Paris is one of the world’s greatest cities, known for its historical, cultural, artistic and culinary traditions. You will be interested to know that the city is divided into several municipal districts for easier administration. Exploring the arrondissements of Paris is a wonderful activity in itself. These urban districts have their own character, offering several iconic Parisian aspects like great food, ample history and tradition, fabulous stores and quartiers or neighborhoods where locals reside. The 20 arrondissements are often called twenty little cities of Paris in themselves. Paris steadily evolved into a city from a smaller town centering on islands. The city witnessed rapid expansion from the 1860s, integrating various surrounding villages into one big city and its 20 arrondissements.
Paris is one of the world’s greatest cities, known for its historical, cultural, artistic and culinary traditions. You will be interested to know that the city is divided into several municipal districts for easier administration. Exploring the Paris arrondissements is a wonderful activity in itself. These urban districts have their own character, offering several iconic Parisian aspects like great food, ample history and tradition, fabulous stores and quartiers or neighborhoods where locals reside. The 20 arrondissements are often called twenty little cities of Paris in themselves. Paris steadily evolved into a city from a smaller town centering on islands. The city witnessed rapid expansion from the 1860s, integrating various surrounding villages into one big city and its 20 arrondissements.
Exploring the Arrondissements of Paris
The Paris arrondissement map will clearly indicate a spiral formation, commencing from Ile de la Cite which is the western tip and the first arrondissement. This goes in a clockwise pattern until the 20th arrondissement touches the city’s easternmost boundary. This is how Paris was planned from 1860 and in 2020, the four Paris arrondissements with the smallest figures (including its islands) were integrated into the Paris Central administrative district.
The mairie in the 3rd arrondissement is now the new district’s town hall. Paris technically has 17 arrondissements today although the Paris districts from 1-4 are still regarded as four separate zones or little cities. Here is a nifty little guide that will help you navigate these arrondissements with ease.
1st & 2nd Arrondissement – While being the oldest and most centrally located Paris districts, the 1st and 2nd Arrondissements were once the seat of administrative authority in the country, i.e. the Louvre Palace. There are numerous attractions here today including the Louvre Museum, Saint Eustache, Palais Royal, Jardin des Tuileries and Place de la Concorde among numerous others.
3rd & 4th Arrondissements – The Marais cover the 3rd and 4th Paris Arrondissements, making up one of the city’s most elegant zones. Built over reclaimed Marais or marshland, it was the preferred residential area for aristocrats between the 13th and 17th centuries. You will find trendy stores galore along with a lively local community, the famous Hotel de Ville, a bustling Jewish community and innumerable Sunday brunches at the top eateries. There is the Place de Vosges, the first Parisian royal park to open to the general public.
Islands of Paris – Based on the Paris arrondissement map, the two islands, i.e. Ile St. Louis and Ile de la Cite are bang in the middle of the city. They contain the La Sainte-Chapelle, Notre Dame Cathedral and Concierge. The police headquarters and Hotel Dieu hospital are also present in this zone. They are now a part of the Paris Central administrative district.
5th Arrondissement – The globally acclaimed Latin Quarter goes all the way back to Roman times. You will find attractions like the Rue Mouffetard, Pantheon and Sorbonne here along with the cobblestone pathways. Some of the best food markets of Paris will draw you along with the innumerable French universities. The name of the area goes all the way back to historical times when Latin was the chief language spoken by students here.
6th Arrondissement – This is one of the most beautiful zones in the city, housing Jardin du Luxembourg and the St-Germain-des-Pres church. It has lovely shopping thoroughfares and cafes.
7th Arrondissement – Perhaps the most famous arrondissement of all, this zone contains some of the city’s biggest attractions like the Eiffel Tower, Musee d’Orsay and Les Invalides. Charming neighborhoods dot the River Seine’s banks while you will also find government offices, the Rue Cler Food Street and Rodin Museum.
8th Arrondissement – This is home to the Champs-Elysees and Arc de Triomphe along with chic shopping establishments, museums and luxurious hotels. The iconic Parc Monceau is also present here.
9th Arrondissement – This zone has the famous Palais Garnier opera house from the 19th century along with the Printemps and Grands Magasins.
10th Arrondissement – The area is home to two of the biggest gares in the city along with the Canal St-Martin’s northern portion. There are several shops and restaurants here.
11th Arrondissement – This area contains Canal St-Martin along with numerous cafes and restaurants. There is a nice covered market along with the Canalside promenade for leisurely walks and boat rides on offer too.
12th Arrondissement – This is the city’s biggest arrondissement, including the Bois de Vincennes. The 12th has the famous Opera Bastille, the Garde de Lyon train station, the Aligre Market, Temple of Love and Bercy Village among other attractions.
13th Arrondissement – This area is more of a 20th century Paris with extensive rebuilding, high-rises and modern projects. Yet, you will still find charming traditional street markets, a famous train station, a swimming pool that floats over the River Seine and a buzzing arts and entertainment circuit.
14th Arrondissement – The 14th Arrondissement is a highly populated residential zone with its own charm, interesting shops and eateries.
15th Arrondissement – This is another massively sized area, nestling against the River Seine on its left bank and houses the well-known Gare Montparnasse train station and the Tour Montparnasse skyscraper. Other top picks include the Parc Andre Citroen, Rue du Commerce and the Grenelle Market.
16th Arrondissement – The 16th Arrondissement lies at the city’s westernmost point, covering the Bois de Boulogne which is a big and affluent neighborhood dotted with luxury stores, food markets and Musee Marmottan. Some of the best Eiffel Tower views are possible from across the River Seine in this zone. It is also home to luxury hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants alike.
17th Arrondissement – This big zone lies on the city’s northwest corner and is home to several locals. You will come across the best cheese joints, street markets, boucheries and boulangeries in this area along with all other services. This is where you will also find well-known restaurants and hotels in the city.
18th Arrondissement – The Montmartre quartier was earlier a village nestled on a hill above the city. This covers the entire stretch from the 9th border till the city’s northernmost tip. The artistically famous area has been home to several icons including Renoir, Picasso and Van Gogh. The views from the top are spectacular, particularly from the Sacre Coeur church and Place de Tertre. It also houses the Dali Museum and Moulin Rouge.
19th Arrondissement – This area has two of the city’s biggest parks. Parc de la Villette houses the Cite des Sciences museum and the Philharmonie de Paris concert hall along with the unique music museum named Cite de la Musique. The second park is Buttes Chaumont which has its own waterfall and a lovely bridge for pedestrians.
20th Arrondissement – The 20th Arrondissement lies on the city’s eastern edge and is just half an hour away by metro from the city center. You will find the intriguing Pere Lachaise cemetery and the lovely Belleville community.
La Defense – La Defense is the contemporary Parisian business district, lying just two miles westwards from the main city. It is known for its fabulous skyscrapers.
With this handy guide to the arrondissements of Paris, you can expect to have a fun time during your trip. Book your vacation apartments in Paris without further ado.