The Best Neighbourhoods in Paris

Looking up towards the Basilica de Sacre Coeur in Montmartre, Paris © Peter Forsberg / Alamy
Looking up towards the Basilica de Sacre Coeur in Montmartre, Paris © Peter Forsberg / Alamy | © Peter Forsberg / Alamy
Photo of Anna Brooke
31 March 2021

Negotiate your way around the French capital with Culture Trip’s insider guide to its most fascinating neighbourhoods, from Montmartre to the Latin Quarter and beyond.

Neighbourhoods in Paris are constantly reinventing themselves, as new generations of innovative restaurateurs, art gallerists, mixologists and unique retailers work their way into the diverse fabric of cultures that populate the French capital. The best neighbourhoods in Paris infuse their rich history with new energy, full of the savoir vivre for which Parisians are known.

Charonne

Architectural Landmark
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CHARONNE DISTRICT, PARIS. Image shot 04/2019. Exact date unknown.
BEDHAE CHARONNE DISTRICT, PARIS. © John Kellerman / Alamy | © John Kellerman / Alamy
In its tapestry of old industrial buildings and winding residential streets, Charonne has a cool, village-like feel, accentuated by allotment gardens, cobbled passageways and Église Saint-Germain de Charonne, known for its 13th-Century tower and cemetery, one of only two church graveyards left in central Paris. But the area’s also about hip nightlife, starting with Mama Shelter hotel, home to an uber-trendy restaurant and rooftop, and the Flêche d’Or arts and concert venue, set in a former railway station.

Montparnasse

Architectural Landmark
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The famous cafe La Coupole, Paris, France. PMKK7K
The famous cafe La Coupole, Paris, France. © Petr Kovalenkov / Alamy | © Petr Kovalenkov / Alamy
Buzzing Montparnasse was once the artistic hub where Picasso and Matisse hung out in cafés and brasseries including La Rotonde and La Coupole, both still going strong in elegant Parisian fashion. The monumental sculptures of Matisse’s teacher, Antoine Bourdelle, are showcased at Musée Bourdelle. But modern Montparnasse is more about shopping than art, with long avenues of chain stores and chic indie boutiques. The city’s best views are to be enjoyed at the top of Tour Montparnasse and its panoramic Ciel de Paris bar-restaurant.

Latin Quarter

Architectural Landmark
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People eating lunch at an oudoor cafe on Rue Mouffetard, Paris, France
EPP91X People eating lunch at an oudoor cafe on Rue Mouffetard, Paris, France © Andrew Paul Travel / Alamy | © Andrew Paul Travel / Alamy
With its Seine-side quays and cafes full of Sorbonne students, the Latin Quarter is, no two ways about it, an iconic area. Avoid the tourist-crammed streets around rue de la Harpe, and explore instead the Panthéon, resting place of great French thinkers, and the medieval-themed Musée de Cluny, with its underground Gallo Roman baths. For peace and quiet, you can’t beat the Arènes de Lutèce park set in the vestiges of a Roman amphitheatre, and allow yourself time to explore rue Mouffetard’s street market.

Le Marais

Architectural Landmark
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People sitting and sunbathing near the The fountain on a hot summer's day at Place des Vosges ,in the fashionable Le Marais district of Paris .
RR19X1 People sitting and sunbathing near the The fountain on a hot summer's day at Place des Vosges ,in the fashionable Le Marais district of Paris . © Steve Tulley / Alamy | © Steve Tulley / Alamy
Gay bars rub shoulders with Renaissance mansions and Jewish dining establishments in the Marais, a warren of narrow streets known for their breathtaking architecture and buzzy vibe. To feed your mind, head to the Musée Picasso and history-themed Musée Carnavalet, both set in former stately homes. There are plenty of art galleries and quaint places to eat under the stone arches of pink-brick Place des Vosges. If you’re a spendthrift, trawl the clothes shops along fashion-forward rue des Francs Bourgeois and rue Vieille du Temple.

La Villette

Architectural Landmark
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MK2 Quai de Seine, cinema, movie theater, Le Bassin de la Villette, La Villette, Paris, France
P4EN5K MK2 Quai de Seine, cinema, movie theater, Le Bassin de la Villette, La Villette, Paris, France © PE Forsberg / Alamy | © PE Forsberg / Alamy
Successfully turning its back on its former life as an abattoir, La Villette has re-emerged as a coveted park filled with avant-garde architecture – among the highlights are the silver-clad Philharmonie de Paris and the futuristic Cité des Sciences museum complex. In summer, Parc de la Villette’s lawns woo crowds with live concerts and an annual open-air film festival. You can also hire an electric boat from Marin d’Eau Douce and cruise through the park along the Canal de l’Ourcq.

Montmartre

Architectural Landmark
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Montmartre district, cafe in the Rue des Abbesses WE7R40
Montmartre district, cafe in the Rue des Abbesses © GARDEL Bertrand / hemis.fr / Alamy | © GARDEL Bertrand / hemis.fr / Alamy
Montmartre remains a special part of the Parisian landscape, its streets meandering up the legendary slopes in the north of the city. Montmartrois, as the locals are known, are fiercely loyal to their hillside quartier and a rich artistic, independent history has, despite the daily influx of tourists, managed to keep its village ambience. Residents do their shopping at the traiteurs along rue des Abbesses, tuck in for dinner at the hip bistro LouLou Montmartre, known for its views over Paris’s rooftops, or grab an exotic cocktail at Le Très Particulier, perhaps after an opening at the Kadist Art Foundation, a site for head-turning contemporary-art projects.

South Pigalle

Architectural Landmark
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Rue des Martyrs in Montmartre, Paris, France
RFXNPX Rue des Martyrs in Montmartre, Paris, France | © Jon Bilous / Alamy
Sure, there are some who lament the way former bars à hôtesses have been taken over by trendy new cocktail bars, such as Dirty Dick. Yet South Pigalle – or SoPi, as it is known – is one of the most happening neighbourhoods in Paris. Think gourmet shops around rue des Martyrs and nocturnal goings-on at the hotspot likes of Le Carmen, composer Georges Bizet’s baroque home-turned-club. New bars and restaurants continue to open in this quarter below Montmartre. Spreading northeast along the pleasant, tree-lined avenue Trudaine, it has plenty of outdoor places where you can park yourself, and there is an organic market every Friday afternoon at Place Anvers.

Belleville-Menilmontant

Architectural Landmark
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Belleville Park - 2CD8X91
Belleville Park | © GARDEL Bertrand / hemis.fr / Alamy
This neighbourhood, once called home by Edith Piaf is evolving rapidly as a buzzing nightlife and art scene. Among the bars on rue de Menilmontant are many old favourites, while new art galleries are cementing the emergence of a young art scene. There are charming corners as well, among them Parc de Belleville and its panoramic views, or the area around Place St Marthe, where the laid-back ambience combines a cosmopolitan vibe, with delightful cuisine from Sicilian and Brazilian to vegetarian.

Oberkampf

Architectural Landmark
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street scene in front of cafe, restaurant le mecano
2A5JJ9Y street scene in front of cafe, restaurant le mecano | © edpics / Alamy
Just down the hill from Menilmontant is the neighbourhood of Oberkampf, which reverberates with things to do after dark, including arty cocktail bars and foodie havens such as Pierre Sang’s French-Korean must-try establishment. There are also a number of West African restaurants concentrated in the streets all around, such as the convivial African Kitchen, loved for its authentic Nigerian cuisine.

Canal Saint-Martin

Architectural Landmark
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the Canal Saint Martin - WE7R4J
the Canal Saint Martin | © GARDEL Bertrand / hemis.fr / Alamy
The neighbourhood surrounding the Canal Saint-Martin is an established centre of cool, clustered around the nearly-200-year-old waterway, which you can stroll. Try ordering Mexican burritos and tacos from El Nopal and grab a spot outside on the canal. If you prefer table service, there are all kinds of excellent bistros to choose from – we like the hugely popular cheese-themed wine cellar La Vache dans les Vignes. For fashionistas there are the shops of rue Beaurepaire and rue de Marseille, and when you’re thirsty, you’re close to classic neighbourhood haunts: lunch spot Chez Prune, say, or quirky Le Comptoir Général.

Haut Marais

Architectural Landmark
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Paris food market - People having lunch break in eateries at the Marche des Enfants Rouges in the Marais district of Paris, France.
RX105B Paris food market - People having lunch break in eateries at the Marche des Enfants Rouges in the Marais district of Paris, France. | © Soma / Alamy
An understatedly chic section of the ever-popular Marais, the Haut Marais is perhaps one of the most up-and-coming parts of Paris. It is certainly one of the oldest, with many 17th-century stone mansions, among them the Hôtel Salé, housing the Musée Picasso. The area also has the oldest covered market in Paris, the Marché des Enfants Rouges (dating from 1615), a great spot sizzling with a variety of international cuisines and organic foods. Great cocktail bars include the Little Red Door and Candelaria, and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac numbers among the area’s top art galleries.

Montorgueil

Architectural Landmark
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The famous L'Escargot Montorgueil restaurant is famous for snails - RGX96G
The famous L'Escargot Montorgueil restaurant is famous for snails | © Chon Kit Leong / Alamy
The historic food stalls of Les Halles may have long since moved out to Rungis – and yet the charming white-cobblestone pedestrian area of rue Montorgueil still brims with shops for foodie fanatics: from fine purveyors of chocolate and cheeses to boulangeries and fishmongers. Here is also the oldest patisserie in Paris, La Maison Stohrer (since 1730). You can pick up a floral bouquet, sip a coffee or aperitif at one of many pleasant terraces in the area and try escargots in a surprising variety of preparations at the long-established restaurant L’Escargot. For a late-night drink, the Experimental Cocktail Club elevates the crafting of tipples to an art form.

Batignolles

Architectural Landmark
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Square des Batignolles - R7XJ3P
Square des Batignolles | © GARDEL Bertrand / hemis.fr / Alamy
Welcome to an unexpected oasis in a little-known corner of the 17th arrondissement: the Batignolles neighbourhood is a laid-back haven of gastronomic delights and charming boutiques perfect for an afternoon of flânerie, as the French call idle meandering. There’s a village-like feel, and a simple, authentic Paris vibe, far from monuments and museums. Stroll the English-garden-style 19th-century Square des Batignolles (an idyllic small park with a small waterfall and stream), and peruse the shops along rue Legendre. Browse the organic market on Saturday mornings, or grab a seat outside at one of the pleasant bistros – say, Le Tout Petit.

Bastille

Architectural Landmark
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Liberty column, Opera Bastille, Bastille square, Place de la Bastille, Paris, France
2DF618K Liberty column, Opera Bastille, Bastille square, Place de la Bastille, Paris, France | © Javier Larrea / Alamy
Bastille has great dining venues, along with top-notch cocktails at places like the hidden speakeasy Moonshiner and bar-nightclub Badaboum. Master chef Alain Ducasse has also set up his chocolate factory here on rue de la Roquette, and for a worthwhile cultural night out, L’Opéra Bastille remains a sure bet. There’s great shopping too, notably along rue de Charonne, lined with French-indie-fashion boutiques.

Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Architectural Landmark
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Patrons sit outside the Les Deux Magots cafe in Saint-Germain-des-Pres, Paris, France.
H2FWMP Patrons sit outside the Les Deux Magots cafe in Saint-Germain-des-Pres, Paris, France. | © Ian Furniss / Alamy
Saint-Germain-des-Prés has an artistic allure and storied literary history – Oscar Wilde lived at what is now the very hip L’Hotel, and classic locales, such as Café de Flore and Deux Magots, were existential hangouts for the likes of Sartre, de Beauvoir and Camus. Those famous existentialists may be long gone, but the perennially cool café culture remains. Top art gallery Kamel Mennour has raised the neighbourhood’s contemporary art profile, and heady concoctions are yours for the sipping at the Prescription Cocktail Club.
These recommendations were updated on March 31, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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