Writing about Paris is a daunting task – didn’t know what I was getting into when I started this post. Needless to say, this is a work in Progress – check back for updates – I will complete this one (and the separate detailed arrondissement posts) soon.
What can I say about Paris that other people haven’t said before? There’s a reason Paris had 29 million tourists who brought in 39.5 million Euros of income to the city in 2012. There was an increase of 0.2% in hotel stays, and this number does not account for sites like Airbnb, Couchsurfing, or Homeaway. Tourism in Paris has grown despite the grim economic climate in Europe because it is an amazing city. Sure, it’s touristy; but not in the painfully unbearable way that Versailles or Venice are. One can traverse the streets of Paris and enjoy even the most popular sites without feeling asphyxiated. Even the most jaded traveler has the potential to fall in love with this city. The food is fantastic and with just a little research one can find some true jewels (and some killer deals). There’s amazing music, art, and nightlife. Best of all, Parisians are quite nice. Tourists just think they are assholes because they are much like New Yorkers, efficient. This post is going to be a big one. Paris is a big city, so be patient and don’t worry. You can come back to this post as many times as you want. As I wrote I decided to break it down into smaller posts, so for example, each arrondissement will get its own post…I’ll link out to them as I write them. Just click through to get its info.
I advice that if you go to Paris, you spend a minimum of 14 days there. Between the jet lag (7 hour flight – 6 hour time difference) you will lose 2 days (travel day & adjustment day). I suggest you DON’T stay in a hotel. Paris may have the worst hotels in the world. They are crappy and they are expensive. Also, Paris is not a cheap city, which means that if you don’t have a kitchen, you will end up broke after your hotel breakfast. On top of this, Parisians don’t do eggs for breakfast. I promise, you will be done with pastries after day 7 in Paris. Rent an apartment with a kitchen in your chosen arrondissement and get to know just that area. This (in my opinion) is the best way to get to know Paris. Don’t try to see all the sights, just get to know the sights in your arrondissement. This will make for a much more pleasant trip AND will force you to come back to get to know the city in full.
Before you head to “La Ville-Lumière” you need to figure out what you want to experience and where to go. Paris is divided into arrondissements each with its own personality. below is a breakdown of each arrondissement (and a clip from Paris, Je t’aime -awesome film):
1st – The Louvre – Located on the right bank of the Seine River, this is one of the most touristy spots in the city of Paris (yet the one with the least residents). I would not necessarily “stay” in the 1st, but you will definitely want to visit. The 1st is now considered to be the center of the city (it used to be the Ile de la Cite). I happen to love this area, and I think this has a lot to do with my love of art, architecture, and history. It is broken up into four quarters:
- Quartier Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois: If you have been reading this blog, you know I’m a bit of a church fanatic (in the architectural sense). This quarter bears the name of Saint-Germais-l’Auxerrois which you should definitely visit. This arrondissement is also home to the Louvre and the Tuilerie gardens which are both spectacular. Needless to say, this area is quite touristy. In fact, the people who live here mostly live in Ile de la Cite, Sebastopol and the Rue Amiral-de-Coligny.
- Quartier des Halles: Built during the middle ages, this is one of the oldest Parisian Arrondissements. A “Les Halles” is what we in the US consider a Farmer’s Market. If you’re from Latin America, then this is a “Galeria”. Les Halles was Paris’ ginormous farmers’ market, which unfortunately, was replaced in the late 60’s by a hideous underground mall. I really dislike the new building. It reminds me of what happened in NYC with McKim, Mead & White’s Penn Station. I get why they moved Les Halles, but I don’t have to like it. The new Les Halles is located in Rungis. Skip Les Halles and head over to Saint-Eustache Church, it is gorgeous.
- Quartier du Palais-Royal: This is where government happens. The Palais-Royal arrondissement holds the Culture Ministry, the Constitutional Council of France and the Council of State. It also houses the Comédie Française (Paris’ state theater) and the Palais Royal theatre.
- Quartier de la Place-Vendôme: La Place Vendome is awesome (if you’re rich). Actually it’s awesome regardless. This area has some of the best window shopping anywhere. La Place Vendome houses some of the most luxurious shopping in Paris. It of course houses La Place Vendome with its famous equestrian sculpture of Napoleon Bonaparte.
2nd – The Bourse – This one is tiny, and the central business district of the city. It also houses some great food and clothes shopping.
- Quartier Gaillon: It is named after a former hotel and gate and boasts ownership to Rue de la Paix, one of the prettiest streets in Paris. It also houses The old Salle Ventadour, a former Parisian theater, is now the Bank of France. Passage de Choiseul is the longest covered walkway in Paris, between the Rue des Petits Champs and rue Saint-Augustin. It was under serious disrepair but has now been restored and looks lovely. From there, you can easily reach the Bouffes-Parisiens theater.
- Quartier Vivienne: As you stroll Vivienne’s streets, you will run into the Stock Exchange (La Bourse) and the Galerie Vivienne – another shopping passage like Passage de Choiseul. Vivienne houses Jean-Paul Gaultier and Yuki Torii. If you’re into churches, check out the 17th Century Basilica Notre-Dame des Victoires and the Opéra-Comique theatre.
- Quartier Mail: This quarter houses the uber fashionable Place des Victoires which commemorates Louis XIV’s reign and of course his victories. It of course has an equestrian statue of the victorious King.
- Quartier Bonne Nouvelle: Named after the no longer existing Notre Dame de Bonne Nouvelle (it has been replaced by a neo-classical structure), this quartier houses the medieval Jean sans Peur tower which was named after John the Fearless, the Burgundian Duke. The tower is a great workout for your tush (300 steps) AND has some very whimsical details worth seeing.
3rd – The Temple – Located on the right bank of the Seine, this is the historic heart of Paris. The arrondissement was designed when Charles V extended the town. It is named after the Templiers. This is a good place to live like a local, it is quite residential and includes the Marais. There are lots of restaurants, cafes, and places filled with history including the Musée Carnavalet, Hôtel de Soubise.
- Quartier Arts-et-Métiers: It is named after Conservatory of Arts and Crafts. The building was an abbey, and its purpose is to promote science and “matters”. This area houses the Hôtel Louis XV in Saint-Martin boulevard.
- Quartier Enfants-Rouges: Named after the hospital that housed orphans who wore red. Its main attraction is the Marché du Temple, a gorgeous building that houses lots of specialty shops. The Marche des Enfants Rouges is a must for foodies.
- Quartier Archives: This quartier houses the national archives and the Bibilothèque de Paris as well as the former Couvent des Minimes. The Rue des Francs-Bourgeois has some lovely old structures that make for great photo ops.
- Quartier Sainte-Avoye: This is where money was made in Paris, the “little industry of Paris”. The neighborhood is marked by 18th century façades, the house of Nicolas Flamel, Rue Chapon and Rue du Temple..
4th – Hotel de Ville/Marais – Located on the right bank of the Seine, this is probably where you will run into the most tourists since it houses the famous Notre-Dame, L’Hotel de Ville, the Pompidou Center, and the Marais quarter Needless to say, if you stay here, it will cost you. You will also find the Hôtel de Sully, Rue des Rosiers and the Jewish Quartier, Beaubourg, Le Marais, Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville, Mémorial de la Shoah, l’atelier Brancusi, Place des Vosges, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Saint-Jacques Tower and Parisian island Île Saint-Louis.
- Quartier Saint-Merri: This area is old and very residential. It houses structures from the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries including the Hotel de Ville. The original was built in 1357, but was rebuilt after a fire between 1874 and 1885. Hotel de Ville square (Place de Grève) was an execution spot during the Middle Ages. Hotel de Ville square is a car-free area and a place where there are often festivals and concerts.
- Quartier Saint-Gervais: This is the spot to check out gorgeous mansions and old hotels. In the Middle Ages, this was the residential area where nobles lived.
- Quartier de l’Arsenal: Named after the royal arsenal which has been around since 1533 but was transformed into the Arsenal Library in 1757. It is also home to the Arsenal Harbor (Bassin de l’Arsenal).
- Quartier Notre-Dame: I’m pretty sure you know what it was named after. It is made up of part of the City Island, and the entire Saint Louis Island. When you go, hit up the catacombs below Notre Dame, there’s never a line and it’s super cool.
- Le Marais: This is not a “real” quartier, but a historical one which spands between the 3rd and the 4th arrondissements. It’s like Greenwich village, there are tons of bars, restaurants, and squares. It also holds the Chinese quarter, the gay quarter and the artists quarter. This is where all the cool kids hang out,
5th – Pantheon/Latin Quarter- This one is on the left bank of the Seine and houses the Sorbonne (which I plan to attend when I finally make my move to Paris). The 5th was built by the Romans and was named the “Quartier Latin” in the Middle Ages when it became the center of learning. You can still find Roman ruins and some awesome churches like Saint Etienne du Mont and Saint Séverin churches. As most college/university areas are, the Latin Quarter is filled with cafes and boutiques. In its heyday, Molière and Artaud were regulars in the area. If you are a bibliophile, take a walk on Quai de Montebello and Boulevard Saint Michel.
- Quartier Saint Victor: Expect to see Sorbonne students walking the streets, many of them live here. While you’re here check out Saint Nicolas-du-Chardonnet church. The Arènes de Lutèce is a super cool Gallo-Roman amphitheatre.
- Quartier du Jardin des Plantes: the National Museum of Natural History has some gorgeous gardens. Saint-Médard and the Grande Mosquée de Paris make for some really cool sight seeing.
- Quartier du Val de Grâce: Val de Grace is a military French hospital, it is kind of amazing. It was commissioned by Queen Anne of Austria, wife of Louis XIII. She wanted to show the Virgin gratitude for finally granting her a child after 23 years. It’s a gorgeous example of Baroque architecture…and you know, if it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it (I did mention I was an art history geek, right?)
- Quartier de la Sorbonne: This quarter is near the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Sorbonne university, and stands on Montagne Sainte Geneviève. This quarter has some of the best schools and prestigious along with the Panthéon, La Sorbonne, Collège de France, and the oldest tree in Paris in Square René-Viviani.
6th – Luxembourg – This is right in Paris’s center to the left of the Seine. There are structures here that go back to Roman time. Its Medieval streets house some of the best shops in Paris: mom & pops, boutiques, and high end clothing shops. Think of Luxembourg as an amalgam of the 5th & 7th. You can find yourself in a quiet, serene street then walk a few blocks and be immersed in the buzz of Paris’s students. This is a highly residential district.
- Quartier Saint-Germain-des-Prés: It houses the famous Ecole des Beaux-Arts, which means that you may run into the next big artist. There are tons of antique shops, art dealers, and really cool museums (like the Delacroix Museum, it’s the home where he died). You may run into the site of the Saint-Germain des Prés abbey. All that remains of it is the church, but stop by. It was a site of learning in its time and has a great history. This area was frequented by the likes of Jean-Paul Sartre, Alberto Giacometti, Simone de Beauvoir, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and Boris Vian. It is also the site of the former home of the Queen Margot. There are lots of tourists here, but the area is not over-crowded. You will not be bored here, ever.
- Quartier de la Monnaie: Books, Books, Books! You will find every kind of book shop, the tiny antique sellers, as well as Paris’ largest book sellers. You will want to check out the Hôtel de la Monnaie and the Palais de l’Institut.
- Quartier de l’Odéon: The 17th Century Saint-Sulpice church is a must see here. The Rue des Augustins houses the convent where Louis XIII was enthroned. Picasso painted Guernica on this street (maybe you’ll get inspired). Most importantly, get yourself to the Jardin du Luxembourg.
- Notre-Dame-des-Champs: If you happen to need a priest outfit, you can most likely find it here. Consider this Paris’ religious quarter. You’ll find that rosary your grandma asked you to bring back here. Take a walk on Rue du Montparnasse and Rue d’ Assas.
7th – Palais-Bourbon – This one is located on the South bank of the Seine. It is most famous for the Tour Eiffel and houses the Assemblée Nationale as well as various embassies. You will pay more for hotels, restaurants and bars in this area.
- Quartier Saint-Thomas d’Aquin: One of the fanciest areas in Paris, lots of rich and important people live here.
- Quartier des Invalides: Houses the Hotel des Invalides, the Palais Bourbon, and the Chamber of Deputies, is also to be found in this quarter.
- Quartier de l’Ecole-Militaire: Probably the least attractive in Paris, but it does have a few jewels such as houses in the Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI architectural styles.
- Quartier du Gros-Caillou: Home of the Eiffel Tower and the Parc du Champ de Mars, it’s lovely.
8th – Élysée – This one takes residence on the right bank of the Seine and is named after Les Champs Elysées, this avenue spans from the Place de la Concorde to the Place Charles de Gaulle (Les Champs Elysées). Here you will find the oldest underground station in Paris, Franklin-D-Roosevelt. The residents of the area are definitely more well off and the area (and its shops) reflect the demographic. Places of interest include , Arc de Triomphe, Place de la Concorde, le Palais de l’Elysée, Jacquemart-Andre Museum.
- Quartier des Champs-Élysées: If you go to Paris, you will most likely visit here to see the Champs Elysées and its garden, L’Arc de Triomphe, Le Petit Palais, and Le Grand Palais.
- Quartier de la Madeleine: If you want to do some shopping (and can afford it) head to the Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré. This area also holds the Elysée Palace, and Ministry of Interior. Make a stop at the Church de la Madeleine, if you get lucky, you may catch some live music or an art exhibition.
- Quartier du Faubourg-du-Roule: There are quite a few financial buildings here at the Parc Monceau.
- Quartier de l’Europe: The most affordable area in the 8th, so you will find upper middle class people in this area. Great area if you plan to travel since the Saint-Lazare rail station is located there.
9th – Opéra – This right bank arrondissement is tiny, it used to be part of Montmartre & Clichy, but was designated to be its own arrondissement in the 19th Century. It is home to the Opéra Garnier and houses lots of theatres and cinemas. This district is really much appreciated. Its two major roads are the rue Lafayette and the boulevard Haussmann (which houses Galeries Lafayette & Printemps) . Make sure to check out the Musée Grévin, and Folies Bergère.
- Quartier de la Chaussée-d’Antin: Visit the Capucins convent (now a high school), built by Brongniard, an architect who worked under Louis XVI. Catch a show at the Palais Garnier. And take a peek at the Grande Synagogue de Paris and Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, which (rumor has it) houses the remainders of Mary’s house (sounds a little sketchy to me…).
- Quartier Saint-Georges: This area is all about Greek Revival. It was named “the new Athens” during the First Empire. This is the spot for music and shows. If you find yourself missing the Time Square of the 1980’s, The Pigalle will bring it right back. This red light district houses plenty of sex shops (4 story ones). It also houses some lovely sights like the rue des Martyrs. While there, also stop by the Second Empire Holy-Trinity church.
- Quartier du Faubourg Montmartre: Young, vibrant, and home to the Paris conservatoire. This is the home of the Hôtel Drouot and the Folies Bergère cabaret. As for churches, don’t miss out on Saint-Eugène.
- Quartier de Rochechouart: The Jacques Decour high school (Collège Rollin) was the school where painter Edouard Manet and the philosopher Bergson attended.
10th – Enclos-St-Laurent/Entrepot – This one was added to the city in 1859. Prior to this, it was Faubourg which was an industrial area. This is one of the most affordable arrondissements in Paris. It houses the two main train stations: Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est. The area is incredibly diverse as you will see below:
- Quartier Saint-Vincent-de-Paul: Mainly populated by the upper middle class and the location of the two train stations. The former Saint Laurent market place used to be here. Visit the Église Saint-Vincent-de-Paul which sits on the original site of the Saint-Lazare prison.
- Quartier de la Porte-Saint-Denis: This area is mainly commercial and industrial, it is known for its crystal and porcelain production. When there, take a stroll on Boulevard de Strasbourg and the Passage de Brady. Check out the Porte-Saint Denis by by architect François Blondel.
- Quartier de la Porte-Saint-Martin: Although this area is mostly industrial, you can check out some really cool sites like Saint Laurent church and the Renaissance theatre, and of course the Porte Saint-Martin.
- Quartier de l’Hôpital Saint-Louis: Named after St Louis Hospital which was erected during the 17th century by Henri IV. The hospital now specializes in Cancer treatment. Check out the Saint Martin canal, it spans 2.7 miles and brings a touch of Amsterdam to this area of Paris. It is as romantic as it gets.
11th – Popincourt – If you’re on the right bank between Place de la Nation, Place de la République, and Place de la Bastille you’re in Popincourt. It’s a large district and super residential. You’ll want to check out the bars and restaurants of Rue Oberkampf. If you are in for a little culture, check out La Bastille, Nation, New Jewish Quarter, Cirque d’Hiver, and Église Saint-Ambroise.
- Quartier de la Folie-Méricourt: This area has some darling little homes called folies that were built in the 18th century.
- Quartier Saint Ambroise: Saint Ambroise is one of my favorite Parisian churches. It was erected over a house built under the reign of Charles VI for Jean de Popincourt. If you’re feeling the need to party, head to Rue Oberkampf for its bars & clubs.
- Quartier de la Roquette: It holds two prisons: La Petite Roquette and La Grande Roquette as well as the Père Lachaise cemetery. The Place de la Bastille as well as the Bastille are its most famous residents.
- Quartier Sainte Marguerite: Named after the church and its cemetery (Louis 17 was buried in this quarter).
12th – Reuilly – This arrondissement is located Southeast of Paris and includes the Vincennes area, great for those who love flora. It is named after a market town that was formed in the periphery of the residence of King Dagobert. This means there are some gorgeous Renaissance structures to check out. Some places you’ll want to check out are Opéra Bastille, Bercy Park and Village, Promenade Plantée, Quartier d’Aligre, Viaduc des arts the Bois de Vincennes, and the Zoo de Vincennes.
- Quartier de Picpus: This area has a lot of revolutionary history. Gilbert du Motier de La Fayette rests at Cimetière de Picpus (now a private cemetery) which also contains the remains of French aristocrats who were guillotined during the Revolution.
- Quartier du Bel-Air: This is a great little neighborhood, it is residential, but one can find anything one needs. It homes the Palais de la Porte Dorée and its famous aquarium.
- Quartier de Bercy: Its most famous resident is the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy (POPB) a stadium for games, concerts, and more.
- Quartier des Quinze-Vingts: There are two big hospitals in this area; Trousseau and Saint-Antoine. What people go to see is the Train Bleu at the Gare de Lyon. This Second Empire style restaurant is stunning, probably one of the prettiest in the city. It was built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. Make a reso while you are in Paris, it will be worth it. Besides, maybe you will sit where Coco Chanel, Brigitte Bardot, Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dali, Jean Gabin, or Marcel Pagnol sat.
13th – Gobelins – This one is on the Southeastern area of Central Paris (left of the Seine). Before it was brought into the city of Paris, this area was called the Faubourg Souffrant (suffering suburb). It was an area for the working people. You won’t find lots of tourists there, but you will find some awesome Chinese food (last time I was there I found the best Chinese I’ve had in 5 years). It is also home to Place d’Italie, La Butte aux Cailles, Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF), Gare d’Austerlitz, Manufacture des Gobelins, Butte-aux-Cailles and Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital. Like the rest of the arrondissements, it is split up into quartiers, but here the locals stick to the cultural as opposed to the administrative quartiers.
- Quartier de la Salpêtrière: This area includes a piece of the Faubourg Saint Marcel and of the Par13th Arrondissement and was named for the area hospital (Hopital de la Pitié – Salpêtrière).
- Quartier de la Gare: Go hungry and get ready for some of the best Chinese of your life. The neighborhood includes a piece of Paris’ Rive Gauche but is quite affordable. Check out the National Library.
- Quartier de la Maison-Blanche: This is your spot to grab a drink in the afternoon. The Maison Blanche was a rural area made up of the Butte aux Cailles, a hill covered by meadows and mills. .
- Quartier Croulebarbe: One of the oldest names in Paris, and the most expensive area in the 13th. Here you will run into the Saint Marcel Faubourg, and the Gobelins manufacture, a tapestry factory.
14th – Observatoire – On the left bank of the Seine in the South of Paris. I happen to love this neighborhood. Check out the Catacombs, and pick up cool art to take home at the artist’s market on Sunday. You can get some really good clothing deals on Rue d’Alesia. Places not to miss: Cimetière du Montparnasse, Gare Montparnasse, La Santé Prison, Denfert-Rochereau, Parc Montsouris, Stade Charléty, and Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris.
- Quartier du Montparnasse: Named after Mount Parnassus where the Greek muses are said to have lived, the original Montparnasse was demolished. On a brighter note, it’s a great place to take a walk. Montparnasse is known for its dance halls (this started around the time of the French Revolution). The rail station drives to the west and the south west of France (from Granville to Toulouse). Grab your camera & check out the Montparnasse cemetery. It sits on the site of three farms and was originally named the Cimitiere du Sud (South Cemetery). You’ll see quite a large of famous people in their final resting place here including André Citroën, François Gérard, Pierre Larousse, and Guy de Maupassant. There’s also the Tour Montparnasse, but I’m from NYC, so a boring square skyscraper does not impress me much.
- Quartier du Parc-de-Montsouris: So, there’s a park. It’s a nice area, mainly residential. There’s some nice Haussman style architecture to check out, but this is more of a neighborhood to live in, not to visit.
- Quartier du Petit-Montrouge: It’s a cute neighborhood with more Haussman-style buildings. There are also lots of plaster facades that were once favored by the working class. Currently, there are lots of town houses and artist workshops.
- Quartier de Plaisance: There’s good shopping, (check out Rue d’Alesia) and a pretty good nightlife around here.
15th – Vaugirard – This is the most populated district in Paris and the largest. Its pre-revolutionary history includes many religious institutions including the Séminaire de Saint-Sulpice. It’s very different from Paris proper and has some pretty cool shops (and wine cellars). Do not miss the Tour Montparnasse, Porte de Versailles, Front de Seine, La Ruche and quartiers Saint-Lambert, Necker, Grenelle and Javel.
- Quartier Saint-Lambert: It sits on the land that once was the Vaugirard village (wich was named after bishop Vaugirard & was was incorporated into Paris in 1860 ). Grab a jambon beurre and head to parc Georges Brassens. The park is named after the singer George Brassens who lived nearby. In the park, there are sculptures from Auguste-Nicolas Cain, a rose garden, vineyards, a fragrant garden with more than 80 fragrant plants, and a bee hive. Also make a stop at Square Saint-Lambert where you will see locals enjoying the sunlight. Saint-Lambert de Vaugirard, for which the quarter was named, is a lovely sight.
- Quartier Necker: It is most well known for the Necker – Enfants Malades hospital, the Montparnasse station and the Institut Pasteur – which is dedicated to medical research, but is also a museum.
- Quartier Grenelle: This area is pretty commercial. The Beaugrenelle (a.k.a. Front-de-Seine) is a mix of residential and commercial. It is known for its high rise buildings and great views of the Eiffel Tower. If you’re interested in urban planning, you may want to check it out. It was planned in the 70’s and is made up of 20 towers.
- Quartier Javel: The Javel houses the Georges Pompidou hospital, a bunch of tv studios, and the parc André-Citroën (South of the Eiffel Tower) which replaced a car factory. The park is definitely not the best park in Paris (it’s kind of sparse). It does have two green houses with dancing fountains that are fun to watch. If you feel the need for a little water adventure, check out Aquaboulevard, it’s got an aquatic park, squash courts, a huge gym and tons of physical activities.
16th – Passy – It’s one of the biggest arrondissements in Paris. It is made up of what used to be three towns; Passy, Auteuil, and Chaillot. This is where the embassies and international organizations are located. The area is gorgeous. It’s super quiet, safe, and calm. This is not the neighborhood is you’re looking to party (unless you’re looking for a hooker, it is said they look for customers on Bois de Boulogne). In all seriousness, lovely place for doorknob patrol (checking out homes). Don’t miss the Musée de l’Homme, Cimetière de Passy, Parc des Princes, and Musée Marmottan-Monet.
- Quartier d’Auteuil: This one is named after the Auteuil hill and known for the Auteuil viaduct, Sainte-Perine garden, Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil (built in 1761 under Louis XV & has an awesome greenhouse) and the Radio France building.
- Quartier de la Muette: If you miss out on Chateau Muette, you’re a sucker. It’s awesome. It’s on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne near la Porte de la Muette and was restored in the 18th century style. It was the castle for Princess Marguerite de Valois, daughter of King Henry II. Make a stop at Passy cemetery, where Manet, Georges Mandel, and Claude Debussy rest.
- Quartier Porte Dauphine: It is said this is for the sporty crowd. Take a boat ride at the Lac Inférieur. If you’re into more nefarious things, the museum of Counterfeiting will be right up your alley. Take a walk on Avenue Foch and check out the Ennery.
- Quartier Chaillot: Check out The Palais de Chaillot. It was built in 1937, and is home the national museum of the navy, cinema museum, national museum of the French monuments, Mankind museum and the national theatre of Chaillot. Also check out the Tokyo Palace, Clemenceau museum and the Musée du Vin and the Trocadero and its gardens, awesome spot for really great pictures of the Eiffel Tower. If you’re a museum dork like me, you’ll be in heaven and your friends will be in hell.
17th – Batignolles-Monceau – It’s kinda far from the center of Paris, so it’s more residential. Pretty much the only thing to check out here is the Palais des Congres. If you happen to stay there, you can delight in its Haussmann architecture, bars and parks. It’s also home to quite a bit of Embassies. Make a stop at Place de Clichy, Parc Monceau, Marché Poncelet, and Square des Batignolles.
- Quartier des Ternes: Its name harkens back to the Middle Ages when a Parisian Bishop had a farmhouse here. It was named Villa Externa. As humans tend to do, its name got shorter and shorter to become “Estern” and finally “Ternes”. The farmhouse became a castle and gave its name to the Quartier.
- Quartier de la Place Monceaux: Gorgeous residential area known for the Monceau Park. The park opened in the late 1800’s and has not changed much (to my delight). Marcel Proust is said to have been a regular at the park. The park makes the trip to Place Monceaux worth it.
- Quartier des Batignolles: The Batignolles was made up of agricultural fields and is now a kinda cool area. This could have to do with some of its former residents: Paul Verlaine, and Edouard Manet.
- Quartier des Epinettes: Cité des Fleurs is a must. It was created in the mid 1800’s and is marked by a really long walkway and gardens. Awesome experience.
18th – Butte-Montmartre – I kinda love this arrondissement. People are afraid of it and think it is unsafe, but I’ve not had issues there. Great place to rent an apartment for the week (you’ll get great deals). It sits on a chalky hill and has awesome winding stairs (when you’re on vacay, take the stairs, it will allow you to eat as much as you want & not get fat). Locals call it La Butte, and it is the place for artists, art galleries and exhibitions. It reminded me of Union City or North Bergen in NJ. It had a large immigrant community, there were a few trannies on the street, and music coming out of every bar. Did I mention sex shops? When you go, set time aside for Montmartre, Pigalle, Barbès, Basilica of the Sacré Cœur, Église Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre, and Goutte d’Or.
- Goutte-d’Or: Really fun shopping if you like to hunt for one of a kind items. The Marché Dejean is a great spot to visit, an African market with tons of fun items. If you’re into food shopping and farmer’s market (like me), the Barbès market will be a delight.
- Grandes-Carrières: It is named after the gypsum quarries that took up residence here in the Middle Ages. It was also the site of the theatre of the Quatre-Z’Arts drag show. Head over to Rue Girardon to check out the 1726 obelisk.
- La Chapelle: It is known for the La Chapelle market and shopping rue L’Olive. Check out the Jardins d’ Eole, a nice area to escape the business of the city. While you’re there hit up the Basilique Sainte-Jeanne-d’Arc and Saint-Denys de la Chapelle, whose most famed visitor is said to be Joan of Arc.
- Clignancourt: I went here only because my mom has a thing for flea markets. The Puces de Saint-Ouen is the largest flea market of Europe. It’s located at Porte de Clignancourt and you can find anything there from some stunning antiques to the worst porquerias possible. This makes it really fun.
- Pigalle: Need a little sexy time? This is where Paris’ red-light district is located. I went into one of the sex shops…you know…for research only…it was bigger than anything I’ve seen in Times Square. Stuff I saw there, I never would have imagined. Go and take the obligatory Moulin Rouge picture (it’s way more impressive on TV).
19th – Buttes-Chaumont – This arrondissement sits on the site of the old villages of La Villette and Belleville and it is named after the gorgeous park in the area. It’s mainly residential and it is seeing quite a bit of growth lately. While there, check out the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, Parc de la Villette, Bassin de la Villette, Parc des Buttes Chaumont, Cité de la Musique, Canal de l’Ourcq, and Canal Saint-Denis.
- Quartier de La Villette: La Villette was originally a Gallo-Roman village and became a commune during the revolution. In 1860 it became part of Paris. This neighborhood is home to Bassin de la Villette, the largest artificial lake in Paris which will lead you to the Ourcq and the Saint-Martin canals. When you’re at the meeting point of Bassin de la Villette and the Ourcq Canal, you will run into the Flanders lift bridge which is the last of its kind. If you feel like catching a movie, head over to the MK2 cinema. This area is populated by students, artists, and really cute shops. While there, visit the Place de la Bataille de Stalingrad.
- Quartier du Pont-de-Fandres: This was once like NYC’s meatpacking district and it housed the slaughterhouse and the cattle market. These sites of these two buildings now homes the Villette Park, the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie (an awesome science museum), the Grande Halle (a concert venue), the Zenith (another concert venue) and the Cité de la Musique.
- Quartier d’Amérique: Lots of the white stonework you see in America came from here. It is said that this stone was used to built the White House. The quarries are gone, and in their place Paris has the Buttes Chaumont park. The park is huge and gorgeous. It was built by Jean-Charles Alphand in the late reign of Napoleon. The most well known feature in the park is the Temple de la Sibylle located on the Île de la Belvédère. The temple is a smaller version of the Roman temple of Vesta in Tivoli, super charming. The park also boasts of grottos, cascades, bridges, and really cool flora. You could easily spend a whole day there.
- Quartier du Combat: This neighborhood has a bloody history. It used to host fights using poor animals like roosters, dogs, and bulls. Eventually animal fighting was outlawed. Ot was also the site where the gallows sat and killed many people. If you’re into the macabre, this may be your quartier.
20th – Ménilmontant – This is a pilgrimage site for those who love Edith Piaf since she was born and died in this arrondissement. This was also where people went to party and dance in the 18th century. Today, this is an area largely populated by immigrants. It is home to the second Chinatown in Paris (this means some really good Asian food – specially on Rue de Belleville). While there, check out the Cimetière de Père Lachaise, Parc de Belleville, and quartiers Belleville and Ménilmontant.
- Quartier de Belleville: The birthplace of Edith Piaf (at 72 Rue de Belleville) and Maurice Chevalier has become largely Chinese and Jewish over the years. Rent tends to be cheaper, so a lot of artists live and work there. Visit Rue Denoye, there’s some really cool graffiti and lots of street artists to buy stuff from. Also stop by the street market in Boulevard de Belleville. It is on Tuesday and Friday and you can get some really good produce there.
- Quartier Saint Fargeau: Take the metro to Place Gambetta and check out the Porte des Lilas and Porte de Bagnolet, Tenon hospital, Campagne à Paris (you’ll feel like you left Paris), and Severine square.
- Quartier du Père Lachaise: Named after the famous cemetery located here. This is the resting place of Oscar Wilde, Honoré de Balzac, Rosa Bonheur, Colette, Frédéric Chopin, Édith Piaf , Eugène Delacroix, and many, many more.
- Quartier de Charonne: This neighborhood was once made up of vegetable farms. Now it houses the Saint Germain de Charonne church and cemetery, and the Pavillon de l’Ermitage.
How to get to Paris