Paris is sizzling this summer with record-high tourist arrivals and near-high record temperatures. If you're heading to the city before early September, it's often tricky to find an elegant but reasonably priced hotel with air-conditioning. Nights can be stifling in mid-summer, but we've found a few excellent values on rooms and rails.
One of the most chic and affordable hotels is located in the leafy and peaceful 7th arrondissement, a stone's throw away from Napoleon's Tomb and within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower. The friendly Hotel Muguet (11, rue Chevert, 75007; tel. 01-47-05-05-93; www.hotelmuguet.com) has air-conditioned rooms starting at 90€ for a single and a 100€ for a double. Breakfast can be delivered to your room for 8€. The double rooms are spacious for Paris with soundproofed windows and small but sparkling bathrooms. There's a Laundromat just down the street, as well as a newsstand, florist and hair salon. An outdoor restaurant with a beautiful summer terrace is literally around the corner. Bus stops and the La Tour Maubourg metro are just a few minutes walk away.
If you have your heart set on staying in the Latin Quarter, very close to the Sorbonne, there's no place more welcoming than the perfectly located, and air-conditioned, Hotel Minerve (13 rue des Ecoles, 75005; tel.01-43-26-26-04; www.hotel-paris-minerve.com). Double rooms range in price from 84€ to 130€ depending on their size and view. Several upper floor rooms have a lovely view of the Paris rooftops and the Notre Dame Cathedral, a few minutes walk away. Breakfast is 8€, served in your room or in the basement breakfast lounge with exposed stone. The hotel is full of antique tapestries and many of the rooms have wood beamed ceilings; 10 of them have balconies with tables and chairs, perfect for a late-summer drink. The affable owners, Eric and Sylvie Gaucheron, will happily provide you with any information you'd like on touring their city.
Over on the right bank, in the trendy Oberkampf neighborhood close to the Bastille and the Marais, you'll find the colorful Hotel Beaumarchais (3 rue Oberkampf, 75011; tel. 01-53-36-86-86; www.hotelbeaumarchais.com). Catering to a young, hip crowd, the Beaumarchais is an artsy hotel. In its art deco lobby the paintings change every month. And some of the artists on display are customers. In fact, the friendly owner, an artist himself, will generously consider your art for the next available exhibit -- so bring samples or at least photos of your work if you'd like to be considered. The small and minimalist rooms here go for 90€ (single) and 110€ (double). There's a small courtyard where the copious 10€ buffet breakfast is served in summer. The street on which the hotel is located is chock-a-block with bars, cafes and reasonably priced restaurants. If you're a light sleeper, be sure to request a room overlooking the quiet courtyard. Although the front rooms are soundproofed, you can still hear some rowdy revelers on the street late at night, especially on weekends.
Staying in the Marais (the beautiful old Jewish quarter in Paris) is usually not advisable in summer. The ancient hotels get stuffy and there's usually no air-conditioning. But a new hotel has just opened its doors designed by the oh-so-fabulous Christian LaCroix. The Hotel du Petit Moulin (29-31 rue de Poitou, 75003; tel. 01-42-74-10-10; www.hoteldupetitmoulin.com) has 17 rooms each with an outlandishly different design. Some come with thick white carpets and blindingly white bedspreads and bathrooms, other have Dalmatian-style black and white carpets, red velvet chairs and dark, heavy bedspreads. Prices vary with the rooms' size but the least expensive doubles start at 180€ and go up to 350€ for a suite. All rooms have central air-conditioning.
The most spectacular hotel deal in Paris this summer is at the luxurious and newly renovated Royal Monceau Hotel (37 avenue Hoche, 75008; tel. 01-42-99-88-00; www.royalmonceau.com), steps from the Champs Elysees. The hotel is offering a special summer rate of 379€ for a plush double room (that normally goes for a whopping 650€). This special nightly rate includes a lavish buffet breakfast in the hotel's fabulous Le Jardin restaurant (designed by the award-winning Jacques Garcia). The beautiful marble bathrooms are enough reason to stay here. The hotel, air-conditioned throughout, has a new spa and health club with an indoor pool, as well as two restaurants (one French and one Italian). First opened during the roaring 1920s and completely refurbished just last year, the Royal Monceau has seen its share of celebrity visitors including General Eisenhower, Robert DeNiro, Michael Jackson and Madonna.
Summer Deals on Trains to Paris
This summer, Thalys trains to Paris from Brussels, Cologne and Amsterdam are up to 50% cheaper if you buy your tickets ahead of time from RailEurope (tel. 877/257-2887; www.raileurope.com). Throughout the summer Eurostar round-trip tickets in First class from London to Paris are going for as low as $284 (normally they are over $350). First Class on the Eurostar means private compartments, plush seats, complimentary newspapers, champagne, wine and three-course meals served at your seat. If you're traveling by train to France and traveling within Europe, Raileurope has a special summer offer. If you buy a 5-day Eurail Selectpass (3, 4, or 5 countries) you'll get one free car rental day in any of the countries (France included) you're traveling to.
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