June 22, 2015

The 20 Arrondissements of Paris


The part of my brain that appreciates logic and order especially loves the way the neighborhoods of Paris are arranged! Each of Paris’s 20 districts, or arrondissements, have their own distinct personalities. This is a quick primer to get you started. My current favorite is … the 2nd!

1st Arr – Classic Grandeur

This is the Paris you expect to see on your first visit. The wide boulevards are grande, and the overall look and feel is historical and ritzy.

Check out – The Louvre, The Tuileries Garden

2nd Arr – All Business, A Little Shopping, A Great Place to Stay

This area isn’t visited by hoards of tourists, but it’s central location makes it ideal for vacation rental apartments. It’s small and easily walkable. Home to the Paris Stock Exchange and part of Paris’ red light district. This is where my AirBnB apartment was on my most recent visit.

Check out – The Galleries (glass-covered side streets that acted as shopping malls from the 19th c.)

3rd Arr – The Upper Marais. Colorful, Characterful, Hipster

This district is a maze of tiny side streets full of equally tiny shops. Filled with beautiful boutique hotels.

Check out – The Picasso Museum, The Carnavalet Museum

4th Arr – The Lower Marais. A victim of it’s own popularity, but still beautiful

The 4th is home to the Ile de la Cite, or the island in the middle of the Seine that holds Notre Dame. The views of the Seine are stunning at sunset, but much of the district in general has been taken over by American-style chain stores.

Check out – Notre Dame, Village Saint-Paul, Ile de la Cite, Ile Sainte-Louis

5th Arr – The Latin Quarter

Bohemian and full of bookshops, this district is made up of narrow crooked streets, left over from medieval times, that are fun to wander.

Check out – Shakespeare and Co Bookstore, The Jardin des Plantes, The Sorbonne

6th Arr – Hemingway and The Lost Generation, Design District

If you’re into Hemingway and his crowd, this is your district. Also, if you’re into art or design, this area is highly concentrated with fabric houses and antique stores.

Check out – The Luxembourg Gardens, Saint-Germain des Pres Neighborhood, Saint-Sulspice

7th Arr – Diplomats and Aristocrats 

This district is mostly about the Eiffel Tower for tourists, but it’s also home to some of Paris’s most wealthy residents and foreign embassies.

Check out – The Eiffel Tower, Musee d’Orsay, Bon Marche

8th Arr – Fashion and Style

The 8th is about luxury shopping. Stroll the Champs Elysees, and see all of the highest-end boutiques.

Check out – Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees

9th Arr – Up and Coming Neighborhood, Tons of Hotels

Although this district is full of hotels, few American tourists stay here. It’s hilly, and mostly residential. But it’s also home to the city’s gorgeous Belle Epoque department stores. Be sure to have coffee on the top floor of Printemps under the stained glass dome.

Check out – Printemps and Galeries Lafayette (department store shopping Meccas), The Paris Opera

10th Arr – Working Class, Residential with an Edge 

Few tourists venture here, but it’s home to two large train stations which may bring you here.

Check out – Canal Saint-Martin neighborhood

11th Arr – Diversity, Club Scene

I’m not much of a clubber, but if you’re into nightlife you’ll find a lot of the best clubs here.

Check out – The bar scene, Place de la Bastille

12th Arr – Very Local

Let me know if you have any highlights I should share!

13th Arr – Very Local

Anything I’ve missed?

14th Arr – Montparnasse 

In the 1920s this neighborhood was home to the Paris literary and arts scene.

Check out – The Catacombs

15th Arr – Convention Center, Waterpark

You probably won’t see much of this neighborhood unless you’re in town for a convention. Or if it’s 100 degrees and you must go to a waterpark. 🙂

16th Arr – Charming, Quiet, Local

Wander the Passy neighborhood to find charming nooks and crannies.

Check out – The Claude Monet Museum

17th Arr – Also Quiet and Local…

But with less charm than the 17th.

18th Arr – Montmartre

This neighborhood is dripping with charm. The streets are narrow and winding and feel like you’re walking through a tiny village. The elevation makes it one of the best vantage points from which to see the rest of Paris.

Check out – The view from the steps of Sacre-Coeur, day or night.

19th Arr – Local

Not much for tourists here.

Check out – Science and Industry Museum, if you’re into that king of thing

20th Arr – Young Arts Scene, Lots of Green

There are tons of parks and green space here. The area isn’t polished, but the rents are low which has led to a surge of young artists taking up residence.

Check out – Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Been to Paris lately? What are your favorite stops?