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What a difference a few blocks makes when staying in Paris. You can easily access all the must-see museums and monuments from anywhere. If you normally stay in one area, moving to a different hotel just six blocks away will show you sights you may not have seen when based in the other location.
For example, even these Saint-Germain-des-Prés hotels in the 6ème offer a different perspective on the city than staying in the area of Saint-Sulpice in the same arrondissement. It’s almost a question of whether or not your orientation is to the south or the north of the tiny part of a city that’s composed of micro-villages.
This may be a strange concept for those accustomed to “same old, same old.” Paris is always full of surprises and things such as hotels and stores tend to change when you turn your back.
About the Paris 6th
Many Left Bank hotels advertised as Saint-Germain-des-Prés hotels are not actually in former Village Saint-Germain-des-Prés. They’re not trying to be deceitful; today all of the Sixth Arrondissement is often (incorrectly) identified as Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
The area gained legendary status as the place where now-famous “Lost Generation” writers and artists lived and played after World War I. Gertrude Stein’s infamous literary salons attracted Hemingway, Picasso, Ezra Pound, and others who immortalized the area in their writing and paintings.
After World War II, Saint-Germain-des-Prés drew more fame from association with existentialists, philosophers and African-American jazz artists like Sartre, de Beauvoir, Beckett, Lionel Hampton and Dizzy Gillespie.
The 6th arrondissement is very different depending on variables such as proximity to boulevard Saint-Germain, the Seine and the Luxembourg Garden. And then there are the tiny streets in the Fifth Arrondissement where the students hang near colleges.
The Saint-Sulpice area in the Paris 6th
Within the sixth Arrondissement, the area surrounding église Saint-Sulpice is one of my Left Bank favorites to recommend as a base for Paris visitors. Even though I live only about six blocks away, I’m usually racing through it, ever passing new stores, small restaurants and other sites mentally added to my “To See and Do Later” list.
Forgive me, but while I don’t consider the Saint-Sulpice church façade designed in 1732 by Giovanni Niccolò Servandoni one of the most beautiful in the city, I appreciate that finally scaffolding has been removed from the church after years spent repairing the bell tower and cleaning.
If you’re in the area, you may want to drop in for an organ recital. During really hot weather, the huge airy space is a place to cool off; walk in and you’re in a different temperature zone. While there, take note of some significant frescoes by Eugène Delacroix.
Fairs and festivals frequently occur on the square in front of the church; the book fairs and antiques markets are some of my favorites. An organization called Joel Garcia schedules most of them—see this website to register for a newsletter or to watch videos of past sales.
If you’re in an haute couture mood, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton and neighboring boutiques will be delighted to help you part with your money. I love cruising the beautiful clothing boutiques and household emporiums. Even if you’re not a buyer, window-shopping may elevate your taste. If things get tough, you can always console your woes at pâtisserie Gérard Mulot on the rue de Seine while exploring antique map and print shops that can make your walk more like a history expedition than a shopping adventure.
So, those are my reasons for recommending a stay in the Saint-Sulpice area of the Paris 6th and here are five glorious hotels in the area.
Entering this 28-room hotel is like walking into a friend’s very elegant home where you’ve been invited to stay as a guest. How you wish. There’s a living room where people tend to mingle and an enchanting tiny garden. Rooms are small but perfectly appointed with real thought and care. Jazz combos perform some evenings and the clientele has an elegant je ne sais quoi. The hotel attracts international guests who prefer to be nestled on a quiet side street steps away from the action in the middle of the Left Bank.
Designer Jean Louis Deniot recently renovated this wonderfully intimate and elegant hotel 24-room hotel.
If you’re looking for a hotel that feels ever so Parisian, the Récamier may very well be for you. Twelve rooms overlook St. Sulpice. Guests are offered complimentary tea or a cocktail in the lounge; and the hotel has a tiny fitness center. Unlike most other small Paris hotels, room service is available until 11 p.m. Faithful clients say they wouldn’t stay elsewhere.
If I were being 100% honest, I’d classify this hotel as being just across from the Luxembourg Garden. But since it’s on the garden’s north side, I’ll cheat and say it belongs in the St. Sulpice category. Not surprisingly, some of the hotel’s clients conduct business at the Sénat after a morning run in the Luxembourg Garden. Try to book a room with a balcony. What a pleasure to be able to sit outdoors if only for coffee.
Situated on a busy street, this hotel has wonderful stonework and exposed beams plus a landscaped interior court where you can sit when the weather is cooperating. If not, you can head to the bar.
The rooms tend to be small but the bathrooms have been upgraded. As is the case with all of the above hotels, there’s air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi and it is, as the French say, très correct.
This is one of the most charming hotels in the area and was one of the area’s first boutique hotels to exude un charme fou. When I first moved into the neighborhood, it didn’t have a lot of competition. But after numerous write-ups in many travel magazines, reserving a room became nearly impossible.
The entrance is set back from the street, so entering the hotel is always a treat. The former abbey was loving converted; rather than opting for the beige and “greige” look, its décor is a combination of overstuffed jewel-tone upholstery coupled with charming accessories. People who love the Hôtel de l’Abbaye tend to be faithful clients who always book there and nowhere else.
If you’ve stayed in any of these hotels, how did you like them? Your feedback is important.
Photo credits: Flickr photos published per Creative Commons 3.0 license. Place Saint-Sulpice by ©Miguel Camilo and Saint-Sulpice interior by @DarekRusin
© Paris New Media, LLC
Karen Fawcett is the publisher of BonjourParis. Please click on her name to read more about her and the hundreds of stories she has published here.
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