11 March 2011

The hotel in Paris

In Paris Wednesday night I stayed at the Hôtel du Collège de France in the Latin Quarter. It's a small hotel I had heard about a while back. A couple of years ago, a good friend stayed there for a night or two and said it was convenient, clean, and comfortable. So I decided to try it.

It's located on the Rue Thénard, which is parallel to the Rue Saint-Jacques, just to the east. It runs from the Rue des Ecoles, right in front of the Collège de France, down to the Boulevard Saint-Germain, near the Place Maubert. The hotel is less than five minutes on foot from the main entrance of the Sorbonne on Rue des Ecoles, and very close the the Cluny Museum.

The hotel is on a quiet street but
in the middle of a bustling neighborhood.

It's a neighborhood that's full of memories for me. The first time I went to France I stayed three different times, once for two weeks, in a little hotel just off Place Maubert. That hotel doesn't exist any more. For years in the 1970s, I took classes at the Sorbonne and worked there and in other Latin Quarter neighborhoods as a teacher.

A balcony with a table and chairs,
right in the middle of the Latin Quarter

The room at the Hôtel du Collège de France was typically small (it's Paris, after all) but very functional. As you can see from the pictures, it had a little corner balcony with a table and two chairs, where it would be nice to have breakfast or a picnic dinner on warm days. There's a view of the Collège de France. Rue Thénard is not a major thoroughfare and is quiet. There are hundreds of cafés and restaurants in the area.

The room at the Hôtel du College de France

The price was 90 euros for the night, plus 10 euros for the breakfast buffet (which is a little expensive) the next morning. I had breakfast before taking the RER train out to CDG airport, and the buffet included ham, cheeses, a fruit salad, and a selection of yogurts, in addition to slices of crispy baguettes and nice croissants, with butter and jam. No complaints. The hotel gets a selection of morning newspapers in both French and English, and they are out on a coffee table in the lobby, next to the breakfast room, for the taking.

The view of the Collège de France, and a close-up, from the room

For me, one of the advantages of staying in a hotel in that neighborhood is that it's only a short walk down to the Saint-Michel RER station, where you can get express trains out to the airport. My flight was at 11:20, so I needed to be at the airport by about 9:00 a.m. A ticket to Charles de Gaulle airport costs about 9 euros (as opposed to 40 or 50 euros for a cab).

When I went down to the platform in the RER station, I let the first airport train pass on by, because I wasn't sure it was an express train. The trip on a train that stops in a lot of stations along the way to CDG takes a lot longer. Then I waited nearly 10 minutes for the next train, which was an express, and I couldn't get on! It was too packed with commuters.

I stepped up onto the train and did the Parisian thing of facing toward the door and trying to push my way backwards, forcing people to make some room for me. Push as I might, I couldn't get my suitcase into the car, so I had to give up and step back down onto the platform. Paris rush hour, eh? A mob scene.

Then I wondered what I was going to do if I couldn't get on the next train. It was getting to be about 8:15, and I needed to get to the airport. Luckily, the next express train, which pulled in only three or four minutes later, wasn't nearly as crowded. I got on, and then most people got off at the next station, Châtelet-Les Halles, and most of the rest of them got off at Gare du Nord. From there, I had a place assise (a seat) for the 30-minute ride out to CDG, and I arrived with time to spare.


  1. We like this story and look forward to being back in 2012.
    Have a good trip and keep us informeded, we will be following your adventures.
    Sue and Leon

  2. Glad you made it safely, since you were able to blog from Mom's computer.
    Give her my best.

    Waiting for more detailed news.

  3. Yes, CHM, I arrived safely, but my suitcase missed the connection in Charlotte. The connection time was very short, but I managed not to miss the plane myself. I'm waiting for USAirways to deliver the case this morning.

    Hello, Leon and Sue. I'll be blogging about North Carolina, so stay tuned.

  4. I like your hotel, especially the balcon and the view. I recognize the building in your photo, so I can picture where you are. Memories are so much fun now that we have so many to draw from;)

    Sorry about your suitcase, but it is nice that they are delivered to your door nowadays.

    Tell MA hello for me. Enjoy your stay. I think the weather will be warmer soon...

    Do you have wifi there?

  5. The hotel looks quite good for the price. Glad you made the plane OK.

  6. Hi Evelyn, MA says hi right back at you. We don't have wifi here, but we have DSL so the connection is fine.

    Thanks, Diogenes. I nearly missed my connection in Charlotte, through no fault of my own.

  7. I learned a long time ago, that if you let one or two trains go by during the "rush hour", the third or fourth is almost always way less crowded. Of course, you need to have the spare time in which to do that.

  8. Looks like you got the only room in the hotel with a balcony...how dat?

  9. making train and plane connections can be quite exhilarating! missing them quite distressful :(

    looking forward to the future.

  10. Bill, I guess I'm just lucky. I didn't pay extra. In fact, the sign on the back of the room door said the price was 110 €, and I paid only 90 €.

    Craig, yes. It was certainly exciting in Charlotte. I'm getting a little too old to do all that running. Finally got my suitcase at about noon today.

  11. Planes are fine. But how do we tolerate airports and worse. Getting to them

  12. Welcome to the U.S., Ken!



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