Main attractions: Located at the intersection of the 3rd, 10th and 11th arrondissements, Place de la République recently had a shiny new makeover in an attempt to make the formerly scruffy, unwelcoming square a gathering place, with a new budget-friendly café that opens early and stays open late, and wide-open space for everything from skateboarding to the requisite French demonstration on the historic square built as a monument to France Third Republic. The nearby Canal St. Martin is a favorite for hanging out, especially in nice weather.
Neighborhood atmosphere: If you're arriving in Paris via train from the north (Amsterdam, Copenhagen, London, etc.), there is a chance that the Gare du Nord will be your first impression of Paris. The neighborhood spanning from République north to the Gare du Nord and Gare de l'Est is busy by day and high on budget hotel options, if somewhat low on charm. But the incredible diversity of the neighborhood is reflected in its exotic shops, where anything from plantains to halal meat to organic groceries can be found.
Affordability: This is one of Paris’ more affordable neighborhoods that in recent years has become ever more gentrified. You don’t have to go far for trendy but still reasonably priced dining options that include one of the city’s first gluten-free outposts, the Helmut Newcake café on rue Bichat.
Stay Here If: You have an early train to out of Gare du Nord or Gare de l’Est and have been known to oversleep. Or you like the proximity to the canal and the excitement of a cosmopolitan neighborhood.
Don’t Stay Here If: You are looking for old world Parisian charm or immediate proximity to major cultural attractions.
Main attractions: The Bastille is located just east of the Marais in the 11th arrondissement, centered around the Place de la Bastille, once home to the infamous Bastille prison which was destroyed during the revolution (1789) and now anchored by a modern opera house that is the aesthetic opposite of the Opéra Garnier across town. The 12th is home to the Viaduc des Arts, a series of artisan studios with giant picture windows facing the street that runs beneath the garden pathway on the site of a defunct railway track, the Promenade plantée, that was the inspiration for NYC’s High Line.
Neighborhood atmosphere: The appealingly grungy rue Oberkampf has a young, carefree Parisian vibe and the area in general is one of the more laid back quarters of the city. Apart from the attractions listed above, the 12th is one of the least exciting neighborhoods in Paris, though it will give you a sense of how ordinary Parisians live.
Stay Here If: You are looking for a fairly central neighborhood near the Marais with a slightly lower pricetag, with plenty of cheap bars, shops and nightlife in the 11th.
Don’t Stay Here If: You are sensitive to noise or prefer a less grungy atmosphere.
Main attractions: The area’s main crossroads is Place d'Italie, surrounded by brutalist tower blocks that can make you forget you are in Paris.
Neighborhood atmosphere: Despite the uncharming high rises, the neighborhood does have one charming secret: the saving grace that is the Butte-aux-Cailles, a hilltop pocket that has both a French village vibe and an artsy hipster aesthetic in its many cafés and bars along the rue de la Butte aux Cailles and rue des Cinq Diamants.
Affordability: Home to Europe’s largest Chinatown (which nevertheless pales in comparison to the Chinatowns of London, San Francisco or New York), the 13th offers lots of inexpensive dining options for those who wallets (and palates) are tired of classic French bistro food (the Tang Frères supermarket is a giant Asian food emporium that’s worth a stop).
Stay Here If: You aren’t picky about location or want to experience the untouristy, off-the-beaten path residential feel of the Butte aux Cailles with its cobblestone streets and untouristy vibe.
Stay Elsewhere If: You are more comfortable being in a more central, well trodden neighborhood, or your idea of Paris does not include ugly highrise buildings.
These hotels are located near the Arc de Triomphe, a major transportation hub and tourist sight on the Right Bank. From here, it's a short walk to the shops and restaurants on the Champs-Elysees. Most of these hotels are in the 16th and 17th arrondissement.» See hotels in Etoile.
Main attractions: The wedding cake of a church that is the hilltop Sacré-Coeur basilica is this area’s most recognizable monument, and those who climb up will be rewarded with an incomparable view overlooking Paris. Montmartre's winding streets have inspired generations of starving artists and bohemians. That charm now co-exists with a theme park of the original village, centered on the Place du Tertre, complete with touristy restaurants and bars, and "artists" offering to sketch your portrait or sell you their lurid oil paintings (don’t be surprised if this offer includes a date).
Neighborhood atmosphere: Some of Montmartre still resembles a country hamlet, replete with ivy-clad cottages and cobbled squares. Take a walk along the lovely rue des Saules to see the tiny vineyard and the legendary restaurant-cabaret Au Lapin Agile, the headquarters of the arty crowd circa 1900, where Picasso paid for a meal with one of the Harlequin paintings. The 18th also includes what has long been thought of as Paris’ grittiest neighborhood in the area around Barbès, which has a large North African immigrant population. But gentrification of the areas nearby is changing the atmosphere of this lively noisy corner of town.
Affordability: Prices vary in the neighborhood but include plenty of budget-friendly options. Place des Abbesses has a picturesque square and leads onto the rue des Abbesses and its lively eating and drinking scene, although it’s become a bit of a hipster paradise in recent years with rising prices to match.
Stay Here If: You enjoy being in a romantic, village-y neighborhood overlooking the city.
Stay Elsewhere If: You do not enjoy walking up stairs and hills (or the site of tour buses) or want to be in a more central neighborhood.
Main attractions: The central 1st arrondissement on the Right Bank includes Châtelet, Palais Royale, Place Vendôme, the Louvre and adjacent Tuileries Gardens.
Neighborhood atmosphere: The area around Châtelet is mostly known for the towering Gothic 16th-century Tour St. Jacques; the busy contemporary theater/opera house Théâtre du Châtelet; and the Métro-RER station Châtelet-Les Halles, a sprawling commuter hub. The area around the stately Palais Royale, the tony Place Vendôme (where Coco Chanel lived for many years at the Ritz) and the Louvre is busy during the day, but fairly quiet in the evenings.
Affordability: While the area is home to a number of budget-friendly hotels, its tourist magnet location means eating out and shopping can be pricey (though American chef Daniel Rose’s Spring restaurant is worth a splurge if you can get a table). The Tuileries Gardens are a haven where you can spend hours strolling and Parisian-watching, free of charge.
Stay Here If: You want a convenient, tourist-friendly location in the heart of the city close to the Louvre and other attractions including Sainte-Chapelle and the Conciergerie.
Stay Elsewhere If: You prefer a more intimate neighborhood feel, and a less frenetic and touristy atmosphere.
Main attractions: Most tourists don’t know much about this northeastern Paris neighborhood, except those who pass through on their way to Jim Morrison or Oscar Wilde’s grave in the famous Père-Lachaise cemetery.
Neighborhood atmosphere: This scruffy, animated corner of the city has an unpretentious feel and is full of funky café-theaters, nightclubs and indie music hotspots where you can grab a drink and soak up some culture (not to mention join the hipsters for brunch on the roof of the Philippe Starck-designed Mama Shelter hotel).
Affordability: One of the more affordable corners of the city.
Stay Here If: You want to get a feel for an authentic Parisian neighborhood on the edge town.
Stay Elsewhere If: You want the proven charms of a more tourist-friendly, conventionally pretty and conveniently central neighborhood.
Main attractions: Home to the Bourse (the French stock exchange) as well as France's national library (which has a more recent outpost in the 13th arrondissement), this central neighborhood is generally thought of as a business district.
Neighborhood Atmosphere: Historically the garment district of Paris and more recently ground zero for French Internet start-ups, the 2nd arrondissement is also a lively place to eat, stroll and shop, with a hip but laid back vibe.
Affordability: The rue Montorgueil is a happening pedestrian thoroughfare that includes a mix of established and trendy shops and reasonably priced restaurants cafés and one of Paris’ biggest and best open markets in the shadow of the imposing Saint-Eustache church (technically in the adjacent 1st arrondissement). Amateur and professional chefs haunt legendary cooking supply stores like E. Dehillerin. And the rue du Nil has become a hotspot of casual dining options that include chef Grégory Marchand’s uber-popular Frenchie outposts including a restaurant, a wine bar and a to-go sandwich shop that puts a luscious French spin on American classics like pastrami and pulled pork.
Stay Here If: You want to discover a cool central Parisian neighborhood that won’t be as packed with tourists as the Marais or St. Germain des Prés.
Stay Elsewhere If: You prefer staying in a more name brand area.
Main attractions: Spanning the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, from Châtelet to the Place de la Bastille, and from République to the Seine, the Marais is one of Paris’ most popular and desirable neighborhoods for locals and tourists alike, a vibrant, fashionable hub that combines history, culture, nightlife and shopping in equal measure.
But it’s also one of the city’s oldest, most historic districts, home to the Hôtel-de-Ville; the Place des Vosges, the city’s oldest square; and the Marché des Enfants Rouges, its oldest covered food market. Many of the area’s majestic 17th-century mansions now house museums including the Musée Picasso (currently closed for renovation) and Musée Carnavalet, a free museum dedicated to the city’s history.
Neighborhood atmosphere: Home to the city's historic Jewish quarter and the epicenter of gay Parisian life, the Marais is the neighborhood of choice for designers, artists, filmmakers and other creative types. Charming narrow medieval streets make it a strollers’ paradise; cool design and fashion boutiques make it a prime shopping destination.
In recent years as the neighborhood has gone from artsy to upscale and many of its independent boutiques have given way to major brands, the hip crowd has migrated to the Haut Marais, where you can find chic concept stores like Merci, and gluten-free hangouts like Café Pinson alongside scores of independent galleries.
Affordability: Despite now being home to some of the city’s most expensive real estate, it’s still possible to find a number of reasonably priced inexpensive hotels tucked away on quiet side streets. And while the cost of shopping and eating out in the area is high, the area is also full of casual cafés where you can grab an inexpensive bite and home to some of the city’s best and most affordable street food on the rue des Rosiers, lined with Eastern European Jewish delis and the perennially popular L’As Falafel.
Stay Here If: You enjoy exploring the city on foot want to be nestled in the beating heart of fashionable Paris with all the history, culture, shopping and people-watching you could ask for in a single neighborhood, plus easy access to the rest of the city.
Don’t Stay Here If: You don’t like crowds (especially on weekends and particularly on Sundays when closures in other parts of Paris send locals and tourists flocking to the neighborhood, which closes several main arteries to traffic and is thronged with pedestrians).
Main attractions: The student district of Paris since the 13th century, the Latin Quarter is located in the Left Bank's 5th arrondissement, and includes the Ile de la Cité in the center of the Seine. It's home to the Sorbonne University, the vast Jardin des Plantes on its eastern end, the Place St-Michel, the iconic Panthéon on the Ste-Geneviève hilltop, and Notre Dame cathedral on the Ile de la Cité.
Neighborhood atmosphere: Many of the buildings in the charming, ever-popular Latin Quarter date back to the 1600s, something to keep in mind when choosing a hotel where ancient wooden beams and exposed stone walls come with winding, uneven stairs and tiny rooms.
Affordability: The 5th arrondissement is a lively area of Paris completely overrun with students and tourists and the cheap shops and eateries that cater to both. After dark, the youthful masses congregate in the pubs around the Place de la Contrescarpe and the clubs off the winding Rue de la Huchette.
Stay Here If: You want a central location in a student-friendly neighborhood filled with bookshops, movie theaters and bars.
Stay Elsewhere If: You prefer a more quiet, grown-up atmosphere less catered to students and packed with tourists.
Main attractions: Just west of the Latin Quarter in the direction of the Eiffel Tower, St. Germain des Prés is flanked by two Parisian gems—the Luxembourg Gardens to the south and the banks of the Seine to the north. The iconic neighborhood borrows its name from the church of St. Germain des Prés. It is defined by the boulevard of the same name, which slices through the quarter’s winding streets. The neighborhood is anchored by the Eglise Saint Sulpice and its lovely square where you can grab a coffee on the outside terrace of the scruffy institution that is the Café de la Mairie and watch the world strut by.
Neighborhood atmosphere: This is an eternally fashionable, tony neighborhood with plenty of upscale appeal.
Affordability: Everything costs a little bit more here; from cocktails to double rooms. St. Germain's designer fashion boutiques and world famous cafés pack the neighborhood, as do the many tourists who consider it the only place to be. If you do too, St. Germain is home to some moderately expensive (and quite charming) hotels.
Stay Here If: You want to stay in a storied, tourist-friendly Parisian neighborhood in the center of town that was once the literary heart of Paris and is now more known for luxury brand shopping.
Stay Elsewhere If: You don’t want to be surrounded by tourists who throng the area chasing Hemingway’s ghost.
Main attractions: Many of the surrounding streets offer up storybook views of the Eiffel Tower, still the tallest building in Paris. Another striking monument is the 18-carat-gold dome of the Invalides, that glimmers along the Seine's left bank, just east of the Eiffel Tower. Commissioned by Louis XIV as a hospital for wounded soldiers, the massive, structure was transformed after the revolution by Napoleon into a monument to himself. It currently houses an impressive military museum and Napoleon's famous tomb.
Notable museums include the Musée d'Orsay, the Musée Rodin and the Musée du Quai Branly. And the 7th has a well-established American presence, home to the American University, the American Library and the American Church.
Neighborhood atmosphere: The 7th also is home to many imposing palaces turned government buildings and embassies, lending it a stately feeling with an old-world, slightly bourgeois Parisian vibe.
Affordability: Like neighboring St. Germain des Prés, the 7th is an upscale residential neighborhood with expensive shopping and dining including Le Bon Marché department store and food hall on the rue de Sèvres. The rue Saint Dominique is one of the city’s most concentrated dining hubs with reasonably priced classic bistros (Obama famously dined at La Fontaine de Mars at #29) and more upscale establishments like Brasserie Thoumieux. The nearby market street rue Cler has food shopping and unremarkable but reasonably priced cafés.
Stay Here If: You’re traveling with older relatives who will enjoy being in a calm central neighborhood with close proximity to the Eiffel Tower.
Stay Elsewhere If: You are looking for wild nightlife or a trendy atmosphere.
Main attractions: The 9th arrondissement has something of a split personality: On the one hand, it’s home to always bustling mega department stores like Galeries Lafayette and Printemps (and one of the city’s two Apple store locations) as well as the ballet and opera lovers landmark that is Opéra Garnier. But it also shares a 9th arrondissement zip code with Pigalle, home to the Moulin Rouge, birthplace of the can-can.
Neighborhood atmosphere: Until not long ago Pigalle was known for its hostess bars and seedy sex shops; now the area just south of Pigalle has been christened SoPi (a nod to SoHo) and is home to some of the city’s trendiest restaurants, upscale nightclubs and organic grocers.
Affordability: The rue des Martyrs is a main artery for decently priced food and vintage clothing, cafés and restaurants with a young hip vibe (as well as being the location of the original Rose Café, now a cult favorite).
Stay Here If: You want to be in a busy, bustling, tourist-friendly area with major shopping, a landmark cultural institution and a connection for the Air France bus to the airport near Opéra; or in the case of Pigalle, in a formerly seedy neighborhood in the midst of hipster-fueled gentrification.
Stay Elsewhere If: You prefer being in easy walking distance of major sites in central Paris.