The ultimate Paris neighbourhood guide


The ultimate Paris neighbourhood guide

Ellie Pithers breaks down Paris's arrondissements to enlighten you on where to go in the City of Lights

Ellie Pithers

BY Ellie Pithers16 May 2024

For every self-fulfilling prophecy about Paris – wine on tap, cheese for days – there’s a tourist trap to ensnare the unsuspecting visitor. Which is why it pays to do some research and reserve a few tables if you’re planning to hit the city this summer. To stop you from going off-track, we’ve compiled the ultimate neighbourhood guide to Paris.

Some pointers to get you started: the capital is easy to navigate on foot (wear comfortable shoes) or hire a bike instead of catching the Métro. Any attempt to order a meal in French will be appreciated, even if the waiter remains outwardly unmoved. Don’t wear a beret or mention Emily in Paris. And leave time to wander – you never know what obscure museum or eccentric antique shop you might stumble upon. Here’s how to navigate the city’s arrondissements.

1st and 2nd arrondissements

Best for art lovers

The Louvre

The mark of a true Parisian? An annual pass to the Louvre (93 rue de Rivoli). It can take over 100 hours to see its (roughly) 35,000 exhibits – and that’s not accounting for the time it takes to navigate the swell of tourists. Our advice: book an early dinner – outside at Loulou, if it’s sunny – then take your turn on a Friday evening when the crowds have subsided and the museum is open until 9.45pm.

As for other gems in the quartier: at one end of the scale, there’s Hôtel de la Marine (2 Place de la Concorde), an exemplar of 18th-century palatial grandeur that’s worth an ogle (take the audio tour, which is genuinely interesting). Then, far more intimate but no less impressive is Sainte Anne Gallery, at 44 rue Sainte-Anne, a tiny two-storey space with thought-provoking shows and a cool crowd of regulars.

The chic check-in Hôtel Madame Rêve in the former La Poste du Louvre building, which has delightful retro styling and a lushly green roof terrace (overlooking all the big-deal landmarks), and is set steps from the Louvre.

3rd arrondissement

Best for shopping


Swerve the designer outposts for hidden-gem boutiques on inauspicious streets. There’s no better feeling than brandishing your artisanal handkerchief, handmade leather slippers, vintage earrings…in front of less well-travelled friends while sighing, ‘Oh this? I got it in Paris’. Officine Universelle Buly (45 rue de Saintonge) is a perfume shop with a coffee bar inside – the lip-balm cases, which can be monogrammed, make great gifts.

Equally alluring is Ogata (16 rue Debelleyme), an elegant emporium of all things Japanese, with ceramics and wagashi. Merci (111 bd Beaumarchais) has bed linen and Tamegroute homewares to peruse, while vintage stores Open Dressing (63 rue de Turenne) and Skat Vintage (24 rue Saint-Paul, technically in the 4e) boast treasures from Yves Saint Laurent and Hermès to unearth. And if you want a shortcut to insouciant French style, head straight to Lemaire (1 rue Elzévir).

The chic check-in Hôtel National des Arts & Métiers (named for the engineering school and museum close by) is certainly innovative when it comes to design – after all, it was designed by Raphael Navot who styled David Lynch’s Silencio club. And its Herbarium bar concocts cocktails like you would a parfum.

6th and 7th arrondissements

Best for families

Green space is at a premium in central Paris, so if you can’t face a Métro ride to the outskirts and the western Bois de Boulogne or eastern Bois de Vincennes, head to the Jardin du Luxembourg. It’s an old-school affair – 1920s miniature sailboats on the octagonal pond and pony rides – that’s best accompanied by a Japanese sando picnic from nearby Sōma Sando coffee shop (62 rue de Vaugirard). And if you want to ditch the kids, Le Bon Marché (24 rue de Sèvres), the tony six-floor department store, has a free crèche for four-to-10 year-olds hidden on the top floor, so you can raid the Alaïa corner then retire to the Rose Bakery café for a slice of pistachio cake in peace.

The chic check-in While L’Hôtel isn’t overtly family-friendly – Jacques Garcia’s velvets, gilding and tassels design make it feel more louche artists’ hangout – there’s a laidback-ness here that will put parents at ease.

9th arrondissement

Best for nightlife

Le Fantaisie

Folies-Bergère (32 rue Richer), the Belle Époque cabaret, once played host to Josephine Baker – and, with its sumptuous art deco surrounds still intact, it’s worth booking a ticket for a concert or cabaret act. Fancy partying in composer Georges Bizet’s grandiose apartments? Head to Le Carmen (34 rue Duperré) for a gin cocktail in its human-sized cage and a playlist that veers chaotically from electro to house. Or knock back a glass of (natural) wine at Déviant wine bar (39 rue des Petites Écuries) or a cocktail on the roof of La Fantaisie hotel (24 rue Cadet). The night is best rounded off with a cheeseburger at Dumbo (64 rue Jean Baptiste).

The chic check-in In addition to the mules and margaritas that flow in La Fantaisie’s lofty bar, you’ll get a bottle of champagne as your Smith Extra – so booking a room in advance just makes sense.

11th arrondissement

Best for restaurants

Maison Bréguet

Start your evening with a martini and some people-watching at Bar Principal (5 rue Général Renault), then head to Le Servan (32 rue Saint-Maur) for an imaginative and international menu of small dishes – think: raw langoustines with Sichuan-style udon. Love seafood? Get in line at Clamato (80 rue de Charonne) and order ceviche at the bar. No reservation is needed, but they are open on Sunday, which is rare in Paris.

Bambino (25 rue Saint-Sébastien) and Le Clown Bar (114 rue Amelot) are similarly sought-after tables – the former has great music and later transforms into a dancefloor; the latter an unusual ceramic frieze of circus acts, plus a glass ceiling that has won it historic monument status. Meanwhile Le Dauphin (131 Avenue Parmentier) does a modern spin on tapas in a Rem Koolhaas-designed space – order the artichoke, if it’s in season, and the lemon meringue pie all year round. And if you love ice-cream, don’t miss Le Folderol (10 rue du Grand Prieuré), a wine and ice-cream bar with left-field seasonal flavours such as English Breakfast-pear and melon-basil.

The chic check-in With the industrial bones of a former washing-machine factory, Maison Bréguet hotel’s restaurant is almost as striking as its food, which deals in very fine ingredients. And hang around for frequent talks by local tastemakers.

16th arrondissement

Best for architecture fans

Saint James Paris

Combine a love of sunbathing and art deco architecture with a morning at the Molitor (13 rue Nungesser et Coli), the 1929 swimming pool and hotel complex designed to resemble a sleek ocean liner. You’ll be perfectly placed for an afternoon tour around Le Corbusier’s live-work studio at the nearby Molitor Building (24 rue Nungesser et Coli), followed by a spin around the Purist exemplar Villa La Roche (8-10 Square du Dr Blanche), another Le Corbusier creation. Next, take in the Porte Dauphine Métro station and its art nouveau façade, before heading up Avenue Foch for a glass of champagne and some caviar at the newly revitalised Café Prunier (16 Avenue Victor Hugo), a legendary seafood restaurant with a stunning mosaic façade and lacquered 1920s interiors.

The chic check-in There’s an even greater joy to slumbering in impressive architecture, so top off your tour with a night at Saint James Paris, the only château hotel in the city, which has 19th-century flourishes and more whimsical modern touches.

18th arrondissement

Best for romantics

Hotel Particulier

Montmartre has the monopoly on romance. Book a plush suite at Hotel Particulier (23 Avenue Junot) or weekend brunch (a rarity in Paris) in the leafy garden, then side-step the crowds at Sacré Coeur and head to Jardin des Abbesses (10 Place des Abbesses). Tucked away and filled with medicinal plants, it’s a soothing spot for lovers. Equally special is the garden in the Musée de Montmartre (12 rue Cortot), where one can take tea overlooking the vineyard. And if it’s popcorn romance you’re looking for, book a movie at Studio 28 (10 rue Tholozé), the arthouse cinema with a cute bar.

The chic check-in You can live out various fantasies through the rooms at Hotel Particulier: the cottagecore Jardin Sur Le Nil Suite with its leafy views, the In the Mood for Love-inspired Dance Pacifique Suite, or the Les Folies du Ciel Suite with its eyebrow-raising swing chair by the bed.

Regardez our full list of hotels in Paris.