Neighbourhood guide: Navigate your way around Paris like a local

Aug 28 2018, 11:58 pm

The City of Lights (or depending on your mood, the City of Love) is divided up into 20 districts, known as arrondissements. These neighbourhoods define not only the Parisian map, but its history, culture and citizenry.

Once you’ve nailed down the things to do and places to drink in Paris, and topped it off with some Instagram inspiration (priorities, people), it’s now time to get oriented.

Navigating the city, and conversations with locals, will often involve these arrondissements (Parisians can get quite attached to their hoods), so here’s a guide to help you get comfortable with daily life in Paris.

Getting Oriented 

The city is unofficially divided into two parts: la Rive Gauche (meaning: “the left bank”/“side” of the Seine River) and la Rive Droite (“the right bank”/“side” of the Seine). 

This aquatic partition is one of the keys to getting oriented. The Seine flows across the city, with many major landmarks within walking distance of the river. Getting across from one side to another is easy, with tons of lovely bridges for both car and pedestrian traffic. The city’s subway system also has great coverage and gets you around quite easily.

Deciphering a Parisian address is another key to getting familiar with the city. The postal code system is a simple way to understanding the city. Take postal code 75005, for example. The last two digits of the postal code is the arrondissement; so here the final “05” means the address would be somewhere in the 5th arrondissement. Once you get a hang of this, it’ll make finding that spot on Google Maps that much easier. 

paris neighbourhood

Arrondissements of Paris. (Shutterstock)

1st arrondissement

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Kellie Paxian 💃🏼 (@kelliepaxian) on

Home to the Louvre museum and the lovely Jardin des Tuileries (Royal garden), this former heart of power in old Paris is still one of the city’s most important neighbourhoods. Kick back on one of the iconic saje green chairs surrounding the garden pools to live your best Parisian life.

Also home to high-end shopping, check out Place Vendome for Parisian couture boutiques. It’s a favourite of many due to its pristinely manicured grounds and magnificent architecture, but haters will always point out its over-abundance of tourists.

2nd arrondissement

A very popular and centrally located neighbourhood, the 2nd is walking distance to many major landmarks including the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Explore Rue Montorgueil for tons of good restaurants, terraces and bars. It’s also home to Passage des Panoramas and the Japanese quarter along Rue Sainte-Anne.

3rd and 4th arrondissements

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by ZEDD PARIS (@zedd.dc) on

Home to the popular Marais & North Marais districts. A fashionable area filled with boutiques and galleries. Once the city’s Jewish quarter, there are still many kosher and falafel restaurants mixed in among the hip shopping and drinking options. Walk along Rue des Rosiers for a great local experience and stop by L’as du Fallafel for one Paris’ best sandwiches. The 3rd is home to the Carnavelet Museum and Picassco Museum, and main attractions of the 4th are the picnic-perfect square Place des Vosges, the artistic masterpiece Centre Pompidou, and the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral.

5th arrondissement

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by movementektb (@movementektb) on

Informally known as the Latin Quarter, this area sits on the left bank of the Seine with great views of Notre Dame. It really comes alive at night. Highlights include the botanical gardens, the Pantheon, the charming Shakespeare and Co book shop, and the National Museum of Natural History. Overflowing with cafes, it’s a great area to walk around and explore.

6th arrondissement

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Pramote SEEMAK (@newpartons) on

The Jardin du Luxembourg park is the main draw here. Boul Saint-Germain-des-Pres is typical Paris from the movies, with beautiful old streets and sidewalk cafés where old artists and writers used to hang out. A bit posh but lovely.

7th arrondissement

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Carin Olsson (@parisinfourmonths) on

Home of the Eiffel Tower, Champ de Mars, Les Invalides military museum, Musée d’Orsay and Napoleon’s tomb. This is Paris at its grandest — a sightseeing mecca.

8th arrondissement

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Kellie Paxian 💃🏼 (@kelliepaxian) on

The iconic Grand Palais, Place de la Concorde, Avenue des Champs Elysées and Arc de Triomphe are what define this arrondissement. These famous landmarks, within walking distance to Eiffel Tower, are perfect for a day of classic Paris sightseeing. Mostly surrounded by high-end hotels and shops, BJV Champs Elysees Monceau hostel is well located and more budget-friendly option. Sex and the City lovers can have their Carrie Bradshaw moment at Hotel Plaza Athénée.

9th arrondissement

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by julianasneves (@juliananevesds) on

Famed for the Pigalle/Saint-Georges neighbourhood, this area is known for its red light district and other late night action. Make sure to walk along the famous Rue des Martyrs for great local sightseeing.

10th arrondissement

This is primarily a local area where more affordable Airbnbs and dining options can be found. Buzzing pubs can be found along the Canal Saint-Martin, and the Gare du Nord train station is a great launchpad for exploring the rest of Europe.

11th arrondissement

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Marina Alexander (@marinaalex0510) on

Home to the Bastille, Parmentier, and Oberkampf neighbourhoods, this is one of the most-loved local neighbourhoods. Full of classic brasseries, markets, new hipster joints, and speakeasies, you can also find relatively affordable accommodation here. Check out the action and people-watching surrounding Place de la Bastille, bar-hop along Rue de Lappe, and browse through the shops of Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine.

12th arrondissement

This quieter neighbourhood is home to the Bois de Vincennes park, as well as the shopping centre Bercy Village.

13th arrondissement

Easy walking distance from the Latin Quarter, the 13th is home to Paris’ Chinatown, with many delicious Asian eateries. You can also find the tapestry workshop Manufacture des Gobelins.

14th arrondissement

Also known as Montparnasse, this area is charming but admittedly a little creepy! This is due to the Catacombs museum entrance, which will take you into an underground network where the skeletons of nearly six million people are intricately stacked (read more in our guide on things to do in Paris). But above ground, you can find beautiful architecture and charming cafés aplenty.

15th arrondissement

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Régine Semaan (@reginesemaan) on

This quieter, nontouristy arrondissement is actually the largest in the city. Home to the Tour Montparnasse, the tallest tower in Paris (with an epic view of the Eiffel Tower) as well as the Gare Montparnasse train station.

16th arrondissement

Paris’ answer to New York’s Upper East Side, this is where the posh Parisians reside. Stroll through these streets to see how the ritzy and affluent live, and check out the Palais de Tokyo Fondation Louis Vuitton.

17th arrondissement

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by andrescantorgol (@andrescantorgol) on

Make sure to check out the lively square of Place de Clichy, the vibrant market street of Rue de Levis, and top off your day with a mouthwatering pizza at Mamma Primi.

18th arrondissement

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Paris [email protected] #ThisisParis (@paris) on

Montmartre. This famous district is home to the Sacré-Cœur basilica and the Moulin Rouge. It’s an elevated area with winding streets and great city views. Tons of options to eat and drink. If looking for budget accommodations, Monclair Montmartre is a great choice.

19th arrondissement

Here you’ll find Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, one of the biggest park in Paris and a good option to stroll, jog, or relax. The park also offers a nice restaurant called the Pavillon du Lac and a trendy bar called Rosa Bonheur.

20th arrondissement

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Mathis Cadalen (@ma_thematik) on

Right on the outskirts of Paris, the final arrondissement is laid-back and industrial feeling. Straddling both the 19th and 20th is Belleville, a truly local neighbourhood mixed with Algerian eateries and a bustling little Chinatown. Lots of local joints and friendly residents. Try Chair de Poule, a local bar with a great laid back vibe. Visit Père Lachaise, La Campagne à Paris, as well as Parc de Belleville for beautiful scenery and lovely city views.

With files from Kellie Paxian and Jason Najum.