Paris is one of the most iconic cities in the world, but for visitors with no local knowledge, deciding where to stay can be a tough choice. Being central is pretty key of course, but let’s be honest - we all want to play out our very own Parisian fantasy in a charming neighborhood lined with café terraces with the smell of freshly baked baguette wafting down the street.
Despite being known for its grandeur, the French capital has managed to keep a real sense of intimacy and community, with its 20 numbered arrondissements making up a patchwork of villages each with its own vibe, popular hangout spots and hidden gems. Locals love talking about their favourite neighborhoods and the crucial Parisian debate - which side of the Seine is the place to be, the Right or Left Bank. From bustling nightlife hotspots to shopping districts, we’ve got the six best Parisian neighborhoods to stay in.
Revered for its bohemian beginnings and fascinating history, the left bank’s student area mainly in the 5th arrondissement has always been the place to be for twenty-somethings and dreamers looking for inspiration and late night revelry. The famous Sorbonne university is at the center of Latin Quarter, so named because international students communicated in Latin here until the French Revolution. Built in the Roman village of Lutetia, the area is also full of historical curiosities - including an ancient amphitheater (Arènes de Lutèce) tucked away in what is now a local park.
Now a lively area full of bars, café terraces, lovely winding streets and bookstores, the French capital’s academic hub attracts a mixed crowd of intellectuals, travelers, wannabe writers, and students. The Shakespeare and Company opposite the regal Notre Dame is an enchanting English-language bookshop and café which doubles up as a popular hangout spot for aspiring Anglophone writers. For coffee and croissants, not to mention one of the best baguettes in town, head to Eric Kayser. Café de la Nouvelle Mairie is a great local hangout for lunch, dinner, and drinks. Rue Mouffetard, which is featured in Ernest Hemingway’s ‘A Moveable Feast’, is also not to be missed. During the day explore the lower end’s cobbled streets, lined with quaint cafés and bustling market stalls before bar hopping at night in the upper street.
La Sorbonne - Place de la Sorbonne, 75005
Arènes de Lutèce - 49 Rue Monge, 75005
Shakespeare and Company - 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005
Eric Kayser - 8 Rue Monge, 75005
Café de la Nouvelle Mairie - 19 rue des Fossés Saint Jacques, 75005
Once the heart of philosophical thinking and the post-war jazz boom, this now chic, classically Parisian neighborhood is home to lavish restaurants, designer boutiques, upmarket art galleries and classy bars. From Parisian grannies decked in Chanel to glamorous fashionistas, Saint-Germain-des-Prés attracts a classy crowd. Café de Flore or Les Deux Magots, two of the oldest cafés in Paris known for their both past and present star-studded clientele, are a must-visit. For a sophisticated night out, head to Café Laurent, a famous jazz bar once frequented by the likes of Voltaire and Rousseau. If you’re looking something a bit edgier, try Café Maubillon or Caveau des Légendes.
Café de Flore - 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006
Les Deux Magots - 6 Place Saint-Germain des Prés, 75006
Café Laurent - 33 Rue Dauphine, 75006 Paris
Café Maubillon - 164 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006
Caveau des Légendes - 22 Rue Jacob, 75006
With picture perfect streets lined with café terraces, centuries-old architecture and patisseries on every corner, the 6th Arrondissement is the epitome of classic Parisian life. The area’s main feature is the gorgeous Jardin du Luxembourg, an inner city oasis for Parisians known for its lush lawns and retro wooden boats floating on the Grand Bassin pond. For Instagram-worthy views, head to Pont Neuf, the city’s oldest bridge connecting the Rive Gauche with the historic Île de la Cité. For a quintessential Parisian wine bar packed with locals, head to Chez Georges or L’Avant Comptoir.
Jardin du Luxembourg - Rue de Médicis and Rue de Vaugirard, 75006
Chez Georges - 11 Rue des Canettes, 75006
L’Avant Comptoir - 3 Carrefour de l'Odéon, 75006
Home to touristic heavyweights including the mythical avenue des Champs-Elysées and Arc de Triomphe, the 8th arrondissement draws in tourists and well-heeled locals looking for luxury shopping, glitzy nightlife, and celebrity chef kitchens. Rue Royale leading to the famous Place de la Concorde and Avenue Montaigne are home to some of the French capital’s most luxurious haute couture shops. The glamorous right bank arrondissement also boasts some of Paris’s most beautiful bridges, including the opulent Alexandre III leading to the Grand Palais for exhibition lovers and Pont de l’Alma where you can check out a great riverside view of the Eiffel Tower. The neighborhood is also the place to go for foodies with fancy taste because of its high concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants, including Pierre Gagnaire, Le Grand Restaurant, and Le Cinq.
Pierre Gagnaire - 6 Rue Balzac, 75008
Le Grand Restaurant - 7 Rue d'Aguesseau, 75008
Le Cinq - Four Seasons Hôtel George V, 31 Avenue George V, 75008
Abundant with opulent architecture and grand boulevards, the 9th arrondissement oozes in old school Parisian charm. Two of the French capital’s oldest department stores, Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, are on Boulevard Haussmann at the heart of the area’s popular shopping district. Take a pause from shopping to check out the gorgeous view of some of the city’s most iconic sights from the rooftop gallery on the 9th floor of Printemps. The area is also home to the some of French capital’s passages couverts, beautifully covered passageways which are perfect for wandering. Check out Passage Jouffroy and Passage Verdeau, real architectural gems lined with quaint secondhand bookshops and retro antique dealers. Rue des Martyrs, a ridiculously romantic and typically Parisian street full of quaint cafés and boutiques, is also a must-see.
Galeries Lafayette - 40 Boulevard Haussmann
Deli-Cieux: Printemps rooftop terrace café, Printemps Beauté/Maison, 9th floor - 64 bd Haussmann, 75009
Musée de la Vie Romantique - 6 Rue Chaptal, 75009
Passage Jouffroy - 10-12 boulevard Montmartre - 75009
Passage Verdeau - 6 Rue de la Grange Batelière, 75009
For Parisians, Montparnasse is now largely defined by the capital’s only - and much disliked - skyscraper. While the Tour Montparnasse does stick out like a sore thumb in the romantic Parisian skyline, it’s panoramic observation deck does offer a really great view. To see the French capital in a completely different light - and on a whole other level for that matter - adventure into the dark depths of the Catacombs, an underground tunnel network filled with the bones of past Parisians.
Besides controversial architecture and eery underground labyrinths, the gritty area in the 14th arrondissement is known for its lively cafés and real-life vibe lost in some of the more flashy sections of the city. Try Le Tournesol for a young, vibrant bar full of locals or the incredibly popular Josselin, a crêperie whose specialty is two layers of galette with a filling in the middle - no wonder it’s such a favorite with the locals.
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