The division of current twenty Paris arrondissements occurred during the time of the reconstruction of Paris under Baron Haussmann in the mid-19th century.
The arrondissements form a spiral, starting at the western tip of Ile de la Cité, 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 spend 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.
Two of the oldest and the smallest neighborhoods in Paris. Here you'll find so many classic Paris attractions: Palais Royal, the Louvre, Tuileries Gardens, Saint Eustache. Find out the 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. They are also known for their superb boutiques, cafés and restaurants.
The 3rd and 4th Paris Arrondissements together make up The Marais. 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!
The Latin Quarter, 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.
One of the prettiest areas in Paris, the 6th was the haunt of both the French existentialists and the Americans of the Lost Generation. Home to the Jardin du Luxembourg and St-Germain-des-Pres, it also sports very nice shopping streets.
The 7th is all about wealthy residential streets, tree-lined parks, the banks of the Seine and, of course, the Eiffel Tower. It's also home to many Fench government offices, the Rodin Museum and the famous food street, Rue Cler.
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. Concorde is at one end and the Arc de Triomphe is at the other.
The 9th runs from the famous Paris opera house, Palais Garnier to the foot of Montmartre. It's home to the Grands Magasins – Galeries Lafayette and Printemps – on Boulevard Haussman. Learn how to book Paris opera and ballet tickets.
In the 10th, you'll find three train stations as well Canal St. Martin's up-and-coming neighborhood. The 11th has Boulevard Richard Lenoir and shares Place Bastille and the Bastille Opera house with the 12th. The 12th is Gare de Lyon and trendy Bercy.
These three large Paris arrondissements sweep across the south of the city and are home to many Parisians. They're diverse: Chinatown, Tour Montparnasse, the modernist Parc André Citroën, and some favorite restaurants.
The 16th is a large, wealthy residential neighborhood where you'll find Musée Marmatton, luxury shopping, and the vast Bois de Boulogne. The 17th is also a large Paris arrondissement that starts at the Arc de Triomphe and the Etoile.
This historical and artistic quartier has been home to famous (and not-so-famous) painters and writers. 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 with an ethnic feel. It's where you'll find Parc de la Villette, Cité des Sciences and the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. Learn about Paris' largest park and where to find a waterfall!
• Paris was only divided into the current twenty arrondissements in 1860, when Napoleon III added new territory to the city – territory that was previously outside the city walls.
• The current arrondissements are numbered in a clockwise spiral, starting with the 1st Arrondissment at the Seine.
• Before Napoleon III Paris had twelve arrondissementsm numbered from west to east (left to right on a map).
• Before Pais had the uniform blue street signs, the street name was often chiseled into the corner of buildings. Today you can still find the old arrondissement numbers on some buildings. (You can also find the 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.
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1st & 2nd: The Heart
1st & 4th: The Islands
3rd & 4th: The Marais
5th: The Latin Quarter
7th: Eiffel Tower
8th: Champs Elysées
10th–12th: Gares & Bastille
13th–15th: The South
16th & 17th: Paris West
19th & 20th: Paris East