13th & 14th & 15th Arrondissements Paris – The South Side Of The City

These large arrondissements form a sort of bulwark in the south. In fact, the city limit boundaries of these districts follow the line of what was the last defensive wall surrounding Paris. In modern times the wall has been replaced with the Paris ring road, the Périphérique.

Though not typically a big draw for tourists, we think the 13th, 14th & 15th Arrondissements are worth exploring. This is where many Parisians live, shop, and work. It's a vast area, stretching from Seine to Seine and bordering to the north on the central Paris arrondissements of the Left Bank. Let's pay a virtual visit and find out what there is to see and do.

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Introduction to the 13th & 14th & 15th

Parc Andre Citroen

The 13th, situated on the Left Bank just beyond the 5th Arrondissement (the Latin Quarter), is home to the largest Chinatown in France (and probably Europe) and to the Bibliothèque Nationale, the French National Library. The 14th, bordering on St-Germain, is where you'll find the Observatory of Paris, the world's oldest observatory still in operation.

We're most familiar with the 15th Arrondissement and love staying there when we're in Paris. The 15th (sometime broadly called "Vaugirard" after the long street that runs through it) starts at the Champs de Mars, just south of the Eiffel Tower. There's such a feeling of neighborhood life here and the streets are lined with shops, restaurants, and boulangeries. It's also where you can take in a spectacular view of the city from the top of Tour Montparnasse, the somewhat unfortunate skyscraper that rises above the train station of the same name. By the way, this district was also where one of our favorite Paris movies was shot — Agnes Varda's Chloë de 5 à 7.

9 Great Things About the South Side of Paris

1. The Paris Catacombs

Catacombs of Paris Walking Tour

In the 17th century, as the cemeteries of Paris filled up and spilled into the basements of neighboring houses, the city decided something had to be done. That's when the cemeteries were cleaned up (some of them even eliminated) and the bones of the dead moved to abandoned limestone quarries beneath the streets of the 14th Arrondissement.

Although a trip to the Paris Catacombs is not everyone's cup of tea, it will be a visit you never forget! A walk through the tunnels of the underground catacombs is an eerie reminder of the sometimes bizarre history of Paris. The tour is very likely to sell out, so be sure to book as soon as you can.

2. Musée Bourdelle

Musée Bourdelle

A student of Rodin, sculptor Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929) created stunning bronze and marble sculptures. You can now visit the pleasant gardens and studio where he lived and worked. There is a garden full of over-size statues and some unfinished pieces are still in his workshop. Admission is free.

3. Musée de la Poste

Postal Museum boring? NOT! This fascinating museum details the history of communication — semaphore, telegraph, and telephones, including work by Alexander Graham Bell.

  • 34 Boulevard de Vaugirard, 75015
  • Free Admission with the Paris Pass
  • Website

4. The Observatory of Paris

Observatory of Paris

Established in 1667, the Observatoire de Paris is the oldest observatory in the world. You can send them an email to book a two-hour tour that will take you to the 19th-century dome and the telescope.

5. The View of Paris from Tour Montparnasse

The View of Paris from Tour Montparnasse

This 56-storey skyscraper may be a bit of an eyesore, but the view of Paris from the observation deck is superb. Take Europe's fastest elevator (38 seconds) 640 feet above Paris where, on a clear day, you can see for more than 25 miles and spot all the landmarks of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower.

6. Musée Jean Moulin & Mémorial du Maréchal Leclerc

World War II remains an extremely important memory in France, as does the Resistance that fought against the German invaders. The important dates, the battles, and the heros are etched into the French psyche. This museum, high above the Gare Montparnasse, remembers the the poignant stories of two iconic French WWII leaders — Marshal Leclerc and resistance leader Jean Moulin. It's a fascinating and moving experience.

It's a little hard to find, but worth the journey. The best way is to take one of two exterior elevators — one at 4 Rue Cdt Rene Mouchotte and the other at 25 Boulevard de Vaugirard. Admission is free.

  • Jardin Atlantique, above the Montparnasse train station, 75015
  • Website

7. Parc Montsouris

Parc Montsouris

Think the best parks are reserived for the central Paris arrondissements? If so, this 37-acre park will change your mind. Paths wander through beautiful foliage, there are statues and even a pond with geese. It borders on Paris City University.

By the way, this is where Cleo meets Antoine in Chloë de 5 à 7.

8. Rue du Commerce

Rue du Commerce

This is a lovely, one-way shopping street that runs in the 15th from Grenelle right up to the church of St Jean Baptiste de Grenelle. It's busy all day with local shoppers and there's a lot to do and see. While a number of Parisian chain stores have taken up residence here (like boulangerie Paul), there are still a lot of local businesses and good food shopping.

  • Metro La Motte Picquet Grenelle or Avenue Emile Zola or Commerce.

9. Parc André Citroën

Parc André Citroën

At the outer extremity of the 15th, running along the Seine, is the modernistic Parc André Citroën. The area is called Javel and it's where bleach used to be made in the 19th century (and the reason "Javel" is a name for bleach). In the 20th century, though (starting in 1915), it was the site of André Citroën's massive automobile manufacturing plant. By 1932 it was the fourth largest car manufacturer in the world.

By the 1970s the plant was closed and the land was vacated. Then, in the early 1990s a modernistic park was planned and built on the site. There's tons of open space, modernistic buildings and structures, and a real feeling of a new century. It's unlike any other park in Paris. It's sort of far out, but a great place for kids to run around.

  • Metro Place Balard, at the end of Line 8

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The Best Markets in the 13th, 14th & 15th

GRENELLE

  • ALÉSIA
    Rue de la Glacière and Rue de la Santé, 13th
    Wednesday 7:00 AM to 2:3PM.; Saturday 7:00 AM. to 3:00 PM
  • MAISON-BLANCHE
    Avenue d'Italie, between #110 and #162, 13th
    Thursday 7:00 AM to 2:30 PM.; Sunday 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM
  • EDGAR-QUINET
    Boulevard Edgar-Quinet, between Rue du Départ and Boulevard Raspail, 14th
    Wednesday & Saturday 7:00 AM to 2:30 PM
  • BRANCUSI ORGANIC MARKET
    Place Constantin-Brancusi, 14th
    Saturday 9:00 AM to 3:00PM
  • GRENELLE
    Boulevard de Grenelle, between Rue de Lourmel and rue du Commerce, 15th
    Wednesday 7:00 AM To 2:30 PM; Sunday 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM
  • SAINT-CHARLES
    Rue Saint-Charles, between Rue de Javel and Rue des Cevennes, 15th
    Tuesday & Friday 7:00 AM to 2:30 PM

The Best Places to Stay

hotel Ares Eiffel

You might be surprised to learn that there are some pretty darn good hotels in these three outer arrondissements. Some of them serve the exhibition centers along the périphérique, but others are meant to serve visitors to central Paris, and at a lower price than you would find near the Louvre, for instance. With good Metro access you get easily get to anywhere in Paris from most of these hotels.

Here, then, is the link to our curated list of the 15 absolute best hotels in the 13th, 14th & 15th. They all meet our criteria to be "Highly Rated". Some of them even get our top rating of "Superb".

13th & 14th & 15th Arrondissements Resources

Gare d'Austerlitz

  • There are a number of Metro lines that service this large area. The major north-south lines are #7 (13th), #13 (14th), #12 (14th & 15th), #8 (15th).
  • The most important east-west Metro line is #6, which forms an arc cutting across the southern arrondissements, running from stations Charles de Gaulle-Etoile to Nation. (Both of those are on the north side of the river.)
  • The largest Paris train station, Gare Montparnasse, in found in the 14th. It's from there you catch trains to southwestern France, including Bordeaux.
  • Gare d'Austerlitz (pictured) is located in the 13th, right up against the Seine and pretty much across the river from Gare de Lyon. From Austerlitz you can get to to Tours, Toulouse, Orleans and even as far as Barcelona and Madrid.
  • A large exhibition and sport complex is located at the south of the 15th, on the border of the 14th. This is where you'll go for special shows, expos, and events, including the annual wine expo and chocolate expo — you're likely to spot us there!

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