Where To Stay in Paris: Paris Arrondissements
Before deciding where to stay in Paris, it is important to know a little about the arrondissement where the hotel or apartment is located. In general, hotels in arrondissements close to Paris’ city center or near Paris’s must-see sights will be more expensive. It’s important to decide if price is more important than location and vice versa before deciding where to begin looking for accommodations. This is not to say that deals cannot be found in some of Paris’ more desirable arrondissements , it’s just a bit more challenging. And, rest assured, most of Paris arrondissements are completely safe.
What is an arrondissement?
The city of Paris is organized according to a system of arrondissements (municipal districts / neighborhoods) that spiral out from the center of Paris beginning with 1 and going all the way through 20. (see the Paris arrondissement map below). Paris’ arrondissements are identified by the last two digits of address postal codes, and are typically written as 17eme or 17e arr.
Regardless of where you stay in Paris, every arrondissement is well connected by a wonderful Métro (subway) system that allows you to travel to any point in the city with no more than one transfer. Have a look at our arrondissement map below, to see how the city is laid out.
The 1st Arrondissement is the center of the old city of Paris and it is a great place to stay in Paris. It is located on the Right Bank (Rive Droit) of the Seine, and is home to many beautiful historic buildings, the Louvre Museum, the adjacent Jardins des Tuileries and the elegant Place Vendome. Because of its central location, hotels in this area tend to be more expensive. The advantage to staying here is that you are within walking distance of some of the top tourist destinations and restaurants in Paris and the area is very safe, as is most of Paris.
More information on the 1st Arrondissement
The 2nd Arrondissement is also located on the Right Bank and is principally known as the stock exchange and business district. The eastern end contains the garment district. While this is not an exciting tourist destination, it is a safe and quiet area with more affordable accommodations.
More information on the 2nd Arrondissement
As shown on the Paris Arrondissement map above, the 3rd Arrondissement encompasses part of the Marais district, a former swamp that is now a trendy, art-filled neighborhood. This safe area also has a great Jewish quarter with excellent restaurants and shops. Be sure to check out the lovely Musée Picasso while you are here.
More information on the 3rd Arrondisement
The 4th Arrondissement is at the heart of Medieval Paris. Many prominent tourist sites such as Notre Dame, St. Chapelle, and the National Museum of Art in the Pompidou Center are all here. The Marais spills into the 4e arr. and contains the Place des Vosges, known as the most beautiful square in Europe.
More information on the 4th Arrondissement
The 5th Arrondissement is located on the Left Bank (Rive Gauche) and has been known as the Latin Quarter since the early 13th century because the Sorbonne University professors and students all spoke Latin. It is still considered to be the intellectual center of Paris, and is now filled with a variety of bohemian restaurants and bookshops. The 5th Arrondissement is also in close proximity to the glorious Luxembourg Gardens . Foodies will enjoy the food shops and cafés on Rue Mouffetard.
More information on the 5th Arrondissement
The 6th Arrondissement, also known as St. Germain de Prés, is a colorful part of the Left Bank that was once the favorite haunt of Ernest Hemingway and the artist Eugène Delacroix. Today you can stroll the famous Boulevard St. Germain, or find the former homes of famous authors on Rue Jacob. The gorgeous Luxembourg Gardens are in this district as well.
Travel Tip:The little street in this district, called Cherche-Midi has some great little local restaurants including Midi Vins at 83 Cherche-Midi.
More information on the 6th Arrondissement
The Eiffel Tower, one of the most recognized landmarks and European tourist attractions in the world, is located in the 7th Arrondissement. The Invalides, which holds Napoleon’s tomb, and the Musée d‘Orsay are also found here. The controversial Musée du Quai Branly (African and Oceanic arts museum) is also located in this arrondissement.
Travel Tip: At a booth near the Eiffel Tower, you can now rent an iPad loaded with travel apps to help you make the most of your Parisian adventure.
More information on Paris’s 7th Arrondissement
The Right Bank’s 8th Arrondissement is where you’ll find the glitz, glamour, and elegance of Paris. The Champs- Elysées, Arc de Triumph, famous fashion houses, elegant hotels and restaurants are all in this exciting and beautiful arrondissement. You may pay a little more for a hotel here, but the convenience and beauty is worth it.
Travel Tip: For the best restaurant prices and authentic French food, don’t eat on the Champs-Elysées. These restaurants are geared for tourists and the value is not good. Opt for somewhere on one of the small winding streets that branch off of the Champs- Elysées. One exception to this would be the famous Ladurée (located on the Champs-Elysées), which is worth every euro.
More information on the 8th Arrondissement
When staying in the 9th Arrondissement, you will see that it holds both the most elegant and the most tawdry areas of Paris. Pigalle, where you’ll find the now time-worn Moulin Rouge and adjacent strip joints is here, but closer in you will see the Palais Garnier, Paris’ elegant Opera house.
Travel Tip: Be sure to visit the opera; its ornate décor is over-the-top and the Chagall painted ceiling is worth the price of admission itself.
More information on the 9th Arrondissement
The 10th Arrondissement centers on the Canal St. Martin and the restaurants and cafés that line its banks. The streets along the canal become car-free zones on Saturday afternoons/evenings, and all day on Sundays to make way for the cycling and rollerblading hoards.
Two great train stations, Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est, are located here as is the historic Place de la République on the south end of the arrondissement. This area has become quite trendy in recent years. Train stations tend to attract itinerants and pickpockets; be on the alert.
More information on Paris’s 10th Arrondissement
The Opera Bastille has helped to revitalize the once dreary 11th Arrondissement. There are more than a few good restaurants here to tempt you as well.
Travel Tip: This is a great place to stay. The area is safe and less expensive than the closer arrondissements. There are also plenty of good restaurants within walking distance.
More information on the 11th Arrondissement
The 12th Arrondissement has been totally revitalized and is now the new, trendy spot in Paris for the younger crowd. Known as Bercy, this area is considered by many to be the “new Saint-Germain”. The métro meteor (line 14) makes Bercy a short 10 minutes from the Madeleine stop in the center of Paris.
Travel Tip: The Parc de Bercy is a 26-acre garden at one end of this Arrondissement; at the other end you will find the restaurants, shops, and cinemas that are infusing this area with new life and excitement.
More information on Paris’s 12th Arrondissement
The 13th Arrondissement centers on the Gare de Austerlitz, and is another area that has little to offer the tourist, unless you have a passion for tapestries. The Manufacture des Gobelins (a textile manufacturer) is located here at 42 ave des Gobelins.
More information on Paris’s 13th Arrondissement
Largely residential, the 14th Arrondissement is best known for Montparnasse (both the station and the towering skyscraper (Tour Montparnasse), the Paris Catacombs, and the Parc Montsouris. The Cité Universitaire is also found in this district as well as lively cafés and restaurants around the Boulevard du Montparnasse and the rue Daguerre.
Travel Tip: The northern end of the district was the home to many American ex-pats and other famous members of the literati; Hemmingway, Henry Miller, F. Scott Fitzgerald, T.S. Eliot, Alice B. Tolkas, Gertrude Stein, to name but a few. At the southern end, you’ll find a quiet residential area.
More information on the 14th Arrondissement
The 15th Arrondissement is a quiet residential area that was once the home of the artists Mogdliani, Chagall and Leger. There are few tourist sights here except for the Parc de Expositions.
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The former village of Passy, the 16th Arrondissement, is a lovely residential area that holds great charm for the tourist who is looking for refined calm. This safe arrondissement has beautiful boulevards, such as the ave d’Iena, ave Foch and ave Victor Hugo as well as the exquisite Bois de Bologne Park. Some wonderful museums are here, including the Guimet, the Marmottan, and the Balzac. And you can get a great view of the Eiffel Tower, just across the river, from the place de Trocadero. Check the Paris arrondissement map above.
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The 17th Arrondissement is pretty much a nice residential area and has few tourist sights. It borders on the Arc de Triumph and can be a good lodging choice if you don’t mind being a bit away from the city center.
Travel Tip:The nearby La Defense business district has many hotels and is a safe and clean area.
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The 18th Arrondissement, one of the most popular outer areas of Paris, Montmartre, attracts many visitors to its colorful street artists and stately Sacre Coeur church. Some of the world’s greatest artists lived here, notably Picasso, Matisse, Max Jacob, Utrillo and Renoir. There are some charming eateries in this area.
Travel Tip: Unfortunately, the area is now also home to prostitutes and souvenir shops. And some of the “street artists” are rip-off artists as well; don’t feel obligated to buy anything you did not ask for, even if they made it “just for you”! Watch out for people trying to tie bracelets on your wrist. They will trick you into buying them. Keep an eye on your wallet when you’re in this area.
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The 19th Arrondissement, an ethnically rich area, is home to the Museum of Science and Industry, an absolutely wonderful museum. You will also find the Buttes-Chaumont which is a great place for children to enjoy donkey rides and puppet shows.
Travel Tip: There are some excellent African and Middle Eastern restaurants in this area that offer quality cuisine for low prices. Look to see which ones are bustling with locals and eat there.
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The 20th Arrondissement is another ethnically diverse area. People from all of France’s former empire can be found here, bringing their own cultures with them. The most famous landmark is the Père Lachaise Cemetery that is the final resting place for Oscar Wilde, Isadora Duncan, Colette, Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison of the Doors and a host of other celebrities and politicians.
Travel Tip: If you visit the Père Lachaise cemetery, be sure to look for the grave of Victor Noir; there is a life size statue of him lying dead, killed by Pierre Bonaparte. Interestingly, the statue is said to have fertility powers.
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No matter where you stay, Paris is quite safe and one of the most beautiful cities on earth. Enjoy!
Written by Terri Fogarty and Jen Westmoreland Bouchard for EuropeUpClose.com