A member of the international youth hostel association, HI - Paris - Le d'Artagnan Hostel is very large but very well run and friendly. Staff all speak English and French and also Spanish and German -- most languages are covered by the staff here!
The hostel is located in the 20th district of Paris and is very close to Gallieni, the international bus and train station. It's not in the center of Paris but still within easy reach, as the Paris metro (subway) is very efficient. There are permanent signs at the metro and bus stops, so it's easy to find. Take the metro from Gallieni to Porte de Bagnolet, exit the metro to the right and keep an eye out for the signs. You have about one hundred meters' walk to the hostel, straight past McDonald's -- cross one intersection and it's the first street on the right.
Rooms and Bathrooms
Four hundred-fifty beds make this a very large hostel! There are no mixed dorms, and dorm rooms range in size from three, four, five, and nine beds. There are twenty-five twin rooms with two single beds and there are seven double rooms with a king-size bed for couples only. All rooms have a bathroom, shower, and toilet.
The hostel uses a key card system, and rooms are not available from noon to 3 p.m. daily to allow for cleaning. There are no in-room lockers, but there is a commercial locker facility on the bottom floor -- though this is often overloaded (and you also have to pay for it). The hostel boasts a large commercial laundry and kitchen.
There is a bar in the basement of the hostel, and it is totally commercial. Also there is a TV room that shows only French-language TV. Internet access is available, with eight public internet terminals, (no msn available) but it is very overpriced. You can also buy Wi-Fi access, which at the time of the review was only available in single-use blocks (this means you cannot logout of the Wi-Fi and return later to use your remaining time). Also note there is no kitchen here for public use -- only microwave ovens are available, so they hope you will buy the meals cooked here. The meals are small and quite overpriced, so you would do better to buy from a supermarket and cook for yourself. Breakfast is included in the price.
This is a nonsmoking hostel, though you can often find large groups smoking outside. Sheets and blankets are free, but towels are not. A security guard is on-site during the evening when reception is not open. A number of vending machines at the hostel offer some good deals -- make sure to buy your metro day-pass at the hostel, as it is quite cheaper than buying it at the metro station! This pass allows unlimited travel all day on the metro and is invaluable for your stay in Paris!
While this is a well run, large hostel, there seems to be the impression that anyone is allowed a room here -- some older guests in their sixties were staying during our visit, which does not quite fit in with the idea of a "youth hostel." During our visit, some female guests complained of unwanted attention from some older male guests, but did not seem overly concerned with this. Overall, this hostel provides a good stay and good price for a bed, and there is certainly no lack of other travelers to meet here!