The 11 best neighborhoods in Paris

There is no single answer to the question, “Which neighborhood in Paris is the best?” Every quartier is infused with individual character. Together, they form a colorful tapestry that gifts the City of Light such universal and enduring appeal.

Some quartiers stand apart. History, culture, architecture, and nightlife are just some ingredients that make a neighborhood appealing to travelers. With that in mind, we’ve created handy guides to help you discover the highlights of what we consider the best neighborhoods in Paris.

Le Marais

colorful street in the old town of Paris in le Marais

If you had to pick just one quartier to spend time in, Le Marais would be the winner for many. Old and new Paris converges on the former marshland (marais) to establish a neighborhood brimming with museums, bars, boutiques, and fine architecture. Once a fashionable address for princes and nobles, the area is characterized by its elegant hôtel particuliers. Several house superb museums opened during a period of urban regeneration that transformed rundown Le Marais into one of the most idiosyncratic Parisian neighbourhoods. 

Filled with chi-chi boutiques and art galleries, Le Marais’s temperament is offbeat and cosmopolitan with an air of Parisian chic. A hub for the LGBT+ bars abound. And many inventive restaurants are serving up modern French cuisine. It’s a cocktail that few neighborhoods in Paris can match. A millennium in the making, Le Marais’s singular blend of modern outlook, romantic setting, and vibrant cultural heritage is one of a kind.


Highlights of Le Marais

  • Musée Carnavalet sits in two handsome hôtel particuliers and showcases a refreshingly eclectic view of Paris’s storied history
  • Place des Vosges is the capital’s oldest planned square and an outstanding spot for impromptu picnics
  • Le Marché des Enfants Rouges is the oldest covered market in the city, home to culinary pioneers and laidback communal dining
  • Enjoy authentic falafel from rue des Rosiers in the Jewish quarter. If you can handle long lines, L’As du Fallafel is a local favourite.
  • Rooftop drinks at BHV Marais: two Le Marais highlights for the price of one at this skyline bar with city-wide panoramas and an up-close view of the magnificent Hôtel de Ville.

How to get there


    • Pont Marie / Sully – Morland – line 7
    • Chemin Vert / Filles du Calvaire – 8
    • Filles du Calvaire – line 3, 5, 9 and 11
    • Rambuteau – line 11
    • Buses: 29, 69, 75, 76, 96

Hotel tips for Le Marais

Île de la Cité

Paris aerial panorama with river Seine, Pont Neuf bridge, ile de

Condensed into the cobbled streets of Île de la Cité is centuries of royal history from the early chapters of France’s national story. Reminding us of the tiny island’s remarkable heritage are the emblematic landmarks, Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle, and the Conciergerie.

Connected to the city’s founding quartiers — notably Le Marais and the Latin QuarterÎle de la Cité has been the geographic and political heart of Parisian and French life since the beginning.

The royals moved out in the 1300s — albeit just around the corner to the Louvre — leaving behind a living medieval museum. Even today, the island plays an influential role in French public life. The city’s police headquarters and France’s highest court are based there. Even the world’s oldest hospital is still operating on the island.

Despite the tour groups, there are quiet spaces on Île de la Cité to enjoy river views. There are decent places to eat in genteel Place Dauphine and, especially, in tiny Île Saint-Louis. Île Saint-Louis functions like a charming support pontoon with all the hotels, shops, and restaurants absent on the royal island.

The island’s most celebrated landmark, Notre Dame Cathedral, has been under covers since the 2019 fire. But visitors have not been deterred. There are equally extraordinary buildings on the undercard, including the mesmerizing stained-glass windows of Sainte-Chapelle and the city’s oldest bridge. In 2024, the restored cathedral will be revealed, and the island will again be whole.

Gendarmes and lawyers aside, every visitor should make at least one tour of the island. Only Versailles competes for historical importance and architectural grandeur.


Highlights of Île de la Cité

  • Notre Dame Cathedral – the iconic 12th-century landmark set to rise from the ashes for the 2024 Paris Olympics
  • Sainte-Chapelle – a royal chapel that houses breathtaking stained-glass windows and is almost as old as Notre Dame
  • The Conciergerie – former royal palace, later prison to Marie Antoinette, and now home to France’s highest court
  • Berthillon glacier  the original spot to try the city’s best-known ice-cream
  • Île Saint-Louis – the detached yet inseparable island with all the best restaurants on the Seine
  • Pont Neuf is the city’s oldest bridge and the most romantic entrance to the island

How to get there


  • Cité (island stop) – Iine 4
  • Pont Neuf – Line 7
  • Saint-Michel Notre-Dame (Pont Saint Michel crossing) – Line 4
  • Buses: 21, 38, 47, 75, 96, N12, N13, N14 N15, N21, N22

Hotel tips for Île de la Cité

  • Good: Hôtel Notre Dame (3*) is supremely comfortable and enjoys stunning views over Île de la Cité from the right bank
  • Better: Les Rives de Notre-Dame Hotel (4*) is a small and stylish boutique hotel opposite Notre Dame in the delightful Latin Quarter
  • Sensational: Hôtel Du Jeu De Paume (4*) sits in a former royal tennis hall and oozes character and charm


cityscape Mont Matre , Paris, France

Amélie (the movie) portrays Montmartre as quirky and bohemian, retaining a village charm from yesteryear that is utterly distinct from other city neighborhoods. It is not entirely exaggerated.

But Montmartre, overlooked by the soaring Sacré-Cœur Basilica, is charming and beautiful. Its cobbled streets lead to colourful old cafés and enticing eateries. Threaded through is a rich artistic heritage and a slightly offbeat ambience to create a beloved corner of Paris.

The once humble farmlands were transformed when the basilica was constructed in 1875. Superimposed on the capital’s skyline, it soars above Paris. The views from the top are unrivalled.   

The Belle Époque arrived at the same time as the basilica and was a period that cemented Montmartre’s reputation as Paris’s bohemian capital. Picasso, van Gogh, Degas, Renoir, and numerous other talents casually rubbed shoulders in the local studios and cafés that sprung up, handing Montmartre an enduring artistic legacy.

Trendy bistros, quirky shops, photogenic cafés, and easygoing charm: Montmartre is one of the most captivating neighborhoods in Paris.


Highlights of Montmartre

  • Sacré Coeur de Montmartre – a majestic Parisian landmark (free to enter) with commanding city views
  • Place du Tertre – a vibrant square lined with café terraces, art stalls, and eager portraitists
  • Musée de Montmartre – an incongruously pastoral and photogenic spot that art lovers will appreciate
  • Au Lapin Agile – this cosy theatre is an authentic cabaret legend and Montmartre institution
  • Café des Deux Moulins – stop for coffee and photos in the café featured in the global smash hit Amélie

How to get there


  • Abbesses, in the heart of the neighborhood – line 1
  • Anvers / Blanche – line 2
  • Buses: 30, 54, 68, 80

Hotel tips for Montmartre

  • Good: Le Village Hostel – Montmartre has a selection of solid budget hostels, but this one sets a high standard
  • Better: Hôtel des Arts (4*) leans into the area’s creative heritage with stylish rooms and acclaimed service
  • Sensational: Hôtel Monsieur Aristide (4*) is a retro boutique hotel with a growing reputation as one of the best in Paris


The 11 best neighborhoods in Paris

Montmartre’s neon-tinged neighbour is a nightlife hotspot and home to the fabled red-light district. The quartier’s character is exemplified by its famous landmark, the Moulin Rouge.

Pigalle is more than a playground for fun-loving Parisians. The quartier has a cultural pedigree that stretches back over a century. Toulouse-Lautrec had a studio there, Picasso and van Gogh once lived there, and it was once the quartier to see musical stars like Josephine Baker. Jazz was especially popular during the inter-war years.

While Pigalle fully awakens as the sun sets, there are a handful of intriguing diversions for day-trippers, including several unusual yet engaging museums. Rue des Martyrs is a lively place to shop and eat. And the bustling, lived-in streets hide a handful of noteworthy sights.

Above all, Pigalle thrives on its cocktail bars, laidback restaurants, adult entertainment, and a reputation built on good times. Things have moved on in recent years — the red-light district is far less seedy — yet SoPi (South Pigalle) is still the center of neon-lit hedonism. Visit during the day to explore Pigalle’s artistic heritage; stay past sunset for the party.     

Highlights of Pigalle

  • The Moulin Rouge – take in a show or take a selfie before the famous red windmills
  • Rue des Martyrs – an upbeat street for shopping and dining
  • Musée de la Vie Romantique – the pretty museum celebrates the rollercoaster life and works of the enigmatic George Sands
  • Musée national Gustave Moreau – home to a vast collection of the symbolist painter’s works
  • Paroisse Notre-Dame de Lorette – a pretty church where Claude Monet and the composer Bizet were baptized.

How to get there


  • Pigalle / Anvers – line 2
  • Notre-Dame-de-Lorette / Trinité – d’Estienne d’Orves – line 12
  • Buses: 30, 54, 68, 85

Hotel tips for Pigalle

  • Good: Le Pigalle (3*) is a solid hotel with a roof terrace in the heart of the action
  • Better: Hotel Trinite Haussmann (4*) is well-located, comfortable, and inexpensive
  • Sensational: Hotel Rochechouart (4*) is a smartly-appointed hotel with a panoramic rooftop bar

Canal Saint Martin

The 11 best neighborhoods in Paris


Most Parisian neighborhoods we’ve written about have a long history as popular neighborhoods. Canal Saint Martin is an exception. The waterway was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte, but the once grimy district was overlooked by Parisians for generations until the area was cleaned up.

Spruced up and passing through residential quartiers just off the tourist radar, the tree-lined canal is today one of the trendiest in Paris. The adjoining quartiers have gentrified and are known for a bobo character (bohemian-bourgeois, the Parisian version of boho.)

There are greener and cleaner outdoor spaces in Paris. But Canal Saint Martin’s appeal derives from the variety of neighbourhoods and urban personalities along the 2.9-mile (4.6 km) conduit. Hip bars, international restaurants, and contemporary art venues contribute to a vibrant scene popular with young Parisians.   

Canal Saint Martin is infamously filled with meme-worthy junk, but above the surface, the area thrives. Place de la Bastille at the southern end is always animated. North, the canal waters pour into the genteel Bassin de la Villette. Nearby is the museum-filled Parc de Villette. Along the way, water flows through locks and tunnels, under bridges, and past cafés and cultural venues.

Authentically Parisian and chock full of inexpensive yet decent hotels and restaurants, not to mention picturesque walks, Canal Saint is easily one of the most attractive neighborhoods in Paris.


Highlights of Canal Saint Martin

  • Hôtel du Nord – eponymous star of a classic 1938 French film and a highly-photographed café overlooking the canal
  • Bassin de la Villette – made for waterside picnics, pedalo mayhem, and summer bathing
  • Point Éphémère – a creative hub with a bar for audio-visual arts and animated evenings
  • Parc des Buttes-Chaumont – possibly the most picturesque park in Paris, ½ mile west of the canal
  • A canal cruise  – the ultimate way to experience the canal

How to get there


  • Bréguet – Sabin, where the canal emerges from under Place de la Bastille – line 5
  • Jaurès at the northern end of the canal, close to Bassin de la Villette – lines 2, 5 ,7B
  • Gare de l’Est transit hub – lines 4, 5, 7 + RER)
  • Buses: 20, 46, 48, 54, 75, N13, N41, N45

Hotel tips for Canal Saint Martin

  • Good: Le Citizen (3*) is a cosy boutique hotel offering quality and value close to the canal
  • Better: The stylish Le Robinet d’Or (3*) is inexpensive and well-situated close to rail stations and the ever-engaging Le Marais district
  • Sensational: Hôtel Fabric (4*) is a highly-praised establishment in the stimulating Oberkampf quartier, close to the canal


The 11 best neighborhoods in Paris

If Canal Saint Martin flies under the radar for first-time visitors, Montparnasse barely leaves the runway.

At first glance, Montparnasse is where you go to find cheap hotels and shopping malls. Parisians know it as a business district, exemplified by an eternally divisive skyscraper. Yet there are compelling sights in Montparnasse and an upbeat community vibe that elevates it to one of our favourite neighborhoods in Paris.

The district’s restaurant scene simmers, hotels are great value with excellent transport connections, and there are several top-tier attractions.   

Montparnasse is the only neighborhood in Paris where you can savour stunning views from the (now) second tallest building in France. And then head deep underground to the eerie Paris catacombs.

There are down-to-earth cafés and some decent shopping dotted around the district. Add in the busy creperies in Little Brittany and a richly textured cultural heritage — Ernest Hemingway loved the bistros there — and you’ve got multiple reasons why Montparnasse should be on your Paris itinerary.


Highlights of Montparnasse

  • The Paris Catacombs – one of the most fascinating and memorable attractions in the capital
  • Cimetière du Montparnasse – walk among the tombs of Parisian luminaries like Jean-Paul Sartre
  • Tour Montparnasse – once the tallest and probably still the least-loved building in France. But the views over Paris are spectacular
  • Rue du Montparnasse – home to Little Brittany and delicious crêpes from Breton chefs
  • Rue Daguerre – a bustling pedestrianized shopping street with a colourful seafood market

How to get there


  • Gare Montparnasse – lines 4, 6, 12, 13
  • Edgar Quinet / Raspail – 6
  • Vavin – 4
  • Gaieté -13
  • Buses: 28, 58, 88, 91, 92, 94, 95, 96

Hotel tips for Montparnasse

  • Good: Inexpensive yet classy, Hôtel A La Villa des Artistes (3*) is close to transport links and restaurants, with a leafy courtyard to unwind in 
  • Better: Hotel Aiglon (4*) is stylish, comfortable, and superbly located
  • Sensational: Victoria Palace Hôtel (4*) is a boutique hotel with a glowing reputation for service and comfort

The Latin Quarter

Quarter latin parisian roofs and domes at sunrise Paris, France

Le Marais is the star of the Right Bank. The Left Bank’s answer is the Latin Quarter, just a few hundred feet across the Seine. Paris’s oldest quartier is home to France’s most prestigious university, the Sorbonne, and timeless streets filled with students and tourists.

The long and colourful history of the neighborhood practically seeps out from the cobbles underfoot. Long a hotbed for radical ideas, the quartier is haunted by the ghosts of numerous intellectuals and writers. It is reflected in a vibrant café scene and some of the best-known bookstores in Paris.

Nothing exemplifies the Latin Quarter’s roots more than the Panthéon, France’s august mausoleum for her national heroes. Many of them studied at the Sorbonne.

Although there is plenty to see within the compact neighborhood, this is a district that rewards explorers on foot or bike. There’s always an opportunity for a coffee before heading down another ancient alleyway.

Fierce intellectual debates in smoke-filled cafés are mostly a memory now. Nonetheless, the Latin Quarter remains among the most atmospheric and compelling neighborhoods in Paris.


Highlights of the Latin Quarter

  • Shakespeare & Company – feted English bookstore and a Latin Quarter legend
  • Musée De Cluny – an absorbing museum that explores the middle-ages in a stunning medieval hôtel particulier
  • The Panthéon – France’s soaring memorial to its most celebrated historical figures
  • Marché Mouffetard – a bustling market in a street that is catnip for gourmands
  • Jardins des Plantes – a picturesque park home to a zoo (the second oldest in the world) and two natural history museums

How to get there


  • Saint-Michel Notre-Dame – line 4
  • Odéon – lines 4, 10
  • Place Monge – line 7
  • Jussieu – lines 7,10
  • Buses: 27, 38, 47, 63, 72, 75, 96

Hotel tips for the Latin Quarter


The 11 best neighborhoods in Paris

The Latin Quarter’s swanky neighbour is another quartier with a layered intellectual heritage. Home to fabled cafés once frequented by literary greats, it is one of Paris’s liveliest quartiers.

Hard to visualize today, but the once flood-prone fields (prés) have been through several reinventions: a vast medieval market, theatre hub, and revolutionary cradle. It has imbued the neighbourhood with distinctive character, exemplified by the proliferation of bars and cafés. Among them is Procope, the city’s oldest café, and Les Deux Magots, where Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone Beauvoir once held court.

Saint-Germain-des-Prés is the spiritual home of jazz in France and still the leading location to hear live performances in understated jazz clubs. Enriching the neighborhood are boutique shops, high-end hotels, and several points of interest. Taken together, it’s easy to understand the enduring appeal of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.


Highlights of Saint-Germain-des-Prés

  • Église de Saint Germain des Prés – Paris’s oldest church and final resting place of “cogito, ergo sum” Rene Descartes
  • Café Procope – Paris’s oldest café and an upmarket brasserie that once served Napoleon Bonaparte and Marie Antionette
  • Debauve & Gallais – they have been making delectable chocolates for so long, it was another local favourite of Marie Antoinette, France’s last queen
  • Cour du Commerce Saint André – An atmospheric walkway filled with brasseries and a fascinating relic of pre-Revolutionary France
  • Musée National Eugène Delacroix – set in the home of the artist who painted the feted ‘Liberty Leading the People’

How to get there


  • Saint-Germain-des-Prés / Saint-Sulpice  – line 4
  • Mabillon – line 10
  • Buses: 39, 70, 95, 96

Hotel tips for Saint-Germain-des-Prés

  • Good: Hotel Artus (4*) is a popular, stylish hotel with style located in the heart of the quartier
  • Better: Hôtel Da Vinci (4*) is a classy art-themed hotel with a pool and spa
  • Sensational: 5* Relais Christine is sophisticated, expensive, and a jewel in the quartier


La Seine vue du Pont Saint Michel à Paris

Place Saint-Michel sits at the crossroads of several popular quartiers, stealing a little personality and character from each. The centrepiece is Paris’s tallest fountain, an eye-catching meeting point for revellers and tourists.

Contained within the borders of the Latin Quarter, the streets around Place Saint-Michel are duly filled with bustling cafés and restaurants. Head south across Pont Saint-Michel, and you quickly reach the evocative Île de la Cité. North takes you to the well-heeled Saint-Germain-des-Prés. It’s an exhilarating mix that explains the area’s popularity.

Place Saint-Michel lives up to its architect’s vision. The square was designed to provide a grand entrance to the new Pont Saint-Michel erected during Haussmann’s extraordinary renovation of Paris. Even above an endless stream of cars today, you can still spy Notre Dame and other major city landmarks.

With so much going on nearby, Place Saint-Michel has a gravitational pull for visitors and remains a bustling destination in a sea of fashionable neighborhoods.


Highlights of Saint-Michel

  • Jardin du Luxembourg – a short walk from Place Saint-Michel and a contender for the prettiest park in Paris
  • Église Saint-Séverin – an 800-years old church and the perfect addition to seeing Notre Dame and Sainte Chappelle
  • Fontaine Saint-Michel – the showpiece fountain that put the area on the map
  • Musée d’histoire de la médecine – a curious and surprisingly engaging museum about medicine
  • A. Lacroix Patissier – home to the Instagram-worthy Notre Dame Apple and some of the most delectable pastries in the capital

How to get there


  • Saint-Michel – Notre Dame  – line 4 / RER B & C
  • Buses: 21, 27, 38, 47, 58, 70, 87, 96, N12, N13, N14, N21, N122

Hotel tips for Saint-Michel


Aerial of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France at night

When Paris presents itself to the world, it is usually from Champs-Élysées – the “most beautiful avenue in the world” Iconic landmarks, designer boutiques, Michelin-starred restaurants, and majestic architecture. It is the upmarket Paris of popular imagination.

It was always meant to be that way. The wide avenue from the historic Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe was intended to be a showstopper, designed as the centrepiece of Haussmann’s momentous renovation of Paris.

But the quartier is more than just a famous boulevard and home for national events. The streets branching off hide some of the finest hotels and restaurants in Paris. Fortunately, you don’t need an off-shore account to enjoy the neighborhood. Burger and fries or world-class haute-cuisine, designer outfits, or a pair of jeans, Champs-Élysées caters to everyone.

Aside from being a haven for shoppers and diners, Champs-Élysées is also home to leading theatres and art galleries. And there are landmarks of stature, including the presidential Élysée Palace, Arc de Triomphe, and the square where Louis XVI was guillotined.

The Champs-Élysées may be typecast as a land of luxury. In reality, it is a heady mix of everything that makes people fall in love with Paris.     


Highlights of Champs-Élysées

  • Arc de Triomphe – the venerable monument is visually impressive, and the views from the top are even better
  • Place de la Concorde – the vast square where royals met the guillotine, precipitating a necessary name change from Place de Louis XV
  • Window-shopping the boutiques on and around the Avenue des Champs-Élysées is endlessly diverting, especially if you leave the credit card in the hotel safe…
  • Grand Palais and Petit Palais – artistically arresting, inside and out
  • Palais de la Découverte – science and interactive fun for all the family

How to get there


  • Concorde – lines 1, 8, 12
  • Champs-Élysées – Clemenceau – lines 1 ,13
  • George V, for the Arc de Triomphe  – line 1
  • Buses: 28, 42, 52, 73, 80, 93, N11, N24

Hotel tips for Champs-Élysées

  • Good: Hôtel Le 123 Elysees – Astotel (4*) is a relatively inexpensive boutique option that checks many boxes
  • Better: Hotel Lord Byron (4*) has a leafy courtyard and is an oasis in the heart of the city
  • Sensational: 5* Hôtel Grand Powers is a stylish hotel that shines in an area brimming with top-class hotels

Central Paris

The 11 best neighborhoods in Paris

Where to go if you want to visit the centre of Paris? Is it the historical, cultural, or geographic centre? Helpfully, local authorities define Central Paris as the first four Paris arrondissements, which includes many of the most compelling quartiers in Paris.

We’re talking about world-class museums, iconic monuments, and districts there since Paris’s birth. Within the boundaries are Le Marais, the Louvre, the French stock exchange, and more. Fittingly, Central Paris encompasses Île de la Cité, which contains the actual geographic centre of Paris and the political center of France for over 800 years.

Sweeping across four irresistible arrondissements, Central Paris exerts a planetary pull for first-time visitors to Paris. That’s why we’ve included it in our essential guide to the best neighborhoods in Paris.

Highlights of Central Paris

  • SoMa, or South Marais – brimming with bistros, bars, boutiques, and unquenchable energy
  • Île de la Cité – an island of immeasurable importance and home to the emblematic Notre-Dame
  • The Louvre – the world’s largest museum needs no introduction
  • Jardin des Tuileries – the elegant garden of Catherine de Medici and one of the prettiest walkways in Paris
  • Pont Neuf – the city’s oldest bridge is one of several romantic river crossings in central Paris

How to get there

Métro: There are numerous Métro stations in Central Paris. Here’s a selection for top attractions:

  • Palais RoyalMusée du Louvre – lines 1, 7
  • Saint-MichelNotre Dame – line 4
  • Saint-Paul (Le Marais) – line 1
  • Rambuteau (Le Marais) – line 11

Hotel tips for Central Paris

  • Good: Les Tournelles Paris (3*) is an inexpensive boutique gem superbly located in Haut Marais
  • Better: Lyric Hotel Paris (4*) has exceptional facilities and is well-situated for exploring Central Paris
  • Sensational: Maison Souquet (5*) is one of the finest hotels in Paris, tucked away in the refined Bourse district

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About the author

Ich liebe die Vielfalt Europas und kann von Edinburgh, Lissabon und London nicht genug bekommen! Aber mein größtes Glück ist immer noch das schöne Schweden. Eines Tages werde ich nur noch in meiner einsamen Hütte an einem See mitten im Nirgendwo zu finden sein ...

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