A Complete Guide to Visiting Paris, Area by Area

Travel. Paris. Western Europe.

Written by someone who lived in the French capital.

Photo by Lukas Zischke on Unsplash

Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world, and it has every reason to be so. It is full of history, it has beautiful architecture, world-renowned gastronomy, and some of the most iconic monuments in the whole of Europe.

It is one of those places that should be on everyone’s bucket list, regardless of their age or personal preferences, because it has something to offer to all those who visit it.

My love story with Paris dates from long ago. I first moved to the French capital in 2010 for a 3-month internship. A few years later, I moved back, that time for longer. I welcomed dozens of friends and family and showed them around the best spots in the city. Now let me take you on the same journey!

Areas to explore

Montmartre

Most likely, it will be full of tourists when you go there but it is so worth a visit! It will remind you of the Paris atmosphere you will have seen in the movies or read about in books and magazines. Be sure not to miss out on the magnificent Sacré-Coeur Basilica and on the artists being creative on Place du Tertre.

Rive Gauche: Saint-Michel and Jardin du Luxembourg

This used to be the bohemian area of the city. Nowadays, it is mostly a touristic area, with the Quartier Latin offering a wide range of international restaurants. It is also great to buy souvenirs. A bit further south, you will find Jardin du Luxembourg, a vast and beautiful garden, ideal to enjoy the sun and do some picnics.

Rive Droite

In a way, it is the city center. There are plenty of shops, restaurants, bars and street art. Have a walk around here and you won’t regret it. This is also where you will find the iconic Centre Pompidou, with its innovative art exhibitions.

Marais

It is the gay area by excellence, but certainly open to everyone. Here you will find great bars, interesting shops, and a nice quartier ambiance. Chic and subtle, like a true Parisian.

République

This is the meeting point (or ending point) of most of the social events that take place in Paris. Manifestations, social rights activism, it all goes down to République. Also, it is a very nice area to go out at night, providing a great selection of restaurants and bars.

Parisian Parks

If you want to escape the city noise for a bit and walk in a green, quiet area, you have several parks in the city that provide what you are looking for. The most famous is probably Le Jardin du Luxembourg (already mentioned here), but there is also Buttes-Chaumont, La Villette, Montsouris or Monceau, to name a few.

Right outside of the city, there are two major parks, one on the east (Bois de Vincennes), and another on the west (Bois de Boulogne). I recommend especially Bois de Vincennes for a walkaround or a picnic in a beautiful place.

Trocadéro

The Eiffel Tower is located here. At least once, go up and observe the entire city from above; if you can do it at sunset, even better. It will be packed with tourists under the tower but the surrounding areas are quieter and very beautiful: the garden in front (Champs de Mars) or the stunning view over the river Seine, for example.

Champs Élysées

It is a long, classy avenue going all the way from the Triumphal Arch, down to the famous Louvre Museum. As you walk along it, you will see plenty of high-end shops, of some of the most well-known brands in the world. In between those, you can still find some more affordable clothes boutiques and restaurants.

La Défense

It is technically outside of Paris and you will easily understand that as soon as you arrive. A modern and vibrant area, it is home to many national and international companies, which gives it a totally different vibe from the rest of the city. Still, it is interesting to see, especially because it has an Arch (Grande Arche de la Défense) that aligns with the Triumphal Arch and the Triumphal Arch of the Louvre Caroussel.

Takeaway

If you are a European Union citizen and you are under 26, rejoice: you will be granted free access to many Parisian attractions which, oftentimes, have quite expensive ticket prices. If not, there are also certain days when the visit is free of charge for everyone. You can check the list of places with free entrance here (in French).

If you visit Paris and you love it so much that you decide to move, you can check out my guide on that, “How to Settle in Paris”.


Categories Articles, Travel

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