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Affordable Paris: 17 Secret Hotels Under $200

ST.-GERMAIN-DES-PRÉS

Hôtel de l'Abbaye For a Left Bank hotel that started life as a 17th-century abbey, this cloistered gem inspires surprisingly unfettered romantic yearnings. A tiny cobbled forecourt buffers the hurly-burly of modern Paris, and while several of the 44 rooms are small enough to be monastic cells, four two-story suites (from $310 a night) have French windows that overlook the medieval church of St.-Sulpice. Riotous Pierre Frey and Brunschwig floral fabrics echo the fresh arrangements in the lobby and the conservatory garden, a leafy bower equally suited to contemplation and surreptitious smooching. 10 Rue Cassette, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/45-44-38-11, fax 33-1/45-48-07-86; www.hotel-abbaye.com; doubles from $170.

Hôtel Buci Latin Dodge the shoppers crowding the cheese and baguette stalls in this lively area and duck into the 27-room Buci Latin, whose wacky neo-industrial look is spiced up with bleached wood and zebra stripes. The façade resembles a flying saucer sliced in two; the staircase has a vibrant graffiti mural; the lobby is dominated by itinerant artist Pierre Leloup's abstract wall hangings. But it's all offset during the drama of fashion season, when the hotel is mobbed with editors, photographers, and designers. 34 Rue de Buci, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/43-29-07-20, fax 33-1/43-29-67-44; doubles from $166, including breakfast.

Hôtel Duc de St.-Simon Don't talk to the famously exigent Lauren Bacall about the Ritz: when she descends on Paris, it's the St.-Simon or nothing. And who would blame her?A stay at the 34-room hotel is like living in the 18th-century town house of your dreams. Students of decorating will want to examine the dazzling way bolts of printed cotton have been folded in hundreds of knife pleats to cover the walls in the salon. Others are enchanted by the entrance courtyard, pansy-filled window boxes, and female staffers in their sharp uniforms. 14 Rue de St.-Simon, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/44-39- 20-20, fax 33-1/45-48-68-25; doubles from $175.

Hôtel Luxembourg Parc Filling the gap in Paris between palace hotels and character-filled pensiones that can be "quirky" to the point of distraction is the year-old Parc, which benefits from the peace of the nearby Luxembourg Gardens. With its classic Louis XV style, fine linens, and generous bathrooms, the 23-room hotel is a small-scale version of the Hôtel de Crillon. The rooms themselves are equipped with modem ports, bathrobes, and—a rarity in value hotels—plenty of hangers. The only eccentric feature is the "24-hour room service," which, when available, is actually takeout from nearby restaurants. 42 Rue de Vaugirard, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/53-10-36-50, fax 33-1/53-10-36-59; www.hotelluxparc.com; doubles from $176.

Hôtel Le St.-Grégoire There are so many glacial design-driven hotels in Paris that it's easy to think there's no place left that still believes in old-fashioned values and niceties. Which is why the 20-room St.-Grégoire is so precious. The couple who run the place do so like accomplished maîtres de maison rather than bean-counting hotelkeepers; they look as if they don't need to work, and what better way to pass the day than fluffing pillows, arranging flowers, organizing bibelots, and whipping up breakfast in a stone cellar festooned with baskets?43 Rue de l'Abbé-Grégoire, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/ 45-48-23-23, fax 33-1/45-48-33-95; www.hotelsaintgregoire.com; doubles from $153.

Hôtel des Saints-Pères When Edna St. Vincent Millay went to Paris in 1921 as a foreign correspondent for Vanity Fair, she took a room at the Saints-Pères. The hotel met all her needs: it was affordable, yet distinguished (it had once been the private residence of Daniel Gittard, Louis XIV's architect), and its Left Bank address ensured plenty of material for her series of articles on French society. Though the 39 rooms now have high-speed Internet access and well-stocked mini-bars, many of the services Millay enjoyed have been preserved: the attentive staff delivers petit déjeuner to writers who work in bed till noon; afternoon tea is offered in the palm-filled winter garden. The high-ceilinged Chambre à la Fresque—with a stunning 17th-century fresco—remains the most coveted guest room. 65 Rue des Saints-Pères, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/45-44-50-00, fax 33-1/45-44-90-83; doubles from $122.

Hôtel Verneuil The search stops here for a hotel that's blushingly romantic, bathed in history, and stylish in a way that weds the past (miles of printed fabrics from France's old-guard textile houses) to the present (iron cube tables with a deliberately rusted finish). Some of the 26 guest rooms are a bit tight, but with a heart-of-Rive-Gauche location—the Flore and Deux Magots are your local cafés— complaining seems like bad manners. Discreetly housed in a handsome 17th-century building with hand-hewn beams, the Verneuil is owned and run by Sylvie de Lattre, a gifted latecomer to the business whose most recent venture—the revamped Hôtel Thérèse across the Seine—has put Paris on notice about her dynastic ambitions. 8 Rue de Verneuil, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/42-60-82-14, fax 33-1/42-61-40-38; www.hotelverneuil.com; doubles from $118.

Hôtel La Villa St.-Germain-des-Prés Fashion-forward La Villa attracts an artsy crowd to a serpentine street lined with big-ticket antiques shops. Designer Jean-Philippe Nuel has put together a pleasing palette—sage green, soft brown—to complement canvases by Parisian painter du jour Valérie Raymond-Stempowska. Leather headboards, brushed- steel lights, angular sofas, and red marble bathrooms make a statement in the 31 guest rooms. Swoop down the spiral stair to the breakfast room for a brioche and chocolat chaud before hitting the stores; afterward, hang in the soigné lounge with a champagne cocktail. 29 Rue Jacob, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/43-26-60-00, fax 33-1/46-34-63-63; www.villa-saintgermain.com; doubles from $197.

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