All roads in Paris lead to Point zéro des routes de France. The literal and figurative centre of the famed city of Paris, the 'kilometre zero point' (as it is better known to the international community), offers some of the finest landscapes on the planet: scenic views of the Seine river on either sides and the silhouettes of the Sainte-Chapelle and Notre Dame further across. And while one might be easily tempted to spend their entire weekend holiday in the neighborhood, that's not all that Paris has to offer.
While in Paris, one would want to do much more than just catch a glance of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de triomphe. And the city's under-explored parts will surely not disappoint. It all really begins with what part of the city you choose to stay in. The extensive metro network of the city has made every nook and cranny accessible and with each neighborhood carrying its own mores, there is something for everyone to choose from.
Voici nos choix (Here are our picks).
Located on and around a hillock in Paris' 18th district that imparts it with its name, Montmartre has it all. While a rich cultural history anchored by the Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur at the centre, a walking trail through the old town, a small vineyard and a nightclub and pub district will keep you interested all day, little would match the view of the city from the top of the hill.
Getting to that point is a treat in itself as you can indulge yourself in rich pastries at one of the numerous cafés or visit a pub for a chilled beer in the neighborhood. Several Parisian artists have occupied the district over the years and have imparted their legacy to it. A cabaret show or a visit to a studio that once served the likes of Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh will be perfect to cap off your evening walk in Montmartre.
With over half a dozen stations, the neighborhood is accessible through the metro line 2 and 12. And while the rent in the district might take a toll on your budget, it does make for a wonderful short term leisure stay.
Known for its numerous art galleries and up-and-coming cafes and restaurants, Le Marais is the perfect locale for lovers of food and art. The neighborhood lies in 3rd and 4th districts and also offers a treat for shoppers. Le Marais has turned into quite a fashion district with a lot of clothing stores and boutiques for the ones with an appetite for high-fashion.
While staying in the neighborhood, you can just hop out for a stroll on the stone-paved streets of the neighborhood. A walk in the areas can turn into very rewarding experience owing to the numerous age-old buildings and museums that you might come across. There's also a high chance that you might stumble upon one of many green parks in the neighborhood, which are perfect for a quiet afternoon outing under the sun.
The area is well connected by the metro network and is closed for motor vehicles on Sundays. As it stands, the pedestrian traffic in the neighborhood tends to be high on the given day so plan your stay and outings accordingly.
Just north of Le Marais is the Canal Saint Martin and its surrounding neighborhood which presents itself as another easy to explore laid back neighborhood. There are roads that run parallel to the canal that offers a perfect setting for an afternoon walk of a bicycle ride on a sunny day. The area is also known to be quite a spot for outdoor picnics and get-togethers.
While in the Saint-Martin area do not miss out on the boat ride in the canal or catching the sunset from one of the pedestrian bridges that overlap the canal. These very bridges were the setting for many an eventful sequences in Pierre Jeunet’s now internationally-accalimed film Amélie. The neighborhood has also started to attract a younger ground in recent years which has led to the setting up for new-age galleries and studios that might catch your attention.
Located in the 10th district of Paris, the area, like most others, is easily accessible through the metro network. But once you're in the neighborhood, try to go for a rented bicycle to shuttle around.
Also on the left bank of the Seine river lies the 7th district of Paris, home to one of the world's most recognisable landmarks, the Eiffel Tower. But that's hardly where things end; the area, which largely constitutes of an urban district housing diplomats and high ranking state officials, also boasts of highly popular tourist attractions including the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte, Paris' Army Museum, Musée d'Orsay (known for its collection of French art), and one of the city's biggest open greenspaces, the Champ de Mars among others.
Add to that the imposing view of the Eiffel from almost every part of the district and you have yourself a day well spent. There are also an endless number of possibilities to discover at the district's several marketplaces. Cobbled streets with bustling crowds surrounded by some of the oldest clothing styles of Paris, high-end restaurants and cafes offer a perfect Parisian experience for those interested.
While hotel options might be limited in the area it is easy to find rental apartments even for the relatively shorter stays. The quintessential Parisian architecture of most of the residential buildings in the neighborhood is a treat in itself.
Located in the 6th district of Paris, the neighborhood borrows its name from the eponymous church. The area developed quite a culture in the late 19th and 20th century when it was inhabited largely by working class population and several intellectuals, philosophers, and musicians. Anchoring the non-conformist cultural zeitgeist of the era was a development of Jazz music and an existential chain of thought spinning from the dominant thoughts of the intellectual.
Many of these intellectuals often met at what have today become some of the most recognisable (and often labeled literary) cafes in the world including the very picturesque Cafe de Flore, which definitely warrants a visit. The cafes, which also boasts of other names including Les Deux Magots and Brasserie Lipp, are just one of the few talking points in the neighborhood, which draws heavily from its rich modern history and houses many libraries and bookshops frequented by residents and tourists alike.
Today, the area is also crowded by several upscale boutique hotels that make the area very tourist-friendly. Apart from the Saint-Germain-des-Prés metro station, the area is also accessible through the Mabillon station.
Moving on to the livelier part of the left bank of the Seine, one can find themselves amidst the company of the city's youth in the Latin Quarter. The neighborhood is the perfect hanging place for young travellers looking for a lively Parisian experience. The area has several modern bistros and underground bars, serving the customers with both live music and lively French cuisine that are flooded by students of the educational institutions including the University of Paris throughout the day.
The Montagne Sainte-Geneviève hillock has another complete experience to offer in itself. Aside from the similarly lively bars and bistros that define the district, the area also houses the Pantheon, an overbearing figure of Neo-classical architecture with a rich history that you can explore on a sunny summer day. The paths around the area are laden with cobblestone streets with iconic cafes and bookstores spread intermittently.
The lavish boutique hotels of the 6th district have invaded into the Latin Quarter as well and one can find themselves with plenty of options to choose from while in the neighborhood.
Back onto the right bank of the Seine, Passy is one of the western-most neighborhoods of Paris. However, that doesn't make it inaccessible as it is right across from the 7th district and offers, from most parts of the neighborhood, stunning views of the Eiffel Tower from across the river. Passy is best known for its affluent lifestyle with many of Paris' elite living in the neighborhood.
The neighborhood has become synonymous with Parisian chic and has numerous shopping options from which to choose. Also tucked away into the alleyways are lesser-known but delightful cafes and galleries to whiff pass on a day out in the streets. A perfect end to a busy day in the neighborhood is a walk in the green lawns on the banks of the Seine river with a majestic view of the Eiffel Tower in the backdrop of the evening sky.
The area is serviceable through the line 9 of the metro network. You can find relatively cheaper living options here despite the affluent nature of the neighborhood.
One of the two major parks of the 19th district of Paris, Parc de la Villette makes for a major attraction in the neighborhood that is known eponymously. The park houses one of the largest science museums in all of Europe. That, besides the neighborhood's other cultural centres including theatres, concert halls, bright street murals and artsy outdoors, and even a Museum of musical instruments, all of which also attract a large number of tourists with a knack for the fine arts.
This is the neighborhood for the lovers of music and the performing arts. One can find several performance artists and small festivals celebrating music and other fine arts in the premises of the park, which offers a great outdoorsy experience in itself. The neighborhood is also far from the hustle and bustle of the metropolitan area and has remained so for quite some time. It makes it perfect for a change of scenery for the ones looking for it.
The area, although on the outskirts of Pairs is serviceable through the metro. The stations of Corentin Cariou on Line 7 and Porte de Pantin on Line 5 directly serve the Parc de la Villette. Finding a chic rental in the area might be a harder task than in the other parts of the city, but for those interested in experiencing this whole new side of Paris, it can be a highly rewarding search.
The last neighborhood on our list is the 8th district of Paris. The Arc de Triomphe is one of the major tourist attractions of the area, but what might stay with you long after you have left Paris are the beautifully constructed avenues. Most famous of these, Avenue des Champs-Élysées, is 1.9 kilometres long and 70 meters wide. With lush trees on its sides, the avenue offers some of the best upscale shopping options and eateries to choose from in Paris. The avenue ends in two of the most iconic public squares of Paris: the Place de la Concorde and the Place Charles de Gaulle, the latter of which is also the venue of the Arc de Triomphe.
The perfect neighborhood for tourists, fashionistas in particular, the 8th district is bound not to disappoint with its lively crowds and iconic structures. If you were to find any free time from walking through the avenues, treat yourself to a nice snack in a trendy cafe, the kind that the neighborhood has in abundance.
Needless to say, the area is well within the range of the metro network and is one of the most easily accessible ones in Paris. Also hotels and rentals are in abundance and offer a nice range and variety ranging from homestays to the best in the hospitality business.
That's our list for the best neighborhoods to stay in while you're in the romance capital of the world. Take your pick, traveller. And, as always, au revoir.