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A brief Paris neighborhood guide
The City of Lights. The City of Love. Home of (basically) every delicious food. Inventors of perfume and scented candles. Centre of culture, arts, and fashion. What more could you want? Well, perhaps a quick and easy neighborhood guide to where to find all of it! Figuring where to live and spend your time in Paris’s many neighborhoods can be a perplexing and overwhelming part of planning a trip or moving to Paris. But it doesn’t have to be! Let’s take a walk through a few of Paris’s charming neighborhoods!
The Louvre, from inside the famed pyramid
The center of Paris, the 1er (first) arrondissement is where tourists will spend the majority of their time. The Louvre (obviously), the Palais Royal, luxury shopping at Place Vendome, the Musée de l’Orangerie, and *half* of the Ile de la Cite – the half that contains Sainte-Chapelle, but *not* the half that contains Notre Dame de Paris.
And this division of a small island between two different arrondissements, is a perfect example of why, generally, you shouldn’t get too bogged down in the arrondissement numbering system. Just keep that handy map open.
So, from here, I think it’s more helpful to discuss some neighborhoods in terms of how people refer to them, in conjunction with their numbers, rather than plowing through the arrondissements in numbered order.
Le Marais (2eme/4eme)
Place des Vosges, Le Marais, Paris
Le Marais is, a favorite neighborhood in Paris. Great food, excellent shopping, and plenty of history, Le Marais genuinely has everything one could want out of Paris. It’s Paris as you dreamed it would be.
A relic of medieval Paris, Le Marais escaped the leveling and subsequent imposition of uniformity that Baron Haussmann unleashed on the rest of the city in the late 19th century. Today, it’s a prosperous area, with small, winding streets, and aristocratic mansions, transitioned into museums, flats, and shops. While naturally a spot frequented by tourists, Le Marais has a more local, less bustling feel than, say, the Opera district.
Picnicking on Ile Saint Louis, Paris
The “other” half of the IVe arrondissement includes the Notre Dame half of Ile de la Cite, along with the other island in the Seine, Ile Saint Louis. Absolutely plan to block out an evening to stroll through Ile Saint Louis, and, even better, consider having a picnic, en plein air, on this gorgeous island in the middle of the Seine.
If the allure of luxury shopping brought you to France, this is the Paris neighborhood for you! You guessed it, here you’ll find the Champs-Élysées. In addition to the “Champs” itself, you’ll also find high-end housing. This is some of the most expensive real estate in the world! Just north of the Champs, you’ll find the charming La Madeleine neighborhood. If you’re looking for a less intense luxury shopping experience, stop by the nearby rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
Left Bank (5eme, 6eme, 7eme)
The Eiffel Tower
You will undoubtedly fall in love with Paris’s Left Bank (Rive Gauche) – the “lower” section of Paris on the “Left” bank of the Seine – it’s the left if you’re going along the Seine consistent with the river’s current. Similar to Le Marais, the Left Bank is old and made new again – with yet more fancy shopping, world-class museums, and restaurants to entice any traveler.
Strolling on Paris’s Left Bank
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Left Bank, which includes the Latin Quarter, the Paris Pantheon, the Luxembourg Gardens, Les Invalides (and Napoleon’s Tomb), and the Rodin Museum, definitely deserves more than one visit. Oh and did I mention the Eiffel Tower?
The Moulin Rouge, Montmartre, Paris
Montmartre is on every Paris visitor’s bucket list – and for good reason. This historic hill, formerly outside of Paris and now very much a part of the city, is home to winding streets, charming alleys, and romantic cafes. It’s one of the “farthest” arrondissements you’re likely to visit during your time in Paris, and the Metro will undoubtedly be the mode of transport, as it’s not easily walkable from the center of the city. Once you arrive, you’ll be doing quite a bit of walking up and down the hill. It is quite a fun experience to rent a Velib bicycle and ride quickly down the hill.
However, pay close attention, along with its artists and ramblers, Montmartre also boasts the worst pickpockets in France.
Home to many of the iconic Haussmann boulevards, you’ll want to visit, don’t miss Galeries Lafayette and the Opera Garnier if you’re a Phantom of the Opera fan. But keep in mind: the section near the Opera Garnier is *extremely crowded and touristy* at almost any time of day.
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