You Asked – What Is the Difference Between Paris Neighborhoods?


I'm heading off to Paris in a few months and I'm still confused by the Paris neighborhoods. I want to book a Paris hotel but need to know more about the different arrondissements.

"Thanks for your help."
– Russ, Canada

We Answer – All About Paris Neighborhoods

Dear Russ,
Paris is divided into twenty administrative zones called arrondissements. They are sometimes referred to as the "twenty small cities of Paris", each with a distinct personality and even its own town hall. Let's start with the geography.

Paris Arrondissements

The Seine River essentially divides Paris in half. The Right Bank (Rive Droite) is the larger half, containing these arrondissements — 1st to 4th, 8th to 12th, 16th to the 20th. The Left Bank or Rive Gauche is the smaller of the two halves and contains the 5th, 6th and 7th and the 13th, 14th and 15th Arrondissements.

1st to 6th Arrondissements

The Paris neighborhoods surrounding the Louvre are the 1st and 2nd Arrondissements. These are the oldest quartiers in Paris and the smallest as well. Popular local districts here are Rue Montorgreuil, the semi-pedestrian food street; Saint-Eustache, the Gothic church; and the financial district.

1st to 6th Arrondissements

The 3rd and 4th Arrondissements are where you'll find the trendy Marais district, a popular destination for travelers. It's one of the few areas of Paris that was left untouched by Haussmann's hand when Paris was modernized in the mid-18th century. Instead of broad boulevards and Haussmanian apartment buildings you find twisty, narrow, ancient roads and tilting buildings. The oldest square in Paris is found in the Marais at Place des Vosges.

The two islands of Paris — Île de la Cité and Île St. Louis — are found in the middle of Paris in the 1st and 4th Arrondissements. This is also where you find Notre Dame Cathedral.

Finally, to the south of the Seine (the Left Bank), you'll find the 5th and 6th Arrondissements — home to the Latin Quarter, the Sorbonne, and Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

7th to 12th Arrondissements

The 7th Arrondissement is on the Left Bank and is home to the the Eiffel Tower, popular market street Rue Cler, Rue St. Dominique, and the d'Orsay Museum. It's a wealthy Paris neighborhood filled with charming Left Bank hotels, bistros and leafy streets.

7th to 12th Arrondissements

The 8th Arrondissement border, on the Right Bank, on the 16th and 17th arrondissement on its western end. The 8th is famous for Champs Elysées and world-class hotels like the Four Seasons George V, the Plaza Athenée, and the Royal Monceau Hotel. It's a great Paris neighborhood to stay in, but it does tend to be pricier.

The 9th Arrondissement is a much different Paris neighborhood. It's all about the Grand MagasinsPrintemps and Galeries Lafayette department stores — and the Palais Garnier Opera House. Although we love to visit the 9th, we don't usually stay in the northern parts of the district.

To the east are the 10th, 11th and 12th Arrondissements. Although up-and-coming, many travelers shy away from staying here. What a shame! The area around Canal St. Martin is filled with trendy restaurants and cafés. The Bastille neighborhood of the 11th and 12th borders on the Marais, making it a convenient central location.

13th to 20th Arrondissements

The 13th, 14th and 15th Arrondissements are found in the southern part of Paris. The 15th Arrondissement is another of our favorite Paris neighborhoods to stay in. It's managed to hold onto its roots and is filled with authentic boulangeries, charcuteries, and patisseries.

Sacre Coeur

The western Paris neighborhoods of the 16th and 17th are the largest and the wealthiest of the arrondissements. A stay in the Passy neighborhood of the 16th will make you feel like you've finally made it!

The 18th Arrondissement is where you find Montmartre, the slightly bohemian enclave home to artists, musicians and writers-in-residence. It's a charming area to stay, especially if you stay close to Rue des Abbesses. This is where Basilica Sacré Coeur resides atop the highest point in Paris.

The 19th and 20th are where you find Edith Piaf's neighborhood of Belleville. Most travelers do not stay in these Paris neighborhoods as they are a bit out of the way. Although easily reached by Metro, the ride from the the center of Paris is 30 minutes or more. However, it makes for a fun day trip to visit the canals and two of the biggest parks of Paris — Parc de Villette and Parc des Buttes Chaumont.

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