PARIS NEIGHBORHOOD GUIDE
There is no shortage of things to do in Paris and every neighborhood has its charm and its highlights. I always recommend picking a few neighborhoods or even just exploring the one you're staying in, to get a feel for a city and see beyond the tourist attractions. I've compiled sights and nearby eateries in each neighborhood, for more see: Things to do in Paris, Paris in Five Days, and Instagrammer's Guide to Paris.
This area is full of tourists and selfie-sticks so take your photos and move on. Come back later for a sunset picnic in Champ de Mars. History buffs should not miss Invalides and the museum.
Eiffel Tower and view from Place du Trocadero. I always caution against going up the Eiffel tower because you have to stand in line at each level and your view is missing the most iconic structure in Paris. See Best Paris Views post for alternatives.
Shop: Rue Cler, wander down this pretty pedestrian market between rue Sainte-Dominique and avenue de la Motte-Picquet
Hôtel des Invalides, military museum, and Napoleon's tomb
Pont Alexandre III, one of the more ornate bridges of Paris, with a good view of the Eiffel tower behind its gilded lamps.
Île de la Cité & Île Saint-Louis
Île de la Cité
Cathedral Notre Dame, go up and get great photos of the skyline with the infamous gargoyles
Eat: Au Vieux Paris (go in if you're hungry, otherwise just take a photo of the pretty facade and leave the area for better food options)
Sweets: Bertie’s Cupcakery
Point Neuf , oldest standing bridge in Paris
Conciergerie, formerly a prison where Marie Antoinette spent her last days
Sainte-Chapelle, royal chapel known for the amazing stained glass
Shakespeare and Co. (bookstore and cafe), technically, not on the island but across the street. Sit at the cafe for a beautiful view of Notre Dame
Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis are grouped together but very different. While one has Notre Dame and a steady flow of visitors and traffic, the other is quiet and residential.
Berthillon, the iconic Parisian ice-cream shop and if you have one ice-cream cone in Paris, it should be this one
Place Dauphine, a lively public square, great for people watching and picnics
Home of the famous and crowded museum, but full of perfect patisseries and cafes to stop at after the museum visits.
Jardins des Tuileries, pretty park on the way out of the Louvre with a carousel
Musee d’Orsay, across the river from the Tuileries, many people miss this museum in favor of the Louvre, but it shouldn’t be missed. It’s a converted railway station and holds work by Monet, Manet, and Van Gogh.
Musee de l’Orangerie, small gallery of impressionist paintings
Place Vendome, square near the Tuileries
Le Palais Royal, royal palace with pretty gardens and courtyards
Eat & Drink
Breakfast: Claus, grab a croissant in the morning, when all the pastries are artfully displayed, or come for afternoon tea. Just across the street is the Claus grocery shop, great for picking up beautifully packaged souvenirs and gifts.
Sweets: Angelina, known for hot chocolate and the mont blanc cake
Churches, cafes, galleries and more, you won’t be disappointed in this neighborhood. Walk the trail of Hemingway and stop at a cafe, and don’t forget the requisite Luxembourg garden picnic.
Jardin du Luxembourg, one of the prettiest and largest parks in Paris, take a stroll through it or stop for a picnic
Bibliothèque Mazarine, 23 quai de Conti, oldest public library in France, and among the world’s most beautiful. Go to the windows and enjoy a view of the Seine and Louvre.
Eglise Saint-Sulpice, known for its organ and featured in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code
Eglise Saint-Germain des Près, frescos and the tomb of Descartes
Live Jazz: Le Cafe Laurent
Bookstore: Un Regard Moderne
Eat & Drink
Food hall: La Grande Epicerie
L’Avant Comptoir, for tapas
Tea/Coffee: Cafe de Flore, for a classic and historical break
Coffee: Coffee Cuillier
Pastries: Les Duex Magots, known for its history, but should be visited for its dessert menu
Pastries: Gerard Mulot, a classic patisserie, with two locations, but the Saint-Germain location is near the Luxembourg gardens, makes it a perfect stop before a picnic
Chocolates: Jacques Genin
Chocolate: Debauve & Gallais, oldest chocolatier in Paris, and claim to have made their cocoa based treats for Marie Antoinette.
Once known as "the most beautiful avenue in the world." Explore the areas around the avenue in addition to the main attractions.
Place de la Concorde, largest public square with a good view of the Eiffel Tower
Petit Palais, the best part of this museum is the outdoor garden café. You can sip on a café crème while enjoying a gorgeous and spectacular view of Beaux-Arts architecture: soaring iconic columns, a grand porch, and monumental dome. On a warm sunny day, it’s quite easy to spend a few hours here.
Grande Palais, check for exhibitions, or just go see the inside.
Arc de Triomphe, going up is quick and has allows for good views
Museum of Perfume, check their website for exhibits and demos
Eat/Sweets: Ladurée Champs Elysées (there are many other locations around Paris and this one is the most popular among tourists)
A popular neighborhood for travelers and local students, the Latin Quarter borders Saint-Germain and the cafe life spills over. Make sure to save time to wander the hidden backstreets and be surprised by concept stores, markets, and a great variety of food options.
Pantheon, known for architecture and a mausoleum containing the remains of notable French authors and scientists
Sorbonne, one of the oldest universities in the world. Check to see if you can take the evening stargazing tour at the Sorbonne Observatory (waitlist is a few months long).
Jardin des Plantes, visit the French Gallery of Paleontology
Les Arenes de Lutece, a Roman arena from the first century CE, and while this is always listed as a top thing to see, you can skip it if you're not interested in Roman history
Grand Mosque of Paris, the mosque is beautiful and has a cafe attached. If you want to go to the hammam, check the calendar and save time for lunch and mint tea and sweets in the garden cafe. The evening tea service in the courtyard is lovely and shouldn’t be missed, if the weather allows (open until midnight).
Institut du Monde Arabe, the rooftop view over the river and Notre Dame is worth the trip alone
Rue Moffetard, long and quintessential Paris street with a fun market on the weekends and cute little local shops
Tango on the Seine: watch or dance, Square Tino Rossi, Quai St. Bernard, Wednesday - Sunday from 8.30pm in the summer. For classes or more details, check the website.
Eat & Drink
Eat: Strada Café for breakfast
Eat: Le Sirocco for dinner
Galeries Lafayette, go inside to see the amazing dome and rooftop views
Printemps, another mall with rooftop views
Rue Montorgueil, picturesque street, lined with many small shops, cafés, and restaurants. Weekends are crowded w/ food markets and locals. The paved street crosses the 2nd and 1st arrondissements, and will take you straight to Les Halles, right in the center of Paris.
La Canopee des Halles: a newer center with malls, a library, restaurants and some tech company presence (Google)
Passage Verdeau, Passage des Panoramas, Galerie Vivienne, Passage du Grand Cerf, Passage de l’Ancre, Passage Moliere
See Paris Passages
Grand Boulevards & Les Halles
Walk the perfectly designed streets and duck into one of the historic covered passages.
Opera Garnier, beautiful on the outside, but even better in the inside. Try to catch a tour or a performance
National Library of France, don’t miss the reading room
Le Grand Rex, art-deco movie theater, built in the 1930s, the cinema is decorated with Mediterranean paintings and ornaments, and with a dome 100 feet above the ground. You can watch movies and shows or just take a tour and hear about the building’s fascinating history.
Eat & Drink
G. Detou, for fancy groceries
Pastries: Aurore Capucine, family owned and known for their flavored sablès
Monks and the Knights Templar settled in the Marais as early as the 13th century, making it one of the oldest neighborhoods in Paris. Now it’s one of most diverse neighborhoods and worth a whole day to explore.
Place des Vosges, one of the most stunning and oldest squares in Paris and one of the best for people watching
Nearby Eats: Carette, pâtisserie that offers sandwiches and soups
Nearby Eats: Chez Janou, Provençal-style options
Centre Georges-Pompidou, modern art and a great view of paris skyline (free to go up to the top)
Hotel de Ville, city hall with a pretty carousel and seasonal activities in the front
Eat & Drink
Since the Marais is known for food, get ready for a too long list:
See: Paris Coffee Guide for more options.
Tea: Mariage Frères
Market/Food: Le Marché des Enfants Rouges, Paris’ oldest and most charming covered market. It takes its name from the children dressed in red who used to live in the neighborhood orphanage. It is home to the best Moroccan food in the city. There’s also Japanese, French Caribbean, and Lebanese stands. The lines are long during lunch but you won’t be disappointed.
Also visit: the Secret Garden, at the cross section rue de Bretagne and rue Charlot. It's a small park and garden, surrounded by cafes (from Marche des Enfants Rouges, leave out of the western door (near the Moroccan stand).
Market: La Maison Plisson: gourmet groceries and eateries
Rue des Rosiers, favorite street to eat in Paris
Candelaria, taqueria, open until 2AM
Patisserie: Sébastien Gaudard's shop feels like an old school candy store with jars full of French bonbons and cases full of indulgent desserts.
Chocolates and Pastries: La Chocolaterie de Jacques Genin
Les Cahiers de Colette, bookstore
Ofr. Librairie, design bookstore with weekly events
Village Saint-Paul (between rue Charelmagne and rue Saint-Paul) a village within a village, site of Henry V’s official residence, now houses antique shops and boutiques
Papier Tigre, paper goods, candles, and other small labels that make for great gifts
La Chambre Aux Confitures, a variety of artisanal spreads
Empreintes, an eclectic concept store with ceramics and gifts
Rue de Turenne, enjoy the artsy area full of galleries, cafes, and cobblestone.
Shoping & Coffee:
-The Broken Arm, this boutique/café carries both established brands and lesser-known local designers
-Merci, a fun but expensive concept shop and has a great used book cafe
-BonTon, feels like the children’s version of Merci, and bring coins to use for the black and white photo booth
-La Belle Hortense, books, coffee, wine w/ art exhibitions
Full of political history, the area is now known for its nightlife and shopping options.
L’Entre Potes, factory turned into a bar
Port de l’Arsenal, marina full of locals and pretty views
Coulée verte René-Dumont (ex-Promenade Plantée), a promenade built atop the abandoned Vincennes railway line and was an inspiration for New York’s High Line. Start at the staircase entrance at the western end, which rises from the Viaduc des Arts. Its creators preserved the tunnels, embankments and trenches, and installed benches and trellises. Head south for a look at the facade of the Museum of the History of Immigration.
Rue Crémieux, a small pedestrian street with colorful houses and a village feel.
Eat & Drink
L’Entre Potes, factory turned into a bar
Marche d’Aligre, one of the best markets in Paris and popular among locals. The covered part of the market offers an amazing selection of cheeses and it’s surrounded by small cafes.
Lunch at Septime
Faubourg Saint-Antoine, old and new crafts shops
Shop: Klin D’Oeil, colorful shop full of handcrafted accessories
Shop: Slow Galerie: art gallery and tea salon
The area got its name from being the site of the beheading of St. Denis (first bishop of Paris) and other Christian priests by the Romans in 250AD. Now it’s one of the liveliest and most picturesque “villages” in Paris, enjoy the details, cobblestones, quirky shops, artists, and views of the city.
Sacre Cour, the best times to go is early morning or early evening (sunrise and sunset), avoid stairs (and aggressive peddlers) going up, take the funicular up and then walk down
Le Louxor, iconic cinema from 1921 that recently opened after renovations
Place du Tertre, a lively square, full of artists and surrounded by cafes
Musee de la Vie Romantique, a hidden country cottage full of paintings and a garden cafe
Also See: this great guide for the best places in the neighborhood to photograph
Eat & Drink
Market: Marche Barbes (Boulevard de la Chapelle, across from Hospital Lariboiserie) Weds from 8am to 1pm and Saturdays from 7am to 3pm.
La Recyclerie: restaurant, bar, garden, and host of a monthly bartering party
Petrelle, check out the quirky decor and good food
Terrass for dinner with a view
Artisan for tapas
Popelini, dedicated to cream puffs
Shop: Sept Cinq: boutique full of Parisian designers
Canal St Martin
Few tourists venture into this neighborhood so you’ll run into fewer crowds and more locals. Make sure to walk along the canal while Parisians picnic.
Marin d'Eau Douce, Rent a boat and add an optional picnic basket.
The Church of Saint-Serge, If you feel overwhelmed by all the Frenchness and wish to escape Paris for a few minutes, the Church of Saint-Serge is a great option. Located near the Buttes-Chaumont.
Belleville, off the tourist path, this neighborhood is where Edith Piaf was born, has a great food and market scene, and full of street art.
Not in Belleville but nearby:
La Bellevilloise: art and culture center with an nice cafe; check online for events.
Le Pavillon des Canaux: cozy cafe near the canal
Eat & Drink
Like Le Marais, this area is also full of great food options.
Holybelly, known for the coffee, breakfasts, and lunches
Bakery: Du Pain et des Idées, a local secret and my favorite bakery in Paris. Their pain des amis and croissants are to die for. Note: only open M-F
La Chambre aux Oiseaux, lunch in a vintage setting, with mismatched tables and chairs
Jules & Shim, for Korean BBQ
Pink Flamingo, you can order a pizza for your picnic and they will bring you a pink balloon and deliver it on the canal.
Eat/Coffee: Le Comptoir General, this cafe and art space is Paris’ hipster central. To quote their website: “Whomever you may be, this hideaway, this temple of ghetto culture, shall be open to you every day of the week. Discover a world of rebelliousness and intensity, a shadow movement made of driftwood, tampered with, neglected and abandoned, yet nevertheless as solid as a rock.”
Artazart, The front of this bookstore is devoted to graphic design (including English books), and there is a large collection of photography books as well. Typically there’s a gallery show or installation in the front window.
Fromagerie Goncourt: a favorite cheese shop among locals and served in many local restaurants
While most ignore this neighborhood or just catch their train connections from here, it’s one of the better neighborhoods to stay in as a visitor. It’s less lively and more residential, but easily accessible, and full of cafes and restaurants.
Tour Montparnasse, best view of Paris, especially at night, and doesn’t include the Tour itself
Observatoire de Paris, one of the largest astronomical centers in the world
Coffee: Hexagone café
Outside of Paris
Farther but worth a visit if you have time:
UNESCO’S Jardin Japonais: Garden of Peace (7 place de Fontenoy)
Near the park, La Petite Rose a neighborhood tea solon known for it’s Valentin, chocolate biscuit, raspberry creme brûlée, layer of fresh raspberries, and a dark chocolate mousse
Saint-Ouen Flea Market, Get lost in one of the biggest flea markets in the world. Located on the northern outskirts of the city, the market is an endless source of fun, with some of the weirdest and most unique finds.