Figuring out where to stay and where to spend your time in Paris's many neighborhoods can be a perplexing and overwhelming part of planning a trip to Paris. But it doesn't have to be! Let's take a walk through Paris's most charming neighborhoods!
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The City of Lights. The City of Love. Home of (basically) every delicious food. Inventors of perfume and scented candles. Centre of culture, arts, and fashion. What more could you want? Well, perhaps a quick and easy neighborhood guide to where to find all of it during a short trip to Paris!
Feeling overwhelmed by Paris?
I remember when I first started planning our trip to Paris. I was fixated on finding the "right" or "perfect" neighborhoods, and overwhelmed by the jumbled mix of names and numbers used to describe the various parts of the city (more on arrondissements, later!). First things first, get yourself a small, handheld map that you can use for planning and that can accompany you on your trips! Don't forget to check out 10 Things to Know About Paris as you're planning!
Well, here's the good news: in Paris's historic center, it's genuinely hard to go wrong. There are are an abundance of gorgeous neighborhoods - and I guarantee you'll find parts of all of them that you enjoy.
And the bad news: there's no way you'll be able to see all of Paris's beautiful spots in just one trip. Did I say bad news? I meant more good news. Paris is a city that will keep you coming back for more. More croissants, more champagne, more strolling, and definitely more exploring.
So, let's get oriented! It's time to take a walk through Paris!
What is an arrondissement?
Orientation to Paris's Neighborhoods
Part of what makes learning about Paris so difficult is an often double-naming situation that we end up with- referring to a region in Paris both by the arrondissement number and by another name. Additionally, often, a "neighborhood" you might be hoping to visit will overlap multiple, numbered arrondissements.
Don't worry! Though confusing, it's certainly not insurmountable! With only 20 arrondissements, just remember you won't be visiting a huge number of them, which are outside of the general tourist bubble.
Most tourists spend their time in the arrondissements numbered 10 and below. Once you start planning, you'll get the hang of it pretty quickly. For more on how to plan a trip to Europe, check out the full post!
What is the best neighborhood to stay in Paris?
Paris Neighborhood Guide: Louvre/Ier
The centre of Paris, the 1er (first) arrondissement is where tourists, especially those in town only for a short while, will spend the majority of their time. Don't forget to read up on How to Charm the French before your first day in this permanently crowded tourist enclave.
The 1er is home to the Louvre (obviously), the Palais Royal, luxury shopping at Place Vendome, the Musée de l'Orangerie, and *half* of the Ile de la Cite - the half that contains Sainte-Chapelle, but *not* the half that contains Notre Dame de Paris.
And this division of a small island between two different arrondissements, mes amis, is a perfect example of why, generally, you shouldn't get too bogged down in the arrondissement numbering system. Just keep that handy map open.
So, from here, I think it's more helpful to discuss some neighborhoods in terms of how people refer to them, in conjunction with their numbers, rather than plowing through the arrondissements in numbered order.
Paris Neighborhood Guide: Le Marais (IIe/IVe)
Le Marais is, hands down, my favorite neighborhood in Paris. Great food, excellent (but not wildly expensive) shopping, and plenty of history, Le Marais genuinely has everything I was looking for in Paris. It's Paris as you dreamed it would be. If you're in the market for pastries, look no further than Le Marais.
A relic of medieval Paris, Le Marais escaped the leveling and subsequent imposition of uniformity that Baron Haussmann unleashed on the rest of the city in the late 19th century. Today, it's a prosperous area, with small, winding streets, and aristocratic mansions, transitioned into museums, flats, and shops. While naturally a spot frequented by tourists, Le Marais has a more local, less bustling feel than, say, the Opera district. You'll love it.
For everything you need to know before dropping by, heck out the full post on visiting Le Marais.
The "other" half of the IVe arrondissement includes the Notre Dame half of Ile de la Cite, along with the other island in the Seine, Ile Saint Louis. Absolutely plan to block out an evening to stroll through Ile Saint Louis, and, even better, considering having a picnic, en plein air, on this gorgeous island in the middle of the Seine. For specifics, and more excellent Paris picnic spots, check out Secret Paris Picnic Spots.
Paris Neighborhood Guide: Élysée (VIIIe)
If the allure of luxury shopping brought you to France, this is the Paris neighborhood for you! You guessed it, here you'll find the Champs-Élysées. In addition to the "Champs" itself, you'll also find high-end housing. This is some of the most expensive real estate in the world! Just north of the Champs, you'll find the charming La Madeline neighborhood, near where we stayed at the Maison Astor, Curio Collection, on our most recent trip!
For more on shopping and tourism on the Champs-Élysée, check out the full post! And if you're looking for less intense luxury shopping experience, stop by the nearby rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. For a shopping-specific round-up, I recommend Where to Shop in Paris.
Paris Neighborhood Guide: Left Bank (VIe & VIIe)
You will undoubtedly fall in love with Paris's Left Bank (Rive Gauche) - the "lower" section of Paris on the "Left" bank of the Seine - it's the left if you're going along the Seine consistent with the river's current. Similar to Le Marais, the Left Bank is old made new again - with yet more fancy shopping, world-class museums, and restaurants to entice any traveler.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Left Bank, which includes the Latin Quarter, the Paris Pantheon, the Luxembourg Gardens, Les Invalides (and Napoleon's Tomb), and the Rodin Museum, definitely deserves more than one visit. Oh and did I mention the Eiffel Tower?
For the perfect itinerary for visiting Paris's Left Bank, check out the full post!
Rive Gauche Restaurant recommendation:
Paris Neighborhood Guide: Montmartre (XVIIIe)
Montmartre is on every Paris visitor's bucket list - and for good reason. This historic hill, formerly outside of Paris and now very much a part of the city, is home to winding streets, charming alleys, and romantic cafes. It's one of the "farthest" arrondissements you're likely to visit during your time in Paris, and Metro will undoubtedly be the mode of transport, as it's not easily walkable from the centre of the city. Once you arrive, you'll be doing quite a bit of walking up and down the hill, so don't forget to read up on walking shoes in What to Wear in Paris.
Along with its artists and ramblers, Montmartre also boasts the worst pickpockets I saw in France. For more on this romantic neighborhood, including important safety tips, check out the full Montmartre post.
Paris Neighborhood Guide: Opera (IXe)
We can't love every, single inch of Paris, so I will go out on a limb and say that Opera was not one of my favorite areas. Home to many of the iconic Haussmann boulevards, you'll want to visit, but keep in mind: the section near the Opera Garnier is *extremely crowded and touristy* at almost any time of day (even during "shoulder season."
I'd recommend visiting Galaries Lafayette, the Opera Garnier if you're a Phantom of the Opera fan, and then moving along back into one of the other areas we've just discussed!
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Thanks for stopping by!
Merci beaucoup! I so appreciate you stopping by to read this Paris neighborhood guide! I hope you'll consider exploring my other posts about Paris! Bon voyage! And don't forget to subscribe below! xx
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