Paris Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > France > Paris > History

Eiffel TowerIn Paris, districts (arrondissements) are simply numbered from 1 to 20: the first district is right in the middle of the city and the others are arranged around it in a clockwise spiral. This guide will highlight the main sites in each district so that you can make the most of your trip to Paris.

1st: People come from all over to visit the Louvre, one of the world's finest museums, and then walk in the Tuileries Gardens, opposite the Pyramid. Place Vendôme is home to Paris' jewelers (Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron.) and whilst haute couture creators such as Yves St-Laurent or Christian Dior can be found on rue Saint-Honoré. For more affordable prices, go to the Forum des Halles, inner Paris's largest shopping mall.

2nd: West from Rue de Richelieu is the "theatre district": a good dozen can be found in this part of town. The 2nd district, is also a great place to sample typical Parisian atmosphere: little passageways and arcades full of shops and small cafés, abound around Boulevard Montmartre and Rue Croix-des-petits-champs.

3rd: The Marais boasts the most beautiful private mansions dating from the Middle Ages, such as the Hôtel de Rohan or de Sal, in Rue de Sévigné, where the rampart walk once was. Paris's historical museum, the Carnavalet, is also situated here.

4th: The 4th is probably the best place in Paris to stroll. Opposite l'Hôtel de Ville (meaning townhall), are the two islands of Paris, l'Ile de la Cité and l'Ile St-Louis: don't miss Notre-Dame and Place Dauphine on the former, and a walk in the main street of the latter. Place des Vosges is one of Paris's most famous plaza and finally, the main focus for contemporary art in France is also in this part of town, at the Beaubourg/Pompidou Centre.

5th: Known together with the 6th district as Quartier Latin (the Latin quarter), this is the student district. Around the Panthéon, within a 100-metre radius, all the most prestigious high schools and universities have formed a scholarly nucleus. If you fancy a walk, visit the Jardin des Plantes and its zoo and the amphitheatre of Lutetia, a vestige of Roman times. The Museum of the Middle Ages is in the Square de Cluny, and the quays host hundreds of second-hand books sellers. At night, thousands of young people gather on the Place de la Contrescarpe and Rue Mouffetard.

6th: The Rues de Buci, de Seine, Dauphine and Mazarine, and the area between Boulevard St-Germain and the Seine provide perfect examples of Parisian charm: you can find shops and cafés, and busy pubs at night. For a quieter atmosphere, wander through the Luxembourg Gardens, or for more shopping, check out Rue de Rennes, where there is much to see.

7th: Generaly called "the ministries district", it also hosts some of Paris most famous monuments: the Invalides, the Eiffel Tower, the Champ de Mars and L'Ecole Militaire. Between Quai Voltaire and Rue de l'Université, hundreds of antique dealers will welcome you in Carré Rive Gauche (literally the left bank square). For more art, the Orsay Museum is absolutely marvellous.

8th: A visit here should obviously start with the Champs-Elysées, the most popular avenue in the world, which starts from the Etoile Plaza and ends on the Place de la Concorde. Also to be seen are the Madeleine Church and the Parc Monceau, a paradise for joggers. Shopping for all things musical should be done on Rue de Rome and for culture, do not miss the Jacquemart-André Museum, the Grand and Petit Palais, and the Musée de la Découverte, Paris's best science museum.

9th: The Opéra is the monument to visit in this district, but there are also other things to do: the Musée Grévin (Pais equivalent for Tussaud's in London), a walk in New Athens, around the metro station St-Georges. Most of all, this district is famous for its department stores on Boulevard Hausmann: Printemps, the Galeries Lafayette and Marks & Spencer.

10th: Along the Canal St-Martin are the Quai de Valmy and Jemmapes and a stroll here makes one of the nicest walks in Paris. If you start from Rue du Temple and head down to Place de Stalingrad you will pass several locks and barges.

11th: This district has some of the finest Parisian nightspots: Rue Oberkampf is very trendy and the Rues de la Roquette and de Lappe are more popular than ever.

12th: Paris's Marina is there, spreading from the River Seine to the Place de la Bastille and its fabulous Opera theatre. The Palais Omnisport Paris-Bercy hosts many spectacular events including concerts and sports fixtures - unfortunately often sold out! East of the city itself but still in the 12th district is the Bois de Vincennes, a large park with a lake.

13th: The eastern part of this district is often called "Chinatown": it houses an incredible quantity of Chinese and Asian restaurants and shops, and even massive Oriental superstores. Paris's brand new huge library is by the river, on the Quai de la Gare. In the western part, stroll in the nice village of La Butte-aux-Cailles, a Parisian gem, and on Place d'Italie, you will find Europe's biggest cinema screen.

14th: Rue d'Alésia is the perfect place for clothes shopping, retail temptation stretching from one end of the street to the other. The parc Montsouris is Paris's nicest park, and just opposite it is the International Universitary Residence, which deserves a visit for its medley of international architectural styles. Finally on the Denfert-Rochereau Plaza stands a huge bronze statue of a lion.

15th: By the river you can find the very beautiful Citroen gardens (parc André Citroen), named after the car manufacturer who had his first factory there. Up North but still facing the Seine are Paris's skyscrapers, dominating a replica (or the first model?) of the Statue of Liberty.

16th: It is generally known as the smartest district of Paris - the Trocadero offers a nice view of the city as well as two museums (Marine Museum and Museum of Mankind). Avenue Foch is impressive, as is the Parc des Princes (Paris Stadium). West from the ring road, streches the Bois de Boulogne, the western equivalent of Bois de Vincennes.

18th: The most interesting spot in this district is without doubt the Sacré-Coeur basilica and the surrounding streets. Although now rather tourist-ridden, it is still incredibely charming and the view from the stairs of the basilica will absolutely stun you. Also famous in the 18th is the Pigalle area (Boulevards de Clichy and de Rochechouart) and its nightlife: bars, clubs, etc. This is Paris's red-light district.

19th: The Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie in La Villette was founded to be science's showcase in Paris, with great success, thanks largely to La Géode, a totally spherical cinema. Les Buttes Chaumont is an attractive park and you can finish a walk through here at the second part of the canal previously mentionned.

20th: The Père Lachaise cemetery has become one of Paris's most visited places, probably because many famous artsits are buried here. Jim Morrison's memory is forever cherished here, and his grave covered with flowers. You might find some of your long-lost idols here!