Getting to know Paris
Paris is an intriguing mix of arrondissements, each with its own identity and history. The river Seine runs through the centre of Paris, creating a clear separation between left bank and right bank. The majority of Paris fits within the boundaries of the Bd Périphérique, the massive ring road that surrounds the city. The green ‘lungs’ of Paris sitting on either side – the Bois de Vincennes and the Bois de Boulogne.
Whether you only have time for the heart of Paris or have a few days to get out and explore a little deeper into the multi-cultural and diverse regions of the city, there is something here for everyone.
So here is a very brief guide to the different arrondissements of Paris. Over time I will add much more in-depth guides to each area, so you know exactly what to look for, no matter how long you are visiting for.
Île de la Cité, Les Halles, Place Vendôme, Palais-Royal
The original centre of Paris is home to some of the biggest attractions in Paris.
Île de la Cité is one half of the tiny islands that sit in the Seine, splitting Paris between the ‘left’ bank and ‘right’ bank. Here you will find the incredible Sainte-Chapelle and padlock covered Pont Neuf. Whereas on the right bank the world’s most visited museum, the Louvre, stands surrounded by the Tuileries and Les Halles (the historical food market of Paris). This is the home of the main administrative buildings and designer boutiques.
Must see: Tuileries, Musée du Louvre, Église Saint-Eustache, Sainte-Chapelle & Pont Neuf
Read my full guide on what to do and see in the 1st Arrondissement HERE
The smallest yet most eclectic arrondissement, it almost feels like this is a blink and you miss it area! But don’t be mistaken, even though the 2 arr. is the smallest arrondissement in Paris it is home to some of the best boutique shops in Paris. Wander through the gorgeous covered walkways, find hidden bars and some of the most authentic Japanese you’ll taste outside of Japan.
Must see: hidden undercover passageways, Japanese quarter
Le Marais, Sainte-Avoye, Enfants-Rouges, Quartier du Temple
One half of the Marais, this area is filled with independent boutiques and cafes, as well as Paris’ Jewish quarter. Stunning Renaissance mansions now house iconic brands such as Chanel, as well as modern art galleries and museums. This area has it all, from shopping, dining, history, architecture and of course nightlife.
Must see: Musée National Picasso-Paris, Carnavalet Museum, Metiers Art Museum, Musée Cognacq-Jay
Île St-Louis, Pletzl, St Gervais, Quartier Saint-Paul, Arsenal
Home to the world-famous gothic masterpiece Notre-Dame on Île de la Cité, while Île St-Louis houses administrative buildings in what were once royal palaces. The 4e also includes part of the Marais, and the modern art museum Centre Pompidou. Wander along the quays before heading inland towards Bastille and Place des Vosges.
Must see: Notre-Dame, Hôtel de Ville, Le centre Pompidou, Tour Saint-Jacques, Église Saint-Gervais, Place des Vosges
Latin Quarter, Sorbonne, Val-de-Grâce, St Victor
Across to the Left bank you will find the 5th arrondissement, filled with university students, bookstores, cheap & delicious crepe stands and the Jardin des Plantes.
Take a break in the world-renowned Shakespeare & Company bookstore, debate philosophy with students from the Sorbonne, or visit the natural history galleries and the zoo. Ancient roman architecture still stands and are found scattered through the Latin Quarter.
Must see: Shakespeare & Company, Panthéon, Grande Galerie de l’Évolution, Rue Mouffetard, Jardin des Plantes, Le Ménagerie
Luxembourg gardens is the place locals go to escape the city, while the streets surrounding it are filled with belle époque era brasseries. People watch at the famous Café de Flore before exploring some of the galleries and churches nearby, such as the Église de Saint German des Prés or the Église Saint-Sulpice.
Must see: Café de Flore, Jardin du Luxembourg, Luxembourg Palace, Jardin des Grands Explorateurs, Église Saint-Sulpice, Odéon Theatre
Faubourg Saint-Germain, Invalides
The Eiffel tower is unmissable, and as you walk through the grand buildings that populate this corner of Paris you will find yourself in an area that seems to embody ‘Paris’. Quaint streets, ornate buildings, glimpses of the Eiffel as you turn each corner, tempting patisserie stores and the glint from the golden Dôme des Invalides all beckons. Wander along the rivers edge or bring a picnic and pick a spot on the Champ de Mars.
Must see: Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides, Champ de Mars, Rodin Museum, Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-la-Médaille-Miraculeuse, Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, Musée d’Orsay
Quartier du Faubourg-du-Roule, L’Europe
Chic and iconic, the Avenue des Champs-Elysees connects the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde, and ultimately the Louvre. This is the street for window shopping, fine dining and ticking off your must-see in Paris list.
Must see: Le Palais de L’Élysée, Avenue des Champs- Élysées, Arc de Triomphe, Grand Palais, L’Église de la Madeleine, Avenue Montaigne
Saint-Georges, New Athens, Rochechouart, Quartier Pigalle
Elegant and timeless, the 9th arrondissement houses theatres, museums and shopping galleries galore. The stunning architecture of the Opera houses and covered passageways throughout will take you back in time, as you move away from the centre and towards the original red light district of Paris – south Pigalle. Make sure to try some of the tempting
Must see: Palais Garnier, Eglise de la Sainte Trinité, Grande Synagogue de Paris, Printemps Haussmann, Galeries Lafayette, Musée de la Vie romantique, Musée Gustave Moreau
Petites Écuries, St Vincent de Paul, Canal St Martin, Cité Rouge, Grange Aux Belles, Hôpital-Saint-Louise
Quaint streets and footbridges filled with multi-cultural eateries, the 10th has both the Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est stations. If you are taking a day trip to or from Paris, chances are you will be using one of these stations. This is not on the main tourist path, however if you need to catch a train then it is worth wandering along the canal and trying one of the bohemian cafes that line it.
Must see: Musée du Chocolat, Place de la République, Rue Sainte-Marthe and Canal Saint-Martin
Folie-Méricourt, Saint-Ambroise, Ste Marguerite
Diverse, lively, a little bit grungy but definitely entertaining, the 11th is not what you think of when you picture Paris, however it is the destination for foodies and shoppers alike. Here you’ll find an international crowd venturing into independent boutiques and experimental bars.
Must see: L’Atelier des Lumières, Place de la Nation, Place de la Bastille, Colonne de Juillet, Bataclan music hall
Bastille, Quinze-Vingts, Quartier D’Aligre, Bel-Air Nord, Bel-Air, Picpus
More than half of the 12th is made up of beautiful green spaces, from the Coulée verte René-Dumont (a green walkway built on an elevated old railway) to the Boise de Vincennes and the Parc zoologique de Paris.
Perfect for families, sports fans or those who simply want a green oasis to escape to when the city gets too much.
Must see: Coulée verte René-Dumont, Cinémathèque Française, Gare de Lyon, Place de la Nation, Parcours Sportif Daumesnil, Parc zoologique de Paris, Wood of Vincennes
Salpêtrière, Paris Rive Gauche, Gare, Olympiades, Floral City, Paris, Butte-Aux-Cailles, Place D’Italie, Crouleberbe
Mixing the old with the new, the 13th arrondissement is a multicultural hub where modern towers blend in with the historic. Here you will find the Bibliothèque Nationale François Mitterrand, Paris’ main library, while the Quai de la Gare draws in the nightlife with its clubs, café and bars.
The tiny corner of Cité florale (Floral City) is a unique triangular area with individual houses, each house has its own glower garden and each street is named after a flower. Stunning in spring time!
Must see: Bibliothèque Nationale François Mitterrand, Pont Charles de Gaulle, Église Sainte-Anne de la Butte aux Cailles, Cité florale