Getting a Grasp on Paris's Best Arrondissements - City Experiences (2023)

Paris boasts 20 historic districts called arrondissements, each with its own unique appeal and flair.

The arrangement dates to 1860, when French Emperor Napoleon III divvied up the municipal districts, coiling each around Paris’ historic core—located, appropriately, in the 1st Arrondissement.

Even if you’re just visiting the major tourist attractions, it’s not always clear where one district ends and another begins, so let our Paris arrondissements’ guide be your compass. We’ve got the lowdown on the best Paris neighborhoods, from the city center to the Left Bank to the Latin Quarter.

To truly experience the arrondissements of Paris, take a walking tour

You won’t get to all 20 Paris arrondissements in one fell swoop, but a walking tour can help you cover as many as possible in a short amount of time. If you have the hours to spend, Walks’ Paris in a Day tour lets you skip the line at the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower; visit Notre Dame, the Sacré Coeur Basilica, and Montmartre; and cruise down the Seine at sunset.

Getting a Grasp on Paris's Best Arrondissements - City Experiences (1)

Each Paris arrondissement has its own vibe

Which Paris arrondissement is the nicest? It’s really a toss-up—the French capital is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, so it all depends on what you’re there to see.

If you’re looking for luxury, head to the 1st Arrondissement, one of the most pristine parts of the city. Here you can admire the well-preserved architecture—particularly the classic hôtels particuliers (historic townhouses) around Place Vendôme—while you browse the luxury designer shops.

For a less well-heeled look at the city’s history, head to the 5th Arrondissement and roam the bustling streets of Le Marais—a moniker literally meaning “the swamp.” (Not to worry—there’s nothing swampy about the neighborhood today.)

The best things to see and do: a Paris arrondissements guide

Everyone who falls in love with Paris falls in love with a Paris arrondissement. It’s up to you to discover yours, whether you’re visiting Notre Dame or the Moulin Rouge, the Parc de Bagatelle or the Parc de la Villette, the Jardin du Luxembourg or the Palais de Tokyo. Read on for our guide to the best Paris neighborhoods.

1st Arrondissement

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Situated mostly on the posh Right Bank of the Seine river, the 1st Arrondissement is chock-full of luxury boutiques and museums, as well as historic architecture and restaurants. You won’t want to miss the Jardin des Tuileries and Palais Royal Gardens, or the Musée du Louvre, of course. (To see the latter sans crowds, check out Walks’ Closing Time at the Louvre tour, which hits the museum’s highlights as well as offering easy access to the Mona Lisa.)

Getting a Grasp on Paris's Best Arrondissements - City Experiences (2)The 1st Arrondissement is also home to a bevy of sumptuous old-school institutions. The Ritz Paris is haunted by the likes of American novelist Ernest Hemingway, French fashion designer Coco Chanel, and French writer Marcel Proust; there’s also Maison Goyard, the trunk and luggage atelier, as well as the world-renowned pastry shop and tea room Angelina.

The Pinault Collection showcases contemporary art, and the almost-always-bustling Forum des Halles has shopping and quick bites. You’ll also want to take a peek into the massive Sainte-Chapelle, just a stone’s throw away. (The Heart of Paris walking tour lets you skip the line at the chapel, and see Notre Dame, Île de la Cité, and other tourist attractions too.)

2nd Arrondissement

This district is Paris’s smallest, though no less interesting—here you can roam through an array of historic covered passages from the 19th century. Stocked with everything from chic boutiques and bookshops to cafés and antique shops, these passages can salvage any rainy day. The oldest is Passage des Panoramas, and it’s not to be missed.

You can also dine at Chartier, one of the city’s first “bouillons”—charming, working-class brasseries with some of the cheapest sit-down food in the city.

3rd Arrondissement

You could easily spend an entire day and night in this hip, bustling district, often dubbed the Haut Marais (Upper Marais). You can visit art galleries, catch a street performance or two, window shop and people watch, or head to one of the several petit museums, such as the Picasso museum or the Carnavalet Museum, where you can learn all about Parisian history.

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4th Arrondissement

The 4th Arrondissement is home to the trendy Le Marais district of Paris and also includes the Île St-Louis and the eastern part of the Île de la Cité. The Hôtel de Ville (city hall) is here, and also in the area is the Centre Pompidou, a stellar modern art museum worthy of a chunk of your time.

Over the past 10 or 15 years, Le Marais has transformed from a laid-back place with grungy jazz bars, cigarette-ridden cafés and galleries, and excellent cheap kosher food to the still charming, but admittedly gentrified, Paris arrondissement it is today. (There’s still great kosher fare; you’ll just have to wait in line to get it.)

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To get a proper taste of this Paris arrondissement, sign up for the Ultimate Food Tour from Devour Tours, a three-and-a-half-hour extravaganza that kicks off with buttery, fresh-baked croissants in Le Marais.

5th Arrondissement

On the Left Bank, the Latin Quarter and Sorbonne university call the 5th arrondissement in Paris home. Here you’ll be greeted by an endless array of cafés, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, record shops, and bookstores (don’t miss the bouquinistes along the Seine, those classic green stalls selling used books). The Paris Latin Quarter Tasting Tour lets you sample the best bits, from locally made wine and cheese to absinthe served in a bar by Hemingway’s house.

You’ll want to peek inside the Musée de Cluny with its fabulous medieval collection, particularly the famous Lady and the Unicorn tapestries, and visit the graves of France’s bravest and best at the Pantheon. And you might want to pay a visit to the Jardin des Plantes with its impressive Museum of Natural History.

6th Arrondissement

If you’re looking for the Paris of novels, paintings, and classic films, this is the Paris arrondissement for you. It’s up to its gills in classic brasseries, such as Brasserie Lipp, and literary cafés, such as the popular Les Deux Magots, where the likes of Hemingway and Fitzgerald hung out.

This district of Paris also boasts one of the city’s most gorgeous parks: the Jardin du Luxembourg, a great place for a picnic.

7th Arrondissement

The Left Bank is also home to the 7th, one of the richest Paris arrondissements. It’s not particularly snooty though—the district has a rather laid-back, neighborhoody vibe, with many great galleries and museums.

Not to be missed are the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée Rodin, not to mention the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac and the historic Hôtel National des Invalides. You just might also spy that little-known landmark built by a certain engineer named Gustave Eiffel—the Eiffel Tower.

Getting a Grasp on Paris's Best Arrondissements - City Experiences (4)

8th Arrondissement

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Situated on the Right Bank of the Seine, the 8th arrondissement is home to the famous Champs-Éysées and the unmistakable Arc de Triomphe. The Place de la Concorde is here as well, known for its Egyptian obelisk, its fountains, and its notorious victims (Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were guillotined here, among others).

Really though, this is the Paris arrondissement for luxury shopping, thanks to flagship stores for Dior, Chanel and other powerhouses of the fashion world.

9th Arrondissement

This district of Paris is a must for foodies and architect lovers alike. The majestic Palais Garnier opera house is located here, which served as the setting for The Phantom of the Opera.

Over on the Rue des Martyrs, gourmands will discover oodles of boulangeries and pastry and cheese shops wedged between great little spots for quick—or not-so-quick—bites of unfussy food. The 9th is also home to two impressive art nouveau department stores: Le Printemps and Galeries Lafayette.

12th Arrondissement

Getting a Grasp on Paris's Best Arrondissements - City Experiences (5)The 12th district of Paris is definitely lived in. Here you can discover great shops, cinemas, and markets, including the ever-popular Marché d’Aligre.

It’s also home to L’Opéra Bastille, situated across the street from Place de la Bastille, and the shopping village of Bercy, which has many local and handmade products for sale.

14th Arrondissement

Although this is primarily a residential district of Paris, it’s worth the trek to visit the bone-ridden catacombs, the creepy underground resting place of many unknown souls. Known as the Empire of the Dead, the catacombs are one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, so consider a skip-the-line tour walking tour to get in the door quickly.

18th Arrondissement

One of Paris’s most iconic neighborhoods, Montmartre rests in the 18th district of Paris. It’s a steep hike (or funicular ride) up from Paris proper, and well worth the trek for the panoramic views alone.

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But of course, that’s not all there is. The city’s only hilltop village boasts an array of small businesses serving up delicious fare, from locally sourced gourmet groceries to charcuterie and beer brewed in this very arrondissement of Paris. The three-and-a-half-hour Montmartre Like a Local food tour lets you sample the best of the bunch.

While you’re here, you can pay a visit to Sacré-Cœur basilica, one of the city’s most recognizable churches, check out neighborhood-centric collection at the Musée de Montmartre, or take a breather in the Renoir gardens. This is an excellent place to buy contemporary art or have a portrait made of yourself.

The infamous red-light district Pigalle—and the unmistakable Moulin Rouge cabaret hall—are also in the area.

20th Arrondissement

For most visitors exploring the arrondissements of Paris, the main draw of the 20th is Cimetière du Père Lachaise, where you’ll find the graves of such luminaries as Oscar Wilde, Édith Piaf, Jim Morrison, Marcel Proust, and Frédéric Chopin, among many, many others.

Are there any Paris arrondissements to avoid?

Generally speaking, most of the French capital is safe, even as a tourist—at least during the day. As with any large city, the train stations tend to get a touch seedy after nightfall and particularly after midnight. Even during daylight hours, it’s best to avoid hanging out too long around the Gare du Nord, the Gare de l’Est, and the Gare de Lyon if you don’t want to be bugged by panhandlers or pickpockets.

There are a couple of arrondissements of Paris you might want to avoid, such as the St. Blaise district in the 20th and the Chateau Rouge neighborhood in the 19th. Montmartre is generally a safe spot these days, even after nightfall, but it’s the general consensus that the northernmost part of the 18th Arrondissement should be avoided, particularly at night.

Other arrondissements aren’t necessarily seedy or dangerous—it’s just that not all Paris arrondissements were created equal in terms of beauty, green space, dining options, cultural offerings, and fantastic spots to stay.

The 15th, 16th, and 17th Arrondissements in Paris don’t really have much in the way of activities for tourists, other than restaurants and cafés. The 13th and the 11th have their own charm, with quirky spots to grab a coffee or get a bite to eat, as well as some superb local street art—but those probably won’t be on the average visitor’s must-see list.

FAQs

What is the most prestigious arrondissement in Paris? ›

Le 1st arrondissement

The 1st arrondissement is probably the most interesting one for tourists. There is the Louvre museum, the most visited museum in France. This arrondissement has luxurious areas like the Place Vendôme and the Palais-Royal quarter.

What is the safest arrondissement in Paris? ›

So, without further ado, here are the 9 safest areas to stay in Paris:
  • The Latin Quarter.
  • Champs Elysées.
  • Le Marais.
  • St Germain.
  • Châtelet.
  • Montmartre.
  • So-Pi.
  • Canal Saint-Martin.
6 Feb 2022

What are the arrondissements known for? ›

The arrondissements of Paris divide and, in a sense, define the city. These urban administrative districts each have a distinct character. Nonetheless, in each of them you find those iconic Parisian elements — shops, history, food, and the quartiers (neighborhoods) where Parisians live.

Where do millionaires live in Paris? ›

The 7th arrondissement is perhaps the most expensive area to live in Paris, the Eiffel Tower, one of the most famous tourist sites in the world, is located here, as well as many government buildings like ministries, the National Assembly and others. Many dignitaries and VIPs prefer to live in this arrondissement.

Where do the elite live in Paris? ›

Neuilly-sur-Seine

Neuilly is the most affluent residential area in France. It is valued for its immediate proximity to Paris' Porte Maillot, La Défense business district, Bois de Boulogne, the Seine, and the popular Île de la Jatte. It hosts over ten thousand companies and a well developed public transportation system.

What is the hippest part of Paris? ›

Canal Saint Martin is the most hipster area of Paris. The neighborhood is named after the canal which runs through the 10th arrondissement of Paris. In this hip area, you'll find lots of artisanal boulangeries, coffee shops, and independent fashion designer boutiques.

What are the rough areas of Paris? ›

Here are the few places you may want to avoid during your stay: Northern 18th and 19th district at night, around Marx Dormoy, Porte de la Chapelle, La Chapelle, Porte de Clignancourt, Porte de la Villette. Montmarte is very safe day and night.

Which is the smartest arrondissement in Paris? ›

Western Paris

Arrondissements: 8th, 16th, 17th, and the Western suburbs. The smartest Paris districts are in the west and where you live will depend on how close you want to be to the centre.

What does arrondissement mean in Paris? ›

: an administrative district of some large French cities. : the largest division of a French department.

What is the first arrondissement known for? ›

The 1st arrondissement is known for its wonderful shopping streets lined with fine restaurants and cafés. Stroll along the charming streets surrounding the St-Eustache Church and Les Halles on a sunny day and you'll find the outside terraces full!

Which is the best area to stay in Paris for the first visit? ›

The 7th arrondissement is the best place to stay in Paris for a first-timer due to its proximity to many famous tourist attractions such as Eiffel Tower, Musée d'Orsay, Pont Alexandre III, Musée Rodin, Les Invalides, and Champs de Mars, as well as many choices in accommodations.

What is the 7th arrondissement known for? ›

The 7th arrondissement is fortunate enough to be the site of Paris's best-known landmark: the Eiffel Tower. French engineer Gustave Eiffel designed his 330-metre tower, in the far north-west of the arrondissement, as the flagship of the Universal Exhibition in 1889.

What salary is considered rich in Paris? ›

To be considered rich, a person must have a revenue of €3,673 per month ($3,903)—this amount is double that of the average person and comprises 4.5 million people in France.

What is the richest street in Paris? ›

Avenue Montaigne

What is the 13th arrondissement known for? ›

It is home to Paris's principal Asian community, the Quartier Asiatique, located in the southeast of the arrondissement in an area that contains many high-rise apartment buildings. The neighborhood features a high concentration of Chinese and Vietnamese businesses.

Where do the rich French live? ›

Archamps, on the Swiss border in France's Haute-Savoie department, is the wealthiest village in France.

What is the 17th arrondissement known for? ›

Located to the North West of the city, in an area seldom frequented by tourists but a section of Paris that remains charming nonetheless, the 17th arrondissement is best-known for its trendy bars, beautiful parks, and lively Batignolles district.

Where do most expats live in Paris? ›

These are some of the popular neighbourhoods for expats.
  • Bourse (2nd arrondissement) ...
  • Saint-Germain-des-Prés (6th arrondissement) ...
  • 9th arrondissement. ...
  • Bastille (11th arrondissement) ...
  • Passy (16th arrondissement) ...
  • Belleville (19th/20th arrondissement) ...
  • Croissy-sur-Seine. ...
  • Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

Where is the red light district in Paris? ›

Paris red light district stretches along Boulevard de Clichy in the North of Paris. The red light district is exactly at the border of the 9th district (“arrondissement” in French) and the 18th. Just South of Montmartre. It starts on the famous Pigalle square and goes all the way until Place de Clichy.

What are the slums of Paris called? ›

Paris: Banlieues rouges

The banlieues rouges ("red banlieues") are the outskirt districts of Paris where, traditionally, the French Communist Party held mayorships and other elected positions.

What arrondissement is Louis Vuitton in Paris? ›

16th arrondissement

What is the 11 arrondissement known for? ›

Home to three of Paris's most famous squares, the 11th arrondissement is an area where Parisians gather to relax and enjoy themselves. The first square, place de la Bastille, was the site of the Bastille fortress, destroyed shortly after the French Revolution.

What is the most famous street in Paris called? ›

Champs-Élysées, officially Avenue des Champs-Élysées (French: “Avenue of the Elysian Fields”), broad avenue in Paris, one of the world's most famous, which stretches 1.17 miles (1.88 km) from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde.

What is the 2nd arrondissement known for? ›

The 2nd arrondissement is the home of Grand Rex, the largest movie theater in Paris. The 2nd arrondissement is also the home of most of Paris's surviving 19th-century glazed commercial arcades.

Which arrondissement is best for shopping in Paris? ›

The 1st arrondissement is a heavenly spot for shoppers! Elegant and trendy shops line the refined Rue de Rivoli, popular Place des Victoires and surround the beautiful gardens at the Palais Royal. Located within easy walking distance of the Louvre Museum, these are spots dedicated shoppers won't want to miss!

What is the 3rd arrondissement known for? ›

The 3rd Arrondissement of Paris is one of the most touristy districts of Paris, together with Paris 1 and Paris 4 of course! This district is very appreciated by locals for its central location and quality of life. Paris 3 is also known for its beautiful architecture, beautiful shops, and art galleries.

What month is best to go to Paris? ›

September and October are arguably the best months to be in Paris — a brisk breeze seeps into the air, Paris Fashion Week is in full force, and turning leaves line the city's most scenic jardins. Finally, November and December bring seasonal cheer, French delicacies, and galette des rois in shop windows.

How many days in Paris is enough? ›

At the minimum, plan for 3 days in Paris to get a great taste of the city, visit some of the main sights, and explore the main neighborhoods. But if you really want to enjoy yourself, I'd recommend 7 days in Paris as a good starting point, especially if it's somewhere you've been dreaming of visiting for a long time.

Is Paris a walkable city? ›

As capital cities go, Paris is very compact, just 10km across meaning you can walk all the way across the city in about two hours.

What is the 8th arrondissement known for? ›

The 8th arrondissement of Paris is synonymous with chic and is best-known as being home to the Arc de Triomphe, as well as the iconic shopping street of the Champs Élysées. One of twenty Parisian districts, this part of the city is located on the Right Bank of the River Seine to the West of Paris.

What is the 6th arrondissement of Paris known for? ›

The 6th arrondissement is well-known for its many fine restaurants, food stores and cafés. Guests at our ParisPerfect apartments love that they can experience daily life as the Parisians do by shopping at the same local bakeries and patisseries, fruit and vegetable shops, butchers, cheese shops, and small supermarkets.

What is the 12th arrondissement known for? ›

The 12th arrondissement is Paris's heritage craft district, and evidence of this past can be seen in the streets, courtyards and passageways along rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine and cours de Vincennes.

What is the 4th arrondissement known for? ›

The 4th arrondissement is known for its little streets, cafés, and shops but is often regarded by Parisians as expensive and congested. It has old buildings and a mix of many cultures.

What is the 11th arrondissement known for? ›

Home to three of Paris's most famous squares, the 11th arrondissement is an area where Parisians gather to relax and enjoy themselves. The first square, place de la Bastille, was the site of the Bastille fortress, destroyed shortly after the French Revolution.

What is the 19th arrondissement known for? ›

The 19th Arrondissement in Paris holds down the northeast corner of the city and contains two of its largest parks — Parc des Buttes Chaumont and the museum-and-music-filled Parc de la Villette.

What is the fifth arrondissement known for? ›

The arrondissement is notable for being the location of the Quartier Latin, a district dominated by universities, colleges and prestigious high schools since the 12th century when the University of Paris was created. It is also home to the National Museum of Natural History and Jardin des plantes in its eastern part.

What is the hippest neighborhood in Paris? ›

Canal Saint Martin is the most hipster area of Paris. The neighborhood is named after the canal which runs through the 10th arrondissement of Paris. In this hip area, you'll find lots of artisanal boulangeries, coffee shops, and independent fashion designer boutiques.

What is the 3rd arrondissement in Paris known for? ›

The 3rd Arrondissement of Paris is one of the most touristy districts of Paris, together with Paris 1 and Paris 4 of course! This district is very appreciated by locals for its central location and quality of life. Paris 3 is also known for its beautiful architecture, beautiful shops, and art galleries.

What is the 16 arrondissement known for? ›

With its ornate 19th century buildings, large avenues, prestigious schools, museums and various parks, the arrondissement has long been known as one of French high society's favorite places of residence.

What is the 10th arrondissement known for? ›

What is the 10th arrondissement known for? The 10th arrondissement is best-known for two reasons; the first is that the area is home to two of Paris' most frequented train stations, while the other is that the 10th boasts Canal Saint Martin, a trendy and hip area where all of the locals hang out.

What is 20th arrondissement known for? ›

The 20th arrondissement is internationally best known for its Père Lachaise Cemetery, the world's most-visited cemetery where one can find the tombs of a number of famous artists.

What is the 18th arrondissement known for? ›

The 18th arrondissement, located on the Rive Droite (Right Bank), is mostly known for hosting the district of Montmartre, which contains a hill dominated by the Sacré Cœur basilica, as well as the famous Moulin Rouge.

Is the 18th arrondissement in Paris Nice? ›

Thanks to its sweeping viewpoints, art-drenched history, and charming, village-like streets, the 18th arrondissement is one of Paris' most-frequented areas. This arrondissement also includes lively, bustling immigrant neighborhoods such as Barbes and La Goutte d'Or.

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