Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net
The Hotel Marignan is a budget hotel with unexpected frills, located on a quiet street in the often boisterous Latin Quarter — barely two minutes from the Maubert Mutualite metro, less than five minutes from the Panthéon, just down the street from the Musée National du Moyen Age and the Sorbonne, and a ten minute walk to Notre Dame, historic rue Mouffetard, or the funky rue de la Huchette.
Founded by the Kerigers in 1955, their grandsons, Paul and Roland, run the hotel today. Also sometimes behind the counter are Lily and Stephan, Paul’s grown children. The family and employees speak French and English and some also speak Italian, Ukrainian, German, Spanish, or Polish.
Paul Keriger is a slight, middle-aged Frenchman with thinning hair and a twinkle in his eye — a darling man who has a real pride in making sure the details are taken care of. Brother Roland, whose style can be more frenetic and sometimes off-putting, nevertheless also cares about the details.
You seldom wait more than several minutes for breakfast, and the staff quickly aids guests who are searching for a nearby restaurant or the right public transportation or even an umbrella to borrow.
The prices vary with the size of the rooms and the presence or lack of a private toilet and/or shower. A single without bath ranges from 50 to 54 euros depending on the season. Breakfast is included.
If you have never stayed in a hotel room without a private bath, don’t fear. The shared toilet and shower rooms on each floor are sparkling clean, only a few feet across or down the hall and shared with only one other room. Clean towels appear in your room each day, and every room has a sink, a comfy bed, a table and chair, a wardrobe with hangars, and ledges or shelves to stash toiletries and books.
Don’t stay at the Marignan if you are looking for a uniformed concierge, deep carpets, antique furniture, or even an elevator. But if you want truly budget prices, clean sheets, a free lending library of travel material, free breakfast, free use of laundry machines and a fully functioning kitchen — and, unbelievably, free Wi-Fi throughout the building — then this is the place.
You can store your meats, cheeses, vegetables and wines from the local marketplace in the guest refrigerator, and cook them on the stove or microwave. Often-returning guests love the mealtime camaraderie and the unpretentious and bohemian neighborhood where a back pack and jeans are more common than a Gucci bag, and where the ancient, narrow streets and the architecture exude antiquity.
Guests shop at either of two open-air markets nearby. They are perfect examples of how Parisians, including expats like Ernest Hemingway, have since the Middle Ages shopped for food.
The market at nearby metro Maubert Mutualité — open on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m — features everything from fresh fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables, olives and olive oils, to clothing.
When the Maubert market is closed, buy your vegetables, fruits, sandwiches, cheeses, meats, and wine at the specialty shops alongside the metro; or, even late at night, find a little of everything at the small grocery store just down the block on the northwest corner of rue des Carmes and rue de Sommerard — including canned goods, eggs, cold cuts, dairy, cereals, fresh produce, soft drinks, and reasonably-priced bottles of wine.
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net
You can also take a 10-15 minute morning walk to the colorful and historic rue Mouffetard — once part of an old Roman road — where the most famous street market in Paris has existed since around year 1350. The impoverished Ernest Hemingway often purchased breakfast here in the 1920s when he was writing some of his first short stories. This market is open every morning but Monday.
The Latin Quarter is so diverse you may decide to spend every day exploring.
To help you find your way around the historic area, ask for a free map at the hotel desk. The Panthéon stands at the top of a hill called Mont Sainte-Geneviève. Nearby is the church Saint Etienne du Mont, where Owen Wilson encountered the 1920s Peugot that took him to see Hemingway and Fitzgerald in the recent film Midnight in Paris.
At the bottom of rue Mouffetard lies the historic Eglise Saint Medard; at the top, the Maison de Verlaine restaurant is located in the building where poet Paul Verlaine died in 1896. Ernest Hemingway lived here from 1921-1925. Stop in one of the cafés on place de la Contrescarpe where you can relax on the terrace with a glass of wine, view the fountain, and imagine Papa Hemingway stoking his creative fires with alcohol on or near that very spot. At the time that Hemingway lived here, the neighborhood was a rundown, rough-and-tumble place, an aspect that he comments on in his memoir A Moveable Feast.
Shakespeare & Company
Photo by Michele Kurlander
On the other side of the Latin Quarter, the intersection of boulevards Saint Michel and Saint Germain mark the most bustling part of the quarter. Here you will find the narrow, crowded, and funky rue de la Huchette which features a multitude of foreign restaurants and street vendors, a jazz club, and the Théâtre de la Huchette. Two of Eugene Ionesco plays have been continually performed there since 1957. Farther along, browse the iconic bouquiniste stalls along the Seine, or the famous English-language bookstore Shakespeare & Company.
Visit square Renée Viviani just across the street from the bookstore where you can sit on a bench and view the spires of Notre Dame rising nearby, just across the River Seine. Behind you, church Saint Julien le Pauvre — founded in 1170 — sits on its own little namesake street and offers concerts at night.
The quarter’s gastronomic diversity ranges from the cheapest street fare to top Michelin-rated gourmet food. Eat at a Greek restaurant on rue de la Huchette after its owner smashes plates at your feet to get your attention as you walk by; or at the lovely little wine-bar restaurant Le Pré Verre located down the block from the Marignan, where the brothers Delacourcelle offer fusion cuisine and an extensive wine list; or, a block further down, eat couscous, lamb and other Tunisian fare at the family owned Chez Jaafar. If you are feeling flush, reserve a place at the famous Tour d’Argent, a short walk east along the quay.
Locals and visitors read, write, meet friends, or sit for hours at Café Panis, across rue Dante from Renée Viviani, where the food and wine are reasonably priced, shelves of old books line the walls, and there is a panoramic view of Notre Dame just across the bridge.
Visit the Musée de Cluny two blocks west of the Marignan. The medieval museum is housed in the former residence of Cluny monks. Built in 1485-1498 over ancient Roman baths, it features Gallo-Roman antiquities, wonderful tapestries, and a recreated outdoor Medieval garden.
Purchase a daily rate or buy a single massage at Club Jean de Beauvais. It lies around a corner from the hotel and has everything from spin classes to personal trainers, cardio circuits, massage therapists, and hydrotherapy.
See www.hotel-marignan.com for photos of the rooms, diagrams of the floors, a list of rates, reservation information, and a photo of Paul, Elizabeth, and Roland smiling out at you. Above their heads in bright orange are the words: “WE’RE HERE TO WELCOME YOU.”
13, Rue du Sommerard
Le Pré Verre
19, Rue de Sommerard
(a two course lunch with coffee and wine is 13.50 euros)
22, rue du Sommerard
(Entree-plat-dessert 15-18 euros)
Club Jean de Beauvais
5, Rue Jean de Beauvais
La Maison de Verlaine
39, Rue Descartes
La Tour D’Argent
15-17, quai de la Tournelle
(Prix-fixe 70 euro lunch, 200 euro dinner)
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21, quai Montebello
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