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Paris Long Term

Keeping Costs Low and Quality High

by Carol Perehudoff

Thousands of artists have come to Paris and starved in a garret. How they found that garret is what I’d like to know. Many of the cheapest hotels won’t allow stays of more than two weeks, and affordable apartments are as scarce as Parisians in sweatpants.

Staying long term in Paris often means drifting through a series of rock-bottom budget hotels, at least for awhile. This is not all bad—it’s a great way to explore the different arrondissements. The Latin Quarter—lively, touristy, and overrun with Greek restaurants—is heavy on backpackers but it’s central and cheap. The Hotel Marignan on 13, rue du Sommerard, 75005 (011-33-1-43-54-6381; www.hotel-marignan.com) is a friendly, quirky place with rooms from $50 including breakfast (and free laundry). It offers a few single rooms in low season (after October) on a reasonable monthly basis. Enquire for rates and availability.

Another budget option is the Hotel Esmeralda. Located in a 17th century building near Notre Dame and the Seine at 4, rue St-Julien-le-Pauvre, 75005 (011-33-1-43-54-1920). Check out the nearby Shakespeare and Co. Bookstore at 37, rue de la Bûcherie (shakespeareco.org), an offbeat literary institution rumored to house book-loving stragglers in exchange for a few hours work.

For a trendier scene, cross the Seine to the Marais, a gay-friendly right bank locale filled with chic bars and funky boutiques. One of the most reasonable hotels is the Grand Hôtel du Loiret on 8, rue des Mauvais Garcons, 75004; (011-33-1-48-87-7700).

When the novelty of shared bathrooms and noisy Australian backpackers fades—and this takes no time at all—the bulletin board at the American Church in Paris at 65 Quai d’Orsay (www.acparis.org) is a good bet for finding apartment rentals (it’s popular so go early).

Language schools also often offer accommodations service. The Alliance Française, at 101, Boulevard Raspail (011-33-1-42-84-9000, www.alliancefr.org) is a gargantuan nonprofit language school offering a variety of monthly classes. Registered students have access to an accommodations and job board. And, hey, you might even learn French. (See No Age Limits for Study Abroad: A Course at the Alliance Francaise in Paris by Carolita Blythe for more).

A couple of free magazines around Paris such as FUSAC (www.fusac.fr) and the Paris Voice (www.Parisvoice.com) are worth picking up for their classifieds, and web sites like www.lodgis.com are helpful if you want to line up a place beforehand.

The only way to survive cheap lodging is with the odd splurge. And nothing says splurge like a French luxury hotel. At the Hôtel de Crillon (where Marie Antoinette may have studied music) on the Place de la Concorde (where she definitely lost her head), the Piano Bar is international Paris at its most haute, even if the designer mirror mosaic gives it a faint ambience of a Las Vegas brothel.

Sitting in a Paris landmark, drinking good French wine, talking to a local—suddenly all those budget hotels seemed worthwhile.