You have decided to make that trip and visit France, and not just anywhere in France, but Paris! You are about to discover why so many people consider Paris to be one of the most magical cities in Europe, but you have to decide where in Paris you’d like to stay when you get there. Fortunately, there’s an abundance of great neighborhoods (called arrondissements or quarters) to choose from in Paris, so no matter where you choose, there’s sure to be lots of great places to eat and lovely sites to explore, but some areas may work better for you than others. This guide will help you to decide which neighborhood in Paris would be a good fit for you, and will also offer some tips and general tricks on how to fully enjoy your time in “The City of Love.” Whether it’s your first time to Paris or you are looking for new areas to visit and explore, diving into the individual neighborhoods is a great way to prepare yourself for Paris and to help ensure that you don’t miss anything – and with a city this fabulous, there is much to see and do.
Some tips on how to choose the best hotels and neighborhoods to stay in Paris:
- Staying in Paris for the first time can be an overwhelming experience for new travelers, but you can rest assured that, no matter what area you choose to stay in, the fabulous Paris Metro can take you all over the city with ease. So, even if you aren’t keen on the area you’re staying, you can get to other areas in Paris without a problem.
- No matter which neighborhood you choose, it’s recommended that you stay in a hotel that has easy access to the metro or bus system as this is the most convenient (and inexpensive) way to travel around the city and having to walk a long way to the metro stop can get tiresome after days of site seeing.
- Choose a neighborhood that works for your budget. Paris can be an expensive city, so choosing an area that you can afford is key to ensuring that you don’t blow your entire budget on accommodations. Alternatively, if you’re in the area for a special visit, Paris is perfect for those once in a lifetime visits – so shop around for a hotel with these details in mind.
- If you find that, during your research, there are a few areas you’d like to stay in, don’t be afraid to book with multiple hotels. As long as you don’t mind moving your luggage around the city, you can travel quickly and easily around Paris, which will allow you to explore multiple neighborhoods during your visit.
Popular Neighborhoods to Stay in Paris
Choosing which neighborhood to stay in Paris can be a little daunting, but the following will help you to decide which area would be best. Each arrondissement in Paris is unique and has its own great attractions, and this list highlights some of the top areas in Paris and what to expect in each neighborhood.
- Saint Germain: In the 6th arrondissement, Saint Germain (also known as Saint Germain des Prés) is king. With high-end shopping, eateries, and iconic cafés, Saint Germain is hip and modern, while also retaining its quintessential Parisian charm. A great neighborhood if you like to shop or love to eat.
- Montmartre: The 18th arrondissement is home to Montmartre, one of the most famous neighborhoods in all of Paris and for good reason. This was once the home of legendary artists, including Picasso, Renoir, Modigliani and many more. If you love quaint neighborhoods with vibrant histories, as well as a thriving art scene, and great dining options, Montmartre is for you!
- The Latin Quarter: In the 5th arrondissement, the The Latin Quarter is home to the Sorbonne University and the streets are lined with budget-conscience cafés and is known for its fantastic bookshops, and other cultural landmarks including the final resting places of Marie Curie and Voltaire – history lovers and book fans, rejoice as this area is perfect for you!
- Eiffel Tower Area: Located in the 7th arrondissement, the Eiffel Tower Area is known for stunning landmarks and world-famous museums, including the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée Rodin. Art lovers and history buffs will love this stunning neighborhood!
- Le Marais: Also known as “SoMa,” for South Marais, this trendy district in the 4th arrondissement is full of fashionable boutiques, galleries, and more. If you’re looking for a chic place to stay, then consider staying in Le Marais.
1. Saint Germain: High-End Shopping and Upscale Eateries
If you’re looking for a neighborhood with amazing shopping, trendy cafés, and fantastic history, then look no further than Saint Germain. Once a haven for forward-thinkers and avant-garde artists, including Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Hemmingway, Picasso, this neighborhood is in a class all its own and still features the same wonderful haunts that celebrities of bygone eras used to frequent (Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore). If it’s shopping you’re after, Saint Germain is home to one of the world’s first department stores, Le Bon Marché, in addition to other great boutiques and shops, so this area is wonderful if you love shopping. If you’re looking for a little slice of history during your visit to Paris, then consider the Saint Germain neighborhood for your home away from home when you are staying in the city.
Top attractions that are nearby Saint Germain:
- Le Odéon Theatre: If you want to experience a bit of culture in your visit, stop by Le Odéon Theatre and enjoy the neoclassical façade and stunning interior before settling in for a performance – there’s even a café outside if you’re just passing through the area!
- Café Les Deux Magots: Once this café was the place where the intellectual elite met and debated, and today it’s a popular tourist stop that you can enjoy on your visit. Imagine sitting nearby Hemmingway, or Julia Child as they enjoyed a café while you take a sip of your own coffee and absorb the historical ambiance. Open early and closes late, so feel free to stop by often!
- Le Bon Marché: This shopping complex was one of the first modern department stores in the world, and it’s still available to visit today. Choose from a variety of high-end products and other services as you shop at this historical store – perfect if you’re wanting to purchase a special gift in Paris.
Transportation options available nearby Saint Germain:
2. Montmartre: The Beautiful and Bohemian Neighborhood
With the beautiful Sacred Heart Basilica of Montmartre (Sacre-Coeur) watching over the neighborhood, it’s easy to see why Montmartre is one of the most famous areas in Paris and why so many artists throughout history have called it their home. Also called “La Butte” (the hill), Montmartre’s natural appeal lingers even today, with tourists from all over the world seeking out this beautiful neighborhood for its quaint shops, art, and eateries. When you’re deciding where to stay in Paris, consider staying an area that honors the past, but still has a vibrant and thriving atmosphere now, as Montmartre could be the perfect neighborhood for you!
Top attractions that are nearby Montmartre:
- Sacred Heart Basilica of Montmartre (Sacre-Coeur): Whether you decide to hop on the funicular and get a ride to the top of “La Butte” or you want to take the long way up and walk, the Sacred Heart Basilica of Montmartre (Sacre-Coeur) is a beautiful basilica that boasts wonderful views of Montmartre and the rest of Paris.
- Musée Grévin: This famous wax museum was founded in 1882 and is one of the oldest wax museums in Europe and predominantly features French historical figures, but this isn’t your typical wax museum! With its lovely, baroque-style décor and intriguing hall of mirrors, Musée Grévin is a truly unique place and a visit to this museum makes for one memorable experience!
- The Moulin Rouge: Famous for being the focal point of Hollywood movies and because of its own vivacious reputation, the The Moulin Rouge is a great cabaret that features live performances and is the birthplace of the can-can dance. If you’re looking for some dinnertime entertainment, you can’t go wrong with The Moulin Rouge.
Transportation options available nearby Montmartre:
3. The Latin Quarter: Hip Paris Bookshops and Vibrant Café Scene
The Latin Quarter, also known as the 5th arrondissement, is a popular neighborhood with students as the Sorbonne University is located within the area – which is good news for you because, when students are near, so are interesting places to visit and inexpensive food options to choose from. With amazing bookstores, including the famous Shakespeare and Company, as well as several arthouse cinemas. But that’s not all there is to do in The Latin Quarter, as the area also features beautiful gardens the Jardin du Luxembourg, to name one), quirky, old-world streets, and fantastic museums. The Latin Quarter really is a neighborhood with something for everyone and would make a great place for your home while you visit Paris.
Top attractions that are nearby the The Latin Quarter:
- Musée Cluny: The Musée Cluny is a national museum that features medieval arts. The museum’s building itself started as an abbey in 1334 and a public building has been maintained in the area since. With a stunning medieval collection that includes The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries, this museum is an art and history lovers dream. Don’t forget to see the ruins of a Gallo-Roman bathhouse, which are located in the same area!
- Panthéon: Originally, the Panthéon was built to hold the remains of Saint Genevieve, however, over time its original purpose was changed. Now entombed within this great structure are the remains of important French citizens, including the author, Victor Hugo, the philosopher, Voltaire, and physicist, Marie Curie. The stunning building makes for a somber, but historically rich attraction that is well worth your time.
- Saint-Sevérin Church: A beautiful church, built in the Flamboyant Gothic style, the Saint-Sevérin Church often gets overlooked in favor of more famous churches, like the Notre Dame, but if you are staying in the The Latin Quarter, and even if you aren’t, this stunning church, with its beautiful stained glass, and carved capitals is a wonderful piece of architecture. Check their schedule as the church often features organ recitals for the public – which are a real treat to witness!
Transportation options available nearby the The Latin Quarter:
4. The Eiffel Tower: Stunning Area with Landmarks and Museums
The Eiffel Tower Area, also known as the 7th arrondissement, is a stunning neighborhood that is filled with cultural attractions, including the Eiffel Tower, the Musée d’Orsay, the Musée Rodin, and more. But more than that, the area is also a hub for intrepid travelers looking for delicious French foods to eat, as there are many great restaurants and eateries located on the Rue Cler. Even if you’re finished with looking at monuments, the Eiffel Tower Area is located right along the Seine River, which always makes for a lovely walk. If you are looking for a neighborhood with great food, amazing monuments, and lots of history, then the Eiffel Tower Area may be just what you’re looking for!
Attractions that are nearby the Eiffel Tower Area:
- Eiffel Tower: Built in the late 1800s, the Eiffel Tower was once the entrance for the 1889 World’s Fair and became a symbol for the city soon after. This iconic monument still stands strong today and sees visitors from all over the world. Ride the elevator all the way to the top of this stunning attraction and get a bird’s-eye view of Paris.
- Bassins du Champ de Mars: Located near the Eiffel Tower, this park is named after the Campus Martius in Rome (which was named after the Roman god of war, Mars), and is a beautiful green space that leads up to the Eiffel Tower. Often the spot for national events, it also makes for a great space to have a picknick in Paris, so grab a fresh baguette, some cheese, and a blanket and enjoy the park as the Parisians do!
- Trocadéro Gardens: Also located near the Eiffel Tower, the Trocadéro Gardens feature beautiful gardens and lawns (which are great for picknicks and relaxing), and are also adjacent to the Palais de Chaillot, which is the home for both the Cité de l’Architecture and the National Chaillot Theatre, which happens to be one of the largest concert halls in Paris. Whether you’re just stopping by to enjoy the garden, or are in the neighborhood for a show, this area is surely worth a photo or two!
Transportation options available nearby Eiffel Tower Area:
5. Le Marais: Classic Neighborhood with Parisian Culture
With its gorgeous, pre-revolutionary architecture, cobblestone lanes, and lush public square, the Places des Vosges, Le Marais is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Paris. Le Marais was once the location of Paris’s Jewish Quarter and still retains many kosher restaurants and eateries today. The area was also the former home of famous French novelist, Victor Hugo, and is a great place to stay if you love French architecture, or are looking for trendy boutiques and galleries. For a bit of sophistication, consider making your home base in Le Marais.
Attractions that are nearby Le Marais:
- Place des Vosges: A lovely, public square that features beautiful fountains, trees, and a bronze statue of the French king, Louis XIII. The Place des Vosges is also the location where the author, Victor Hugo, once lived and his home is now a museum. With quaint shops, restaurants, and galleries rounding out the area, a visit to Place des Vosges while in Le Marais is highly recommended.
- Musée Picasso: If you love Pablo Picasso’s paintings, then this is the museum for you! Featuring over 5000 pieces created by the master, the museum also includes pieces from Picasso’s personal collection, including art by Matisse, Degas, and Cézanne. This is a very popular museum with tourists, so be certain to purchase your tickets online ahead of time to avoid disappointment if they sell out.
- Eglise Saint Paul-Saint Louis: Not as frequented as other churches in Paris, this beautiful church was originally built by Jesuits in 1627 and is an important church in Paris for their order. Free to visit, and if you are looking for a little piece of tranquility in the area, then step inside the Eglise Saint Paul-Saint Louis and appreciate the wonder this church.
Transportation options available nearby Le Marais:
- Saint-Paul Metro Station
- Saint-Sébastien Metro Station
Tips for Transportation Options in Paris:
One of the best ways to get around Paris is by taking the Paris Metropolitan (metro), which is their underground subway system. The metro has been in use since 1900 and is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to get around the city – and also one of the most economical. Taking the metro can be a little confusing for first-time users, but once you get a few trips under your belt, it will open up the city in wonderful ways. Here are a few general tips to help you navigate through the Paris Metro, as well as some information about other transportation options in the city.
- Check your Metro map before heading out. Knowing which station to enter and which station to disembark will help you avoid confusion as you travel – and keep you from looking too lost.
- Keep your eyes on your belongings! Pickpockets work on the Paris Metro and target distracted tourists. To be safe, watch your things at all times and keep any valuables in your hotel safe, if possible.
- Not all metro stations are accessible! If you have any accessibility concerns, be sure to determine whether the metro stations you are intending to use will be able to accommodate your needs. most Metro stations in Paris have a lot of stairs, which can be troublesome for some visitors.
- Keep your ticket handy! Be sure that you don’t throw away your validated ticket as, not only will you need the ticket to get out of the metro, but you will be fined if you are caught without a validated ticket.
- When in doubt, ask for help! While taking transit might seem daunting, you can always ask your hotel’s concierge or guest services for advice. Locals always know the best way to travel to the sites, so if you want to get somewhere quickly, sometimes, the best thing you can do is ask.
Other transportation options in Paris:
If you’re in a hurry or just aren’t ready to make your way through the metro, you can always opt for a taxi. Most hotels will be able to arrange a pick up for you, and they can take you all over the city without much hassle, though this will probably be the most expensive option for transit. Be sure to always get a taxi at an official taxi stand and be sure that you are certain of the rate you will be paying prior to starting out. Renting a car is also an option for seeing the city, but be warned that there are many areas that are not open to cars and the traffic in Paris can be rather congested. Be sure that you’re comfortable with driving in a major city like Paris before you rent a car, otherwise you may find that the activity is more stress than it’s worth.
If you are more comfortable with busses, Paris also has a great public bus system that can take you all over the city for cheap, though it is best to plan your route ahead of time so that you don’t get lost or miss your stop. Be aware that pickpockets work on public transit in the city, so always leave expensive valuables in your hotel safe and watch your personal items carefully.
While Paris has great options for transit, one of the best ways to see the city is on foot if you are able to. Get lost in the city and wander through the neighborhoods – a Paris stay is never complete unless you find yourself somewhere new and unfamiliar. You’re never far from a bus or metro station and sometimes the best way to see a new city is by exploring it with your own two feet. You never know what you will find when you’re able to take in Paris at a nice, walking pace, and sometimes the best hidden gems are discovered when you’re not looking for them at all!