Recently, I saw the advertisement of one «romantic hotel» situated «not far from Montmartre». Actually, this hotel was two metro stations away from Montmartre, in front of the metro station La Chapelle ( 2nd line), in the middle of one of the most dangerous districts of Paris – near the North Railway Station (Gare du Nord).Tourists not familiar with Paris may choose this hotel and … at least, ruin all the impression of the city!
Below you’ll find five areas of Paris, where we don’t recommend you to live: it can be dangerous or simply uncomfortably located for reaching the main sights of the city. By the way, in order to understand what district is under discussion, just look at the map of Paris Metro: usually districts are called after the metro stations.
You can find more detailed information about each district of Paris and best areas to stay in a hotel in our article "Paris districts. Best places to stay for a tourist".
1 . Gare du Nord, Gare de l `Est
This district of Paris is located nearby the North and the East railway stations and considered as one of the most dangerous areas of the city. It is known as an Indian locality; however, there are also many immigrants from African and Arab countries. This district is quite close to the city center: in general, the North Station is one of the largest transport nodal points in Europe. There are three RER lines passing through it, from which two lead to the suburb of Saint-Denis - the MOST dangerous area of Paris .Remember, metro stations you should avoid: Stalingrad, La Chapelle, Gare du Nord ( 2nd line ), Gare de’l `Est ( 5th line) .
Meanwhile, it’s worth to be mentioned that the hotels on the square in front of the East Station are quite comfortable for tourists: not far from the center and easy to get on the train.
2. Belleville, Couronnes and Ménilmontant metro stations
Belleville - is the heart of the Chinese quarter smoothly turning into an Arabian bazaar. On the one side from the metro station you could see the boulevard with Chinese prostitutes, on the other – you’ll see a market with stolen things… Staying here, for sure, you will destroy all the romantic bloom of Paris!
For the sake of justice: there aren’t so many hotels in this area, and they’re fishily cheap.
3. Hotels in suburbs
Frankly speaking, it’s better to avoid the hotels near the metro stations situated on the limit of Paris and its suburbs, starting from Porte de Clignancourt, Clichy – it’s also dangerous area of Paris with a high criminal level. The other “Porte de..”, though, are more quite for life, are not very comfortable for tourists: too far away from the center. The only exclusion of this rule is Porte Maillot which is located on the midway from the Arc de Triomphe to Défence.
Paris suburbs are not as dangerous as are uncomfortable for tourists. On the other hand, hotels there are cheaper than in the center. However, avoid north districts of Paris.
4. Areas along the Saint – Martin channel and La Villette
Earlier these areas were considered as unattractive as the North railway station. Thanks to the efforts of the Paris City Hall, the district has become more popular. Nowadays both reach and poor people live here. And local hotels are cheap as a) quite remote from the main attractions b) not developed transport system (there are only two metro lines, you’ll often have to change one train to another).
On the other hand, the City of Science and the Arts La Villette is very close.
5. Montmartre (Pigalle Boulevard)
Firstly, Pigalle still remains as it always was considered the red-light district. Secondly, Montmartre is a huge hill with lots of stairs and a labyrinth of streets. It would be uncomfortable for tourists to live there because of the difficult geography and not develloped public transport (only 2 metro stations and one bus). Finally, if you don’t know Paris well, you can easily make a mistake: Montmartre is not only the piedmont of Sacré Coeur, so the hotel can be located in the zone closer to the North station or far beyond the tourist sights.
For the sake of justice: don’t worry, if your hotel is near « the Moulin Rouge» or on the Pigalle boulevard. Such areas have their own particularities. You can find there numerous sex shops and the Museum of Erotic, as well as a lot of other shops and restaurants. However, you’d better avoid the areas close to the North train station or to the north of Paris, near Clignancourt.
In addition, we don’t advise you to book rapidly a hotel with a « view on the Eiffel Tower». Actually it’s located far away from the other attractions of Paris, and it’s not always easy to get to the public transport. However, here you can find the tourist buses.
Lastly, don’t forget about basic safety measures. It is supposed that pickpockets and thieves of women's handbags are more frequent in problem-free areas of Paris. While tourist is relaxing and enjoying the view, somebody can easily pull his wallet out. Remember - Louvre and Eiffel Tower are especially popular among pickpockets.
Actually Paris is as safe as any other European city. You shouldn’t forget about the precaution. Also note that this is the real city, not just a picture from postcards. Some districts of Paris aren’t very convenient for tourists, but Parisians themselves are happy to live, work and study in their fine city.