Visiting Paris as a tourist, seeing sight after sight- like the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, and The Louvre- can get very overwhelming and exhausting. So take a break from the lines and spend time exploring Paris’ nitty-gritty- you will discover what makes Paris a world-class destination time and time again.
10. Montmartre/ Pigalle
This is the nightlife district of Paris. Home to the clubs, cabarets, and bars of Paris, this quarter is where the famous Moulin Rouge bar is found- although it is more of a tourist destination than anything. If you want a real Parisian night on the town, opt for one of the local cabarets or clubs instead; if you can get in, be sure to make your way to a dance floor- it is an oddly satisfying feeling joined all the locals, dancing their night away. Montmartre is the hill on which sits the beautiful Sacré Coeur church; here you can be sure to get one of the best views of all of Paris. The streets running around the church are considered the artist quarter of Paris, although today it is mostly commercial and geared for tourists. You won’t find much local here anymore, but it is still worth a walkthrough for the atmosphere alone.
People come to Batignolles for the relaxing, café culture commonly associated with Parisian life. All along the streets here are rows and rows of tables and chairs, perfect for a coffee, croissant, and people watching. Parks are in abundance here; although it is a bit further from the heart of Paris, people come here to experience a more laid back, Parisian way of life.
8. La Chapelle
La Chapelle in Paris is characterized primarily by its rich diversity; walking a few blocks down one of the streets will attack your senses with food from all over the world- Indian, Pakastani, and Moroccan, just to name a few. Ethnic shops and restaurants definitely dominate here, and if you are looking for traditional Parisian cuisine, this quarter may not be the place. But, this neighborhood is evolving and gentrifying, as young couples and artists are quickly realizing the draw of this diverse, immigrant population. There is still traditional Parisian architecture and important landmarks to be explored in this intensely multicultural area, but it is the atmosphere and intoxicating energy that you will remember from this area- it will surely keep you here longer than perhaps you had planned!
7. Opéra- Grands Boulevards
The quarter of the Grands Boulevards is the main shopping area of Paris. Running from the Place de la Madeleine in the 8th arrondissements to the Place de la Bastille in the 11th, this district is packed full of all the big Paris department stores. The Boulevard Haussmann is the heart of all the shopping, and if you are so inclined, hours could be spent on this street alone (credit cards, anyone?). However, this district is more than just shopping; home to some important historical sites (Place de la Bastile) as well as beautiful architectural ones, like the Opera House, one could quite easily spend their entire Parisian vacation in this district without feeling cheated in the slightest.
6. Quartier Latin
The Latin Quarter is the young, hip, vibrant part of Paris. As the traditional student quarter, covering most of the 6th arrondissement, this part of Paris is full of cafés and restaurants; you’ll find the traditional French cuisine here, but try some of the many ethnic options lining the boulevards- the street food here is divine. Boulevard Saint Michel is a famous street in Paris, filled with many little shops and bookstores- if it is raining, step into one of the many cinemas on this street! (even if you don’t speak French, it is a quintessential Paris experience). This is the young Paris; partiers and locals give this quarter its pulse. However, if you are looking for a peaceful stay, do not be based here, as the music and laughter continue until the early morning hours!
5. Saint Germain des Près-Odéon
Saint Germain is one of the more upscale, posh neighborhoods of Paris. It is in this neighborhood that you will find the impeccably dressed and proper Parisians out for a stroll (even the carriage-pushing mothers are perfectly coiffed in Dior or Chanel). The streets are lined with many artistic shops and galleries, although the best artists often line the promenade along the Seine! The food is great, although a bit more upscale than some of the other neighborhoods, but there are some little food stands tucked in and amongst the narrow streets that offer some cheaper, local alternatives.
4. Invalides- École Militaire
This part of Paris is largely administrative. It contains many impressively large buildings, like the French National Assembly, as well as the house of the Prime Minister and the Musée d’Orsay. This area is also home to one of the most visited landmarks in all of Europe, the Eiffel Tower. Around the Eiffel Tower, the crowds are often overwhelming and the lineups are usually long, but once you get your obligatory “holding up the Eiffel Tower” picture, wander away from the crowds and toward the quieter, more residential streets. Here you will find some of the best architecture in Paris, and you can spend hours exploring the many streets and important buildings. This part of town (away from the Eiffel Tower, of course) feels very local; there are plenty of little cafés and patches of green where you will see Parisians enjoying their lunch breaks. It may not be as flashy as some of the other Parisian districts, but there is a certain authenticity that almost makes you feel as if you are a Parisian yourself!
3. Notre Dame- Ile de La Cité
Few tourists see Paris without a visit to the famed Notre Dame Cathedral; in fact, it is one of the Paris landmarks that should not be missed. But, few realize that the cathedral is actually centered on an island in the middle of the Seine, the Ile de la Cité. This is essentially the center, the heart, of Paris. One of the first settled locations in Paris, it has grown and evolved over the years into a vibrant neighborhood, although it still maintains much of its original, Parisian charm. Accommodation is extremely pricey on the island though, so your best bet is to stay off the island itself, but there are plenty of quaint streets and traditional architecture to fill up your day- and your memory card!
Hip, edgy, diverse, modern, and traditional: all words used to describe the Bastille neighborhood in Paris. Popular with students, young adults, and artists, the Bastille streets are filled with eating and shopping options; here is where you go if you are looking for something Parisian without breaking the bank. And due to this area’s role in the French Revolution, the Bastille neighborhood has some of the richest history in the country, and even the rest of Europe. Bastille is definitely a fun place to hang out and discover the nitty-gritty of Paris, and staying here won’t break the bank either!
1. Le Marais
In recent years, Le Marais has become a hip, chic place to live. Situated in the 4th arrondissement on the north bank of the Seine, it has row after row of beautiful historical buildings and quaint residential homes. The narrow streets are home to many local artisan shops and second-hand thrift stores, as well as countless local cafés and restaurants. Since the opening of the Pompidou Centre (an architectural interest in its own right), this area has become quite popular with tourists, although it still maintains a feeling of authentic Paris sometimes lost around some of the more famous landmarks.