any big city, Paris is divided into districts or boroughs, known in
Paris as arondissements. The system is quite simple; but many quarters,
or parts of
Paris, are also known by historic names referring to quarters such as
the Latin quarter. Knowing what quarter lies where in Paris is a vital
first step in getting to know the city. Map
The Eiffel Tower
apart from Paris.....
There's so much more to France than just Paris. Discover other regions
of France with the About-France.com guide to the regions
short guide to each region, with details of main regional
attractions, principal places worth visiting, and other regional
any big city,
Paris is not a homogenous block of urban development; an ancient city,
dating back to before Roman times, it is a city that has grown
organically over the centuries, to the point that it has reached today,
a city with an intra-muros population of 2 million
an urban/suburban area of 6 million, and a metropolitan area
close to 10 million inhabitants. Knowing where the "arondissements" or districts are is
useful for knowing where to go or stay; knowing what the areas of Paris are
like is useful for knowing what to expect when you get there.....
Trade fairs and conventions.
Paris has three main exhibition
centres for trade fairs: at the Porte de Versailles, at la Villette,
and at Villepinte, close to Charles de Gaulle airport. The Paris
Convention Center is the Palais des Congrès, at the Porte
"Paris", in the strict sense of the term, is an area covering 10,539
hectares or 105.39 sq. km, corresponding to the "departement" of the
Seine (75), the smallest in France in terms of size. This area is
almost exactly delimited by theroute of the Paris inner ring road, or
"Boulevard Périphérique", which circles the city.
Within this area, Paris is divided administratively into 20
boroughs, called arondissements, conveniently known by their numbers,
rather than historic names. Parisians know the numbers, and often use
them to refer to parts of the city; yet the historic areas of Paris
also have names, some of them well-known, other less. Here therefore is
a short guide to the main "Quarters" of Paris.
► Paris by area .... the
different parts of Paris
- the city: Part of the 1st District (premier arondissement);
is one of the the islands in the middle of the Seine, and is the
historic heart of Paris. L'Ile de
la Cité is today home to a number of historic
monuments and administrative buildings, including Notre
Dame Cathedral, and the Sainte
Chapelle. Next to l'Ile de la Cité is the Ile
Saint Louis, another very old quarter, which is more
residential, with shops, restaurants and small hotels.
/ Champs Elysées
1st to 8th arondissements. The Champs Elysées bisect this
south-east to north-west. This quarter includes the Louvre
and the Tuileries,
de la Concorde, the Champs Elysées, the Place
de l'Etoile and the Arc de
Triomphe, as well as several other museums including the Orangerie,
Palais and Petit
- the district of the Grand Boulevards
(2nd and 3rd Arondissements, and 8th to the 11th). Running
more or less from the Place
de la Madeleine (8th arondissement) to the Place
de la Bastille (11th arondissement), this is the main
shopping area of central Paris. The heart of the shopping area is the Boulevard
Haussmann, near the Opéra
(RER Auber, Metro Opéra), with some of the biggest
The Latin Quarter-
Covering part of the 6th arondissement, and also part of the 5th, this
is the traditional student quarter of Paris, centered on the Sorbonne
and the Panthéon.
The narrow pedestrian streets are full of cafés and
restaurants, and the busy boulevards, particularly the Boulevard
Saint Michel, known as the Boul'Mich, have bookshops,
cinemas and other shops.
The 4th Arondissement. This district, lying on the north bank of the
Seine, has become a chic residential area; it is a district of narrow
streets, with a lot of attractive historic buildings, and has become
particularly popular since the opening of the modern art museum and
library at the Pompidou
Septième - Quartier des Invalides.
district on the south bank of the Seine is largely administrative and
residential. It contains, among other things, the Eiffel
des Invalides, the French National Assembly (parliament
building), the residence of the Prime Minister (Hôtel
Matignon), and the Musée
The 9th and 18th arondissement. Pigalle is the night-life
district of Paris, famous for its clubs, cabarets and bars. It is also
known as the red light district of Paris. Among the world famous
cabaret bars are the Folies
Bergère and the Moulin
Rouge, popular tourist attractions. It borders on
Montmartre, the hill on which sits the famous Sacré
Coeur church, and the so-called artists quarter of Paris,
today rather commercial.
essentially ordinary residential areas, among the less
of the city. The Cité des Sciences de la Villette,
science museum, is located in the 19th on the site of former industrial
the sixteenth arondissement: over in the west of Paris, this is the
chic residential area of the Paris west end, where housing is most
expensive. A large number of foreign embassies are situated here.
Beyond the ring road (boulevard péphérique) lies
Paris's biggest and
most famous park, the Bois de
Paris has a large Chinese and
south-east Asian population, which is concentrated in the 13th
district, around the Place
d'Italie. This area has lot of oriental restaurants -
Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodgian, and more, plus exotic shops and
de la Bastille.
The area round the Place
de la Bastille
(4e, 11e, 12e) is a popular bustling area of Paris; it is an area with
lots of shops, including all kinds of specialist shops which have set
up in this part of town which is cheaper than the other end of the
Grands Boulevards. This is also a chic cultural area, with the new
Paris Opera, and chic boutiques.
Strictly lying outside Paris, la Défense, in the north west
city, is the modern business district. La Défense lies at
the edge of
the city, following the line of the Champs Elysées, beyond
the 16e /
Hiring a Velib bicycle.
The cheap way to get round Paris.... if you take care!
all quarters of Paris, approximately every 300 yards in all directions,
visitors to the city cannot help noticing bicycle racks, full of
identical bicycles. This is Paris's successful "Velib"
bike-hire scheme, which - if used correctly - can prove an excellent
and cheap way to get around the capital.
You can hire a Velib bike for just one Euro
a day, if you use the system properly: on the other hand,
if you do not
use the system as it is intended (for short hires only), it can work
you need a chip-and-pin credit card. On hire, you will be charged a 150
€ deposit, which may well not be recredited to your card for
two weeks. A day's use
of the system
costs just 1 €, which includes as many half-hour hire periods
want, during the day. These first half hour periods are always
free, and you can have as many free "first" half hours as you want in a
single day. After that, rates rise steeply to reach 4
€ per extra half hour.
So while you could use a Velib for all your needs for just a single
Euro per day, you could find yourself billed over 80 €, which
more than a hire car!
If this is not clear, read the two examples opposite.
How to use the velib system for 1€ a day:
John and Mary
both hire Velib bikes at 8.30 a.m from near their hotel, and set off
independently for a day's visiting Paris.
does not find out how the system works, so takes his bike and spends
the whole day cycling round the city. Each time he stops, he locks the
bike, but never returns it to a Velib rack, not even when he goes for
lunch in a restaurant. He brings the bike back to where he first hired
it at 9.30 p.m. He has thus had a single
hire of 13 hoursCost, a
whopping 96 Euros !! (Some might call this a scam!).
on the other hand, uses the system as it is designed to be used; for short trips only.
She picks up her Velib bike at 8.30, rides to the Eiffel Tower (20
mins) and immediately returns the bike to a Velib rack by the tower. At
11.05 she takes another bike, crosses the Seine to the Arc de Triomphe,
and returns the bike to another rack at 11.31, after 26
During the day, she takes a bike seven times, but always returns it in
less than 30 minutes to a different rack. She never keeps a bike
when not on the saddle. She returns to the hotel at 9.30
p.m. Total day's hire: 7
hires of less than 30 minutes each: Cost,
just 1 €uro. Excellent value for money!