Paris is a beautiful, often laid back feeling city. But like any major city, it needs to be managed effectively. Especially when you consider a population of 2.1 million and yearly visitors of 23 million!
Paris uses the arrondissement system, which any frequent visitors to Paris will be well aware of. If you aren’t a frequent visitor it may take a little getting used to. You may even be wondering exactly what an arrondissement is?
The Parisian arrondissement system is similar to the borough system employed in New York and London. It divides the French capital into twenty administrative districts from Louvre as the first arrondissement to Ménilmontant as the twentieth.
If you were to picture the arrondissements, you would see them laid out in a clockwise spiral, very much like a snail shell. The first is in the centre of the city on the Right Bank of the Seine and the twelfth to twentieth are on the outskirts of the city.
The outlying arrondissements are also larger in size and population, the twentieth arrondissement having a population of over 182,000 compared to just 17,000 in the first.
But what are the top arrondissements of Paris? Depends what you mean by ‘top’!
Best Arrondissements to Live
When you’re planning your trip, you’ll want to know where the best place to live is. Especially if you’re making the sensible choice and not staying in a homogenised hotel chain. After all, if you stay in a hotel, you could be anywhere in the world! The seasoned traveller now chooses serviced apartments in Paris so they can really experience the culture.
The eighteenth arrondissement of Butte-Montmartre is a good place to start. First of all, everybody has heard of Montmartre, so when you’re boasting of your accommodation in the world’s most romantic city, people will be impressed.
Secondly, they’ve got every reason to be impressed, Montmartre is high up on a hill from which you can look down on the splendour of Paris.
However, you don’t have to gaze on splendour from afar, it’s all around you in Montmartre in an old world charm that isn’t always visible in a twenty first century city such as Paris.
Montmartre is a neighbourhood that cherishes its roots and maintains a kind of village-like state with its cobbled streets and artistic surroundings.
What about the twentieth arrondissement? Are there any advantages of staying here?
Paris hasn’t got the reputation of being the greenest city in Europe, places like London and Amsterdam are often considered to have many more open green spaces. However, this seems unfair when you consider the tree lined avenues of Belleville.
There’s also something that little bit more local about the twentieth too, it just feels that little bit less touristy. If you truly want to live like the French then here’s the place to observe and copy.
If you need any more persuasion then it’s the final resting place of Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf and Frédéric Chopin who all reside at the Père Lachaise cemetery. And if it’s good enough for those guys to have chosen it as their forever home, then…
Best Arrondissements for Tourists
If you’re not too interested in integrating yourself in the Parisian way of life, but are keen to see everything Paris has to offer from a tourist point of view then the top arrondissements are slightly different. You want to stay somewhere close to the sites and you don’t mind a crowd.
The Latin Quarter is a good place to start in the fifth arrondissement. If the eighteenth is the part of Paris that embraces its roots then the fifth is the one that looks to the future.
The fifth is the centre for Paris’ nightlife and fun can be had here almost twenty four hours a day. Not surprising that it is the centre of Paris’ student life.
If you’re shamelessly obvious and don’t mind admitting it, and what you want more than anything is a constant view of the Eiffel Tower then the seventh arrondissement is probably the one for you.
Here you’ll find plenty of accommodation with your dream postcard view.
If you’re not interested in the culture, have seen all the sites before and all you really want to do is shop, then arrondissement eight is where you should be headed. It’s the home of the world famous Champs-Élysées which in turn is home to retail outlets of the world’s top fashion designers.
It’s also not a bad place to be if you’re interested in top dining.
These are just a few examples of the twenty arrondissements you have to choose from. Everyone has its advantages and disadvantages. You may find yourself with the enviable ‘problem’ that you have to make several visits to Paris before you find your favourite!