The 5 best Paris neighborhoods and what to do in them

From fascinating historic hubs to stunning Parisian grandeur, discover the 5 best neighborhoods in Paris.

Each neighborhood in Paris is brimming with culture, history, and iconic landmarks. If you can’t visit them all, exploring the five in this list will enlighten you on what gives the city its eternal allure.

You’ll uncover Paris' rich history in the Marais and the Jewish Quarter, and experience the intellectual buzz of the Latin Quarter, home to renowned universities and famous bookstores adored by academics for centuries. Find iconic cafes frequented by literary greats in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Roam the 1st arrondissement to relax in the Jardin des Tuileries, see the grandeur of Palais Royal, and visit the famous Louvre Museum. And discover Montmartre’s bohemian and amazing city views.

This guide gives you an idea of what to expect in these five wonderful Paris neighborhoods and what you should do when you get there.

1. The Marais

Spanning the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, the Marais combines old-world charm with contemporary flair, making it stand out as a must-visit neighborhood in Paris.

When in the Marais, stop at Place des Vosges, Paris' oldest planned city square, which highlights the area's elegance. Nearby, you can find the Maison de Victor Hugo and get a glimpse into the life of the famed writer. For art enthusiasts, explore the Picasso Museum to see an extensive collection of Picasso's work, and for those more interested in history, visit the Carnavalet Museum.

Marais is also home to Paris' historic Jewish Quarter, centered around Rue des Rosiers, which has existed since the medieval period. Explore this historic area with its quaint bakeries and boutiques. Discover Parisian Jewish life at the Museum of Jewish Art and History.

Walk along the Marais' narrow streets during the daytime and explore the trendy boutiques with a combination of high fashion and vintage finds; there is something for every shopper. The dining scene in the area is equally diverse, with traditional bistros and chic cafes serving delicious Parisian delicacies. Rue des Rosiers is also famous for falafel. As night falls, discover a different side of the neighborhood as the bars and clubs burst into action and reinvigorate the Marais.

Best things to do in le Marais

photo: Bernelee Kritzinger

2. Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Nestled in Paris' 6th arrondissement, Saint-Germain-des-Prés blends artistic legacy with Parisian elegance. Once the area where artists and intellectuals rendezvoused, Saint-Germain-des-Prés continues to charm visitors with its fantastic cafes, picturesque streets, and diverse shops.

To glimpse Saint-Germain-des-Prés history, visit the iconic Café de Flore or Les Deux Magots, institutions of the area's literary (and culinary) past. Soak up the ambiance of these institutions enjoyed by literary greats like Hemingway and Sartre. Head to the heart of the neighborhood to see the Church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, one of Paris' oldest churches with a history that traces back to the 6th century.

Take a walk along Saint-Germain-des-Prés' famous Boulevard Saint-Germain known for its chic boutiques, antique dealers, luxury shops, and galleries. In the evening, duck into a cozy neighborhood bistro or chic restaurant to indulge in some of the best French dishes.

Explore Saint-Germain-des-Prés

3. The Latin Quarter

In Paris' 5th arrondissement, you'll find the Latin Quarter, a neighborhood that merges intellectual history with youthful energy. Experience this lively cultural hub as you explore the medieval streets.

Discover the Latin Quarter's intellectual legacy as you explore Sorbonne University, one of the oldest universities in Europe. Wander through the historic buildings and immerse yourself in academic history. For bibliophiles, the Latin Quarter has a plethora of bookshops, including the famous Shakespeare and Company, that serve the students and intellectuals who have called the neighborhood home for centuries.

The Latin Quarter boasts rich architecture and gardens. Explore the Panthéon, a grand neoclassical monument, and see the resting place of notable French figures. Enjoy the serenity of the imposing Gothic Church of Saint-Séverin. Discover medieval treasures and Roman baths at the Cluny Museum in a 15th-century mansion. Visit the imposing Museum of National History and walk through the lush Jardin des Plantes.

As you stroll along the narrow streets of the Latin Quarter, stop for a quick bite at a traditional French bistro. Make sure to visit Rue Moufferard, a lively market street that adds to the neighborhood's vibrant atmosphere.

Discover the historic and lively Latin Quarter

photo: Aurélien Cubeddu

4. 1st Arrondissement

Paris is at its most impressive in the 1st arrondissement, making it an unmissable destination for any visitor. Experience the grandeur of the 1st arrondissement by exploring the stunning Palais Royal with its elegant courtyard, where you can find the famous pyramid at the entrance of the Louvre Museum, arguably the most iconic landmark of this central district. Lose yourself in the world of art and history in the Louvre with its expansive collection of artifacts and works by masters like da Vinci.

Meander through the Jardin des Tuileries, a former royal garden on the bank of the Seine River to experience some tranquility in the heart of the city. Walk along the manicured paths, sit by the serene ponds, marvel at stunning statues, and look out over the picturesque park as it stretches towards Place de la Concorde and the Luxor Obelisk.

The 1st arrondissement also offers a luxurious shopping experience. Visit Rue Saint-Honoré, known for its opulent boutiques and fashion houses. Continue to the historic Les Halles area which was recently transformed into a modern shopping center, Forum des Halles.

The highlights of the 1st arrondissement

5. Montmartre

Perched atop a hill in the 18th arrondissement, Montmartre’s bohemian charm and sweeping Parisian views are unmatched. Montmartre is known for its village-like atmosphere, winding streets, and being the heart of Paris’ arts scene.

Find a peaceful retreat from the bustle of the city when you visit the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, with its grand Roman Byzantine-inspired architecture. Experience breathtaking views of Paris from the basilica's steps or climb up to the dome for an even more impressive panorama.

Roam the streets of Montmartre and discover the neighborhood's artistic legacy. Stop at Place du Tertre, where artists capture the charm of old Montmartre with their unique styles. Stop at Espace Dalí, a museum dedicated to the life and works of Salvador Dalí. Discover Montmarte's artistic past and bohemian lifestyle at Musée de Montmartre, in Renoir's former home.

Get a glimpse into Montmartre's ongoing artistic evolution by stepping into galleries and studios that line the street. Take a break to soak in the atmosphere at one of the quaint cafes or bistros. Make your way to the foot of Montmartre to see the iconic red windmill of the Moulin Rouge, the birthplace of the can-can and hub of Parisian nightlife.

Best things to do in Montmartre