Paris is a big and surprisingly diverse city, made up of several unique and distinct neighborhoods. Paris can be romantic, chic, trendy, gritty, crowded, quiet and more, all based on where you are. No two neighborhoods are the same. The experience you have while visiting the capital will be largely determined by where you decide to book your accommodations. To make sure you get the most out of your trip, you want the area you’re staying in to fit your wish list. We’ve put together some advice to help you decide where to stay in Paris.
Guided Paris Tours
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Levels of Accommodations
Just like anywhere else, Paris offers a variety of options in terms of where to stay. It all depends upon what you’re willing to spend. You can find the most upscale experiences in Paris hotels. We recommend 3 star and up. B&Bs are a good option for those wanting a relaxing stay with personal touches, such as uniquely decorated rooms or a homemade breakfast. But while there are a lot of B&Bs in France, not many of them are concentrated in Paris. Apartment rentals are also a great option when traveling with the family. This way, you can maximize your space and have a kitchen to yourself. If you’re on a budget, Paris offers around 200 hostels to choose from.
Paris is divided into arrondissements, which is the term the French use to refer to city districts. Basically, you should think of arrondissements as neighborhoods. When you see the zip code “75002”, that means you’re in the 2nd arrondissement, “75004” means you’re in the 4th arrondissement, and so forth. The arrondissement numbers are arranged in a spiral shape, with the lower numbers closer to the center and the Seine River. The higher the number of the arrondissement, the closer you get to the outskirts of the city. There are 20 arrondissements in Paris, each with their own character and culture. While there’s not really a “bad” arrondissement to stay in, we’ve narrowed down the best areas for you:
3rd/4th Arrondissement: The Marais
The Marais is one of Paris’s oldest neighborhoods, and today it is famous for being chic, hip and diverse all at once. It’s difficult to pin this area down to a specific arrondissement, since it spills over into both the 3rd and 4th. When searching for where to stay in Paris, this is an extremely central neighborhood. You’ll find some of the best shopping in this area, mostly made up of independent boutiques. This neighborhood is also home to Paris’s Jewish and gay quarters. The Marais is a great area to stay for first-time visitors to Paris as well as those who have already visited multiple times.
There’s something for everyone here: trendy nightlife spots, shopping, incredible history and quiet cobblestone streets. Major metro stops include Saint Paul, Châtelet, Hôtel de Ville, and Rambuteau. The arrondissement’s must-sees are Paris’s oldest square, Place des Vosges, and Île Saint-Louis, one of Paris’s two natural islands in the middle of the Seine. While not generally considered part of the Marais, Notre Dame is also located in the 4th arrondissement.
5th Arrondissement: Latin Quarter
Even if you don’t really know what it is, chances are you might have heard of Paris’s Latin Quarter before. This is historically the student neighborhood of Paris, home to France’s oldest university, La Sorbonne. While this is a busy arrondissement, you don’t need to be a student to stay here. Families, friends and solo travelers will appreciate the restaurants in the area, which cater to larger groups and offer more affordable fare than other popular arrondissements.
This area is also home to Rue Mouffetard, a great market street where you’ll be able to find cheeses, breads and pretty much anything and everything you’ve ever wanted to eat in France. The fifth arrondissement is on the left bank but borders the river, making it an ideal central location. Major metro stops include Saint Michel and Place Monge.
6th arrondissement: Saint-Germain-des-Prés
If you’re looking for where to stay in Paris and seek a classic Parisian neighborhood feel, stay in the 6th arrondissement. This area includes the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood, filled with countless bars and cafés, including the oldest café in Paris (Le Procope). The streets are filled with interesting history – this is the neighborhood where Ernest Hemingway and Albert Camus hung out, and where Pablo Picasso painted the famous Guernica.
In the 6th arrondissement, you’ll only be a short walk from the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens and the Musée d’Orsay, known for its collection of impressionist artwork. You’re not likely to find many budget deals in this neighborhood, but it’s perfect for splurging on a Parisian getaway. Major metro stops include Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Saint Sulpice, and Odéon.
18th arrondissement: Montmartre
Montmartre is usually referred to as a sort of “village”, with winding uphill streets and far fewer cars than the rest of the city. This is where you’ll find the Sacré Coeur Basilica and the Place du Tertre square filled with artists. Admittedly, Montmartre is a victim of its success, especially in the summer when the streets can become packed with tourists during the day.
The arrondissement borders the Pigalle area, home of the Moulin Rouge and the city’s red-light district. While this makes the location not so ideal for families, the area is actually pretty safe. Today, most of the area just south of Pigalle is trendy. Some of the trendiest bars have popped up here. Locals even refer to the area as ‘SoPi’.
The 18th usually offers cheaper accommodations than the other arrondissements listed, thanks to its reputation as a working class, diverse neighborhood. But if you choose the 18th, make sure to stay in the southern part of the arrondissement in Montmartre. Major metro stops include Abbesses and Anvers.
11th arrondissement: Bastille and République
If you’re looking for an area with lots of activity and late-night options, the 11th arrondissement is for you. The 11th includes the Bastille area, known for its rowdy nightlife and streets filled with bars. The nearby Oberkampf and République metro station areas are known as the core of Paris’ hipster scene – think speakeasy bars and restaurants with unique themes. While the 11th doesn’t include any major tourist attractions, it is a great neighborhood to stay in if you’re wanting a glimpse of everyday “typical” Parisian life, and accommodations in this area are likely to be cheaper than the more central arrondissements.
1st/8th arrondissements: Vendôme and Champs-Elysées
Think chic, pricey, and stunning. If you’re looking to splurge and be close to some of the best (high-end) shopping Paris has to offer, the areas near Place Vendôme and the Champs-Elysées are for you. The boulevards lining these streets are truly magnificent. Another plus: these neighborhoods will put you within very close walking distance to the Louvre Museum and the Seine River.