Originating in the public, participative education and teaching community, youth hostels are non-profit associations, places for listening, sharing and exchanging ideas in defence of a different approach to the transmission of knowledge – free of social, religious, racial or political distinctions or objectives. Youth hostels offer members a bed in a room or dormitory that sleeps between 2 and 8/10 people (more at some establishments), as well as single and double rooms, with shared or private bathroom facilities, which are often reserved for group leaders.
In 1907, in Altena in what is now North Rhine Westphalia (Germany), a teacher named Richard Schirrmann set up Europe’s first youth hostel in Altena Castle, which had just been rebuilt. The rooms of Europe’s first Youth Hostel are still located within the castle, and can be visited, museum-style.
The founding principles were: non-profit, educational, politically neutral, welcoming all young people without distinction in order to encourage friendship and peace, appreciation of travel and the natural world.
Inspired by the movement founded in Germany by Richard Schirrmann, Marc Sangnier, co-founder of the International Youth Hostel Federation (IYHA), opened the first youth hostel in France, which was named l’Épi d’Or and was built in 1929 at Boissy-la-Rivière (Seine-et-Oise). In 1930, he set up the Ligue Française pour les Auberges de Jeunesse (LFAJ – French Youth Hostels League).
By 1933, Marcel Auvert, a teacher involved in educational work, was busy setting up the Centre Laïque des Auberges de Jeunesse.
And it was in 1948, just after the Second World War, that BVJ established the first youth hostel in Paris, at the cultural and historical heart of Paris!
Is there any alternative to sleeping in a dormitory?
A youth hostel is, first and foremost, a place that is young, simple and unpretentious, where you can sleep in a real bed. No need to put your tent up for just one night! A stay at a youth hostel is the ideal solution for exploring a country or city without spending too much on accommodation, and for meeting fellow travellers sharing the same adventure.
The answer to this question is it all depends on the youth hostel. BVJ offers dormitories, double rooms and even single rooms. This allows travellers, schoolchildren, students, teachers, youth workers and trainers to select their ideal accommodation in the very heart of Paris, so that their youth hostel stay is a pleasant one.
Tip: If you’re sleeping in a dormitory with other travellers, feel free to break the ice by introducing yourself right away! The atmosphere at the youth hostel is very friendly.
What about the bathroom facilities?
When staying at a youth hostel, people often wonder what the bathroomfacilities will be like. With BVJ, there’s no need to wonder because the showers and separate toilets are located on each floor and shared with your room-mates. And of course, the bathroom facilities are regularly cleaned by youth hostel staff.
Handy tip: Bath towels and toiletries (shower gel, shampoo, etc.), multi-sockets, chargers, and adapters are on sale at reception, stock permitting. To avoid additional expense, remember to take your personal belongings with you!
N.B.: It can be useful to pack a microfiber towel, which takes up less space in your bag and dries very quickly.