Firstly you'll have to decide if you're a Left or Right Bank sort of person. The Left Bank has traditionally been the stronghold of the avant-garde and today oozes bohemian charm. The Right Bank of the river Seine is synonymous with elegance and it home to some of the most luxurious hotels in Europe. In Paris chic doesn't come cheap and if you're hoping to stay on the Right Bank be prepared for your wallet to take a beating.
Parisian hotels are officially rated on a star system, and you would assume that: the bigger the constellation, the better the hotel. However this isn't always the case and it isn't unknown for a hotel which has been awarded a maximum of four stars to declare just three (and consequently pay less tax). The moral is that it pays to have a good look at what each establishment has to offer before making any commitments.
Even though Paris has plenty of available accommodation it makes financial sense to book in advance. Not only will your money go much further, but you won't have to waste time looking for a bed on arrival. If you're prepared to spend a short time on the Internet you should be able to find a good deal.
However, if you arrive without having booked anywhere most French hoteliers speak enough English to take an enquiry over the phone. If you're still stuck the staff at the Office du Tourisme (which has branches at the Gare de Lyon, Gare du Nord, Tour Eiffel, and on the Champs-Élysées) will find you a suitable room for a small commission.
If you're planning on 'going it alone' the best hunting ground for budget hotels are the Latin Quarter and the 6th arrondissement on the Left Bank, while the cream of Paris' up-market accommodation can be found on the Right Bank in the 8 th, 16th and 17th arrondissements.
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