Where to stay
It's unbelievable and somewhat overwhelming to start looking for your accommodations in Paris. There are literally 1000s of hotels and apartments to choose from and 100s of sites to help you choose/book them.
I have stayed in hotels but prefer apartments. These are especially good if you are on a tight budget. They also allow you to "live" in Paris.
Americans often find European hotel rooms very small. Buildings in Paris are often centuries old and
have been retrofitted for modern needs - adding private baths and closets, for instance. Even modern hotels often cater to the European business traveler
who are accustomed to much smaller rooms.
There are a few American chains, such as Holiday Inn, where you will find more familiar space and
amenities. If this is your first time traveling on "the
Continent" and feel you may want a haven of familiarity to return to after a very stimulating day in the city, this may be a good choice for you. While
living there, I remember days when I would have killed for anything American-ish!
Hotels range from quite inexpensive to palatial. My husband and I lucked out and found a hotel in 1994 for $35/night. We shared a toilet down the hall and never figured out the hot water in the shower. But we were young and felt we'd found the most wonderful place in all of the city! Another time in 2003 we stayed in a French chain hotel which had a small kitchenette - an ApartHotel. It was perfect for us then.
This is my favorite way to enjoy Paris and what I generally recommend unless you are just passing through Paris on a tour.
When I brought my 11 year old daughter to Paris for two weeks in 2005, we rented a one bedroom apartment. It was fantastic. My daughter felt so comfortable there that she said, "Ok, I'm ready to go home now!" after we'd been back in our house in the States for about and hour.
In 2007, I found a wonderful apartment for my two
clients and me. It was a wonderful "home" base where
we relaxed and saved money.
Again in 2012, my family and I stayed in a wonderful two bedroom apartment for two weeks. This made our trip comfortable and economical.
Even a friend who was going for only a few days on her honeymoon decided (after a little coaxing from me) to rent a studio. She couldn't believe the price for the luxurious view of the Eiffel Tower!
Resources I've Used for Finding Apartments
http://www.parisaddress.com/ - I used this service in it's infancy and the service and apartment were great. Their website is much improved and they have many great properties.
http://www.vacationinparis.com/ - I used this service several years ago and loved that I could call them and for many apartments, they send you the key before you leave the States! Their website is a bit hard to navigate and their prices are strictly by the night.
http://www.vrbo.com/search?q=paris%2c+france - I used this site during my 2012 visit. The site is very "old school" and requires time and effort to look through the listings. But for me, it was worth it as I found a gem. I like the comments from renters.
http://www.nyhabitat.com/paris-apartment.html - Although I have yet to use this service, they have been extremely helpful when I was looking.
http://www.parisattitude.com/ - Another service I haven't rented from, but have had excellent service from when I was looking. They have great search tools and pictures.