Paris, as they say, is always a good idea. However in a city with so many different and diverse neighborhoods, knowing where to stay can be a challenge. There are twenty arrondissements in Paris, each of which has its own smaller sections. Are you going for business? Or maybe it’s your first time. Whatever the reason, knowing what areas are most in line with your interests. will save you time and money in the form of transportation. We've summarized the vibes in each of our favorite Paris neighborhoods to help you plan your trip to the City of Lights.
Le Marais, 3ème/4ème (Culture, shopping, tourism, locals and nightlife)
The Marais is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Paris and its rich history is reflected in the architecture. Its signature narrow streets are filled with vintage thrift shops, independent retailers and trendy restaurants frequented by local Parisians. It’s here you’ll find some of the city’s best falafel sandwiches which are absolutely worth lining up for. Good vibes emanate from The Marais making it a great place to flâneur (the French term for stroll) on a sunny day or to grab an outdoor seat at a corner cafe and watch as people come and go. Accommodation is fairly affordable in this area. It’s also the center of Paris’ gay nightlife so expect the neighborhood to really come alive after dark.
St. Germain des Prés, 6ème (Culture, shopping, restaurants)
One of our favorite neighborhoods and easily the city’s most beautiful, St. Germain is known as the former playground for intellectuals. Here you’ll find the historic Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots where notorious regulars included Pablo Picasso and other famous writers. St. Germain is also one of the more expensive neighborhoods in Paris and as such is home an assortment of designer boutiques, art galleries, and many high quality restaurants. The Jardin du Luxembourg is also located in the Sixth. An early morning run through this beautiful park is one of the more unique experiences you can have in the city.
Canal St. Martin, 10ème (Locals and nightlife, restaurants)
Most would agree Canal St. Martin is to Paris as Brooklyn is to New York City only a bit more accessible. Aside from being home to the two biggest train stations (Gare de l'Est and Gare du Nord) Paris’ Tenth arrondissement is a culturally rich and diverse hub with a vibrant restaurant scene and nightlife frequented by local Parisians. It’s the sort of place where the working class come to socialize outside local cafes, drink locally brewed beers along the banks of the canal and chant their locally adapted version of The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army. For the outgoing sort looking to discover a grittier more authentic side of Paris, Canal St. Martin is where you want to be.
South Pigalle (SoPi), 9ème (Culture, tourism, shopping)
The “so-hot-right-now” South Pigalle neighborhood termed SoPi, has become one of Paris’ trendiest neighborhoods. What was formerly the home of sex shops and seedy parlors, has become a haven where Paris’ hipsters flock for the latest bistros and cocktail lounges and where travel influencers roam, searching for the next instagrammable moment. SoPi’s nightlife features a broad mix of attractions, from Brooklyn inspired gastro pubs like Glass to the Parisian incarnation of West Village’s Buvette. There are upscale lounges like Le Carmen and brothel turned tiki bar Dirty Dick. The gentrification of South Pigalle has also included an influx of boutique hotels like the 1er Etage SoPi, The Grand Pigalle Hotel and Maison Souquet. If leisure and lifestyle is your priority when traveling then Paris’ SoPi is for you.
Bastille, 11ème (Restaurants, locals and nightlife)
Consider Bastille the cool, smart kid in your high school who got along with everyone; cultured, engaging and as down to earth as it gets. It was in this historic neighborhood that the French Revolution began in July 1789. Bastille is eclectic by nature and rife with intellectuals, artists, students and professionals. The same can be said about its diverse nightlife, which is regarded as the city’s best. From high-end cocktail lounges to wine cafes and dive bars, the bustling streets of Rue de la Roquette and Rue Oberkampf have something for just about everyone.
Palais Royal, Musée du Louvre, 1er (Shopping, tourism, culture)
This is Paris for first timers with some money to blow. It’s the city’s geographical center where you’ll find many major attractions like the Louvre, Tuileries Garden and Palais Royal. The neighborhood also features an extremely broad range of shopping from H&M and the like to high-end boutiques like Chanel and Saint Laurent on Rue St. Honoré (One of the best streets to shop). And for the ultra wealthy, there’s Place Vendôme which is home to the Ritz Paris and the city’s uber chic diamond district. Restaurants around here are costly albeit very good for people watching.
Eiffel Tower, 7ème (Tourism, culture)
Paris’ 7th oozes sophistication. A residential area for the city’s ultra wealthy, this neighborhood is littered with single family Haussmannian buildings featuring wraparound balconies overlooking the Eiffel Tower and Champs de Mars. You’ll want to embrace a laid back pace here as people truly stop to smell the roses. We recommend grabbing some picnic supplies from the local boulangerie and supermarket and laying out in one of the many spots with a view of the Eiffel Tower but far enough from the tourists and selfie sticks. In true Rive Gauche (left bank) fashion, you’ll also find cultural attractions such as the Musée d'Orsay and the Musée Rodin. After that, reward yourself with a trip to Le Bon Marché, Paris’ oldest and chicest department store (think Bergdorf, Barney’s, Saks) and its Grande Epicerie, a super elegant food hall.
Champs Elysées, 8ème (Shopping, tourism)
For many tourists there’s an appeal to the Champs Elysées that can only be likened to that of Times Square. It’s one of Europe’s most famous boulevards with tons of people, shopping and noise. For first timers in Paris, the Champs Elysées is definitely worth seeing if it happens to be on your way, however the main attraction in this area is the iconic Arc de Triomphe. One of France’s most famous monuments, the Arc sits at the junction of twelve avenues connected by a roundabout, which has earned it the nickname l’étoile (meaning star in French). We recommend checking it out at night for the real “City of Lights” twinkle effect and if you’re really well connected, try your luck at L’Arc, one of Paris’ most exclusive nightclubs.
Tip: For a next level shopping experience, turn onto Avenue Montaigne home of the LVMH headquarters where you’ll find flagship boutiques and designer showrooms from brands like Dior, Givenchy and Prada.