If not for its world-renown cuisine, architecture, fashion, or history, Paris offers many other reasons for you to visit.
Perhaps you’re looking for a week-long getaway, or you’re wanting to embark on living abroad.
With Covid-19 still a global threat, you’ll need to consider how it affects public transportation, the hospitality industry, and dining services.
You’ll also need to consider what kind of atmosphere you’d like. Paris has several neighborhoods within its arrondissements, and some are posh while others feel more like villages.
How long will you stay?. If you’re looking to permanently move (or at least have a long term stay), you’ll need to consider your income and how it compares to the average cost of living in Paris.
One thing we can assure you is this: Regardless of what Parisian neighborhood you’re in, you’ll have some of the world’s best art, cuisines, and fashion, at your fingertips— or at least a brief walk or metro ride away!
However, depending on your needs, there may be a more ideal neighborhood in Paris for you.
When visiting Paris, you’ll experience so much at an easy walking distance.
Paris neighborhoods are very diverse— Paris offers charming neighborhoods, glamorous neighborhoods, and working class neighborhoods.
You might not know yet whether you’d prefer a sprawling city with shopping streets and chic boutiques, a former red light district with winding streets and famous landmarks, a working class neighborhood with local shops, or a quiet neighborhood with a local character and village atmosphere.
Regardless of how we might imagine Paris, Parisian life differs depending on the neighborhood.
|Best for Nightlife||Oberkampf|
|Best for Cuisines and Restaurants||Canal Saint-Martin|
|Best for Expats||Le Marais and Saint-Germain-des-Prés|
|Best for Families||1st Arrondissement and 12 Arrondissement|
|Best for Shopping||Champs-Élysées|
|Best for Budget||Montmartre|
|Best Central Neighborhood||Les Halles|
|Best for Entertainment||Latin Quarter|
Best Neighborhood Overall: Bastille
In the month of July this neighborhood is the most popular place to be for locals and tourists. Because of its historical significance, Bastille is considered the heart of modern France.
The Bastille prison no longer stands, but the site is still remembered as the home of the French Revolution. Bastille Day is a national holiday in France, and thousands gather to celebrate it on the site where Bastille’s historical prison once stood.
However, even on normal days, you’ll find the neighborhood of Bastille to be an exciting atmosphere mixed with the old and the new.
Bastille has some of the best of the best of France’s theaters, art galleries, late-night bars, cafes, parks, shops, and cuisines.
In other words, if you’re looking for a little of everything we just mentioned, you can’t go wrong with Bastille.
Where to eat in Bastille
According to the New York Times, Bastille is getting all the buzz these days for its hip and innovative culinary scene.
- Manger: At the Manger, you can eat Asian-influenced cuisine by world-renowned chef Julian Cadiou under the sky-lit interior.
- Biene Ficilé: This Michelin-starred, French and European bistro specializes in roasts and meats.
- Qui Plume la Lune: This is another Michelin-starred place, and it offers European cuisine within a romantic, Japanese-influenced atmosphere.
- Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse: Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse embraces the old way of making chocolate and desserts with vintage machines and real-life chocolatiers. You can embrace your Willy Wonka factory fantasies or grab a treat in the boutique next door.
- Blé Sucré: This bakery and patisserie is modest in size but offers a wide and vibrant selection of Parisian sweats.
What to do in Bastille
As far as the visual art scene, we suggest you avoid the crowds of tourists and opt for independently-owned galleries. Bastille has some of the most trending, hidden-gem galleries in all of France.
- Un livre – une image: This is a museum of photography and has recently grown in popularity.
- Galleria Magda Danysz: a contemporary art gallery.
- La Maison Rouge.: another contemporary art gallery.
Although Bastille is slowly gentrifying, this neighborhood has roots in the working class Parisians. You’ll be able to enjoy the narrow, cobble-stoned streets without necessarily paying outrageous costs.
Best for Cuisine and Restaurants: Canal Saint-Martin
This district has emerged as a trendy site for some of the best cuisines in Paris. It’s called home for many creative individuals, as it draws in those wishing for eccentric atmospheres.
This neighborhood has a picturesque canal— perfect for a romantic getaway. For some memorable photos, walk from the narrow streets of this neighborhood to the canal’s banks and follow the Venetian-style iron gates down.
Before your visit, check out Trip Advisor for booking and information on Canal Saint-Martin tours.
As for its popular restaurants, this neighborhood favors international cuisines over French cuisine.
Where to eat in this neighborhood
- Street Bangkok: This place offers some of the city’s best Thai cuisine, with a neon atmosphere if you’re seeking something adventurous and stylish.
- El Nopal. Here, you can expect a budget-friendly traditional Mexican meal with a modern twist.
- Picotte: This is perfect if you’re craving Italian. It’s just 0.2 miles outside the main Canal Saint-Martin district.
- Pane Olio e Pomodoro. This is an overall Mediterranean and European restaurant, just 0.3 miles away from the center. .
- La Becane A Gaston, De l’Autre Cote, Auberge Pyrenees Cevennes, and Siamsa, are among Canal Saint-Martin’s top-rated spots for native cuisine. The last two have Michelin stars!
Best for Nightlife: Oberkampf
Although Oberkampf is young and lively, it draws visitors of all ages and demographics with its spectacular nightlife. While there are many young adults, you’ll find plenty of older adults there, too.
This grunge-chic area is packed with bars and venues. They’re jammed together in close proximity— so good news for those who enjoy bar hopping.
This neighborhood has all the bars you’ll need, from jazz clubs, to student bars, venues with a rooftop bar, and pubs.
Where to go in Oberkampf
Oberkampf has some quirky and exciting bars to make for a memorable bar crawl. Luckily, some are just a stone’s throw from one another.
- Casino Nouveau. Casino Nouveau is a mid-sized concert venue that hosts virtually all genres of musicians and is walking distance from numerous other bars.
- Le Cinquante: This is a retro, 50’s style place that’s popular with the locals.
- Café Chilango: This spicy, Latin bar boasts the best Mexican and Central American food in the city. There’s also Latin-style dancing and music, as well as cold, flavorful cocktails.
- Ave Maria: This is an eclectic, charmingly sacrilegious place with exotic decor and worldly cuisines. A must-have when you visit— their Bora-Bora cocktail.
- La Fine Mousse: This is just the spot for craft beer and live music lovers. It claims to be the very best spot in all of Paris for craft beers, and its fully-packed nights just about prove it.
- Aux Deux Amis: This is another unique place that’s popular with wine lovers and foodies. It has signature 70’s-nostalgia decor, as well as natural wine you can order by the glass.
Don’t worry— there’s far more than late-night bites in Oberkampf:
Where to Eat in Oberkampf
After a late night out, it doesn’t hurt to recover with a Michelin-star lunch.
- Signature by Pierre Sang: This is a fairly new, French and Korean fusion spot that’s great for a calm, intimate meal.
- Korus: This bistro serves European cuisine made from fresh market ingredients.
What else to do in Oberkampf
If you’re needing a break from the party and food scenes, check out these daytime attractions:
- Smoking Museum: It’s no secret that Paris is stereotyped for its smoking habits. Why not treat yourself to something special for a fun night out?
- Paris Winter Circus: This famous venue hosts annual shows in the Winter, as well as other grand entertainment throughout the year.
Best for Expats: Le Marais & Saint-Germain-des-Prés
Coming to a foreign land is never easy. Even with all its romance and allure, a city like the French capital of Paris certainly can overwhelm.
However, there are more optimal places to start your journey as an expat. You’ll need to consider things like your budget, your lifestyle, the transportation, and the community among locals.
For this category, we chose two neighborhoods: Le Marais and Saint-Germain-des-Prés
This district is a favorite among both tourists and locals, as its city center is probably the heart of Paris. So many historical sites and housing areas are walking distance from the city center.
It’s truly one of the most authentically Parisian neighborhoods in France, as it wasn’t affected by Napoleon’s renovation plans. You’ll find comfort while you stroll down the old, narrow streets and relax in one of its many parks.
Le Marais is a highly historical place, as its home to the first residential square in Europe—Place des Vosges.
While Place des Vosges may be pricey for most, it’s front yard is open to the public. You can expect to see folks gathered on the lawns of Place des Vosges year round for picnics, recreation, and leisure activities.
Although it’s a desirable neighborhood in Paris, Le Marais does not have to be expensive. You can find a guide on the cost of living and budgeting in Le Marais here.
How to spend your mornings
If you wish to experience France’s cafe culture, Le Marais is the place to do so.
Locals enjoy spending their mornings and afternoons in their ‘regular’ spots, such as…
- Le Peloton Cafe: This is a vegan-friendly, breakfast cafe known for its diagonal waffles and foamy cappuccinos.
- Ob-La-Di: This is a stylish, boutique-like cafe run by French and Swedish owners.
- Strada Cafe: This cafe is known for 100% homemade cuisine and gourmet coffee sourced from all over the world.
How to get around
- Paris Black Cars: For transportation, many visitors and recent expats rely on the popular Paris Black Cars taxi service. These are a convenient option if you’re wanting to learn the layout of the city or want to tour parts of it even.
- Metro: However, when you become a local, your most practical option for transportation will likely be the metro and the public bus. Paris Insider’s has a detailed guide to Paris’s metro system, with tips on cost, accessibility, and even mapping routes.
- Walking: If you don’t need to cover all that much distance, you may find walking and bicycling to be a more realistic option.
- Bicycles: Paris is known as one of the world’s most bicycle-friendly cities. France has invested considerable amounts to promote bicycling as a safe means of transportation in its capital.
One of Le Marais’s best selling points is its range of luxury and affordability. Even in its city center, you’ll find a variety of demographics, from working class to wealthy.
We couldn’t make a list of neighborhoods for expats without mentioning Saint Germain-des-Prés. This neighborhood is a dream spot for many expats and expat hopefuls.
St. Germain has long been associated with intellectualism— since the Middle Ages! If you consider yourself an intellect, this just might be your haven.
St. Germain has enough excitement to lure thousands of tourists and expats every year. It also has a charming cafe culture and lots of greenery to satisfy locals.
As an expat, you have popular places like Jardin du Luxembourg, Café de Flore, art galleries, and museums, just around the corner. For these reasons, St. Germain is often cited as the most Parisian of all neighborhoods in France.
Boulevard Saint Germain and Rue Bonaparte are some popular shopping destinations. In the former you’ll find luxury, whereas the latter has stores with the more mom-n’-pop shop feel.
However, this Parisian paradise comes with a hefty cost. St. Germain is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Paris.
Before you decide on this neighborhood, you’ll need to check out this cost of living guide for Paris, as well as this in-depth look at housing prices.
As far as community, Saint-Germain-des-Prés has a large volume of expats. You’ll find your tribe pretty fast if you choose to come here.
Best Neighborhoods for Families: 1st and 12th Arrondissements
Traveling or moving abroad with a family can be a challenge. You’ll want to go somewhere where you can satisfy everyone’s needs while keeping them safe.
If you have small children, then the 1st Arrondissement offers kid-friendly parks.
- Tuileries Park: This park has a green, open space, a carousel, and many historical statues that are fun and picturesque. You’ll be sure to capture special memories here.
- Musée de l’Orangerie: If you want to expose your kids to art and culture, the Musée de l’Orangerie is walking distance from the Tuileries gardens. It features colorful Impressionist and Post-Impressionist pieces by artists such as Monet.
- Shopping: For older kids, the Les Halles neighborhood in the 1st Arrondissement is filled with some of the capital’s best shopping.
The 12 Arrondissement offers even more attractions although without the touristy prices. You can find Bois des Vincennes and Paris Zoo in this district.
- Bois des Vincennes: This park offers leisure, play, and recreation opportunities for all sizes and ages.
- Paris Zoo: This can entertain them, as well as teach everyone a thing or two about wildlife from all over the world.
- Access to Disneyland Paris: Best of all, the Disneyland Paris theme park is easily accessed via the RER line from the 12th Arrondissement.
If you want to convince your young ones to take a break from their digital devices but keep your sanity in check, we recommend checking out these attractions during your stay.
More in the 1st and 12th Arrondissements
For family dining, Travel + Leisure offers an extensive review of the most popular restaurants in the 1st and 12th Arrondissements.
Best Neighborhoods for Shopping: Champs-Élysées
Paris is known all over the world as the capital of shopping. It’s the leader of the Western fashion scene and home to some of the most famous designers.
It also features many well-revered international designers.
For the best shopping neighborhood, we could go with none other than the famous Champs-Élysées district!
Located in Champs-Élysées, Avenue Montaigne and Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré are among the most exclusive and luxurious shopping centers in Paris— as well as the world.
If you’re a lover of fashion, Champs-Élysées just might be your dream location.
At Avenue Montaigne, you’ll find…
- Louis Vuitton
- Nina Ricci
- Ralph Lauren
- Dolce & Gabbana
Rue du Fabourge Saint-Honoré
At Rue du Fabourg Saint-Honoré, you find…
- Christian Louboutin
- Dior Concept
- Lavin femme
- Roger Vivier
- Saint Laurent
- Dolce et Gabbana
- Gianfranco Ferre
- Gianni Versace
- Salvatore Ferragamo
We guessed you recognized at least a few of those big names. If you’ve ever dreamt of having so many designer options at your fingertips in the heart of fashion, we recommend you visit Champs-Elysées.
After you finish shopping, you can take a ride beneath the famous Arc de Triomphe at the high end of Champs-Elysées and then rest at one of the many cafes.
Best Neighborhood on a Budget: Montmatre
As you may have noticed, Paris can be one of the most expensive cities in the world to visit. Although the American dollar stretches far in most places abroad, France is one of the most highly-developed and most visited cities on earth.
Just because you don’t have thousands and thousands of dollars to blow, that doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dream to visit the City of Lights.
What we love about it
What’s most magical and charming (besides its affordability) is perhaps that Montmartre is on a hill about 130 meters up.
Walking through its hilly streets, you’ll notice the colorful houses, trees, and bustling cafes. It’s no surprise that this is a gem among the neighborhoods.
You may also like to know that several famous painters have stayed here— one being none other than Pablo Piccaso!
Many say that this neighborhood feels like a village, unlike the monumental scale of the rest of Paris. You’ll notice many homes having lush gardens and a rustic vibe.
- Sacré-Cœur Cathedral: This cathedral was completed at the turn of the 20th century, following the defeat of France in the Franco-Russian War. For many, it signifies France’s penance for the defeat.
- Moulin Rouge: This is an iconic cabaret featured in pop culture. For many travelers, this is the main lure into this neighborhood.
- La Maison Rose: This is a historical and iconically pink cafe that predates the Second World War.
How to save on accommodations
- Le Village Montmartre by Hiphophostels: For short stays, we recommend this place. It’s a small hotel with stellar service, and you’ll have quick access to the metro and other public transportations.
- AirBnB: For a long-term stay, apartment and housing prices have been dropping in the past decade. That means that the overall rates of AirBnB’s has also dropped.
The only major drawback of staying in Montmartre is its accessibility. It is, after all, seated on a hill; therefore, those with disabilities or issues walking may not find this neighborhood the most ideal unless prepared with accomodations.
Best Central Neighborhood: Les Halles
This neighborhood is conveniently located in the most central area of Paris. It stretches across the 1st and 4th Arrondissements
When we think of classic Parisian life it’s hard not to imagine street food markets, with an iconic cheese shop, bakery, and pastry shop on the surrounding streets.
In Les Halles, you’ll find chefs from all over Paris coming to the markets in the early hours to source fresh ingredients. For all the great restaurants in Paris, the chefs take fresh, local produce and meats seriously.
The markets are also popular for foodies who are bored with typical grocery stores.
The best food market in Les Halles is Rue Montorgueil, which is one of the oldest markets in all of Paris.
This market is all that remains of the historical Les Halles neighborhood, since it was paved with concrete in the 1950s.
Some other great cultural attractions in this central Paris neighborhood are the Centre National d’art et Culture George-Pompidou and St. Eustache Church.
Centre National d’art et Culture George-Pompidou
Centre National d’art et Culture George-Pompidou (or George-Pompiduo National Center of Art and Culture) features the work of artists such as Picasso and Kandinsky.
This museum has a fresh, modern look on the outside, as you’ll see a tunnel stairwell going up diagonally across the front of the structure.
St. Eustache Church
St. Eustache Church is a Gothic church dating back to the early 1500’s. It has the iconic buttresses and rose windows on the outside guaranteed to give you chills when standing in outside of it.
Inside, you’ll find art from the famous painter Peter Paul Rubins and stained glass windows. This church took over a hundred years to complete, and today, it’s still a functioning parish.
Just a stone’s throw away from St. Eustache, you’ll stumble upon the epic Stravinsky Fountain.
Also called the Fontaine des Automates, this fountain features contemporary sculptures by Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle. The sculptures are 16 in total and dedicated to the life and works of Stravinsky.
Parisians and tourists like to come here for the relaxing waters and, of course, the fun photo opts.
Les Halles is also known for more than these tourist attractions and this central location. This Paris neighborhood is actually a great neighborhood for pub crawls, dining, cinema, and shopping.
The fact that it’s not focused on tourist attractions, as well as its easy access to the rest of Paris, is what lures many people into long term stays here.
A few more must-visits when in Les Halles
- Trendy boutiques: Les Halles is a great shopping destination for locals, expats, and tourists alike.
- Westfield Forum des Halles is filled with major designers and small, trendy boutiques. It’s a one-stop-shop that even has travel agencies, appliance stores, and relaxation activities inside.
- If you’re into cooking or simply want to give French culinary traditions a go while you’re there, E. Dehillerin has some of the finest French cookware in Paris.
- Les Caves du Louvre is a fun, interactive experience in historical, royal wine cellars. Participants gets to make their own wine, all the while they enjoy games, tastings, and education.
Overall, Les Halles is a great spot in Paris for its central location. You’ll be right in the center of everything, with easy access via metro or RER to other major tourist places.
Also, Les Halles has its own attractions, including great shopping, historical sites, and art.
Best Neighborhoods for Students and Intellectuals: Latin Quarter
The Latin Quarter is historically a university town within the capital. While the name “Latin” and all the classical-style architecture might sound ancient, these Latin elements are actually newer than you think.
This neighborhood is called the Latin Quarter because of the Sorbonne University. Sorbonne was a center of learning for centuries, where students read in Latin primarily.
In this neighborhood, you’ll find medieval churches like the Eglise Saint-Séverin Saint-Nicolas and museums like the Cluny Museum.
It’s also home to grand, Neoclassical sites like the Pathéon and the Jardin de Roses.
Although its name, dome, and column might make it seem ancient, Panthéon is not from Roman times.
Pathéon was started as an 18th century church and became a consecration site for secular figures in the Revolution. Today, the Panthéon is a popular tourist attraction.
Best Sites and Activities in Latin Quarter
Overall, Latin Quarter has a beautiful, Neoclassical charm that might make you think you’re in Rome at times.
Here, you’ll be among the students and intellectuals of the city and you can sip coffee at a cafe in view of the historical university, see fine art, and appreciate the diversity and culture of France.
Things to Consider
According to the French Government’s official site, as of July 18, 2021, any person coming from the United States must present one of two things:
- Proof of vaccinated status (a CDC card, for instance, showing all required doses of one of the EU-approved vaccines were received at least two weeks prior to the date), or
- Official documentation of the person’s negative results of a PCR Covid-19 test (must have been taken 72 hours within arrival).
Now that’s just for gaining entrance into France. Once you arrive, you should expect to adhere to their rules to prevent the spread, and you shouldn’t be surprised if more restrictions return.
In order to eat out, attend the cinema and theatre, use public transportation, fly, and participate in recreation and leisure activities, you must present either proof of vaccination or documentation of a recent negative PCR test.
For more information and advice for foreign visitors, check out this link.
For Americans, a valid American passport will permit you to stay in France for 90 days, as long as it’s not expiring within three months of your expected departure from France.
For any stay beyond 90 days, you must obtain a visa.
For more information, see France’s page on Travel.State.gov.
Booking Hotels and Stays
For booking hotels in Paris, you’ll want to consider the language barrier, as well as time zone differences. For these reasons, it’s more efficient for you to use the following popular booking sites:
If you must make changes or cancellations, these sites offer search filters such as “free cancellation” and / or state their policy upon booking. If you have concerns or need to speak to a hotel associate, these sites have included contact information including email and chat services for convenience.
It’s generally a good idea to contact your hotel or accommodation beforehand if you have dietary, accessibility, or transportation concerns, as well as any questions about the establishment’s Covid-19 safety measures.
Luckily, these sites allow you to view your room and the list of its features, as well as read the ratings of previous guests.
Best of all, these sites have mobile apps on which you can book, pay, contact representatives, and check the status of your reservation.
For finding available apartments, we recommend you check out Paris-Housing.com. This site allows you to search by the Arrondissement and use search filters such as budget and other criteria.
If walking, bicycling, car rentals, or taxis, aren’t practical, then Paris has efficient public transportation.
The Paris Metro is one of the most popular options. However, you should check Covid-19 risks and restrictions before you factor in this form of transportation now.
For information on the Paris Metro, see the Paris Insider’s Guide.
There’s also the public bus, the express railway (RER), the Transilien, the Tramway, and others. See this guide for maps and other information.
How Safe is Paris?
According to Numbo, Paris has a crime index of 55.1. As you can see above, if you visit Paris, you’re most at risk for getting insulted and having your property vandalized.
International Citizens says Le Marais and Saint Germain-des-Prés are among the safest of Paris’s neighborhoods; however, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be on guard.
When you’re in a foreign country, you should always be discreet about what money or expensive items you have on your person. Unfortunately, there’s a high chance you’ll get stopped in touristy areas and be demanded to buy a stranger’s item(s).
It’s never a good idea to indulge him or her, as this could be a means of distracting you from the accompaniment reaching for your wallet. Keep conversations brief with strangers, and never volunteer personal information, such as where you’re staying.
Never… I mean NEVER… carry your passport in a purse or pocket. Many hotels have safes in which you can store your personal items. Once your passport is lost or stolen, you’ll have to contact your embassy for a replacement and potentially delay your return for weeks.
Make note of the phone contact to the authorities. There’s an official site here; however, you should always double-check with your accommodations.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
In what neighborhood is the Notre Dame Cathedral?
The Notre Dame Cathedral is located on an island of the River Seine, called Île de la Cité. This island is the historical center of Paris, where the Roman governor was once seated.
To get to Île de la Cité, you can take bus 57 from Louvre or the yellow metro line 1.
In what neighborhood is the Eiffel Tower?
The Eiffel Tower is located in Champs des Mars. You can also view the Eiffel Tower from other neighborhoods in the city.
However, if you want that iconic photo posing in front of the Eiffel Tower, you can get there many different ways.
How do I get to the Eiffel Tower?
- Metro: You can get to the Eiffel Tower via metro lines 9, 8, and 6.
- Bus: Bus lines 82 and 42 will take you to the Eiffel Tower.
- RER: Take line C of the RER, especially if you want to get to the Eiffel Tower from a farther neighborhood in Paris.