Paris is always a good idea.
At least that’s how the saying goes, and when a friend and I found out that it would be cheaper to fly into Paris and head to a conference in Ireland from there rather than fly direct to Dublin, we decided to embrace Audrey Hepburn’s opinion on this subject as well.
I’m no stranger to Paris. This would be my third visit over the past few years. My first trip I stayed in Montmartre, which is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in the city. But while I love the cafes and shops, the Moulin Rouge, and could look at the view from the top of the Sacre Coeur Basilica all day long, I didn’t really feel very safe on my own in this area at night.
My second visit I chose the Latin Quarter, probably the prettiest area in the city. Notre Dame, the Pantheon, and Luxembourg Gardens are just a few of the attractions that can be found in the surrounding area. But, while it was great to have to many beautiful sites so close, it also meant it was full of tourists and the subsequent tourist traps and prices.
This time around I had an offer to explore a new area of Paris, the 19th arrondissement, from the base of St. Christopher’s Hostel Canal Paris. While I was intrigued by the idea of exploring a new area of the city, I couldn’t help but think that it was far away from the major sites. However, having been to Paris before I decided to give it a try and take advantage of the opportunity to see a different part of Paris. A more local side of Paris.
St. Christopher’s Paris Canal Hostel is located in the 19th arrondissement on Rue Crimée. The closest metro station (about a 5-minute walk) is only three stops from Gare du Nord, making it incredibly easy to get to for anyone travelling by train or coming in from Charles de Gaul Airport.
The hostel is located on the bank of the canal, with a patio overlooking the water. It’s not a touristic area; it’s definitely a local spot. But, while you won’t get views of the Eiffel tower, it has its own charm in the nearby parks and affordable restaurants where you will rarely see other tourists.
It was only because of staying here that I discovered Parc des Buttes-Chaumont which quickly made it on my list of favourite sites in Paris. This tree-filled park has a beautiful lake, a waterfall, bridges, and a temple offering picture-perfect views of the Sacre Coeur Basilica off in the distance. Surprisingly, despite its beauty it clearly remains a hidden secret; filled with local families and couples rather than camera-wielding tourists.
While the convenient travel location and local atmosphere were definitely huge positive attributes, perhaps what I liked the most was the sense of safety. As a female traveller I often find big cities like Paris to be a bit intimidating, especially early in the morning or in the evening. However, I was ignored by everyone; no catcalls, no typical travel scams, no begging or pushing me to sign a mystery piece of paper on a clipboard. It came as a very pleasant surprise in a city known for targeting tourists.
St. Christopher’s is a well-known hostel chain across Europe. It’s popular for its amenities and known to be a social, reliable, and budget friendly choice for travellers. St. Christopher’s Canal Paris definitely meets these standards. Room rates are on the cheaper end of regular Paris hostel prices with several room options ranging from private rooms to small or large dorms. Breakfast can be purchased for a couple of euro and is a good spread of cereals, yogurt, fruit, baguettes, coffee, tea, juices, cheeses and meats, and boiled eggs. It’s perfect for budget travellers looking to fill up for a small price before a day of exploring and a nice change from the usual toast only options.
St. Christopher’s Paris Canal also has a large bar area where you can order food and drink. Those staying in the hostel will receive 25% off the cost of their meals. From personal experience I can tell you that the pub fare food is perfect after a long day of travel and jetlag.The bar is also a great area to meet others, especially on the weekends. There are daily specials and many travellers will congregate at the tables towards the end of the day to meet up over a Frogs Bollocks.
Of course, while the social area is great for hanging out, grabbing a beer, and meeting others, it’s not so great for work. Which is why I especially loved the chill room; a quiet area with tables, chairs, and plenty of outlets where I could get a bit of work done during my down time.
For those looking to explore some of the city’s top attractions, the hostel offers tour booking. Whether you need transportation to Versailles or want to visit the creepy catacombs the friendly staff will help you with your tour or day trip.
As mentioned previously, St. Christopher’s Paris Canal Hostel has several choices when it comes to rooms. Privates, small dorms, large dorms, and female only dorms are all available here. We stayed in a four bed dorm on the second floor. Each bed had a privacy curtain, fluffy duvet, reading light, and plug outlet. Our room also had a sink with a mirror and a table with one chair. There were, however, no additional plugs in the room which could be a little frustrating when needing to charge multiple devices overnight.
The beds were comfortable, and the rooms spacious enough for us to move around. However, as is the case with many other hostels in Europe, it was quite warm. Too warm for me if I’m being honest, even with the window open. I was definitely grateful I didn’t bring warm sweatpants to sleep in which is my normal winter go-to. Another downfall was the noise; despite being in a local area we still faced a very busy street which had lots of action through the night. We were also beside a stairwell and heard the creaks and squeaks of the door every time it was open which was frustrating when I went to bed early jet-lagged or tried to sleep in a little bit. I would definitely recommend bringing ear plugs (which I did not have).
Bathrooms are shared down the hall with multiple showers and toilet stalls. They were always clean and I never had to wait for either the shower or the toilet. There was a hair dryer on the wall available for use, but no outlets for straighteners or curling irons.
It should also be noted that there were no lockers in our room. Lockers could be rented by the hour or by the day in the basement ($5 euro/day for large locker) which also served as luggage storage. If you are travelling with valuables, I recommend you make sure you have a lock for your bag as that fee can add up pretty quickly.
St. Christopher’s Paris Canal was a great hostel for budget backpackers looking for a fun place to stay with a cool vibe. It had a great atmosphere, was always clean, had plenty of amenities, and friendly staff. The noise and warmth did make it hard for me, personally, to sleep, so I absolutely recommend travellers to bring earplugs and something light to sleep in.
While the metro station is incredibly close, it does take a while to get to the city centre and the main attractions. So if it’s your first time in Paris, I might suggest staying a little closer (St. Christopher’s also has a Gare du Nord location). But, if you are a return visitor looking for a good spot to escape the tourist hordes and a new area to explore, the St. Christopher’s Canal Hostel is a great choice.
Know Before You Go
- Towels are available for rent (safety deposit required)
- There is a (small) city tax for each night.
- Travel necessities (including adaptors) are available
- There is 24/7 Reception and no curfew.
- Wifi is free, unlimited, and works throughout the entire building
- The hotel is wheelchair friendly
- Luggage storage is not free: 5 euro/Day for the large or 4 euro/day for the small lockers.
- It’s popular and books up fast- so book in advance!
Disclaimer: I was a guest at St. Christopher’s hostel during my stay, however all opinions are, as always, my own.