dealchecker's guide to Paris

Paris is a city that needs no introduction. The City of Lights has been an important cultural landmark for centuries, and that looks set to continue on and on. In fact, the nickname the City of Lights isn't about the number of bulbs, candles or warming fires there are in Paris, it was first about Paris being a huge centre of learning and enlightenment. Although when the city was one of the first adopters of street lighting that can't have hurt!

Today, not many people head over to a cheap Paris hotel to learn discuss philosophy or to do scientific experiments, but there is still plenty to expand the mind, enrich the soul and, as Paris is widely thought of as one of world's most romantic cities, to soften the heart too.

If you're after a sumptuous experience then there are plenty of 5 star hotels in Paris to stay at, so that after a day of seeing sights such as the stained glass windows of Sainte-Chapelle, the Mona Lisa and the Petit Palais you'll be able to relax in plush surroundings. Tighter budgets can also be easily accommodated - in a city as popular as Paris expect plenty of cheap deals, great value hotel and a range of free attractions too! These include Parc des Buttes, a favourite with the Parisian locals for its lovely views, as well as Basilique du Sacre Coeur. As a bonus, every evening as the sun sets a crowd gathers on the steps outside for an impromptu party.

Thanks to the Eurostar, Paris is even easier to get to than ever, although if you're watching the pennies it's also worth checking out the flights to Paris as the ground-based competition has forced prices lower.

Choosing a Paris hotel

There are a large number of five-star luxury hotels in Paris and the mid-range market is also full of great offerings. You will find lots of cheap hotels in Paris at the budget end of the scale too, although these can book up quickly, so make sure you book early. If you can't stay in the popular centre, then look for a hotel close to the Metro or RER and you'll be out of bed and seeing the sights in no time.

If you can't quite stretch to a five-star hotel in Paris, then how about visiting one of these grand buildings instead?

Napoleonic Apartments, the Louvre - The Louvre is far too large to see all of it in one day, so it's a great idea to make a plan before you set off, so that you see all the bits you want. One of dealchecker's highlights are the Napoleonic Apartments, which are decked out in gilt and finery.

The Petit Palais - Known as the Louvre in miniature, if you're on a short break in Paris then this is a great alternative. This grand building isn't really as small as the name suggests, and houses an impressive collection of artwork from Rembrandt and Rubens to Monet and Rodin.

Musee Carnavalet - This free museum offers a whirlwind tour through the history of Paris all set amongst exquisitely furnished rooms set across two mansions! Expect to find everything from 14th century sculpture to a recreation of one of Proust's dwellings!

Luxembourg Palace - Best known for the popular Luxembourg Gardens, a great (free!) place for a wander, the palace is home to the French Senate. If you want to visit you don't have to pay, but you do have to get organised. Book your tour when you arrange your hotel in Paris and you'll be able to explore the ornate Library, see the spectacular painted ceilings and much more.

Palace of Versailles - Not only the most ornate building in Paris, it's also one of the world's largest palaces. Versailles was once a village outside Paris, but today it's a suburb easy to reach by RER. Take your walking shoes - there's so much to take in including the King's private apartments, the Hall of Mirrors and l'Opera, plus the gardens too! You'll be happy to return to the bijou stylings of your cheap Paris hotel, that's for sure!

When to visit Paris

Paris enjoys fairly mild weather, with temperatures generally slightly warmer than in the UK. Expect summer highs of around 25°C, although some days can feel a little stifling with temperatures rising above 30°C. Winter time rarely brings an overnight frost in Paris, and average daily highs are usually around 7°C. Rain is frequent but rarely persistent, so pack a brolly and be prepared to duck into a café to sit it out.

There is no true off season when it comes to visiting Paris, although you might find that the best deals on cheap hotels will be during the winter months. Christmas is a very popular time - so don't expect festive dates to come cheap! Paris in the spring is the most famous time to visit, with late spring to early summer the most popular months to head into the tourist melee. You could consider late July and August, although be aware that this is generally a time of holidays for many locals, so expect some of Paris to be closed when it comes to heading out to the shops, for a drink or for something to eat.

Combine great value with good weather in early spring and late summer - although avoid Easter as this is incredibly popular too! In fact, as long as you resign yourself to being surrounded by fellow tourists, and do smart things like buy your attraction tickets online in advance, we're sure you'll have a great time. After all - you'll be in Paris.

If you're planning on heading away from Paris and out into the surrounding countryside too, then it's worth getting Paris car hire to make the most of all the lovely little villages you can stop in when you're in charge. Summer is the most popular time for this sort of trip to Paris though, so make sure you book your vehicle in advance, both to get the best rates and to make sure that you won't be left stranded without a car!

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