This edition of Paris-Pas-Cher is going to help you get oriented around Paris. Whether you are a new student or an oldie, these quick tips and hints should give you some insight into each arrondissement so you can find the best neighborhood suited for you.
Here’s our condensed guide
Young, energetic, buzzing areas: 1er (Châtelet), 2e (Montorgueil), 3e (Lower Marais), 5e (Place Monge), 10e (Canal Saint Martin), 11e (Oberkampf and Bastille area), 20e (around Gambetta).
Residential, calm, peaceful areas: 4e (Ile Saint Louis), 5e (by Jardin des Plantes), 6e (Saint Germain des Prés), 7e, 8e, 12e, 13e, 14e, 15e, 16e, 17e (around La Fourche), 19e (around Jourdain and Buttes Chaumont), 20e (around Père Lachaise).
Cutural, relaxed, but trendy areas: 3e (Higher Marais around rue Bretagne), 4e (Saint Paul area), 6e (Rue de Seine and Rue Bonaparte), 12e (by the Viaducts), 13e (Buttes aux Cailles), 18e (Montmartre), 19e (La Villette).
- Avoid living in the fringes – like any major city, these areas can attract ‘unsocial’ activities.
- Paris is TINY! You can walk from one end to the other in around 2 hours. Remember this when looking for lodging, you don’t have to live on the Champs Elysée or by the Louvres to be able to cross it often.
- A lot of the suburbs of Paris have recently become gentrified and are accessible by public transport. Do some research on neighborhoods like Saint-Ouen and Montreuil. If you’re on a budget, these are great alternatives to central Paris.
Quintessential Paris, you’ve got the Tuileries, Pont des Art, Les Halles, Musée du Louvre, Place de Vendôme, L’Orangerie, rue de Rivoli, and a long shot view of the Eiffel Tower overlooking the river Seine at Place de la Concorde. This is the picture postcards, television ad part of Paris. Check out the streets around Châtelet for some great cafes and bars.
2nd: smallest arrondissement where the trendy Etienne Marcel and Rue Montorgueil reside. These two streets are filled with cafés and shopping. This arrondissement is also home to Paris Opéra and la Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Check out the famous Parisian galleries (covered passages lined with shops) too. This area is for you if you enjoy the buzz of nightlife, chic eateries, and Japanese/Korean culture (it’s where all the Japanese and Korean supermarkets are located!)
The Marais: Hanks burger (awesome vegan burger place), Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature, Musée des Arts et Métiers, Musée Picasso, and all the contemporary art galleries who matter, it is possibly one of the hippest places to live in Paris. There are lots of great speciality food stores, especially along rue de Bretagne. You’ll find bars, restaurants, cafes, and shopping everywhere you go. It has a bit of everything — from budget to upscale.
You can check out Notre-Dame, Hotel de Ville (Town Hall), Centre Pompidou, Tour St. Jacques, Mémorial de la Shoah and many more. Most important thing to do though is to check out the falafel stands along rue de Rosier near Place des Vosges. There are also some amazing boulangeries in this arrondissement and not too heavy on the pocket (Aux Merveilleux de Fred, Au Petit Versailles de Marais, Chez Marianne and La Perla all highly recommended). The area is also where you’ll find Paris’ 2 islands: Ile Saint Louis and Ile de la Cité – the most expensive real estate in the whole of Paris.
Student friendly and home of SciencesPo and Sorbonne Université: the two biggest universities in Paris. You will find the streets sprawling with international students (Place Monge). The oldest arrondissement in Paris too and was first built by the Romans dating back from the 1st century BC. It’s also home to the Natural History Museum, Paris Mosque (where you can go for a hammam!), and lots of vegan restaurants by metro station Cardinal Lemoine.
Trendy, chic, but on the expensive side, you will find lots young professionals residing here. Saint Germain-des-Prés, which is located in an unbeatable location, is a classically Parisian neighborhood. Sidewalk cafes, bakeries, art galleries, parks, museums… Everything that your imagination conjures when you think of the ‘Moulin Rouge’ Paris. The home of Serge Gainsbourg is also in this arrondissement and Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso used to live here too.
Home of the Eiffel Tower, this is a beautiful, classically Parisian arrondissement. You will find tonnes of tourists here during the day, but as an area to reside in, it’s pretty residential and calm. Check out the Musée Rodin, Musée du quai Branly, Musée d’Orsay and Musée de l’Armée. If it’s your thing, the Musée des Égouts de Paris (Paris Sewer Museum) is housed here too. Oh, and Karl Lagerfeld lives in this arrondissement too.
If bank balance can allow it, this arrondissement will show you the stereotypical Parisian style and flawless taste. When you get off the metro line at Alma-Marceau, you will be at the end of the ostentatious Avenue Montaigne (where are the Sex and the City fans?!). The home of France’s executive branch of government, who knows, you may bump into Emmanuel Macron one day. His home as the president is at Élysée Palace. You can take a stroll down the famous Champs-Élysées where you will find ultra-high-end shopping, fashion, dining, and hotels. The Champs-Élysées is good to see once but it has the “Times Square” vibe. Loaded with tourists and lots of business, finding a pad in this area can be quite tough.
The 9th arrondissement is a diverse area of Paris with Grands Magasins — Galeries Lafayette and Galeries Printemps – as well as Paris opera house (neighboring the 2nd) and the city’s red light district. Slightly cheaper rent than the 10th, this arrondissement is quickly becoming a hip and trendy place to stay. If you like to shop at speciality food stores and independant boutiques, this is the area for you. You’ll never be bored as it crosses into the 2nd arrondissement where there are a lot of lively international bars and restaurants, (but you don’t have to live with the noise in the 9th!)
We’re in the 10th! So staying in this arrondissement is a good idea if you want to be a doorstep from campus. It has lot of trendy restaurants and bars full of even trendier Parisians wanting to soak up this working-class neighborhood vibe. The two biggest train stations are close to PCA too, Gare de l’Est and the Gare du Nord. It has a distinct bohemian vibe, neighboring the 9th and the 11th. The streets lining the Canal Saint-Martin become car-free for the latter half of the day each Saturday, and all day on Sundays for your cycling and strolling pleasure. If you call this arrondissement home, you are bound to love it.
Young, fun and edgy. That’s the best way to describe this arrondissement. Aside from all the cheap bars, trendy restaurants and fashionable cafes, you will find the most interesting mix of Parisians, expats and foreigners. Check out Rue Oberkampf and Rue de Charonne near Avenue Ledru Rollin. There are also plenty of live music venues too. Don’t expect any famous sights but do expect an authentic living and breathing Parisian neighborhood without tourists. Just be careful as pickpockets are rife in this area.
A large, quiet, and spacious arrondissement, if you like open spaces this is the arrondissement for you. Parc de Bercy, between Gare de Lyon and Gare de Bercy, is a beautiful park. You would think this park is quite big were it not for Bois de Vincennes. Bois de Vincennes has many footpaths, a lake and a Buddhist Temple. You’ll also find Marché Aligre in this area: one of the biggest and cheapest food markets!
This arrondissement features some of the best street art in Paris: Butte-aux-Cailles. While the 20th and 11th houses the ‘truer’ Chinatown of Paris, the 13th has more of a Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Thai vibe. The high-rise buildings feature some amazing artworks that can be viewed on your journey around.The 13th is calm and quiet, perfect if your ideal evening involves tucking into a warm bowl of noodles, and rolling home to bed.
Known as the most quiet district in Paris, this arrondissement is very residential: perfect for those who seek refuge from all the daily encounters of city life. It’s also home to a (fairly) secret artists’ community: Les Grands Voisins. So even in this residential neighborhood, you’ll be able to find quirky artisans in a commune set up in an abandoned hospital.
The 15th arrondissement, is the largest neighborhood of central Paris, both in size and population. Home of la Tour Montparnasse, the cityscape is scattered with high-rise buildings. Residential and quiet, you’ll also find lots of small streets with houses (yes, houses) in this family orientated neighborhood. It’s just across the river from the 8th and deux-pas from the Eiffel Tower.
Safe and homely is the best way to describe this arrondissement. Place du Trocadéro will provide you with that picture perfect postcard shot with the Eiffel Tower to send your grandmother. This is Paris’ version of New York’s Upper East Side and London’s Kensington and so has an affluent population. In the western-most arrondissement, don’t be surprised if you bump into someone famous attending the French Open tennis or a Paris St Germain football game. There is a sizeable American community here too. Also found here is the contemporary art museum, Palais de Tokyo.
A little off the beaten path, this is a place that many Parisians call home. Because of its low profile, it tends to be easier to find decent, affordable housing here yet you are a stones-throw away from the Champs-Elysees and Parc Monceau. Move a little further from the Champs-Elysees and Parc Monceau and the vibe shifts to more working-class and multicultural. Check out the quirky cafes, hip restaurants and the weird and wonderful shops.
Home to sights such as Sacre Coeur and the Moulin Rouge, this arrondissement is probably best known for the killer hills of Montmartre. If you like a villagey vibe, this is the place for you. Artists such as Picasso, Dali, Duchamp, Toulouse-Lautrec, and others lived here during the first part of the twentieth century. Abesses, Pigalle, Blanche, and Lamarck-Caulaincourt are the safest areas for housing; the 18th can be a little rough around the edges.
A family-friendly and village-like arrondissement, here you will find Parc des Buttes Chaumont, Parc de la Villette as well as the science and music museums (Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie and Cité de la Musique). You will also find Conservatoire de Paris and the world-class Philharmonie de Paris. Check out the La Mouzaia neighborhood, an unusual quarter of Paris, filled with narrow passageways free of cars, low-rise houses, and lots of small gardens. There’s also the canal Saint Martin (shared with the 10th arrondissement) which is the center of life during the summer season.
A site for art, music, and dancing, the 20th has some beautiful views of Paris. In this arrondissement, you will find the secret garden, le Jardin Naturel Piere-Emmanuel (not so secret now!), and the impressive Père-Lachaise Cemetery. Also situated here is Bellville: the Chinatown of Paris, with its bustling streets. Though not classically Parisian, this arrondissement is highly affordable and is filled with gritty and peaceful spaces.