Friday, June 12, 2009

An Overnight in Paris

I've been to Paris three times before. Once two decades ago, the Other Marie had a job where she got free standby tickets to Paris. We went for the weekend on now-defunct Tower Air, in the top bubble of a 747. We stayed in a cheap place in the Latin Quarter where showers down the hall were extra. We both went without. I wasn't so brave back then.

Years later, I straggled into the Republique neighborhood at the end of, by overnight train from Milan. I'd booked Hotel de l'Exposition on a discount website. The Internet was still used by a minority of people and discount sites still offered genuine discounts, instead of the same product all the other sites offered. I paid $60 a night for a decent room, but same as most small hotels in Paris, it was tiny and nothing special.

The last time I went—in 2004—I avoided staying overnight. I was living in Barcelona and had a round-trip ticket on Ryanair. For $40, I went to and from Paris for the day. I started at 5, walking to the now-defunct Ryanair bus, and got home at two in the morning.

Long day.

This time, I'm stopping overnight on the way home from Morocco. I tried to get a flight connection on the same day but it would have been cutting the times too close.

I checked the Hotel de l'Exposition site. 75 euros. That's US$ 105.

Hmmm. Surely I can get a nicer place for that amount of money. But there are a lot of wretched, crappy hotels in Paris. How to avoid bedbug-central and get something decent, clean, and cheap?

Many major Western cities have this crappy hotel room problem. New York. London. I get around it both of those places by using Priceline after checking rates on Those in the know who need real bargains can get luxury hotels by Heathrow for about $60, or in downtown JC for $80. One byproduct of these economic times is that you can get a nice hotel room in Manhattan right now for $100 on Priceline. My last trip to London, I netted a centrally located Holiday Inn for $63.

What's the secret location in Paris?

I posed the question to my Facebook pals.

No one knew the answer to that, but people gave me many ideas for nice hotels. Unfortunately, most of them were still over 100 euros each ($140). Yow. That's too much for a place to sleep en route to somewhere else.

I had tried different Priceline combinations for two days when finally I hit it: $90 for a nice-looking Novotel.

It's still over a hundred bucks once I include the fees but alas, Paris ain't cheap.

Here are the places that were recommended to me:

Hotel Bonaparte. Steve says: "Nice place, great location, around the corner from St. Sulpice, and directly across from Pierre Herme and his INCROYABLE pastries!"

Hôtel du Lys. Martha says: "Fantastic old building near Place St. Michel Metro. Convenient and had nice breakfast. Walking distance to Notre Dame."

Hotel Royal Phare. Mom says: "We stayed here in 2000... it was quaint, close to the Eiffel Tower and cheap ... looks like it is more now but check your bargain sources."

Hotel Louvre Richelieu. Steve says: "Near the Louvre and Palais Royale on the Right Bank. Lots on new sushi and noodle places have opened up in this neighborhood in recent years..."

Denise likes Hotel Grande Ecoles, but has also heard good things about "the weird hospital place."

I saw some promising options on
Hotel Valadon
Acacias Etoile Hotel
Hotel Tourisme
Hotel Louvre Forum

Last, I stumbled over these informative sites, but did not have to use them.
Paris on a Budget
Cheap Paris hotel booking engine. Really cheap, not like or

If you have a recommendation to add, please click on "Comments." I hope Steve will share his apartment booking source here.

1 comment:

Shane said...

Hey Marie, don't know if you're still looking for a hotel, and the one I have is a bit of a stretch, but it may work for you.

I stayed a week at Hôtel Henri IV on the Ile de la Cité last january. It's not much of a place, but the location is absolutely unbeatable, and since you have only one day to explore you'll want to be in the heart of things.

When I stayed there we got a deal, I think we were paying about US$75 per night for a small room with two twin beds. The owners are very nice so if your french is up to negotiating I'm sure you could get a good price.

The catch is payment. I remember there being some issue with a deposit; my friend's aunt (who lives in Paris) had to drop off a deposit ahead of time or something like that. Maybe that was only because we were there multiple nights, though. In any case it might be worth checking out.

Be careful, cause there's another Hôtel Henri IV in Paris - make sure you get the one on Place Dauphine on the Ile.