Paris is a mosaic of densely populated neighborhoods, known as arrondissements, which spiral clockwise like a snail shell from the Left Bank (south) and Right Bank (north) of the Seine River right up to the périphérique (ring road) that encircles the city.
Each arrondissement has its own distinctive personality and draws for visitors, from the raucous jazz bars of the Latin Quarter (5th Arrondissement) to the leafy parks of the far-flung 19th Arrondissement. Here we provide a brief overview of all 20 Paris arrondissements, with details of the top attractions for travelers in each.
Planning where to stay in Paris? Find out which Arrondissement is right for you.
A handy tip: The last two numbers of any Paris postcode (which start with the city's département number, 75) indicate which arrondissement that location is in. For example, 75001 means the 1st Arrondissement, and 75002 is in the 2nd Arrondissement. These numbers make it easy to quickly check the location of hotels and rental apartments in the city (postcodes that don't start with 75 fall outside the périphérique).
Best neighborhood for sightseeing
Primarily set on the Right Bank, Paris' elegant 1st Arrondissement (premier) has the fewest residents but a huge number of sights, including the Musée du Louvre, stately gardens Jardin des Tuileries and Jardin du Palais Royal, contemporary art museum Collection Pinault – Paris, and canopy-topped shopping mall and transport hub Forum des Halles on the site of the city's former wholesale markets. The 1st Arrondissement also takes in the western wedge of the Île de la Cité (the larger of central Paris' two inhabited islands), which hides the ethereal stained-glass chapel Sainte-Chapelle.
Best neighborhood for historic passageways and pretty streets
Paris' smallest district, the 2nd Arrondissement (deuxième) contains many of the city's 19th-century glass-roofed covered passages, including the oldest, Passage des Panoramas. Street stalls and food shops such as Stohrer, a bakery opened in 1730, line pedestrianized Rue Montorgueil, whose northern extension, Rue des Petits Carreaux, heads into the vestiges of Paris' garment-making district, Sentier, hopping with bistros and bars.
Best neighborhood for cafes and museums
Known as the Haut Marais (Upper Marais), the 3rd Arrondissement (troisième) underwent a mid-2000s metamorphosis and today bursts with design ateliers and stylish cafes. Unmissable sights include the Musée National Picasso, in a mid-17th-century private mansion, and the Musée Carnavalet, retelling the history of the French capital.
Best neighborhood for hip Paris and world famous heritage sites
Part of the 4th Arrondissement (quatrième), the Le Marais district received a facelift of its own in the 1960s and '70s and remains one of Paris' most fashionable addresses. The multifaceted 4th Arrondissement is also home to thriving Jewish and LGBTQI+ communities, and the iconic Centre Pompidou cultural center, displaying modern and contemporary art. Also within this area is the eastern end of the Île de la Cité island, dominated by Notre Dame. The smaller island to its east, boutique-lined Île St-Louis, is the home of Berthillon ice cream.
Best neighborhood for nightlife
Fanning out around La Sorbonne’s prestigious university campus on the Left Bank, the student-filled 5th Arrondissement (cinquième), also known as the Latin Quarter, abounds with secondhand bookstores and record shops, cheap restaurants, art-deco cinemas, jazz clubs and late-night bars. The Musée National du Moyen Âge incorporates both medieval and Roman-era architecture, while natural history museums are located in the botanic gardens of Jardin des Plantes. French luminaries are laid to rest in the domed Panthéon mausoleum.
Best neighborhood for quintessential Paris
Famed for fabled literary cafes like Les Deux Magots, which sits opposite the city's oldest church, 11th-century Église St-Germain des Prés, the quintessentially Parisian 6th Arrondissement (sixième) is a jewel-box of exquisite boutiques, restaurants and hotels. In the arrondissement's southeast is the chestnut-shaded park Jardin du Luxembourg, where children prod 1920s wooden toy sailboats on its octagonal pond.
Best neighborhood for iconic Paris landmarks
West along the Left Bank is the wealthy 7th Arrondissement (septième). Shaped like a fan, its attractions span the impressionist art showcase Musée d'Orsay, the Musée Rodin's sculpture-filled mansion and rose garden, and the indigenous and folk-art museum, Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac. Manicured lawns front the central Hôtel des Invalides military complex containing Napoléon's tomb. To the west is Paris' emblematic Eiffel Tower.
Best neighborhood for luxury shopping
Back on the Right Bank, the grand 8th Arrondissement (huitième) is bisected by broad avenues including the Champs-Élysées, bookended by the mighty Arc de Triomphe and the vast Place de la Concorde, where Louis XVI was guillotined. Avenues Champs-Élysées, George V and Montaigne form the Triangle d’Or (Golden Triangle), home to flagship fashion houses like Chanel and Dior. Gourmet emporiums surround Place de la Madeleine's Grecian temple-style church Église de la Madeleine.
Best neighborhood for department stores and markets
Eastwards, the 9th Arrondissement (neuvième) is the home of Paris' original and most famous opera house, Palais Garnier, thanks to a starring role in Gaston Leroux's 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera. It's also where you'll find art-nouveau department stores Galeries Lafayette and Le Printemps. Foodie street Rue des Martyrs, with fromageries (cheese stores), boulangeries (bakeries) and more, extends uphill from here, while glamorous cocktail bars such as Lule White cluster in the north.
Best neighborhood for transport links and canal-side dining
Grittier than the arrondissements that precede it, the 10th Arrondissement (dixième) is many visitors' introduction to Paris: train stations Gare du Nord and Gare de l'Est are both here. Iron footbridge-spanned Canal St-Martin's revival continues apace thanks to indie-run bars, restaurants, shops and cultural centers such as Point Éphémère.
Best neighborhood for creatives
Home to traditional furniture makers and a new wave of graphic designers and multimedia artists, Paris' most densely populated arrondissement, the 11th (onzième), is a hotbed of creativity, with a foundry-housed digital museum, L'Atelier des Lumières, craft breweries, collaborative coffee roasteries and sizzling new restaurant openings. Rue Oberkampf, with live-music and DJ venues, is the area's nightlife spine.
Best neighborhood for local flair
Stretching from Place de la Bastille (ground zero of the French Revolution) to the sprawling forest Bois de Vincennes, and traversed by elevated park Promenade Plantée, the resolutely local 12th Arrondissement (douzième) harbors the monolithic Opéra Bastille, Marché d’Aligre's lively food markets and flea markets, and old wine warehouses-turned-shopping-center Bercy Village.
Best neighborhood for unique flavors
Across on the Left Bank, the 13th Arrondissement (treizième) is home to Paris' largest Chinatown, where Asian bakeries and Buddhist temples are surrounded by a forest of skyscrapers, many used as giant street-art canvases. Elsewhere, innovations like the book-shaped national library Bibliothèque Nationale de France and repurposed industrial sites – such as the former railway depot now housing startup campus Station F – make the regenerating 13th Arrondissement unlike anywhere else in Paris.
Best neighborhood for catacombs and crêperies
The northern part of the 14th Arrondissement (quatorzième) is the entry point for skull-and-bone-lined subterranean tunnels Les Catacombes, long-standing Montparnasse brasseries such as Le Select and stacks of Breton crêperies. Mostly residential, the south part of the district shelters leafy Parc Montsouris.
Best neighborhood for bustling streets
Farthest west on the Left Bank, the sweeping 15th Arrondissement (quinzième) is Paris' most populous, with a mix of 19th-century and modern apartment blocks. Sights are few, but parks here include Parc André Citroën, home to the helium-filled Ballon de Paris providing aerial views, and artificial island Île aux Cygnes.
Best neighborhood for woodland walks
Incorporating the large Bois de Boulogne woodland area, the swanky Right Bank 16th Arrondissement (seizième) is Paris' largest geographically. Top draws include the Palais de Chaillot's trio of museums overlooking the terraced Jardins du Trocadéro, while the hunting lodge-housed Musée Marmottan Monet is among its lesser-known gems.
Best neighborhood for off-the-beaten-track Paris
Outside of Paris visitors' usual itineraries, the 17th Arrondissement (dix-septième) is a mashup of classical Parisian residences, rejuvenated post-industrial areas and Clichy-Batignolles, a sustainable new "eco quarter."
Best neighborhood for city views
The 18th Arrondissement (dix-huitième) is synonymous with Montmartre's steep, ivy-clad streets crowned by hilltop Sacré-Cœur basilica. Portrait artists on touristy Place du Tertre recall the days when Picasso, Braque and Modigliani lived and worked here, though the throngs of tourists can detract from the romance of the area. To Montmartre's south is the (tame) red-light district Pigalle, home to the Moulin Rouge cabaret, while to its east, Château Rouge and La Goutte d'Or make up Paris' "Little Africa" neighborhood, with aromatic street markets, colorful fabric shops and a vibrant music scene.
Best neighborhood for green spaces
Few tourists venture out to the far-flung 19th Arrondissement (dix-neuvième), but despite some rough edges, highlights include the futuristic Parc de la Villette with museums and wide-ranging music venues including the Philharmonie de Paris concert hall, and the idyllic Parc des Buttes Chaumont with grottoes, waterfalls and a lake.
Best neighborhood for paying respect to famous names
Paris' 20th Arrondissement (vingtième) is home to Cimetière du Père Lachaise, burial place of famous names including Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Édith Piaf and countless other celebrities. Otherwise under-the-radar, it takes in the gentrifying neighborhoods of Ménilmontant and Belleville (which technically straddles four arrondissements), with artist studios and wonderfully old-school hangouts such as Le Vieux Belleville, hosting accordion-accompanied chansons.
This article was originally published in June 2019.