The Paris arrondissements are where you'll find the art, history, culture, and the quartiers where Parisians live. As Paris grew from a small town centered on the Islands, it required more administrative and new districts. The current division of twenty Paris arrondissements occurred during the time of the reconstruction of Paris under Baron Haussmann in the mid-19th century.
If you look at the Paris arrondissements on a map they form a spiral, starting at the western tip of Ile de la Cité with the 1st Arrondissement, running in a clockwise direction until the 20th Arrondissement hits the eastern boundary of the city. Together, the twenty Paris arrondissements define the city and are referred to as the "twenty little cities".
It's surprising how many Parisians have traditionally spent most of their time in their own arrondissement, with little reason to leave it!
Each of the arrondissements contains unique sections or neighborhoods or quartiers that easily come to feel like home as soon as you spend even a little time there.
As a visitor, you'll discover that each of the Paris arrondissements have their own feel and attractions. You may not make it to all the Paris arrondissements, but here's a quick guide to help you focus on the important places to see and do in each arrondissement.
As well as being the oldest and most central, the 1st & 2nd Arrondissements are two of the smallest districts in Paris.
Here you'll find so many classic Paris attractions — Palais Royal, the Louvre, Tuileries Gardens, Saint Eustache…the list goes on.
Read our guide to plan what to see and what not to miss in these two important Paris arrondissements.
Though tiny, these two islands in the middle of Paris, Ile de la Cité and Ile St. Louis are packed with history:
Notre Dame Cathedral, Sainte-Chappelle, La Concierge are all there. So is the Hotel Dieu hospital and the police headquarters.
The Islands are located in part of the 1st and part of the 4th Arrondissement. It's also where you'll find superb boutiques, cafés, restauran, and load of visitors.
The 3rd and 4th Paris Arrondissements together make up The Marais, on the Right Bank of paris.
It's where you'll find trendy shops, the liveliest alternative community, the center of the Jewish community, the Hotel de Ville (Paris City Hall) and thousands of Parisians out for Sunday brunch!
It's also where you find Place de Vosges, the first park in Paris open to the public.
The Latin Quarter, which is the 5th Arrondissement, dates back to Roman times and is where you'll find the Pantheon, the Sorbonne; Rue Mouffetard, the bustling market street; and the winding cobblestone streets of old Paris.
It's one of the most well-known districts of Paris and home to the universities. In fact, the name of the quartier dates back to the time when the languages o the universities was Latin.
One of the prettiest areas in Paris, the 6th Arrondissement was, in the earlier part of the 20th century, the haunt of both the French existentialists and the Americans of the Lost Generation.
Home to the Jardin du Luxembourg and the church of St-Germain-des-Pres, it also sports very nice shopping streets.
The 7th is all about narrow yet wealthy residential streets, tree-lined parks, the banks of the Seine and, of course, the Eiffel Tower.
It's also home to many French government offices, the Rodin Museum and the famous food street, Rue Cler, where you'll find one of our regular lunch spots when we're in the area, Café du Marché.
The 8th Arrondissement is known as the home to the good things in life — luxury hotels, embassies, great museums and chi-chi shopping.
Parc Monceau, one of the most civilized parks in the world is in this wealthy arrondissement. Place de la Concorde is at one end of Champs Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe is at the other.
The 9th runs from the famous 19th-century Paris opera house, Palais Garnier to the foot of Montmartre.
It's home to the Grands Magasins — Galeries Lafayette and Printemps — on Boulevard Haussmann.
In our guide we'll also tell you how to book Paris opera and ballet tickets. It's something you have to experience when you're in Paris!
In these districts arcing across east-central Paris, you'll find three train stations — gares — as well Canal St. Martin's up-and-coming neighborhood.
The canal runs through the 10th Arrondissement, not too far from Gare de l'Est and Gare du Nord.
The 11th Arrondissement, which borders on the Marais, has Boulevard Richard Lenoir and shares Place Bastille and the Bastille Opera house with the 12th.
The 12th is where you'll find Gare de Lyon, with trains to the south of France, and the quartier of Bercy, a former wine warehouse district that is now trending.
These three large Paris arrondissements sweep across the south of the city and are home to many Parisians, who live in a mixture of 19th-century buildings and modern apartments. To serve them there are tons of markets, stores, and Metro stations.
These southern arrondissements are not on the usual tourist route, but they are diverse.
You'll find Chinatown (13th); La Tour Montparnasse (15th), which rises about the gare of the same name and is the only skyscraper central Paris; the modernist Parc André Citroën out on the edge of the 15th; and Porte de Versailles, the large exposition grounds.
The 16th is the westernmost arrondissement. It's a large, wealthy residential neighborhood where you'll find Musée Marmatton, luxury shopping, and the vast Bois de Boulogne.
It's just across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower and some of the best views of that monument are to be had from the Trocadero.
Bordering it to the north is the 17th, another large Paris arrondissement, that starts at the Arc de Triomphe and the intersection called l'Etoile. It's densely packed with middle-class Parisians and has tons of services, great markets, and interesting shopping.
The 18th Arrondissement runs up from the border of the 9th to the northernmost edge of the city.
This historical and artistic quartier has been home to famous (and not-so-famous) painters and writers, most notably Picasso.
Set atop a hill, Montmartre has spectacular views from Sacre Coeur and Place de Tertre. It's also home to the Dali Museum and Moulin Rouge.
These two Paris arrondissements contain diverse neighborhoods, many of them with an ethnic feel.
It's where you'll find Parc de la Villette, up in the very northeastern corner of Paris, and its two museums — Cité des Sciences and Cité de la Musique.
The large Parc des Buttes Chaumont is there. It's one of Paris' largest parks and sports a tall waterfall. Belleville, in the 20th, is a fascinating, hilly quartier with its own large park.
• Paris was only divided into the current twenty arrondissements in 1860, when Napoleon III added new territory to the city — towns and villages that were previously outside the city walls.
• The current arrondissements are numbered in a clockwise spiral, starting with the 1st Arrondissement at the Seine.
• Before Napoleon III Paris had twelve arrondissements, numbered from west to east (left to right on a map).
• Before Paris had the uniform blue street signs you currently find, the street name was often chiseled into the corner of buildings. Today you can still find the old arrondissement numbers on some buildings, as well as some old street names.)
• The arrondissement number is used as the last two digits of its Paris postal code. The 1st Arrondissement is 75001, the 4th is 75004, the 20th is 75020 and so on.
• 1st & 2nd: The Heart…
• 1st & 4th: The Islands…
• 3rd & 4th: The Marais…
• 5th: The Latin Quarter…
• 6th: Saint-Germain…
• 7th: Eiffel Tower…
• 8th: Champs Elysées…
• 9th Opera…
• 10th–12th: Gares…
• 13th–15th: The South…
• 16th & 17th: Paris West…
• 18th: Montmartre…
• 19th & 20th: Paris East…
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