store, a bakery, a chocolate shop, and a Starbucks all nearby, it’s high on my list of places to return. Oh! And, for children, there is a nice little playground right next to the hotel.
Parking is not a problem. There is an underground parking lot right next door (less than a block) where you can leave your car as long as you’d like. The rate in 2006 was 23 Euros/day.
Left) the Eglise Saint Augustine that is directly next to our hotel Below) Our hotel, the Cercle National De Armes de Terre De Mer et De L’Air, a 150 year old military officer’s hotel. The entrance is in the very center.
Rue De La Glaciere:
Rue de la Glaciere; 14e arrondissement
This apartment suited our needs perfectly and we would definitely go back. The building is quite old and charming with two balconies in the apartment looking out to the street where they hold markets every Wednesday and Saturday. It’s a quite residential neighborhood yet there is an excellent bakery right across the street and a Monoprix (grocer) just a block away. Walk 10 minutes in one direction and you’ll be at a huge park with a lake, jogging/walking trails, a Chinese restaurant, and a playground. 10 minutes in the other direction will lead you past 3 boucheries (meat markets), a produce stand, and a florist before you get to the Metro line #6 stop, Glaciere. By Metro, you’re about 15 minutes away from most of the tourist areas of Paris and the line will take you directly to the Trocadero – an excellent place to get a view of the Eiffel tower.
The apartment building is secure, so you will need a pass code to get through the first two doors. The apartment is just above the restaurant below on the 1st floor (in Europe, the ground floor is 0 and the 1st floor is up one flight of stairs). The apartment is clean. The ceilings have nice lamps and beatiful crown molding. There are two spacious bedrooms. The toilet is in a separate (small) room from the shower and sink which is also in a small room. The water pressure and temperature was excellent.
The kitchen is tiny, but has most everything that you need. In it is also a washer/dryer combination machine that works fairly well, but not quickly. There is a coffee pot, water cooker, toaster, dishwasher, and toaster oven. There is a refrigerator as well and a small cupboard that opens to a area of the wall with slits in it, so it is ventilated meaning, in December, it’s like having a second refrigerator, but in the summer, it would get quite hot.
The living room area has the dining table with fold down leaves and a large sectional hide-a-bed sofa that could easily fit 2 adults or 3-4 children. It also has a small fireplace with a nice mantle.
There is television, FREE wireless internet, and FREE phone calls to Germany, the United States, and several other countries (FREE to land lines only). The DVD player works for US region 1 disks, but defaults to French, so you’ll have to go to the language menu on the DVD screen and select English.
The parking garage is just a few blocks away – not close enough to haul everything, but there is good parking on the street for that. The garage parking on Rue Wurtz costs 50 Euros for one week per space. If you have a large car, buy two spaces. It is very secure. They do watch their cameras which we unintentionally tested by doing shadows in my headlights… he did come down on his golf cart and ask what we were doing.
This apartment is great, but here are the quirks: The coffee cups are tiny tea cups, so if you are a serious coffee drinker, either bring your own mugs or buy some cheap ones at the Monoprix. The bed linens that are included are disposable and very thin, so bring your own bed sheets and pillow cases. I’d bring a blanket or two during the winter as they didn’t have many extras. The towels are adequate, but I’d bring a couple extras. Use the heaters in the winter to hang up your towels and they’ll be plenty dry by morning. The heaters work remarkably well.
The owners do not live in Paris. They have a girl take care of the place and meet you there to give you the key. They are very nice though and are quick to help if problems arise. There was a problem with the toilet on Christmas day and not only did they come, but they also managed to get a plumber there who stayed until it was fixed.
The pizza place across the street is average and the ice cream isn’t the good French ice cream. I wouldn’t go back there, but I’d definitely go back to the apartment.