Where To Stay In Paris?: 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 1-20 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!
Dave and I first visited Paris in 1998 and instantly fell in love with the city. We have returned again and again and each time we discover something different. We have also stayed in several different neighborhoods and researched where to stay when in Paris and the best things to do in Paris. A couple of years ago, we were sent on assignment to break down the best arrondissement in Paris (Paris neighborhoods) so we know the city well and can give personal recommendations on the best area to stay in Paris from our own experiences.
Neighborhoods To Stay In Paris
Everyone wants something different on their trip to Paris, but I think most people like being in a quintessential Paris neighborhood — a place where you can buy fresh baguettes and marvel at the wrought-iron balconies.
Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements (neighborhoods) and they are numbered in a spiral, the center being Ile de la Cité, the island in the Seine home to Notre-Dame. Neighborhoods with lower numbers are closer to the center; the 12th-20th arrondissements are the outer edge. Parisians refer to the neighborhoods by their number.
Top 3 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Paris
First up on my list of the best neighborhoods to stay in Paris is the Ile Saint-Louis. This little island is located in the center of Paris, where the Seine river divides the city into the Right and Left Banks. This lovely island is much quieter than its touristy neighbor Ile de la Cité, so the Ile Saint-Louis is a quaint escape from the busy city. The ancient cobblestone streets, narrow passages, quaint boutiques, and typical Parisian architecture give the island a special small-town charm.
Known for its vibrant café life, amazing shopping and artsy vibes, the Marais is definitely one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Paris. Located on the Right bank in central Paris, the Marais is a very walkable neighborhood and an ideal home-base for exploring the city. One of the best parts of the Marais is its diversity! Historically home to the Jewish, LGBTQ, and artist communities, the rich blend of cultures found in this area makes it lively and welcoming.
Perched high on a hill overlooking Paris, Montmartre is full of old-world Parisian charm and is definitely one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Paris. Despite the mass of tourists flocking to the beautiful Sacré Coeur Cathedral, Montmartre has managed to hold onto its roots and keep the village atmosphere of yesteryear. Just a short walk from the bustling Sacré-Coeur, you’ll find one of Paris’ best kept secrets: the authentic Montmartre! The winding cobblestone streets like Rue Lamarck and Rue des Abesses are full of local artisans and great cafés, where you can enjoy a drink and a view of the city from above.
Best Areas To Stay In Paris
Let me introduce a new word that you will hear constantly when around in the city: Arrondissement. It is a French word for district or neighborhood. The city is subdivided among 20 of them.
You may have a more detailed and historical overview on the Wikipedia page, however, if not interested in why it was organized this way then just keep in mind these few points
- Arrondissements are organized on a snail shell shape
- Arrondissement 1 to 4 are the city central ones, they are quite small and that is where you will find most of the famous attractions, especially for first-timers
- Arrondissement 5 to 12 are all around the city center and they all have their own charm
- All of the others are somehow far from the main attractions of Paris however they may be a convenient base, especially if on the budget
Best Map Locations
The above map gives a general indication of the areas to stay in Paris. My suggestion is to focus on one of these 8 areas, based on your interests
- City Centre: to live in Paris as on a postcard, with all the iconic places you have already seen on TV so many times
- Latin Quarter: to experience the young side of the city with the nightlife and fun till the early hours of the morning
- Saint-Germain-des-Prés: for the coffee culture and the luxurious side of the city
- Eiffel Tower: because it is your dream to have a hotel with a view of the most famous tower in the world
- Champs-Élysées: if you are after some serious shopping, famous fashion designers and fine dining. The place to see and be seen
- Rochechouart : for something between the city center, Montmartre (Sacré Coeur) and Pigalle (Moulin Rouge)
- Roquette: if you are after a local experience, a youngish one with a hipster touch. Think small restaurants, boutique cafes, and a local community feeling
- The arrondissement de Reuilly: if the budget is a concern but you still want to stay in Paris