The city of Paris is divided into 20 municipal districts, or arrondissements, arranged numerically in a clockwise spiral, with the Seine River cutting across them. Each arrondissement has its own personality; in general, the Right Bank (north of the Seine) is Paris’ traditional shopping and financial district, while the Left Bank (south of the Seine) attracts intellectuals, artists, and students, and has excellent small restaurants and shops.
Île de la Cité/Île St-LouisRetrace Paris’ origins on these small Seine River isles, home to the Notre-Dame Cathedral, medieval mazelike streets, and antiquated mansions. Today, both islands are among the most-exclusive residential areas in Paris. (1st & 4th Arrondissements)
The Louvre & Champs-ElyséesOgle the collection at the world-renowned art museum before strolling the majestic Tuileries Gardens, past the Petit Palais and Grand Palais, and up the Avenue des Champs-Elysées. A few blocks east of the Arc de Triomphe, the famous Fouquet’s brasserie is a perfect spot to stop for an afternoon of people watching. (1st & 8th Arrondissements)
Le MaraisRamble through this quaint residential quarter, popular with Paris' gay community, and loaded with one-of-a-kind boutiques, bars, and restaurants, plus a stellar Picasso museum. Le Marais is also Paris’s Jewish quarter, with traditional kosher shops on Rue de Rosiers, and Paris’ oldest Chinatown on Rue au Maire and Rue Volta. (3rd & 4th Arrondissement)
Latin Quarter/St-Germain-des-PrésStroll the Latin Quarter alongside Sorbonne students, and neighboring St-Germain-des-Prés, a center for literary haunts, antiquated churches, bookshops, and boutiques. Little remains of the area’s “intellectual” days, but this is still the smartest part of Paris for sitting at cafés, including at Les Deux Magots, Café de Flore, and Brasserie Lipp, all on boulevard St-Germain. (5th & 6th Arrondissements)
The SeventhSpy that sleek iron lady of Paris – the Eiffel Tower – from both below and above, then discover the Impressionism and post-Impressionism collections at nearby Musée d'Orsay. A very quiet district, the stately streets are lined with a few embassies and parliament buildings, the Hôtel des Invalides and École Militaire. (7th Arrondissement)
MontmartreSeek inspiration in the once-world-influential artistic center. While the bohemian population has since declined, the quarter’s steep, charming streets and Sacré-Coeur basilica never fail to delight. Take time to explore the area between the basilica and the Abbesses métro station. Just east of Sacré-Coeur, explore the bustling African neighborhood of Château-Rouge, chock-full of colorful fabric stores and vibrant food markets. (18th Arrondissement)
Canal St. MartinArtists fleeing high rents in the Marais have transformed the once-dodgy Canal St. Martin into Paris’s hippest neighborhood. Dug in the 1820s as a source of drinking water, today the 2.7-mile-long canal (part of it is underground) is lined with trendy restaurants, bars and shops. There are boat tours through the locks. Come on Sunday when the Quai de Valmy is closed to traffic. (10th Arrondissement)
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