Finding where to stay in Paris for the first time can be a little overwhelming. After all, Paris is known as the city of romance, so you definitely want to make sure you pick your location wisely, to fit your travelling style and needs. G and I first visited the French capital together in 2015 when I organised a romantic weekend in Paris. Needless to say that we simply loved Paris. We liked it because it seemed to be the perfect blend of vibrant, grand, modern and sexy. Without further ado, here is where to stay in Paris on your first visit.
Where to stay in Paris (for first time visitors) - Contents
Where to stay in Paris
The first time we visited Paris as a couple we stayed near Palais Garnier in the 9th arrondissement. This is because I booked a surprise weekend for G and wanted to be as close to the opera as possible. You see, the whole reason for the trip was to have a fancy night and go to the opera together to watch a show. Tickets to Palais Garnier can sell out months in advance, so I made sure to plan my trip 6 months in advance. This was really good, as the plane tickets, as well as hotels, were a little cheaper than expected. We went to Paris in November and G had no idea about the trip. I packed the bags one night in advance and hid them in the hallway. In the morning of this birthday, I woke him up at 5am and told him to get dressed quickly. He kept asking questions and had no idea what was going on. I already had a taxi booked and everything in order waiting for us to just go. When we got to the airport, I checked us in quickly so he still didn't know where we were going. Eventually, when I started going towards the gate, he figured I was taking him on a surprise trip to Paris. It was just as exhilarating for me, as it was for him. When we got to Paris, we took the bus towards the centre but luckily it stopped just near the opera. We stayed in InterContinental Paris Le Grand which was just minutes away from the opera, the perfect location for our needs.
Paris has 20 Arrondissements and each of them has its own virtues. During our second, third and fourth trip to Paris, we moved around a little to experience what the city has to offer. We even asked the locals what they think of each Arrondissement so you can better decide where to stay in Paris.
Louvre - 1st Arrondissement
Do you want to be close to all the attractions in Paris? Then very likely you will want to stay in the 1st Arrondissement. This is the must-see place in Paris, especially if this is your first ever visit here. The 1st Arrondissement is known as the district of the Kings of France. It's also one of the most expensive places to stay in Paris, so if you are a budget traveller, then this might not be a good option. When picking your accommodation in the 1st Arrondissement, make sure your room faces an inner courtyard, as the place can get quite loud at times. 1st Arrondissement is also the district of Les Halles which has the huge central market. It's a little less fancy but also more affordable too.
Overall this is a great place for tourists but not so much if you wish to enjoy Paris as a local.
Le Marais - 4th Arrondissement
When we visited the 4th Arrondissement, we thought this is one of the nicest. I know Paris can be subjective, but we loved this part the most. There are lots of things to do in the 4th Arrondissement and it's ideal for tourists and locals alike. Here you can find the beautiful Notre Dame or the Sainte Chapelle. The 4th Arrondissement is also known to be the gay district so if you are looking to party, you will see many rainbow flags in the area. We also recommend the 4th Arrondissement for those who are romantic at heart and want a lovely walk on the banks of the Seine.
Latin Quartier - 5th Arrondissement
Fun little fact about the 5th Arrondissement: it's called the Latin Quarter and its known for its culture and history. This is actually where the Romans settled for the first time and founded the city of Lutetia. It's also the oldest district of Paris and also the district of students. And where there are universities, there is accommodation for decent prices. The 5th Arrondissement is a lively district which offers great accommodation and great nightlife.
Saint-Germain-des-Prés - 6th Arrondissement
The 6th Arrondissement is where to stay in Paris if you like fancy cafes and beautiful art galleries. We loved the 6th Arrondissement but we also thought it was a little pricey. Of course, we know Paris is not a cheap destination anyway. 6th Arrondissement is home to luxury boutiques so you can find a great hotel if you want an elegant trip to Paris. You'll find lovely streets and beautiful grand architecture. Even if you don't stay in Paris here, we still recommend that you visit the area, especially for the Luxembourg gardens and the Saint Sulpice Church. The 6th Arrondissement is well known for its Quartier Saint Germain des Prés, where intellectuals and artists used to meet a long time ago. There is something spectacular about seeing a place so rich in history.
Eiffel Tower - 7th Arrondissement
The 7th Arrondissement is for you if you want to see what Paris is famed for: The Eiffel Tower and the Invalides. It's incredibly beautiful but can also get incredibly busy at times. In the Autumn, this is one of my favourite parts of Paris. Loved the haute-couture and those beautiful high-end shops and boutiques. Now, given this is super touristy as it is the heart of Paris, there is no surprise that it's one of the most expensive parts of the city. If you want to see Paris as it was intended for travellers, then this is a great place. However, if you like to live like a local and mingle with locals, then the 7th Arrondissement is not the place for you.
Champs-Élysées - 8th Arrondissement
Fashion, luxury and upscale boutiques? This is the place for you. The 8th Arrondissement is calling all luxury travellers who want to enjoy the famed "Golden Triangle" of Paris: Rue Montaigne – Rue George V – Avenue des Champs-Élysées. As you can already tell, this is the best place for fashion lovers and luxury travellers. This is not suitable for budget travellers as most hotels in this area are pricey. We recommend visiting the 8th Arrondissement as it's one of our favourite places for fashion.
Opéra - 9th Arrondissement
We are a little biased as we really liked the vibe in the 9th Arrondissement. There aren't many attractions in the 9th Arrondissement but we think a night at the opera is a must when in Paris. There are several shops around which made it easier for us to do some shopping. It has a more authentic to feel to it and in general, had a very good time here. It has beautiful architecture, great cafes and it's a lively district.
Here is a cool tip: many pay to have a tour of the Palais Garnier, but if you buy tickets in advance, you can get them for as little as £20 per person and basically get to see the opera house for yourself. You can also take as many pictures as you want.
In terms of the hotel, we are a little biased. We loved our stay at the InterContinental but do note we wanted to enjoy a fancy weekend. There are various hotels in the area suitable for budget oriented or mid-range travellers as well.
Montmartre - 18th Arrondissement
Ah, Montmartre, the perfect balance in Paris between living like a local and exploring Paris like a trendy traveller. It's one of the most formidable Arrondissements in Paris because it's home to one of the prettiest neighbourhoods in Paris, Quartier Montmartre, but has also many areas which have been forgotten. We really liked Little India in this Arrondissement for example. For best pictures of Paris, make sure to head to the 18th Arrondissement even if you don't want to position yourself here.