Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Why are central Paris hotels so expensive? The 2013 France diaries, Part IV

One of our first Paris hotels, Les Maronniers

When we returned to Paris we stayed at Hotel Le Six in Montparnasse, a charming, well-located hotel which (like all Paris hotels) costs far too much for a small room. This is our favorite part of Paris and over the years we’ve usually stayed in Montparnasse and thereabouts.

When I started looking for Paris hotels I was stunned to find that the little hotels we used to stay in had doubled and sometimes tripled in price. One of our first hotels in the 1980’s was Les Maronniers --if I remember correctly less than 100 dollars a night. It’s now well over 200.00 dollars a night.

The same with another favorite La Varenne which used to be about 100 dollars a night but is now over 300 dollars. Of course one expects prices to go up over the years, but it seems far worse in Paris than in other major cities. Where are those deals on small hotels we used to get? Why is central Paris so expensive?

I think I found a clue in a Guardian article about Chinese tourists who had been targeted by thieves:
One problem is the lack of security in suburban hotels. In central Paris, hotel capacity is at saturation point and new ones can only be built outside the ring road, in precisely the areas now avoided by the Chinese tour operators. Jean-Fran├žois Zhou, the founder of Ansel Travel, says that the Chinese blacklist hotels whose clients have been the victims of theft. He now tries to get his clients into central hotels, even if it raises the cost of his services.
The demand for Paris hotel rooms has skyrocketed since Rick and I began traveling together in the early 1980’s. The Chinese economy has grown tremendously since then with the consequent rise in Chinese tourism; also Eastern Europeans are free to travel and increasingly have the resources to do so. In short there are more people with the means to travel and Paris is the world’s number one tourist destination. Combine this increased demand with a prohibition on building hotels in Central Paris and the result is sky high prices for tiny hotel rooms. But Paris is worth every penny!

Up until this point in the trip we had reasonably good weather, but our last three days in Paris were gray and drizzly. But this was Paris and it didn’t matter. In fact, I really like Paris in the rain. One of my favorite Paris paintings is that iconic Caillbotte painting of a Paris street scene:

There’s a reason the whole world wants to go to Paris!


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