By Alice Tegg, Editorial and Marketing Assistant

Alice has recently returned from a weekend in Paris, where she found a neighbourhood that ticks all the boxes for an easy city break: central location, quality food, a local crowd and some superb hotels. Here are her tips on where to stay and what to do in Paris’ trendiest district.

In a city as big and as popular as Paris, choosing when to go might be your first challenge. As an epicentre of culture that’s easy to reach year-round from most of Europe, Paris is a perennial favourite, but I think it comes into its own in the spring. The trees that line the Seine wear their new-season green, the streets come alive as cafes spill onto the pavements, and the pale Hausmannian buildings look especially elegant in the soft sunlight.

Where to base yourself will likely be your second hurdle. On the one hand, you want to be close to the highlights, while on the other you want to experience the ‘real’ city, away from tourist traps. Well, I think I struck gold: a neighbourhood lived in and loved by Parisians, overflowing with the coolest cafes, restaurants, boutiques and bars, that happens to be a walk away from many of the city’s top attractions. This is the 6th arrondissement, and Saint-Germain-des-Prés. And, as luck would have it, we’ve found a pair of super-stylish hotels right in the heart of it. Among the many run-of-the-mill hotels in Paris charging through the nose for a glorified shoebox, these two break the mould with their retro charm, utmost comfort and better-than-average prices. 

Hotel Baume

After a quick flight from London, I took the direct train to Paris Gare du Nord and navigated my first metro journey. A 5-minute walk from the Odéon metro station, my first stop was Hotel Baume,  located right next to the Jardin du Luxembourg and the impressive Odéon Theatre. The elegant 19th-Century exterior gives way to a gilded interior inspired by the glitz and glamour of the 1930s, when screen sirens became fashion icons and design was all about opulence. 

Each of the 35 rooms is themed to reflect the style of the era through different lenses, such as cinema, fashion or architecture. I stayed in a Junior Suite, one of the ‘design’ themed rooms. Three floor-to-ceiling windows and plenty of space (a rarity in Paris hotels) made the suite feel light and relaxed with a touch of luxury. The décor is bold – think velvet furnishings, chrome and gold details – but it pulls it off.  It wouldn’t be how I’d choose to decorate at home, but isn’t that the point? I don’t want to stay in a replica of my own bedroom, I want an ‘experience’ whilst still feeling comfortable, and Hotel Baume has perfected that.

This cultural hub is a haven for art and history lovers, with museums and galleries round every corner. But a beautiful spring day called for an afternoon in the Jardin du Luxembourg. Free to enter, the vast gardens are a popular spot for Parisians to relax, picnic, play chess or read a book. After wandering the blossoming orchards and manicured lawns, I took a seat by the water fountain where, year-round, you’ll find people enjoying the quiet pleasure of feeling the sun on their face. It’s simple, but it works.

The 6th arrondissement is packed with brilliant eateries, so as evening rolled around I was spoilt for choice. I enjoyed a dinner of French classics at Le Prince Racine, a charming bistro near the hotel, before heading back for a pre-mixed cocktail from the honesty bar. The notion of serving yourself won’t suit everyone, but I found it only added to the relaxed atmosphere. The little patio was the perfect spot for a drink on a pleasant evening, before I slipped off to my suite for the night.

Hotel Saint Andre des Arts

A few streets closer to the Seine, and a few decades ahead in décor, Hotel Saint Andre des Arts pays homage to the groovy 60s and 70s. A soundtrack of rock and roll greeted me as I stepped into reception, decked out with swirly tiles and velvet seating, and followed me up the colourful floors to my room. I was handed some champagne and sweet treats, and left to unpack.

Each floor has its own retro colour scheme: pink and coral, sage green, duck egg blue. My floor was perhaps the most recognisably ’70s’, with a brave mustard yellow and burnt orange theme which flowed into the room. Though I’m usually a fan of more subtle tones, I found the designer furniture and maximalist vibrancy a welcome shake-up to the predictable Scandi-chic style that tends to dominate hotel interiors. My yellow Executive Room was warm and welcoming, and situated above the street; I could open up the French windows to let the sounds of the city in, and even get a peak at the Eiffel tower in the distance, but with the windows closed it was blissfully quiet. 

I loved that I was in a real Parisian neighbourhood, where students cycle past on their way to class and friends gather to catch up over coffee. But top sights like Notre Dame, the Seine and the Louvre were only a short walk away. I spent hours lost in the halls of the Louvre and still barely scratched the surface of the masterpieces on display. When my feet started to ache, I decided to return to the hotel for a bit of self-care. In the old cellar, the small spa is perfect for relieving your senses after a day of urban exploring. As well as massages, there’s a hot tub for soothing sore muscles; you get the whole room to yourself, and the air is even scented to your preference.

After an hour of total zen it was hard to haul myself out to dinner, but thankfully I didn’t have to go far. In a pretty arcade opposite the hotel, between lively hangouts full of Paris’ 20-somethings, including the city’s oldest café, I found tiny La Jacobine, and the best onion soup I’ve ever tasted. People were queuing for this stuff, it was that good. I’d have been back the next night for round two, if it wasn’t time to head home. But next time, I know exactly where to go.


If you’re looking for a spring escape, check out our top picks for where to go on holiday in April and May.