Best Western Saint Martin Bastille (formerly Hotel Saint-Louis Bastille), Paris 114 Boulevard Richard Lenoir, 75011, Paris, France A dash to the cab from my Sussex Gardens hotel in London. A ride to King’s Cross Station. A big groan and a short walk to St. Pancras Station across the street upon realizing that King’s Cross is for Harry Potter and British Isle destinations while St. Pancras is home of the Eurostar and high-speed train travel under the English Channel to Paris. In two and a half hours, I arrived at Gare du Nord train station in Paris, caught my taxi, and with my sympathetic, long-suffering driver, I practiced saying my hotel address in EXTREMELY rudimentary French. (I have been working very hard on my numbers, I’ll have you know, and can probably count to 999,999 in French! If anyone knows how to say “one million” en Francais, I’d be much obliged.) “114 Boulevard Richard Lenoir, please.” [Sawnt cators boo-lay-var ree-shar len-war, s’il vous plait.] I was pretty confident in my pronunciation but alas we ended up somewhere else so I just handed him my hotel reservation page. “Ah!” he said, delivered me to my hotel, and took €1.50 off of my fare. The Hotel Saint-Louis Bastille is located in the 11 Arrondissement (air-awn-deez-mawn) of Paris within the Marais District. Marais means “swamp” and, indeed it was, once. But, since its swamp days, it has had many richly historic incarnations which I could spend days pondering and writing about… But, this is a post about my hotel, isn’t it? I wanted to stay on the Right Bank this trip and step out of my comfort zone into a less touristy area of the city. Mission accomplished as fewer people spoke English in this region and there was much less catering to the traveler than there is in, say the 5th, 6th, and 7th Arrondisements on the Left Bank. The Marais is a different area, altogether, compared to those around the tourist center. It’s grittier with more graffiti and less kept-up streets. Across from my hotel is a little park area where, a block or two down, the homeless congregate. It felt more real to be staying in this neighborhood. The 11th is thickly rife with history. I felt it seep into my being: 16th century French aristocracy. Victor Hugo and Les Miserables. The Bastille. Filigree and dung-covered shoes. Luxury and decadence juxtaposed next to serious need and fights for justice and simple, basic rights… Ah, well. Back to my hotel. It is small and nice and I temporarily reside on the 5th floor (the 6th, to we, the citizens of the United States – remember the ground floor is 0 Level in Europe). I am very thankful for the little elevator (room enough – just about! – for 1 person and baggage) as my suitcase has gotten strangely, terribly heavy since London. All is clean and shiny in Room 503 (cinq-cent-trois, or “sank-sawnt-twah”) My window looks out to a…wall. But, it’s a nice clean tiled wall and I can see the sky if I stick my head out and look up. I love my shower, but wish I had more – some! – counter space in the bathroom. I love my bed, but wish I had at least a rug to walk on in the room. The floor is hard and cold. But, it is a nice floor. And it is a floor in Paris, after all. Breakfast is not included in the price so I choose not to partake. Within a few paces of wherever I am, though, since this is Paris, a croissant and café au lait await me if I choose. Un petit dejeuner (ahn pe-tee day-joo-nay). Quite similar to a Continental breakfast but with a croissant and café au lait. Mmmmm… Come to think of it, it’s not at all like a Continental breakfast. There is no comparison whatsoever… Here’s my TripAdvisor review of this hotel.
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