Top 10 neighbourhoods in Paris

Paris is an inexhaustible city with many districts full of things to see. I show you the ones you can not miss on your visit to the French capital.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

10 min read

Top 10 neighbourhoods in Paris

Notre Dame in Paris | ©Hannah Reding

Paris is a city with infinite charms spread throughout its streets and neighborhoods. The French capital has 20 districts or arrondissements. Many of them are authentic microcosms with their own atmosphere and urban life. Some are already mythical, especially for their presence in many films and novels. I refer, for example, to Montmartre, Les Halles, Le Marais... and many others!

I bring you the most interesting neighborhoods of Paris, those you can not miss. In fact, with this information you will be able to design much better your visit to the French capital. Defining which aspects of Paris you want to explore in more depth can help you make the most of your experience. To get an overview of what this city has to offer you, you can check out our post on what to see and do in Paris.

1- Montmartre neighborhood

Montmartre district| ©Ed Webster
Montmartre district| ©Ed Webster

We start with one of the most mythical places in Paris: the Montmartre district. Historically famous for being one of the epicenters of bohemian and artistic life in Paris, Montmartre is a good starting point to approach the Parisian way of life, long before it was popularized worldwide by the movie Amélie!

Undoubtedly, one of the attractions of this area (and one of its icons) is the Sacre Coeur basilica. A monument built in the late nineteenth century that is also one of the symbols of the city.

And how not to mention another of its most famous spots: the Moulin Rouge. The mythical nineteenth-century cabaret that, today, also offers various shows, although without the mischief that once made it famous. Nevertheless, it is one of the Parisian must-see par excellence. If you are interested in visiting it, you can discover here all the details on how to buy tickets for the Moulin Rouge. It is certainly not a visit for everyone, so if you are traveling with children, I recommend this article on what to see in Paris with kids.

Book a guided tour of Montmartre

2 - Saint Germain district

Saint Germain neighborhood| ©FRANCO600D
Saint Germain neighborhood| ©FRANCO600D

Undoubtedly one of the most artistic neighborhoods, but not bohemian, but elegant and stately. We are in the Paris of cafes and gatherings, where in front of a cup of frothy coffee, you could found a literary movement or write the basic principles of a Constitution.

That is, at least, the legend that surrounds one of its most famous cafés, La Procope. A place that happens to be the oldest coffee shop in Paris and the establishment that was visited by such distinguished clientele as Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Jefferson. It is not, however, the only mythical coffee shop you can visit. Among others you can also visit:

  • Café des Flore;
  • Café des Deux Magots.

You can also walk through its streets to enjoy its beautiful buildings, as well as significant monuments such as the Church of Saint Sulpice (famous for The Da Vinci Code) and the Abbey of Saint Germain Des Prés. This last monument will delight you if you like history (built in the 6th century, it is the oldest church in the city) or culture in general (the philosopher Descartes is buried there).

3 - Les Halles

The Georges Pompidou Contemporary Art Center| ©Christian del Puerto
The Georges Pompidou Contemporary Art Center| ©Christian del Puerto

One of the most central districts of the city, important until a few years ago to house an ancient medieval market. Today this enclave has been replaced by a beautiful garden that will delight you and provide a peaceful environment to rest from your walk.

Culture is no stranger to this neighborhood. In fact, you can visit the The "La Cité de l'Etoile", famous for having been the christening place of two essential personalities of French history and culture of the seventeenth century: Molière and Richelieu.

The Georges Pompidou Contemporary Art Center

But if your thing is art, and more specifically contemporary art, Les Halles is one of your essential visits in Paris. And it is there that you will find the . Undoubtedly one of the most complete and visited museums dedicated to this stage of art in the world. In it you can admire works of nothing more and nothing less than the following geniuses of art:

  • Miró
  • Picasso
  • Duchamp
  • Mattisse

And many others!

4 - Le Marais

The Marais| ©bournvillebaggie
The Marais| ©bournvillebaggie

A most elegant neighborhood, since it was for many centuries the district of residence of the Parisian nobility and high society. This is partly due to its famous which gave prestige and importance to this area, which was originally a marshy area (in Spanish, its name means "the marsh").

In fact, if you are a lover of literature you can not miss, in the same Place des Vosges, the house of Victor Hugo, the immortal author of Les Miserables or Notre Dame de Paris.

Although the best of Le Marais is to walk through its streets. Having been one of the centers of residence of the Parisian high nobility, ensures a walk full of exceptional architectural works. Today, this district has a strong gay community, so its atmosphere is totally gay-friendly through its many pubs, nightclubs and cabarets.

5 - The Latin Quarter

Luxembourg Gardens| ©Juanedc
Luxembourg Gardens| ©Juanedc

One of the liveliest areas of the capital, largely because it has traditionally been the student district of Paris. In fact, its name "Latin" responds to the Latin that was spoken in this district, being the predominant language at the Sorbonne.

Today it is, as I said, a vibrant place full of cafes, cinemas, theaters and an intense nightlife. But there are also attractions perfect for daytime discoveries. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • Luxembourg Palace and Gardens
  • The Pantheon
  • The Sorbonne University
  • Saint Michel Square
  • The legendary Shakespeare And Company bookstore

As an interesting fact, it is one of the areas in the center of Paris where prices are more affordable. Something that does not mean that they are cheap but simply not as high as those that characterize other nearby neighborhoods. A good news if we take into account that here is located the famous one of the best places to eat the typical crêpes.

6 - Observatory District

Catatombs of Paris| ©MykReeve
Catatombs of Paris| ©MykReeve

A place located on the left bank of the Seine, famous for hosting the astronomical observatory of Paris, opened in the seventeenth century. Spaces such as the Montsouris Park is also an interesting attraction, since it is a peaceful place to rest and take a break. However, the most intense attraction of the area are its Catacombs, which I will explain below.

The Catacombs of Paris

Despite its name, it is not a Christian catacomb in the style of those we can admire in Rome. It was, in fact, a mine in Roman times, but very later, in the eighteenth century, acquired cemetery functions.

This new function has become what it is today: an ossuary of 6 million skeletons with up to 800 meters of galleries completely covered with bones. Undoubtedly, one of the most creepy (and at the same time fascinating) visits you can make in Paris.

As you can see, many Paris attractions are spread out on both sides of the Seine, which can mean having to move efficiently. To do this, I advise you to find out how to get around Paris.

7 - Tuileries district

Tuileries Garden| ©Roland Turner
Tuileries Garden| ©Roland Turner

One of the most visited and busiest neighborhoods in Paris. It is not for less since it is one of the areas that most iconic attractions of the French capital treasures. These are some of the most important:

  • Place de la Concorde
  • Tuileries Garden
  • Garden of the Royal Palace
  • Madeleine Church
  • Garnier Palace
  • Place Vendôme

We cannot forget the cultural charms either. Among them highlights the Musée d'Orsay, dedicated to impressionist painting and, of course, one of the jewels of the city: the Louvre Museum. A place that deserves a detailed explanation.

Louvre Museum

Probably the most complete museum in the world. Its walls treasure not only some masterpieces of painting (such as La Gioconda, by Da Vinci). It also houses sculptures, goldsmith works, ceramics... And the most famous: its collection of Egyptian art, one of the best (if not the best) in the world. In short, this is all the heritage you can find inside:

  • Ancient art from the East
  • Egyptian art
  • Greek, Etruscan and Roman art
  • Islamic art
  • Sculpture of all periods and styles
  • Paintings from all periods and cultures
  • Decorative arts such as tapestries, jewelry, furniture, clocks and watches and more

As you can imagine, seeing everything the Louvre has to offer in one visit is mission impossible. I recommend that, to get the most out of your visit to this museum, you hire a guided tour that will bring you closer to the essentials. Although perhaps the best thing to do is to find out for yourself how long it takes to see the Louvre and, with this information, decide what interests you most. And if you are traveling with your children and do not want to give up visiting the beauties of the museum, do not miss these tips on how to visit the Louvre with children.

Book tickets for the Louvre

8 - Ile de la Cité district

Notre Dame| ©Adrienn
Notre Dame| ©Adrienn

This district is the heart of Paris. Especially historically, because it is on this island of the Seine where the first settlements in the history of this population occurred. Its status as the founding center of the city has led to the location of some of its greatest symbols, especially religious. Among them stands out the Cathedral of Notre Dame of which I will deal in a few paragraphs. But it would be unfair not to highlight these other charms:

  • Sainte Chapelle;
  • The Palace of Justice;
  • The Flower Market.

I advise you not to miss the Sainte Chapelle. It is a Gothic monument on a par with Notre Dame. This chapel, built in the thirteenth century by order of King St. Louis presents an extension of stained glass windows in its walls that has not been equaled since then by any original Gothic building. To enter its interior is, literally, to be flooded by colored lights.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame is one of the most famous temples in the world. For many it is the most perfect and best finished Gothic cathedral of all. Something that goes in tastes, although the undoubted thing is that within its walls have taken place some of the most important artistic manifestations of Europe. And not only in architecture, also in theology, music... The list would be endless.

The cathedral was built in the fourteenth century in a splendidly Gothic style, although later other elements have been added. For example, the famous gargoyles, which date from the 19th century reconstruction.

Also, there are few things as pleasant in Paris as strolling around Notre Dame, enjoying the view of the Seine. Just a tip: try to access the Île de la Cité from the Pont Neuf, another of Paris' iconic constructions. A stone bridge that will give you some of the most romantic views of the river.

9 - Trocadero

Waiting to go up| ©gckwolfe
Waiting to go up| ©gckwolfe

The Trocadero is another iconic part of Paris. Especially for hosting the following attractions:

  • The Trocadero Gardens
  • The Champ de Mars
  • The Eiffel Tower

It is a very elegant area, full of good architecture, diplomatic buildings and museums. But if it stands out for something is to provide one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower, the quintessential symbol of Paris and the whole of France.

The Eiffel Tower

The "Iron Lady" was built for the Universal Exhibition of 1889. It did not take long to become one of the symbols of Paris. Today it is even one of the most popular monuments in the world.

It certainly has the qualities to enjoy such a reputation. Its 300 meters high and its 10,000 tons of weight are a prodigy of engineering, specifically of the talent of its architect, Gustave Eiffel. This technical display has its aesthetic counterpart: from the Eiffel Tower you will enjoy unparalleled views. To find out more about it, I advise you to consult here the options of views of the Eiffel Tower that you can enjoy.

As you can imagine, it is also one of the most visited monuments in the world. This means that it is also one of the monuments with the longest queues. You will have to be patient even if you have already booked your tickets in advance. To avoid the hassle of overcrowding, I advise you to consult these tips to visit the Eiffel Tower.

Book tickets for the Eiffel Tower

10 - Montparnasse

Montparnasse Cemetery| ©Jérôme Blum
Montparnasse Cemetery| ©Jérôme Blum

Montparnasse is such an artistic district that even the reason for its name is cultural. It comes from Mount Parnassus, the enclave where the ancient Greeks believed the Muses dwelled.

It can be said that, in this case, the name fits like a glove. And it is one of the favorite Parisian neighborhoods for writers. If you like literature, you will probably love to stroll through the same streets where writers of the stature of Baudelaire, Flaubert, Cortázar, Verlaine, Rimbaud...

Such is its cultural importance, that many culture lovers visit Paris especially to drop by the famous Montparnasse Cemetery. An extension of 18 hectares where rest, in addition to the great men of letters, personalities such as Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison.

These are, in short, the neighborhoods that you can not miss if you travel to Paris. If you don't have much time, you can go straight to the one with the charms that interest you the most.