Audrey Hepburn couldn’t have been more right, Paris is a magical city. But it can be enhanced greatly by choosing the right area in which to stay! The neighborhoods in Paris (or Arrondissements) are numbered 1 to 20 and are set out in a spiral radiating from the center. The center of this spiral pattern is the magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral on Ile de la Cite (one of the islands in the middle of the Seine river).
To help you decide where to stay in Paris, I am going to give you a run-down of each of the arrondissements, including attractions nearby, and the pros and cons of each neighborhood. My favorite arrondissements for accommodation are The 5th, the 3rd & 4th (Le Marais), 10th, 14th, and 20th; read on below for why!
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Price Point: $$ Attractions: Left Bank, Arènes de Lutèce, Pantheon, Ménagerie, le zoo du Jardin des Plantes, Arab Institute, Sorbonne, Paradis Latin Cabaret Visit vs. Stay: Stay
Hands down my favorite part of Paris in which to stay, the 5th is a great mix of lovely 4-star hotels as well as affordable 2-star accommodation and hostels; cheap eats (left bank) and lovely bistros (place de la Contrescarpe); history (rue Mouffetard) and innovation (Arab Institute). Flush with restaurants of varying styles, permanent markets, and great bars, the 5th Arrondissement is a great area in which to base yourself. I find it especially good if you want varied restaurant options on your doorstep without having to take a metro. I recommend staying at the Hôtel Agora or Villa Pantheon.
Pros: A vibrant student vibe, many restaurants and markets, and interesting historic monuments that aren’t the tourist hot spots. Cons: You may have to take a couple of metros to get here as it sits off the main RER trunk lines.
Fun fact: Rue Mouffetard is built on one of the oldest roads in Paris – dating back to the Neolithic period, this avenue was once part of the road that leads to Italy. Luckily, it survived the Haussmann redevelopment of the late 1800s and therefore retains its old Parisian charm
Paris 3: Northern Marais
Price Point: $$$ Attractions: Le Marais, Musée National Picasso, Musée Carnavalet Visit vs. Stay: Stay
Paris’s 3rd arrondissement is small and makes up the northern part of the area known as Le Marais. With small winding streets and lovely restaurants, the Marais is great for people-watching, museums, and art galleries. Home to one of the lesser-known museums, Musée Carnavalet, which shows the history of Paris [currently closed until 2020 for a huge refurbishment], the 3rd is great for art lovers.
Pros: Winding streets and art galleries Cons: Can be expensive due to its proximity to the river
Fun fact: Love all things Swedish? Did you know the Swedish Institute (Institut Suédois) is in the 3rd – you can even take lessons here, or just hang out at their café!
Price Point: $$$$ Attractions: Le Marais, Ile de la Cite, Ile de Louis, Notre Dame Visit vs. Stay: Stay Encompassing half of Ile de la Cite, all of Ile de Louis (the islands in the Seine), and the southern part of Le Marais, the 4th Arrondissement is obscenely popular. With some of the most spectacular real estate in Paris, this waterfront area is on the expensive end of the accommodation spectrum. I recommend staying at Hôtel Saint-Louis en l´Isle or Hôtel Marais Paris Caron de Beaumarchais.
Pros: The center of everything – great views of La Seine, the winding streets of Marais, and the boutiques of Ile de Louis. Cons: With popularity comes tourists, and with tourists come grumpy waiters. Yes, you may get the best views of the Seine and Notre Dame, but that can come at the price of consistency and temperament!
Paris 10: Canal Saint-Martin
Price Point: $$ Attractions: Canal Saint-Martin Visit vs. Stay: Stay
Popular with the hipsters and neo-bohemians, this area is wonderful in summer. Sitting along the canal with a beer and watching the world go by is a dream. Come here for vintage clothes shopping and relaxation. I recommend staying at the Le Citizen Hôtel.
Pros: Cheaper than other arrondissements, yet still close to the central attractions, and has both Gard du Nord and Gard d’Est within its boundaries Cons: Can be overcrowded with young people and get a bit rowdy.
Fun fact: Have you seen the movie Amélie? The scene where she skims the stones from the bridge is on the Canal Saint-Martin.
Paris 14: Montparnasse
Price Point: $$ Attractions: Montparnasse Tower, Montparnasse Cemetery, The Catacombs, Theatre district Visit vs. Stay: Stay
In my mind, Montparnasse is one of the most underrated arrondissements in Paris for tourists. It does sit a little bit further out from the river, but it is still walkable and with the incredible transport options in Paris, you’re never too far away from the action. I recommend staying at Hôtel Le M.
Pros: Lots of quality but cheap hotels + some of the best views from Montparnasse Tower Cons: The usual cons of being near a major transport hub – it can be a bit rough around the edges
Fun fact: The Montparnasse Tower has one of the fastest lifts in the world – going up to 60 km/h up to the viewing area.
Paris 20: Belleville
Price Point: $ Attractions: Père Lachaise Cemetery, Parc de Belleville Visit vs. Stay: Stay
Home to the Père Lachaise Cemetery, this area is now super trendy. Stay here if you want an authentic Parisian experience, great views (from Parc de Belleville), and great street art! I recommend a few nights at the Nadaud Hôtel.
Pros: Cheap and authentic Cons: There are some hills in this arrondissement, so not always ok for those with mobility issues.
Fun fact: Visiting Père Lachaise cemetery? Get off the metro at the Gambetta stop rather than the Père Lachaise metro stop, as this allows you to walk DOWN the hill rather than UP!
Where to Visit and Not Stay In Paris
Paris 1: Louvre
Price Point: $$$$ Attractions: The Louvre, Jardins des Tuileries, Sainte Chapelle Visit vs. Stay: Visit
Paris’s premier arrondissement is full of grand statues and gardens, and expensive shops. It is definitely an area you visit, as it is home to some of Paris’s most famous attractions, but it wouldn’t be somewhere I’d recommend staying. Especially if you want a more authentic Parisian experience.
Fun fact: Goats are employed by the Louvre to keep some of the harder-to-reach grass areas tidy in the Jardin des Tuileries. They have their own huts and happily munch away on the grass in the gardens drainage moats and ditches.
Paris 2: Bourse
Price Point: $$$ Attractions: Rue Montorgueil, Covered Passages Visit vs. Stay: Visit
One of the smallest arrondissements, La Bourse is the old business district and has a relatively commercial feel. However, it is also home to Rue Montorgueil, a pedestrianized street that is a must-see for foodies. You can also visit some of Paris’s covered passages – shopping alleys that are covered by the weather and are an absolute delight.
Paris 6: Saint-Germain-des-Prés
Price Point: $$$ Attractions: Palais du Luxembourg and gardens Visit vs. Stay: Visit
Identifiers on hotel sites often refer to Luxembourg or Saint Germain. There is nothing nicer than wandering through the Jardin du Luxembourg and having a picnic on one of the many chairs available around the gardens (remember, don’t sit on the grass!). Closer to the river, there are many bars and restaurants off Boulevard Saint-Germain, but this doesn’t always make for a great place to stay.
Paris 7: Eiffel Tower
Price Point: $$$ Attractions: Musée de Quai Branly, Eiffel Tower, Invalides, Rodin Museum, Musée d’Orsay Visit vs. Stay: Visit
I can’t deny that the 7th isn’t jam-packed with must-see Paris attractions – I’d rate the Musée d’Orsay as one of my favorite museums in the world. Yet, I wouldn’t choose to stay here. It is full of big avenues of embassies and grand hotels but without the cute Parisian vibe. Make sure to book a skip-the-line Eiffel Tower ticket well in advance, you can book online here.
Paris 8: Champs-Èlysèes
Price Point: $$$$ Attractions: Champs-Èlysèes, Arc de Triomphe, Le Petit Palais & Grand Palais, Lido Cabaret, Crazy Horse Cabaret Visit vs. Stay: Visit
It’s all about luxury in this arrondissement – high-end shops, fashion designers, and over-priced food. However, the 8th is also home to two of the best cabarets in Paris – the Lido (traditional can-can) and Crazy Horse (avant-garde). Book Crazy Horse tickets online here for only $123.
You can get one of the best free views in Paris from the roof terrace at Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann. While you’re there, enjoy the magnificent dome and grandeur of the department store. It’s a beautiful area to see all the Haussmann architecture, but not a lot of nightlife.
Paris 11: Roquette
Price Point: $ Attractions: Bataclan, The Smoking Museum Visit vs. Stay: Visit / Stay Cheaply The 11th is where I go for a great night out with friends. One of my favorite absinthe bars is in the 11th – Cantada II – serving over 50 varieties! Bars full of young travelers spill out onto Rue Oberkampf. I probably wouldn’t stay here for that reason – but I do enjoy a visit for the Paris nightlife! Make sure to check out my Paris guide for more of the best of Paris’s nightlife.
Paris 12: Reuilly
Price Point: $ Attractions: The Promenade Plantée Visit vs. Stay: Visit
The 12th is a residential area, but it is very green and charming if you are looking for something quieter or looking to stay for an extended period. Home to the Promenade Plantée (or La Coulèe Verte) is the original garden on an unused train line – inspiring the famous High Line in NYC, Paris did it first!
Paris 13: Place d’Italie
Price Point: $ Attractions: China Town Visit vs. Stay: Stay Cheaply
The 13th is mostly high rises, but they do have an amazing amount of murals and street art. It isn’t terribly pretty, but the multicultural nature and fabulous street art make up for that.
Price Point: $$ Another residential area, and too far out to be of interest to tourists.
Paris 16: Trocadero / Bois de Boulogne
Price Point: $$$ Visit vs. Stay: Visit Attractions: Bois de Boulogne, Trocadero, Paris Museum of Modern Art, Louis Vuitton Foundation
On the opposite side of the river from the Eiffel Tower, the 16th arrondissement is full of grand hotels, art nouveau architecture, and lovely parks. It’s one of the wealthiest areas in Paris, and as such, it isn’t the cheapest place to stay!
The 17th is a bit further out than I’d choose to stay and is right near the ring road for Paris. If you are driving in, then it isn’t a bad option.
Paris 18: Montmartre
Price Point: $$ Attractions: Sacre Coeur, Moulin Rouge, Montmartre, The ‘I Love You’ Wall Visit vs. Stay: Visit
Montmartre is punctuated at the highest point with the most gorgeous Sacré-Cœur Basilica. Rising like an angel at the top of the hill, Sacré-Cœur has become somewhat burdened by its own success. The area behind Sacré-Cœur is flush with tourist restaurants and artists touting their skills. Montmartre is actually part of the much larger 18th arrondissement, and there is great diversity in this area. I would avoid Pigalle (the red-light district) – I wouldn’t say it is outright dangerous, just a bit ragged around the edges! Get a more authentic French cabaret experience by going to Au Lapin Agile instead of Moulin Rouge – it is folk music, rabble-rousing and poetry instead of the can-can! The 18th, and particularly Montmartre, is worth a visit, but I prefer not to stay here. I’d suggest a walking tour, they can be booked here for under $20.
Pros: Fabulous views from Sacré-Cœur and cheap textile shops Cons: There are some dodgy areas, and it is a very hilly area – so not great for those with limited mobility.
Paris 19: Canal de l’Ourcq
Price Point: $ Attractions: Canal de l’Ourcq, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, Parc de la Villette Visit vs. Stay: Stay cheaply
Providing cheap accommodation not far from Gard du Nord and Gard de l’Est, the 19th provides a more authentic Parisian experience, as more Parisians can actually afford to live out here. There is a pretty canal and the wonderful Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. And while it is further out of the city, it provides a multicultural atmosphere and convenient hotels near the main northern train stations.
We hope we’ve helped explain all the neighborhoods in Paris and helped you decide where to stay in Paris. We’d love to hear from you and see what part of Paris you stayed in and how your trip was. Was there anything you think we should add to our Paris guide? Leave us a comment below!
Have you traveled to Paris? Where did you stay in Paris and would you recommend it? We would love to hear your travel stories, leave a comment below.
Author Bio: Hannah Henderson from HH Lifestyle Travel is a travel writer and photographer. Raised in New Zealand, she now splits her time between Scotland and France; and traveling with her musician husband and dog ‘Moose’.