Paris is deservedly topping several lists of ‘Cities to visit in 2014’ and many visitors will be wondering where to stay (always a major budgetary consideration).
For me, self catering wins hands down every time. In my experience reasonably priced, centrally located hotel rooms are usually the size of a shoe box, whereas an apartment offers freedom, space — and the opportunity to be a locavore.
Of course much will depend on budget, personal preferences and length of holiday — and Paris like any major city has a wide variety of accommodation options — but my own vote is for self-catering every time.
The freedom that it brings (who wants to dress for breakfast?) along with the sheer pleasure of browsing the superb food markets alongside the Parisians or shopping in the specialist boulangeries, fromageries, epiceries and charcuteries can’t be underestimated.
On a recent visit we stayed in a gorgeous little studio in rue Quincampoix in the 3rd arrondissment (the Marais) which is one of my favourite areas. Large enough for 2 people, completely self-contained and with our own private patio, we were steps away from the action yet undisturbed by any street noise at night. Our kitchen was fully equipped and included washing machine & dryer and also a dishwasher, with lots of little touches that made it feel like a real home-from-home.
Maybe your idea of a holiday is to stay as far from the kitchen as possible — and certainly no-one in a hotel is going to stop you from smuggling some gorgeous freshly-baked breakfast goods from the nearest boulangerie into your room.
Self-catering doesn’t mean you have to eat in all the time, but if you’re watching your funds it’s surprising how the cost of all those café stops can really add up (never mind the meals). Having your own space to relax in rather than just one room is also a winner.
All over Paris you’ll have no problem finding small supermarkets for the essentials (the open-all-hours grocers) as well as the larger supermarkets such as the chain store Monoprix for quick, easy and fairly inexpensive shopping. But it’s the individual shops that make self-catering really come into its own. Head into a food hall such as La Grande Epicerie, 38 rue du Sevres, http://www.lagrandeepicerie.fr/#fr-FR/home and you’ll be in foodie heaven.
My next blog post gives the lowdown on some of my favourite food markets.