An Insider’s Guide
Paris, often hailed as the ‘City of Lights’, isn’t merely a cultural and historical powerhouse, but also a vibrant blend of diverse districts each carrying its own unique charm and identity. Its foundation dates back to the 3rd Century BC when it was a modest fishing settlement known as Lutetia. Since then, Paris has expanded and evolved into the city we know today, boasting twenty distinct districts or ‘arrondissements’. Each arrondissement tells a different tale, reflecting its own slice of Parisian life and culture. From the majestic Louvre Museum in the 1st Arrondissement to the vibrant street art in the 20th, Paris is a city that offers an endless journey of discovery and delight.
Brief History of Paris and Its Districts
Paris has been a pivotal center for culture, art, and politics since its founding by the Celtic tribe Parisii, who gave it its name. The Romans later renamed it ‘Lutetia’. The city grew under Roman rule and, after their fall, gradually developed into an influential medieval city. Paris played a crucial role in the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods, becoming a global center for art, science, and philosophy.
The modern layout of Paris’s districts was established by Napoleon III and his Prefect of the Seine, Baron Haussmann, in the mid-19th century. Their grand vision transformed Paris, replacing its crowded and disease-ridden slums with wide boulevards, parks, and grand buildings. This restructuring also established the city’s 20 arrondissements, spiraling outwards in a clockwise direction from the center of the city, with the Seine River cutting through their middle.
Overview of the 20 Arrondissements
Paris’s 20 arrondissements are not mere administrative divisions but individual neighborhoods with their own histories, atmospheres, and attractions. They are numbered from 1 to 20, beginning at the heart of the city, the Louvre, and spiraling clockwise to the 20th arrondissement. Each arrondissement has its own town hall and mayor.
This article will explore each arrondissement in-depth, providing insights into its history, character, key attractions, and the unique facets that make it an integral part of Paris’s rich tapestry.
Detailed Description of Each Arrondissement
1st Arrondissement (Louvre)
Located in the heart of Paris, the 1st arrondissement is the historical center of the city, home to some of its most iconic landmarks. The most famous of these is undoubtedly the Louvre Museum, the world’s largest art museum and historic monument. Housing thousands of works from around the globe, including Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the Louvre is a testament to the universal importance of art and culture.
In addition to the Louvre, the 1st arrond issement also houses other remarkable attractions like the Palais Royal with its stunning gardens, the Gothic splendor of the Sainte-Chapelle, and the emblematic Pont Neuf, the oldest standing bridge across the river Seine.
One cannot overlook the famed Rue de Rivoli, a bustling street lined with shops and cafes, offering a shopping experience steeped in Parisian elegance. The Les Halles area, once home to the central food market of Paris, has been transformed into a major shopping center and transportation hub, featuring the prominent modern sculpture, La Canopée.
The Louvre Museum
As you mentioned, the Louvre Museum is a crown jewel not just of the 1st arrondissement, but of Paris as a whole. Housed in the historic Louvre Palace, it’s the world’s largest and arguably most famous art museum. Its collection spans from ancient civilizations to the mid-19th century, including Greek, Roman, and Egyptian antiquities, Islamic Art, and Western paintings and sculptures. Among its many iconic works, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo statue are standout pieces that draw millions of visitors annually.
Just a short walk from the Louvre, the Palais-Royal is another emblematic monument in the 1st arrondissement. Once a royal palace, it now serves several purposes: its gardens are a peaceful haven for locals and tourists alike; its buildings house the Council of State, the Constitutional Council, and the Ministry of Culture; and its arcades host chic boutiques and cozy cafes, maintaining an air of quiet, refined elegance.
Sainte-Chapelle, on the Île de la Cité, is a marvel of Gothic architecture. It was built in the 13th century by King Louis IX (Saint Louis) to house his collection of Christian relics. The chapel is renowned for its magnificent stained glass windows, which create an ethereal, colourful spectacle when they catch the sunlight.
The Tuileries Gardens are an oasis of tranquility amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. Laid out in the 17th century, these meticulously manicured gardens are adorned with statuary, fountains, and abundant greenery, providing a scenic spot for leisurely strolls. The gardens also host two museums: the Musée de l’Orangerie, known for Claude Monet’s Water Lilies series, and the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, a site for contemporary art and photography exhibitions.
Another notable site in the 1st arrondissement is Place Vendôme, a square renowned for its luxury jewelry and watch shops, such as Cartier and Rolex. At the center stands the Vendôme Column, modeled after Trajan’s Column in Rome, topped by a statue of Napoleon Bonaparte.
In essence, the 1st arrondissement is an exploration into the heart of Paris’s history and culture. It combines iconic landmarks, significant historical sites, beautiful public spaces, and high-end shopping, creating an unforgettable experience for all who visit. Whether one is an art enthusiast, a history buff, or simply an admirer of Paris’s unique charm, the 1st arrondissement has something to offer to everyone.
2nd Arrondissement (Bourse)
Next on our journey is the 2nd arrondissement, known primarily as the center of business and commerce in Paris. Its name, Bourse, refers to the stock exchange, acknowledging its role as a vital hub for the French economy. In addition to its economic significance, the 2nd arrondissement is a charming blend of the old and the new.
The district is home to the architectural wonder of the Palais Brongniart, which once housed the Paris stock exchange. The ornate building, characterized by its Corinthian columns, today serves as an events venue. The Passage des Panoramas, one of the earliest covered walkways in Paris, is another hidden gem offering a wide range of restaurants, boutiques, and philatelist shops.
One of the most vibrant areas in the 2nd arrondissement is Montorgueil, a lively street lined with famous restaurants, quaint cafés, bakeries, fish stores, cheese shops, wine shops, produce stands, and flower shops. The area is a beloved spot for both locals and tourists alike who enjoy its Parisian charm and bustling atmosphere.
Here are some of the key features and attractions in the 2nd arrondissement:
- Covered Passages: This arrondissement is famous for its beautifully preserved covered passages, dating back to the 19th century. These include the Galerie Vivienne, Passage des Panoramas, and Passage Jouffroy. They’re filled with unique boutiques, bookshops, and cafés, offering a nostalgic journey into the past.
- Bourse de Commerce: Also known as the Paris Stock Exchange, it’s a major historic building and a symbol of the city’s economic power.
- Rue Montorgueil: A bustling pedestrian street known for its food markets, patisseries, and restaurants. It’s a great place to sample typical French food items.
- Rue Sainte-Anne: Known as the city’s “Little Tokyo”, this street is lined with numerous Japanese restaurants and grocery stores.
- Place des Victoires: This circular place is surrounded by architectural harmony and features an equestrian statue of Louis XIV in its center.
- The National Library of France, Richelieu site: This historical library holds a vast collection of documents and hosts rotating exhibitions.
- Theatre des Bouffes Parisiens: One of the many cultural venues in the area, this theater specializes in operettas and contemporary plays.
The 2nd arrondissement, although primarily a business district, is a great place to explore the classic Parisian architectural style, enjoy food and shopping, and experience the city’s vibrant cultural life.
3rd Arrondissement (Temple)
The 3rd arrondissement, often known as Le Marais (the marsh), is one of the oldest in Paris, rich in history and heritage. The district got its name ‘Temple’ from the Knights Templar who owned a large part of the land in the Middle Ages.
Today, it is famed for its pre-revolutionary buildings, hip boutiques, galleries, and a thriving LGBTQ+ scene. The Musée Picasso, located in the stunning Hôtel Salé, houses one of the most comprehensive collections of Picasso’s work. The Musée des Arts et Métiers is another unique destination, being the oldest science museum in Europe.
Rue des Rosiers is at the heart of the Jewish community, offering a range of delis and bakeries renowned for their falafel and pastries. The 3rd arrondissement is a dynamic mix of history and modernity, a testament to Paris’s evolving cultural landscape.
Here are some notable points of interest in the 3rd arrondissement:
- Musée Picasso: This museum houses one of the world’s most extensive collections of Pablo Picasso’s works, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and prints.
- Musée des Arts et Métiers: This museum of industrial design and invention is home to over 80,000 objects and 15,000 drawings in its collection. Highlights include an original version of the Foucault pendulum and some of the first planes.
- Musée Carnavalet: Although technically in the 4th arrondissement, it’s very close to the 3rd. This museum is dedicated to the history of Paris from its origins to the present day.
- Le Marais: While parts of Le Marais are in the 4th arrondissement, a substantial portion lies in the 3rd. This historic district is known for its preserved 17th-century architecture, trendy boutiques, and vibrant dining scene.
- Marché des Enfants Rouges: The oldest covered market in Paris, it offers a variety of fresh produce, as well as food stalls where you can enjoy a meal from a variety of international cuisines.
- Archives Nationales: France’s National Archives are housed in a number of buildings in the 3rd arrondissement, which together contain many important historical documents dating back as far as AD 625.
- Place de la République: Located on the boundary of the 3rd, 10th and 11th arrondissement, this square is a popular gathering spot and features the large bronze statue of Marianne, a symbol of the French Republic.
The 3rd arrondissement combines the charm of old Paris with a modern, vibrant community. It’s a great place to explore winding, historic streets, enjoy a meal or a drink, and delve into the rich history and culture of Paris.
4th Arrondissement (Hôtel-de-Ville)
The 4th arrondissement, also part of the larger Le Marais district, is a vibrant and culturally rich neighborhood. Its focal point is the Hôtel de Ville, or City Hall, an impressive Renaissance-style building that serves as the city’s administrative hub.
The district is also home to the Gothic masterpiece, Notre-Dame de Paris, an emblem of French Gothic architecture. Its restoration after the 2019 fire has been a significant focus, symbolizing Paris’s resilience and enduring appeal.
One of Paris’s oldest and most famous squares, the Place des Vosges, offers a tranquil respite from the city’s hustle and bustle. The district’s narrow medieval streets are teeming with art galleries, independent boutiques, and a variety of eateries. The area is also noted for its vibrant Jewish and LGBTQ+ communities, making it a symbol of Paris’s diversity and inclusivity.
In the heart of the 4th arrondissement, you will also find the Centre Pompidou, a groundbreaking architectural feat in itself, hosting a vast modern art museum, library, and music research center. The building is recognizable by its high-tech architecture, with its color-coded, exposed exterior piping, which was revolutionary at the time of its construction.
The iconic district also houses the Saint-Jacques Tower, the only remaining part of the Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie church. The tower provides a panoramic view of Paris, making it a sought-after destination for those seeking to capture the city’s beauty from a unique vantage point.
Lastly, the 4th arrondissement is home to the Île Saint-Louis and Île de la Cité, two natural islands on the Seine. Here, visitors can escape the bustling city and take a peaceful stroll on the tree-lined quays, enjoy a picnic, or indulge in a world-famous Berthillon ice cream.
Here are some of the highlights of the 4th arrondissement:
- Hôtel de Ville: The city hall of Paris, it’s a beautiful building that dates back to the 14th century. It’s the home of the Mayor of Paris and hosts various exhibitions and events throughout the year.
- Notre-Dame Cathedral: While it’s currently under restoration due to the fire in 2019, it remains one of the most famous Gothic cathedrals in the world, renowned for its size, architectural details, and the view from its towers.
- Centre Pompidou: This modern and contemporary art museum has a distinctive high-tech architectural design. It houses the Bibliothèque publique d’information and IRCAM, a center for music and acoustic research, in addition to the Museum of Modern Art.
- Le Marais: This historic and fashionable district is filled with art galleries, trendy boutiques, and a diverse range of eateries. It’s also known for being the center of LGBT culture in Paris.
- Place des Vosges: Known as one of the most beautiful squares in Paris, it’s a perfect place to relax, and its arcades are home to art galleries and shops.
- Sainte-Chapelle: Although technically on Île de la Cité and thus part of the 1st arrondissement, it’s very close to the 4th. This stunning chapel is known for its magnificent stained glass windows.
- BHV Marais: One of the oldest department stores in Paris, it offers a wide variety of goods, with a well-known hardware section in the basement.
The 4th arrondissement is a vibrant mix of old and new, with medieval structures alongside modern facilities. It’s a great district to explore due to its central location, historical significance, and cultural offerings.
5th Arrondissement – Panthéon
The 5th arrondissement, known as the Latin Quarter, is the historical academic heart of Paris, home to the Sorbonne University. It’s named Panthéon after the neo-classical monument dedicated to the influential people of France. This district also boasts the National Museum of Natural History, situated in the Jardin des Plantes.
The Sorbonne University
One of the oldest universities in the world, the Sorbonne University is a landmark in its own right. The institution, founded in 1257, has seen countless bright minds pass through its halls. Notable alumni include René Descartes, Thomas Aquinas, and Marie Curie. Today, it stands as a symbol of academic excellence and is a vital part of the Latin Quarter’s identity. The Sorbonne is also home to a beautiful chapel, the Chapelle de la Sorbonne, which is often overlooked by tourists but is worth a visit.
At the heart of the district stands the Panthéon, a mausoleum housing the remains of distinguished French citizens who made significant contributions to the nation. Originally designed as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve, it was repurposed as a mausoleum during the French Revolution. Notable figures interred here include Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, and Marie Curie. The Panthéon’s façade, modelled on the Pantheon in Rome, and its beautiful frescoes are major attractions for those visiting the 5th arrondissement.
National Museum of Natural History and Jardin des Plantes
The National Museum of Natural History and the Jardin des Plantes, the main botanical garden in France, are other gems in this district. The museum has an extensive collection of artifacts and specimens, and its Grand Gallery of Evolution is a must-see. The Jardin des Plantes, originally the royal medicinal plant garden, offers a serene escape from the bustling city. It is also home to the Paris Zoo and the Museum of Paleontology.
Rue Mouffetard and the Food Scene
Apart from these cultural and educational institutions, the 5th arrondissement is also known for Rue Mouffetard, one of Paris’s oldest and liveliest streets. Here, you’ll find a bustling market, quaint shops, and a variety of restaurants and cafes serving everything from traditional French cuisine to international dishes. This street captures the spirit of the Latin Quarter – vibrant, bohemian, and full of life.
In conclusion, the 5th arrondissement is a fascinating blend of rich history, academic legacy, cultural treasures, and vibrant urban life. Whether you are exploring the historic halls of the Sorbonne, gazing at the grandeur of the Panthéon, wandering through the Jardin des Plantes, or simply enjoying a leisurely meal on Rue Mouffetard, the Latin Quarter provides a unique, unmissable Parisian experience.
Here are some more key points of interest in the 5th arrondissement:
- Latin Quarter: A historic area on the Left Bank known for its intellectual history, it’s filled with bookstores, cafes, and it’s particularly vibrant when the university semester is in session.
- Jardin des Plantes: This is the main botanical garden in France and includes the Grand Gallery of Evolution and a zoo.
- Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle: The French National Museum of Natural History, located within the Jardin des Plantes, is dedicated to various fields of natural sciences.
- Arenes de Lutece: This is one of the most important remnants of the Gallo-Roman era in Paris, it was an amphitheater that could once seat 15,000 people.
- Institute du Monde Arabe (Arab World Institute): A cultural center dedicated to promoting the Arab world and its cultural and spiritual values.
The 5th arrondissement is a historically rich and vibrant area, filled with academic institutions, historic sites, and lively marketplaces. It’s a great place to soak in the intellectual and cultural life of Paris.
6th Arrondissement – Luxembourg
The 6th Arrondissement of Paris, also known as the Luxembourg Quarter, is one of the most iconic and culturally rich districts of the city. It’s located on the left bank of the Seine and is characterized by high-end shopping, famous educational institutions, historic landmarks, and a vibrant café culture.
Here are some of the highlights of the 6th Arrondissement:
- Jardin du Luxembourg: This beautifully manicured garden is a favorite spot for both locals and tourists. It features over a hundred statues, a large pond, beautiful flowerbeds, and the elegant Luxembourg Palace, which houses the French Senate.
- Saint-Sulpice Church: One of the biggest churches in Paris, it became especially popular after being featured in Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code.” It boasts an impressive facade and a richly decorated interior.
- Latin Quarter: Known for its lively atmosphere and student life, thanks to the Sorbonne University. The area is filled with bookshops, quirky boutiques, cafés, and bistros.
- Boulevard Saint-Germain: This iconic boulevard has a selection of high-end stores, antique shops, and cafes like the famous Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore, celebrated for their famous patrons, including Hemingway, Sartre, and Beauvoir.
- Le Bon Marché: Considered by some to be the first department store in the world, this upscale shopping center is a great place to visit for fashion enthusiasts.
- Musée d’Orsay: While technically located in the 7th arrondissement, it’s just a short walk across the Seine from the 6th. This museum is housed in a former railway station and holds an extensive collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces.
The 6th arrondissement offers a taste of Parisian elegance, intellectual life, and artistic history. Its combination of literary tradition, historic architecture, and fashionable shopping make it a favorite for many visitors to the city.
7th Arrondissement – Palais-Bourbon
The 7th arrondissement of Paris, also known as Palais-Bourbon, is located on the left bank of the Seine River. It’s one of the most prestigious and historically rich areas of the city, known for its government buildings, architectural landmarks, and green spaces. The area is largely residential, with a high proportion of older and well-to-do residents.
Here are some of the significant places and points of interest in the 7th arrondissement:
- Eiffel Tower: Undoubtedly the most famous symbol of Paris, the Eiffel Tower dominates the city’s skyline and offers an unparalleled view of Paris from its viewing platforms.
- Musée d’Orsay: Housed in a former railway station, this museum features an extensive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces from artists such as Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, and Degas.
- Invalides: This complex of buildings contains museums and monuments related to the military history of France, including the Military Museum and Napoleon’s Tomb.
- Champ de Mars: This large public greenspace stretches from the Eiffel Tower to École Militaire and is a popular spot for picnics and leisurely walks.
- Rue Cler: One of Paris’s most beloved market streets, Rue Cler is a destination for gourmet food shopping.
- Musée Rodin: This museum is dedicated to the works of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin and is housed in a charming mansion where the artist once lived. The museum also features a beautiful garden showcasing some of Rodin’s most famous sculptures, including “The Thinker.”
- Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac: This museum features indigenous art, cultures, and civilizations from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas.
- Palais Bourbon (National Assembly): This is where the lower house of the French Parliament meets.
The 7th arrondissement offers a diverse mix of attractions, from iconic landmarks to museums and shopping streets, all set against the backdrop of one of the city’s most affluent and elegant districts.
8th Arrondissement – Élysée
The 8th arrondissement of Paris, known as Élysée, is located on the right bank of the River Seine. This district is known for its majestic avenues, well-maintained parks, and a range of high-end establishments, making it one of the most prestigious areas in Paris.
Here are some key points of interest in the 8th arrondissement:
- Champs-Élysées: Known as one of the most famous avenues in the world, the Champs-Élysées stretches from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe. It’s home to luxury shops, theaters, cafes, and the annual Bastille Day military parade.
- Arc de Triomphe: One of Paris’s most famous landmarks, the Arc de Triomphe stands in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle and offers panoramic views of the city from its viewing platform.
- Place de la Concorde: As the largest square in Paris, it’s notable for the Luxor Obelisk and the two magnificent identical stone buildings separated by the Rue Royale.
- Élysée Palace: The official residence of the President of the French Republic.
- Parc Monceau: A public park situated in the 8th arrondissement, known for its statues, Renaissance arch, and a picturesque pond. It’s a great place for a leisurely stroll or a picnic.
- Grand Palais and Petit Palais: Both are impressive architectural structures. The Grand Palais is a large historic site, exhibition hall and museum, while the Petit Palais is an art museum.
- Madeleine Church: An iconic neoclassical building dedicated to Mary Magdalene. It’s unique for its architectural style, which resembles an ancient Roman temple.
- Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré: One of the city’s high-fashion streets, where you can find established fashion houses, art galleries, and antique shops.
The 8th arrondissement is a hub for art, culture, fashion, and is perfect for those looking for a luxurious experience in the city. It’s a great place to explore architecture and enjoy high-end shopping and dining.
9th Arrondissement – Opéra
The 9th arrondissement of Paris, known as Opéra, is located on the right bank of the River Seine. It’s known for grand shopping boulevards, cultural institutions, and the area’s namesake, the Palais Garnier, also known as Opéra Garnier.
Here are some significant places and points of interest in the 9th arrondissement:
- Palais Garnier: This is one of the most famous opera houses in the world, a stunning example of Second Empire architecture and is known for its opulent interiors. It was the setting for Gaston Leroux’s novel “The Phantom of the Opera”.
- Galeries Lafayette and Printemps: These two world-renowned department stores, located on Boulevard Haussmann, are not only shopping destinations but architectural treasures, particularly for their stunning stained-glass cupolas.
- Musée Grévin: This is Paris’s famous waxwork museum, which includes representations of many French and international celebrities.
- Passage Jouffroy: One of the covered passages of Paris, filled with quaint antique shops, bookshops, and cafés. It’s a nice place for a leisurely stroll away from the bustle of the city.
- Sainte-Trinité: A church known for its organ concerts, it’s also architecturally significant as it’s an early example of the use of cast iron in church construction.
- New Athènes: This area, also known as South Pigalle or SoPi, was the heart of the Romantic era in Paris, where many writers and artists, such as Chopin and Delacroix, lived. Today, it’s a trendy neighborhood with many bars, restaurants, and boutiques.
The 9th arrondissement, while not as tourist-heavy as some areas of Paris, is a lively and cultured district with plenty to offer in terms of shopping, dining, and history.
10th Arrondissement – Enclos-Saint-Laurent
The 10th arrondissement of Paris, officially known as Enclos-Saint-Laurent, is one of the 20 districts of the capital city of France. It is located on the right bank of the River Seine and contains two of Paris’s six main railway stations: Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est.
The arrondissement is notable for its vibrant multicultural atmosphere. It’s a bustling, diverse area with a mixture of communities, and it’s known for its popular restaurants, trendy bars, and unique shops.
Here are some highlights of the 10th arrondissement:
- Canal Saint-Martin: This picturesque canal is lined with chestnut trees and iron footbridges. It’s a popular spot for picnics, strolls, and boat rides. You can see locals and tourists alike lounging by its banks on sunny days, and there are many boutiques and eateries nearby.
- Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est: These are two of the major railway stations in Paris, connecting the city to other parts of France and Europe. The Gare du Nord is the busiest railway station in Europe.
- Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis: This lively street is home to a variety of ethnic food stores, hip bars, and traditional Parisian bistros. It’s a great place to enjoy global cuisines, from Turkish to Indian and beyond.
- Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Church: This neoclassical church, completed in 1844, is an architectural gem. It’s worth a visit for its beautiful interior and for the peaceful park that surrounds it.
- Porte Saint-Denis and Porte Saint-Martin: These are two monumental arches that were commissioned by Louis XIV to commemorate his military victories, and they’re impressive examples of French baroque architecture.
The 10th arrondissement has a vibrant and eclectic vibe, with its mix of cultural influences, its blend of historic and modern elements, and its bustling, lively atmosphere. Whether you’re looking for food, shopping, history, or just a picturesque spot to relax, the 10th arrondissement has something to offer.
11th Arrondissement – Popincourt
The 11th arrondissement of Paris, known as Popincourt, is located on the right bank of the River Seine. It’s one of the most densely populated urban districts not only in Paris but in all of Europe. Popincourt is known for its hip, bohemian atmosphere, and is a center for emerging trends, being filled with fashionable boutiques, excellent restaurants, and vibrant nightclubs.
Here are some of the main points of interest and popular spots in the 11th arrondissement:
- Place de la Bastille: Although the Bastille prison no longer stands, the square is an important historical site that played a central role in the French Revolution. Today, the Opéra Bastille, a modern opera house, dominates the square.
- Oberkampf Area: Known for its nightlife, the Rue Oberkampf area is home to many popular bars, clubs, and concert venues, such as Nouveau Casino and Bataclan.
- Le Marais: Although most of this historical and aristocratic district is in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, a portion extends into the 11th. It’s famous for its preserved 17th-century architecture, trendy boutiques, and vibrant LGBTQ+ scene.
- Rue de la Roquette and Rue de Lappe: These are two popular streets for nightlife, filled with bars and clubs.
- Cirque d’Hiver: A historical winter circus housed in a circular building, it hosts a variety of shows including circuses, concerts, and fashion events.
- Marché des Enfants Rouges: Though technically in the upper Marais (3rd arrondissement), it is just a stone’s throw away and it’s the oldest covered market in Paris, offering a variety of food stalls serving both French and international cuisine.
The 11th arrondissement offers a local and youthful Parisian experience and is a great place to explore for those interested in history, food, and nightlife.
12th Arrondissement – Reuilly
The 12th arrondissement of Paris, known as Reuilly, is situated on the right bank (eastern side) of the River Seine. This district is primarily residential but is home to a mix of modern and historic landmarks.
Here are some of the significant places and points of interest in the 12th arrondissement:
- Bois de Vincennes: One of the two largest public parks in Paris, it’s often compared to Central Park in New York. This green space is home to several attractions, including a zoo, a botanical garden, a horse racing track, and several lakes.
- Bercy Village: This is a charming, pedestrian-only area filled with restored wine warehouses that have been converted into shops and restaurants.
- Bercy Park: A modern park that features beautiful landscaped gardens, a large pond, and several sculptures.
- AccorHotels Arena: Also known as Bercy Arena, this is one of Paris’s main venues for concerts, sports events, and other big gatherings.
- The French Ministry of Finances and Economy: One of the city’s most modern and impressive architectural feats, located in the Bercy area.
- Gare de Lyon: One of the six large railway terminals in Paris, it’s famous for its clock tower and Le Train Bleu restaurant, which has been serving passengers since 1901 with its opulent dining room.
- Promenade Plantée: Also known as the “Coulée verte René-Dumont”, this is a 4.7 km long elevated linear park built on top of obsolete railway infrastructure. It was the inspiration for similar projects worldwide, such as New York City’s High Line.
- Aligre Market: One of the best food markets in Paris, it’s known for its high-quality products and vibrant atmosphere.
The 12th arrondissement offers a mix of natural beauty, shopping, and cultural experiences, making it an exciting area to explore.
13th Arrondissement – Gobelins
The 13th arrondissement of Paris, also known as Gobelins, is located on the left bank (southern side) of the River Seine. The arrondissement is best known for its Asian district, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (the National Library on a redeveloped industrial site), and the newly built business district of Paris Rive Gauche.
Here are some of the main points of interest in the 13th arrondissement:
- Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BnF): The National Library of France is one of the most important libraries in the world. It holds countless documents, including manuscripts, maps, images, and more.
- Butte-aux-Cailles: This neighborhood has managed to retain much of its original village-like atmosphere with small houses, quiet streets, and many local artists. It’s a great area to walk around, with a number of cafes, restaurants, and boutique shops.
- Gobelins Manufactory: Named after the district, this is a historic tapestry factory, which is now a museum where you can see the process of tapestry-making. It’s also the origin of the area’s name.
- Paris’s Chinatown: Located in the southern part of the arrondissement, it’s one of the largest Chinatowns in Europe, filled with Asian restaurants, supermarkets, and shops. It’s particularly lively during the Chinese New Year when a large parade takes place.
- Halle Freyssinet (Station F): Considered the world’s biggest start-up incubator, this refurbished railway depot is home to hundreds of start-ups.
- Paris Rive Gauche: This is a new business and residential district, which is still being developed. It’s characterized by modern high-rise buildings, which stand in stark contrast to the more traditional architecture found elsewhere in the city.
- Street Art: The 13th arrondissement is known for its urban art, with numerous murals and graffiti works on buildings throughout the district.
The 13th arrondissement is a more residential area of Paris, but it offers a diverse range of attractions and a different feel from the more touristy central districts of the city.
14th Arrondissement – Observatoire
The 14th arrondissement, also known as Observatoire, is located on the left bank (southern side) of the Seine River in Paris. The district is named after the historic Paris Observatory which is located in this arrondissement. It’s primarily a residential area, with a mix of young families, students, and elderly residents.
Here are some of the notable places and points of interest in the 14th arrondissement:
- Catacombs of Paris: One of the most popular tourist attractions in the arrondissement, the Catacombs of Paris are an underground ossuary that holds the remains of over six million people. It’s a unique and somewhat eerie experience.
- Montparnasse Tower: While it’s often criticized for its modern aesthetics contrasting with the historic Parisian architecture, the 56-story Montparnasse Tower provides one of the best views of the city.
- Montparnasse Cemetery: The second largest cemetery in Paris, it’s the final resting place of many famous individuals, including writers Charles Baudelaire and Simone de Beauvoir, and artists like Man Ray.
- Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain: This contemporary art museum hosts a wide range of exhibitions, installations, and events.
- Parc Montsouris: One of the largest green spaces in Paris, it’s a great place for picnics, jogging, or just relaxing. It was designed by the same engineer of Central Park in New York City, Frederick Law Olmsted.
The area also has a lively food and nightlife scene, particularly around the Rue Daguerre area, which is a pedestrian street lined with cafes, bakeries, cheese shops, and more. The 14th arrondissement is also known for its artist studios and the bohemian vibe, a legacy from the early 20th century when the area was a hub for artists and intellectuals.
15th Arrondissement – Vaugirard
The 15th arrondissement of Paris, also known as Vaugirard, is located on the city’s left bank (south side) of the Seine river. It’s the most populous of Paris’s 20 arrondissements, but it’s not a common destination for tourists, as it is mainly a residential district. However, this doesn’t mean that there’s a lack of things to see and do.
The 15th arrondissement is home to some key points of interest:
- Montparnasse Tower: While technically just over the boundary in the 14th arrondissement, the Montparnasse Tower’s viewing platform provides some of the best views over the 15th and the entire city of Paris.
- Parc André Citroën: This modern park is built on the site of a former Citroën automobile plant. The park is known for its contemporary design and large greenhouses.
- Aquaboulevard: A large water park, the Aquaboulevard, is located in this district, which can be a great option if you’re traveling with kids. It’s one of Europe’s largest water parks and has a wide variety of water-based attractions.
- The Paris Expo Porte de Versailles: This is the largest exhibition park in France, hosting a variety of conventions, shows, and expos throughout the year.
- Musée Bourdelle: An art museum dedicated to the works of sculptor Antoine Bourdelle.
The area is also known for its vibrant market streets, such as Rue de la Convention and Rue du Commerce, where you can find a variety of food shops, cafes, and bistros.
It’s a quieter part of the city compared to more tourist-centric arrondissements, and can be a nice place to stay if you want to experience more of the local Parisian life.
16th Arrondissement – Passy
The 16th arrondissement of Paris, known as Passy, is located on the right bank of the River Seine, and is primarily a residential area known for its calm and high-class living. It’s an upscale district and home to many diplomatic embassies, luxurious townhouses, and well-known cultural attractions.
Here are some notable features and attractions in the 16th arrondissement:
- Trocadéro: Directly across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower, it offers a great view of the tower from the Palais de Chaillot. It is also home to various museums such as the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine and the Musée de l’Homme.
- Musée Marmottan Monet: This museum houses the world’s largest collection of Monet paintings, as well as works by other Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists like Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
- Roland Garros Stadium: This is where the French Open tennis tournament is held each year. It is named after the aviator Roland Garros.
- Bois de Boulogne: While technically just outside the 16th, this large park is often associated with the arrondissement. It’s home to the famous Louis Vuitton Foundation, a museum and cultural center designed by architect Frank Gehry, the Jardin d’Acclimatation, the Hippodrome de Longchamp, and many lakes and gardens.
- Avenue Foch: One of the most prestigious streets in Paris, it leads to the Arc de Triomphe and is known for its luxurious private residences.
- Passy Cemetery: This is the final resting place of several famous individuals, including Manet and Debussy.
- Maison de Balzac: This house is where the writer Honoré de Balzac lived from 1840 to 1847. Now a museum, it houses personal possessions, manuscripts, and original editions of his work.
The 16th arrondissement is a more quiet, refined experience of Paris. It is an excellent place to visit for art lovers, tennis fans, or those who wish to enjoy a more relaxed, upscale atmosphere.
17th Arrondissement – Batignolles-Monceau
The 17th arrondissement of Paris, also known as Batignolles-Monceau, is located on the right bank of the River Seine. This district is mainly residential and is known for its peaceful, village-like atmosphere, beautiful parks, and classic Parisian architecture. It’s less frequented by tourists, which makes it a great place to experience local Parisian life.
Here are some key features and attractions in the 17th arrondissement:
- Parc Monceau: This beautiful park is full of statues, follies, and a picturesque rotunda. The design is more English than French in style, with winding paths and a less formal layout than some other Parisian parks. It’s a perfect place for a leisurely stroll or picnic.
- Marché des Batignolles: This organic market is open on Saturdays and is the place to go for fresh produce, cheese, bread, and other food items.
- Musée Jean-Jacques Henner: This museum is dedicated to the works of Jean-Jacques Henner, a 19th-century French painter. It’s located in a beautiful 19th-century mansion and also hosts temporary exhibitions.
- Rue de Levis: This lively street is filled with shops, cafes, and a daily market. It’s a great place to explore local Parisian life.
- Square des Batignolles: This English-style garden features a large pond, miniature cliffs, a grotto, a waterfall, and a variety of birds and plants.
- Palais des Congrès de Paris: A major concert venue and convention center located at the western edge of Paris, right next to the ring road.
- Cité des Fleurs: This is a pedestrianized street that looks more like a country lane than a location in the heart of a major city. The houses along the street are set back from the road and many have small gardens in front.
The 17th arrondissement offers a more relaxed and quiet experience of Paris. It’s a place where you can enjoy the charm and elegance of Parisian life away from the hustle and bustle of the more tourist-heavy districts.
18th Arrondissement – Butte-Montmartre
The 18th arrondissement, also known as Butte-Montmartre, is one of the most famous and visited neighborhoods in Paris. It’s located on the right bank of the River Seine and is most known for the historical and iconic Montmartre area.
Key highlights of the 18th arrondissement include:
- Sacré-Cœur Basilica: Located at the highest point in the city, this basilica provides spectacular views of Paris. Its white domes are a recognizable feature of the Paris skyline.
- Montmartre: This historic and artistic neighborhood is known for its bohemian past and its role as a hub of artistic creation in the early 20th century. It was home to artists like Picasso, Dali, and Van Gogh. Today, you can still find artists painting and sketching in the Place du Tertre.
- Moulin Rouge: This world-famous cabaret is known for its red windmill on the roof and is the birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance.
- Musée de Montmartre: This museum is dedicated to the history of the neighborhood and its artistic scene. It includes Renoir’s studio and offers insights into the works of many artists including Toulouse-Lautrec, Modigliani, and more.
- The “I Love You” Wall: Located in Jehan Rictus Square, this mural features the phrase “I love you” in more than 250 languages.
- Rue des Abbesses and Rue Lepic: These streets are some of the district’s main arteries, full of charming cafes, bakeries, cheese shops, and more.
- The Dali Museum: This museum is dedicated to the surrealist artist Salvador Dali, featuring a collection of his drawings, sculptures, engravings, and paintings.
This district is full of charm, with its narrow cobbled streets, artist studios, and the vintage carousel near Sacré-Cœur. The atmosphere is very different from the wide boulevards and grand buildings that characterize other areas of Paris. This is an area to wander around, take in the views, enjoy the art scene, and soak up the history.
19th Arrondissement – Buttes-Chaumont
The 19th arrondissement of Paris, also known as Buttes-Chaumont, is located on the northeastern side of the city, on the right bank of the River Seine. Like the neighboring 20th arrondissement, the 19th is a diverse, vibrant area with a genuine local feel.
Here are some of the key features and attractions in the 19th arrondissement:
- Parc des Buttes-Chaumont: This is the district’s namesake and one of the most beautiful parks in Paris. It features a large lake, beautiful trees, cliffs, a suspension bridge, and a temple perched on a hill, with wonderful views of the city.
- La Villette Complex: This area is home to several important cultural institutions. These include the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, which is the biggest science museum in Europe, the Géode (a geodesic dome housing a theater), and the Philharmonie de Paris, a major symphony hall.
- Canal de l’Ourcq and Canal Saint-Denis: These canals run through the 19th arrondissement, and the area along their banks is a lovely place to walk, picnic, or enjoy a boat ride.
- La Mouzaïa: This is a picturesque area with small houses covered in ivy and flowers, often referred to as a hidden gem in Paris.
- Cent Quatre (104): A public cultural center in the former municipal undertakers site, offering exhibitions, concerts, and festivals.
The 19th arrondissement also hosts various cultural events throughout the year and offers a range of dining and shopping options. It’s a bit off the beaten path in terms of traditional Paris tourism, but it’s certainly worth a visit for its parks, cultural offerings, and authentic Parisian atmosphere.
20th Arrondissement – Ménilmontant
This district is located on the right bank of the River Seine. The 20th arrondissement is also known for being cosmopolitan and having a mix of cultures, which is reflected in the diversity of its shops, restaurants, and cultural venues.
Key points of interest in the 20th arrondissement include:
- Père Lachaise Cemetery: This is perhaps the most famous feature of the 20th arrondissement. It is the largest cemetery in Paris and is known worldwide for being the final resting place of many famous individuals, including Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Frédéric Chopin, and Jim Morrison.
- Belleville: This neighborhood is known for its vibrant arts scene and is home to a diverse community, including one of the city’s major Chinese neighborhoods. It’s a great area to explore for its street art, local food, and panoramic views of Paris.
- Parc de Belleville: This park, located in the Belleville neighborhood, is another spot that offers a stunning view of the Paris skyline.
- La Campagne à Paris: It is a small neighborhood of picturesque houses that look like they are straight out of a country village. It’s a peaceful and charming spot to take a stroll and escape from the bustle of the city.
- Rue Denoyez: Known as a haven for street artists, this street is filled with vibrant murals and constantly changing graffiti art.
The 20th arrondissement has a more local feel compared to the tourist-heavy central districts of Paris. It’s a great area to experience an authentic slice of Parisian life.
Exploring Paris through the lens of its different districts provides an insightful journey into the city’s rich history, culture, and character. Each arrondissement offers its unique narrative and flavor, contributing to the grand mosaic that is Paris. Whether you’re drawn to art, history, cuisine, or fashion, Paris’s arrondissements promise an enriching experience that resonates with your unique interests and leaves you yearning to return and uncover more of its treasures.
To be continued…
Remember, this article only serves as a guide, the real charm of Paris lies in wandering its beautiful streets, discovering hidden gems, and letting the city surprise you in its own delightful ways. So, when you find yourself in Paris, let your curiosity guide you through its diverse arrondissements and let the ‘City of Lights’ illuminate your journey.
This is where we can conclude the article once all the arrondissements are described thoroughly.