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The Escargot of Paris

Today’s issue of FPI centers on the capital of France, Paris. Divided into 20 districts known as “arrondissements,” each is distinctively different and deserve a thorough understanding for livability and rentability. We explore each and every one — a complete overview that you will want to print and store away for future reference.

First, take in an overview, then a description of each, a listing of each town hall and vital information along with our own interpretation of where one can best make a life in Paris. There is lots of food for thought and if at the end, you’re still confused about where you should be putting in your stake, keep this one thought in mind — Paris is still Paris, no matter what corner of the city you choose to call your own.

18-10-12esc.arrondThe Escargot of Paris

I can remember from early childhood being fascinated by swirling designs, spirals and continuous circular motion. Little did I know then that it would become a major part of my own life’s movement, now daily traveling among the 20 districts of Paris, if not in actuality spiraling from one to the other, but mentally moving outward, the numbers getting higher as one moves from the center to the outer edges of the city. The spiral arrangement of Paris’ 20 districts gives it the term, “escargot” — like the shell of a snail.

On October 11, 1795, Paris was divided into 12 arrondissements. They were numbered from west to east, with numbers 1-9 situated on the right bank of the Seine, and 10-12 on the left bank. Each arrondissement was subdivided into 4 “quartiers,” which corresponded to the 48 original districts created in 1790.

On January 1, 1860, new territory was defined to be within the city by Napoleon III. The previous 12 arrondissements were rearranged with this new territory to become the present 20. In references to historical records (where it is important to distinguish between the old and new systems), the old arrondissements are indicated by following the number with the term “ancienne” (e.g. 2ème ancienne or 7ème ancienne, etc.).

The districts of Paris are an integral part of the basic functionality of the city. Each district is governed as its own municipality (within the larger municipality of Paris) and therefore supports a mayor, city council and town hall. With this system, each district takes on a different “personality,” as different types of residents comprise the population and therefore think and vote differently. This can affect all aspects of government, but it can also affect the physical attributes of the district, as while one arrondissement may favor high-rise buildings, another might not.

Average property prices in each arrondissement can differ greatly and can affect the value of property from one side of the street to the other. It can be an advantage to purchase property on the lesser border of an arrondissement to have the benefit of the location, but not the higher price, particularly for rental revenues, but not necessarily for resale appreciation.

The Paris Districts: District by District
From Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Paris has many different districts that are not necessarily reflected in any administrative plan.

Parisian habits make their own map, and sometimes in total ignorance of existing divisions: merchants tend to live near their boutiques, and to sell where the concentration of their clients is the greatest; artisans will live near their ateliers, and artisans of the same type often group together; factory workers will live near their place of labor if the rents are not too dear. Certain quarters have lived through centuries in total ignorance of Paris’ various divisions; an example of this would be its Les Halles market region that was divided at one point into as many as five different crown-imposed arrondissements, and another would be its university region that even today is spread between two arrondissements. In fact, administrative maps were sometimes drawn in an effort to modify the habits of certain regions of Paris: Haussmann in 1859 drew the dividing line between today’s 19th and 20th arrondissements (each with its own mayor and administration) down the main street of the rebellious town of Belleville. This of course had few immediate results, and it took over a century for habits to fade for reasons that had more to do with the fading of small-scale production than it had to do with government.

Below are a few quarters that have developed or retained a character of their own, usually identifiable by a grouping of commercial activity and named for neighborhood landmark.

The Central Islands

Paris’ islands were once many, but over the centuries have been united or joined to the mainland. Today there are but two adjacent islands forming the center of Paris, the Île de la Cité and the Île Saint-Louis.

Île de la Cité

The westernmost of these two island, Île de la Cité, is Paris’ heart and origin. Its western end has held a palace since even Roman times, and its eastern end since the same has been consecrated to religion, especially after the construction in the 10th century of the cathedral predecessor to today’s Notre-Dame. The land between the two was, until the 1850’s, largely residential and commercial, but since has been filled by the city’s Prefecture de Police, Palais de Justice, Hôtel-Dieu hospital and Tribunal de Commerce. Only the westernmost and north-eastern extremities of the island remain residential today, and the latter preserves some vestiges of its 16th-century canonic houses.

Île Saint-Louis

Purely residential in nature, this island formerly used for the grazing of market cattle and stocking wood. One of France’s first examples of urban planning, it was mapped and built from end to end during the 17th-century reigns of Henri IV and Louis XIII. A peaceful oasis of calm in the busy Paris center, this island has but narrow one-way streets, no Métro station.

La Rive Droite

Paris’ Rive Droite, formerly a marshland between two arms of the Seine river, remained largely uninhabited until the early 11th century. Once growth began there it soon eclipsed that of both the island and its Rive Gauche combined, and has remained Paris’ densest area ever since.

Châtelet-Les-Halles / Hôtel de Ville

“Le Châtelet,” a stronghold/gatehouse guarding the northern end of a bridge from the la Cité island, was the origin of Paris’ first real Rive Droite growth. Where the Les Halles quarter starts and ends is debatable, but for the average Parisian, it encompasses the former Les Halles marketplace, today a shopping mall center for a highly commercial district whose many boutiques are of a “trendy” sort geared to tourism [currently under massive renovation]. As the Les Halles is a Métro and RER hub for transport connecting all suburban regions around the capital, the stores closest to the station reflect the rap and hip-hop trends common there. Fast-food is the restaurant staple of this quarter’s most central region, but more traditional fare can be found to its north-west.

One of the region’s most prominent landmarks is the 1976-built Centre Georges Pompidou. Built in a highly colorized modern style greatly contrasting with its surrounding architecture, it houses a permanent modern-art museum exposition and has rotating expositions that keep to a theme of the post-pop art period. Recently renovated, it also houses the BPI, one of the city’s largest libraries and places of study. The wide square in front is a preferred place for street performers, as its location is ideal for drawing a mix of both tourist and student spectators.

Just to the east of la place du Châtelet lies Paris’ Hôtel de Ville (city hall). It stands on the almost exact location of a 12th-century “house of columns” belonging to the city’s “Prévôt des Marchands” (a city governor of commerce), then a later version built in 1628 whose shell is still the same today. Just across the street to the north of la rue de Rivoli is a the large 1870’s-built BHV (Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville) household shopping Mecca.

Le Louvre / Palais Royal

The Louvre, once Paris’ second Royal Palace, is today a museum, garden (Tuileries), and, more recently, a shopping mall and Fashion show center (Le Carrousel du Louvre). The Palais Royal just to its north, at its origin a residence of the Cardinal Richelieu, is a walled garden behind its rue de Rivoli facade, with covered and columned arcades that house boutiques forming what could be considered to be Paris’ first “shopping arcade”. This quarter in general has many 17th and 18th century buildings of large standing, as well as some of Paris’ more grandiose constructions, namely along the avenue de l’Opéra, from the Haussmann era. The long perspective of massive buildings that make the northern side of the rue de Rivoli, with their covered and columned arcades, are a result of Paris’ first attempt at reconstruction in a larger scale in the early 1840s, and today house the quarter’s most tourist-oriented shops, boutiques and night-clubs.


Centered around Paris’ Opéra Garnier completed in 1882, this quarter houses at once central Paris’ largest shopping centers (the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps) and is an important banking center (Crédit Lyonnais, BNP and American Express just to name a few). The streets behind both sides of the avenue de l’Opéra have many Japanese restaurants, and most of the avenues in this area “duty-free” stores selling luxury brands.

Saint-Honoré / Place Vendome / Concorde

The Rue Saint-Honoré is known for its luxury boutiques selling all fashion labels of international renown. The Place Vendôme, around its famous Hôtel Ritz, is the center of the Paris “Triangle d’Or” of jewelers. There are many major banks and offices in this area as well. The Place de la Concorde, to the western end of the Louvre’s Jardin des Tuileries, is a major stop for tourists (for its vista, fountains and Egyptian obelisk) and a panoramic introduction to the Champs-Élysées that begins at its western extremity.

Les Champs-Elysées

Easily Paris’ most touristic avenue, and almost every commerce along its entire length between the rond-point des Champs-Elysées and its Arc de Triomphe is geared to nothing else. The buildings above the street-side boutiques are for the most part Paris offices or residences for businesses the world over. The streets behind the Avenue and in the neighborhood surrounding are filled with Haussmannian buildings of large standing that host some offices, but are largely residential.

Montmartre / Bas-de-Montmartre

Montmartre is Paris’ highest hill, and second most-visited tourist area. Formerly town of wine growers and plaster miners centered around a 15th-century monastery, it began from the late 20th-century (namely around the time of the construction of its Sacré-Coeur Basilica in 1919) to become a tourist attraction. Much of Montmartre’s windmills and “old village” charm had already been destroyed when Paris’ tourist boom began, but investors and speculators rebuilt it anew. All the same, Montmartre is a very picturesque place to visit, and has one of the best views of the capital. Some of its former charm can be found to the rear of the hill, as well as a windmill or two, and it has even the remains of its former vineyard topping.

The boulevards below Montmartre, also called “bas-de-Montmartre”, were once highly popular with mid-19th century Parisians for their cabarets, as at the time they were in an open-air scenery that was almost countryside. The Moulin Rouge is all that remains of the once many such saloons and dance-halls that lined the north side of the boulevard, but today this establishment is but a gaudy tourist-tailored mirror of what it once was. The boulevard surrounding, especially to its east towards Pigalle, is filled with establishments offering shows of a slightly “warmer” nature than can-can.

Gare de l’Est / Gare du Nord

To the north of Paris’ textile “sentier” quarter, this area is fascinating for its myriad of clothing stores and hair salons whose owners are largely of African origin. These stations mark the northernmost limits of Paris’ “Sentier” textile industry district.

La Bastille

La Place de la Bastille is named for a former castle/dungeon guarding Paris’ 17th-century eastern gate. Aside from this place’s central column, its most prominent landmark is its Opéra-Bastille, an opera-house with a style of architecture and repertoire more modern than its classical Opéra-Garnier counterpart. The north-westerly boulevard Beaumarchais is known for its music and camera stores. To the north of the place stretches its narrow rue de la Roquette with its many small bars, restaurants and night-clubs, a street that ends to the north-east at the Père Lachaise cemetery.

Le Marais

To the west of the place de la Bastille extends the rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, a street running through the center of what was once a village of furniture-making artisans. To the north and north-west from there, across a map of narrow streets remaining unchanged from this 17th-century time, lies Le Marais. The rue du faubourg Saint-Antoine still has many furniture stores.

Today Le Marais is most known for its square and uniformly-built Place des Vosges. Inaugurated as the “Place Royale” in 1612, much of the land surrounding was built with vast and luxurious “hotels” by those seeking closer relations to royalty, and many remain today. This area fell out of royal favor when the King’s court left for the Louvre then Versailles, and was in a state of almost abandon by 19th century. It became a largely Jewish quarter around then, and has remained so ever since. Re-emerging today as a rather expensive bourgeois quarter, Le Marais can be considered almost trendy with its many new gay-friendly clothing stores and bars.

La Rive Gauche

Paris’ Left Bank was its center from its first to 11th centuries, but little evidence remains of this today. The largest reason for this is that, solidly built from Roman times, its crumbling constructions in fact served as a quarry for Rive Droite constructions when its population moved to Paris’ northern shores. Calm even today, the rive Gauche is in its majority residential.


This central Rive-Gauche quarter is named for its 7th century abbey of which only a church is still standing. Its commercial growth began upon the 1886 completion of its Boulevard Saint-Germain and the opening of its cafés and bistrots namely its “Café Flore” and “Deux Magots” terraces. Its fame came with the 1950’s post-WW II student “culture emancipation” movement that had its source in the nearby University. Many jazz clubs appeared here during those times, and a few still remain today.

Located near the École des Beaux-Arts, this quarter is known for its artistry in general, and has many galleries along its rue Bonaparte and rue de Seine. In all, Saint-Germain-des-Prés is an upper-class bourgeois residential district, and its quality clothing and gastronomical street-side commerce is a direct reflection of this.

Odéon / Saint-Michel

Odeon is named for the 17th-century theatre standing between the boulevard Saint-Germain and the Luxembourg gardens, but today it is best known for its Cinemas and Cafés.

The land just to the south of the Seine river to the east of the boulevard Saint-Michel, around its Sorbonne university, has ben a center of student activity since the early 12th-century. The neighborhood surrounding is filled with many student-oriented commerce such as bookstores, stationary stores and game shops.

The land to the north of the boulevard Saint-Germain to the east of the boulevard Saint-Michel is one of the Rive Gauche’s few tourist oases. Although its narrow streets are charming, as they have remained unchanged from medieval times, they are filled with souvenir shops and tourist-trap restaurants, and is a quarter where few Parisians ever stray.

Paris’ 17th-century Hôtel des Invalides and 18th-century Ecole Militaire were built where they were in an effort to force the Rive Gauche’s growth westward to match that to its opposing Rive Droite. Les Invalides, a former military hospital and still today a retirement home for a few former soldiers, became a tourist attraction after it was doted with Napoleon Bonaparte’s ashes from 1840 and a museum from 1905.

Just to the west from there lies the École Militaire (Military school) built from 1751, but it is to the river end of its former parade ground that lies Paris’ foremost tourist attraction. The Eiffel tower, built by Gustave Alexandre Eiffel for the 1889 universal exposition, averages around six million visitors a year.

Further east along the bank of the Seine lies the former Paris-à-Orléans train station built for the 1900 universal exposition. Closed in 1933, it has since been renovated into a museum of 19th-century art, open to the public since 1986 [known as the Musée d’Orsay].

Montparnasse / Denfert-Rochereau

This quarter owes its artistic reputation to its Montparnasse cemetery. Open from 1824, it attracted the ateliers of sculptors and engravers to the still-inbuilt land nearby, and these in turn drew painters and other artists looking for calmer climes than the saturated and expensive Right Bank. Many of these today-famous artists met in the boulevard Montparnasse’s many cafés and bistros, one of these being the world-known Belle Époque “La Coupole.” This aspect of Montparnasse’s culture has faded since the second world war, but many of its artist atelier-residence “Cités” are still there to see.

The Gare Montparnasse, since its beginning as a railway connection to Versailles in 1840, has since grown into the Rive Gauche’s commuter hub connection to many destinations in southern France. The neighborhood around it is a thriving business quarter, and houses Paris’ tallest building: the Tour Montparnasse.

To the south-east of the boulevard Montparnasse, to the bottom of the northward-running avenue Denfert-Rochereau at the square of the same name, is one of Paris’ few-remaining pre-1860’s “polyp” gateways. The westernmost of these twin buildings holds Paris’ most macabre attraction: the Catacombs of Paris. Formerly stone mines, abandoned when Paris annexed the land over them from 1860, the underground hallways became a new sepulture for the contents of Paris’ many overflowing and unhygienic parish cemeteries. At its origin but a jumbled bone depository, it was renovated in the early 19th century into uniform rooms and hallways of neatly (and even artistically) arranged skulls and tibias, and opened to the public for paid visits from 1868.

Key Suburb: La Défense business district

As one of the largest business districts in the world, Paris La Défense is a major destination for business tourism in Europe. Every day, through the variety and number of its events, it enhances the role Paris plays on the world stage.


* 3,000,000 m² (32.3 million sq. ft) of offices
* Europe’s largest shopping center with nearly 3,000 hotel rooms, 600 shops and services, and over 100 restaurants
* daily influx of 160,000 office staff with 2 million tourist visits annually
* CNIT congress center, the largest self-supporting vault in the world, 43,000 m² (463,000 sq. ft), including 29,000 m² (312,000 sq. ft) of modular spaces, 36 meetings rooms and 4 halls
* La Défense stands on Paris’s historic East-West axis.

The project to build the Grande Arche was initiated by the French president François Mitterrand. He wanted a 20th century Arc de Triomphe. The design of Danish architect Otto van Spreckelsen looks more like a cube-shaped building than a triumphal arch. It is a 110 meters white building with the middle part left open. The sides of the cube contain offices. It is possible to take a lift to the top of the Grande Arche, from where there is a scenic view of the historical heart of Paris, which is 6 to 10 km. (4 to 6 miles) from the Grande Arche.

Screen Shot 2012-10-18 at 10.37.18 AMThe 20 Districts of Paris

Contact information for the 20 Paris townhalls, as well as information about the most popular sites in each arrondissement can be found at and for an interactive map, visit Paris a la carte.

1st Arrondissement

Townhall of the 1st arrondissement
4 Place of the Louvre
75042 PARIS CEDEX 01
Tél: 01 44 50 75 01
Web site:
Mayor: Jean-François Legaret
Area (in km²): 1.826
Population (1999 census): 16,888
Density (inh. per km²): 9,249

Sights include:
* Les Halles
* Banque de France headquarters
* Crédit Foncier de France historical headquarters
* The Louvre
* Tuileries Garden, Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume
* Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel
* Palais Royale
* Comédie-Française
* Hôtel de Rambouillet (former building)
* La Samaritaine
* Hôtel Ritz Paris
* Pont Neuf
* Pont des Arts

2nd Arrondissement

Townhall of the 2nd arrondissement
8 Rue de la Banque
75084 PARIS CEDEX 02
Tel: 01 53 29 75 02
Web site:
Mayor: Jacques Boutault
Area (in km²): 0.992
Population (1999 census): 19,585
Density (inh. per km²): 19,743

Sights include:
* Paris stock exchange (Palais Brongniart, former headquarters)
* Opéra-Comique

3rd Arrondissement

Townhall of the 3rd arrondissement
2 Rue Eugène Spuller
75141 PARIS CEDEX 03
Tel: 01 53 01 75 03
Web site:
Mayor: Pierre Aidenbaum
Area (in km²): 1.171
Population (1999 census): 34,248
Density (inh. per km²): 29,247

Sights include:
* Le Marais (shared with the 4e arrondissement)
* Place des Vosges (shared with the 4e arrondissement)
* Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers – main campus
* Musée des Arts et Métiers
* Hôtel de Soubise
* Former Temple fortress

4th Arrondissement

Townhall of the 4th arrondissement
2, place Baudoyer
75181 PARIS CEDEX 04
Tel: 01 44 54 75 04
Web site:
Mayor: Dominique Bertinotti
Area (in km²): 1.601
Population (1999 census): 30,675
Density (inh. per km²): 19,160

Sights include:
* Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville department store
* Berthillon (famous for ice cream)
* Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal
* Centre Georges Pompidou
* Hôtel-Dieu hospital
* Hôtel de Sens
* Hôtel de Sully, on the site of a former orangery
* Hôtel de Ville
* Le Marais
* Lycée Charlemagne
* Notre-Dame de Paris
* Prefecture of Police
* Saint-Jacques Tower
* Former Temple, fortress and later prison
* Temple du Marais

5th Arrondissement

Townhall of the 5th arrondissement
21 Place of the Panthéon
75231 PARIS CEDEX 05
Tel: 01 56 81 75 05
Web site:
Mayor: Jean Tiberi
Area (in km²): 2.541
Population (1999 census): 58,849
Density (inh. per km²): 23,160

Sights include:
* Arènes de Lutèce
* Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève
* Institut du Monde Arabe
* Jardin des Plantes and the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle
* Maison de la Mutualité
* Montagne Sainte-Geneviève
* Musée de Cluny
* The Panthéon
* Quartier Latin
* The Sorbonne
* Val-de-Grâce military hospital

6th Arrondissement

Townhall of the 6th arrondissement
78 rue Bonaparte
75270 PARIS CEDEX 06
Tel: 01 40 46 75 06
Web site:
Mayor: Jean-Pierre Lecoq
Area (in km²): 2.154
Population (1999 census): 44,919
Density (inh. per km²): 20,854

Sights include:
* Académie française
* Café de Flore
* French Senate (Luxembourg Palace)
* Hôtel Lutetia
* Jardin du Luxembourg
* Les Deux Magots
* Monnaie de Paris
* Polidor
* Pont des Arts
* Pont Neuf
* Saint-Germain des Prés Quarter
* Saint-Sulpice church
* Theatre National de l’Odéon
* Zadkine Museum

7th Arrondissement

Townhall of the 7th arrondissement
116 Rue de Grenelle
75340 PARIS CEDEX 07
Tel: 01 53 58 75 07
Web site:
Mayor: Michel Dumont
Area (in km²): 4.088
Population (1999 census): 56,985
Density (inh. per km²): 13,940

Sights include:
* French National Assembly
* Eiffel Tower
* Hôtel Matignon
* Champ de Mars
* École Militaire
* Hôtel des Invalides
* Musée Rodin
* Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po)

8th Arrondissement

Townhall of the 8th arrondissement
3 Rue de Lisbonne
75383 PARIS CEDEX 08
Tel: 01 44 90 75 08
Web site:
Mayor: François Lebel
Area (in km²): 3.881
Population (1999 census): 39,314
Density (inh. per km²): 10,130

Sights include:
* Champs-Élysées
* Église de la Madeleine
* Élysée Palace
* Théâtre des Champs-Élysées
* Grand Palais
* Petit Palais
* Hôtel de Crillon
* Gare Saint-Lazare
* Pont Alexandre III
* Place de l’Étoile with the Arc de Triomphe (partial)
* Place de la Concorde
* Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré
* Boulevard Haussmann (also in the IXe arrondissement)

9th Arrondissement

Townhall of the 9th arrondissement
6 Rue Drouot
75436 PARIS CEDEX 09
Tel: 01 71 37 75 09
Web site:
Mayor: Jacques Bravo
Area (in km²): 2.179
Population (1999 census): 55,838
Density (inh. per km²): 25,626

Sights include:
* Paris Olympia
* Folies Bergères at 32, rue Richer
* Paris Opera (Opéra Garnier)
* Galeries Lafayette (flagship store) at 40, boulevard Haussmann
* Printemps department store (flagship store)
* Musée Grévin
* Musée Gustave Moreau at 14, rue de la Rochefoucauld
* Parts of Pigalle area

10th Arrondissement

Townhall of the 10th arrondissement
72 Rue of the Faubourg Saint-Martin
75375 PARIS CEDEX 10
Tel: 01 53 72 10 10
Web site:
Mayor: Tony Dreyfus
Area (in km²): 2.892
Population (1999 census): 89,612
Density (inh. per km²): 30,986

Sights include:
* Canal Saint-Martin

11th Arrondissement

Townhall of the 11th arrondissement
Place Léon Blum
75536 PARIS CEDEX 11
Tel: 01 53 27 11 11
Site web
Mayor: Georges Sarre
Area (in km²): 3.666
Population (1999 census): 149,102
Density (inh. per km²): 40,672

Sights include:
* Cirque d’hiver

12th Arrondissement

Townhall of the 12th arrondissement
130, avenue Daumesnil
75570 PARIS CEDEX 12
Tél. : 01 44 68 12 12
Web site:
Mayor of the 12e arr. : Michèle Blumenthal
Area (in km²): 16.324 with Bois de Vincennes, 6.377 without Bois de Vincennes
Population (1999 census): 136,591
Density (inh. per km²): 21,419 without Bois de Vincennes

Sights include:
* Place de la Bastille (partly)
* Opera Bastille
* Bois de Vincennes
* Promenade plantée
* Cimetière de Picpus
* Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy

13th Arrondissement

Townhall of the 13th arrondissement
1 Place d’Italie
75634 PARIS CEDEX 13
Tel: 01 44 08 13 13
Web site:
Mayor: Serge Blisko
Area (in km²): 7.146
Population (1999 census): 171,533
Density (inh. per km²): 24,004

Sights include:
* Paris’ main chinatown is located in the high rise buildings of this arrondissement.
* Bibliothèque nationale de France
* Bicêtre Hospital
* Butte-aux-Cailles
* Gare d’Austerlitz
* Manufacture des Gobelins
* Paristore supermarket
* Tang Frères supermarket

14th Arrondissement

Townhall of the 14th arrondissement
2 Place Ferdinand Brunot
75675 PARIS CEDEX 14
Tel: 01 53 90 67 14
Web site:
Mayor: Pierre Castagnou
Area (in km²): 5.621
Population (1999 census): 132,844
Density (inh. per km²): 23,634

Sights include:
* Paris Catacombs museum
* Cimetière du Montparnasse
* Gare Montparnasse
* Montparnasse area
* La Santé Prison
* Tour Montparnasse

15th Arrondissement

Townhall of the 15th arrondissement
31 rue Péclet
75732 PARIS CEDEX 15
Tel: 01 55 76 75 15
Web site:
Mayor: René Galy-Dejean
Area (in km²): 8.502
Population (1999 census): 225,362
Density (inh. per km²): 26,507

Sights include:
* Parts of the Montparnasse area.
* The former workshop (no longer standing) of Constantin Brancusi, where the sculptor worked from 1925 to 1957.
* La Ruche

16th Arrondissement

Townhall of the 16th arrondissement
71 Avenue Henri Martin
75775 PARIS CEDEX 16
Tel: 01 40 72 16 16
Web site:
Mayor: Pierre-Christian Taittinger
Area (in km²): 16.305 with Bois de Boulogne, 7.846 without Bois de Boulogne
Population (1999 census): 161,773
Density (inh. per km²): 20,6194

Sights include:
* Trocadéro
* Musée national de la Marine
* Musée de l’Homme
* Musée national des Monuments français
* Musée du Cinéma Henri Langlois
* Théâtre national de Chaillot
* Passy, Cimetière de Passy
* Avenue Foch
* Place de l’Étoile and Arc de Triomphe (partial)
* Parc des Princes
* Maison de Radio France
* Guimet Museum
* Musée Marmottan-Monet
* Lycée Janson de Sailly

17th Arrondissement

Townhall of the 17th arrondissement
16 Rue des Batignolles
75840 PARIS CEDEX 17
Tel: 01 44 69 17 17
Web site:
Mayor: Françoise de Panafieu
Area (in km²): 5.669
Population (1999 census): 160,860
Density (inh. per km²): 28,375

18th Arrondissement

Townhall of the 18th arrondissement
1 Place Jules Joffrin
75877 PARIS CEDEX 18
Tel: 01 53 41 18 18
Web site:
Mayor: Daniel Vaillant
Area (in km²): 6.005
Population (1999 census): 184,586
Density (inh. per km²): 30,739

Sights include:
* Moulin Rouge
* Basilica of the Sacré Coeur
* Montmartre
* Pigalle

19th Arrondissement

Townhall of the 19th arrondissement
5-7, place Armand Carrel
75935 PARIS CEDEX 19
Tel: 01 44 52 29 19
Web site:
Mayor: Roger Madec
Area (in km²): 6.786
Population (1999 census): 172,730
Density (inh. per km²): 25,454

Sights include:
* Buttes Chaumont
* Parc de la Villette

20th Arrondissement

Townhall of the 20th arrondissement
6 Place Gambetta
75971 PARIS CEDEX 20
Tel: 01 43 15 20 20
Web site:
Mayor: Michel Charzat
Area (in km²): 5.984
Population (1999 census): 182,952
Density (inh. per km²): 30,574

Sights include:
* Belleville

The Best Districts of Paris in Which to Live

Every district of Paris has its own personality, its own flavor, its own “raison d’être.” That’s why, when you choose a district of Paris to call your own, you will want to match compatibilities, like you would with a lover or a spouse.

If the “pied-à-terre” you own is yours only a few weeks a year, while the rest of the year is devoted to renters, then the district in which you choose to own may be decidedly different from the one you’d rather live in all year long.

Let’s take a look at the most sought-after arrondissements from the tourists’ points of view. These are, in this order, Ile Saint-Louis (4th), Saint-Germain-des-Prés (6th), Le Marais (3rd and 4th), the Latin Quarter (5th) and Eiffel Tower (7th). More short-term rental requests are made of these districts than any others, so from an investment point of view, property in these districts can bring the highest revenues, but would you want to spend more than a few weeks a year here?

Those who live on either the Ile Saint-Louis or the Ile de la Cité say they love it, but that it has become less and less of a real Parisian “quartier” as it becomes more and more transient. It lacks amenities, good little inexpensive bistrots and easy access to transportation…but some of the best views of Paris can be had from the apartments lining the quays.

Saint-Germain-des-Prés is Paris’ most over-rated neighborhood, from my perspective. It’s the city’s most expensive, has the most short-term rental apartments (meaning the most transient population) and is becoming more and more crowded with tourists, chain restaurants and shops with every passing year. Many new Anglophone buyers gravitate to this district because it’s the one they come to know first and feel the most comfortable — plus an Anglophone can live here successfully without speaking one word of French. In fact, you may hear more English on the street than French in certain parts of the district. There is no question, however, that it is chic and many of Paris’ most illustrious celebrities chose the 6th early on — but that was early on. Is it passé? For young Parisians — yes.

Le Marais is at the height of Bohemian Chic and is currently experiencing enormous growth and prestige. Young French entrepreneurs are opening high quality galleries and boutiques where little factories and wholesalers once were. Dilapidated “hôtel particuliers” are being taken over by large development firms and renovated to elegant apartments fit for the rich and famous. The mix of population is a soup of Jews, gays, Chinese, young and old, technicians and professionals. The politics are left wing and the ideas about culture and quality of life are very progressive. These two arrondissements, both the 3rd and 4th, are highly rentable and highly livable, although like the 6th, are getting more transient with each passing year.

Of these, the Latin Quarter is the least desirable full-time residence because of the overwhelming noise, abundance of souvenir shops and touristic restaurants and lack of basic amenities (markets, etc.).

Other areas of the city where rentals can provide adequate returns are the 1st, 2nd, 7th and 8th districts. The 1st arrondissement is obviously accessible to everything, but there is little residential property available (Le Louvre takes up most of it) and therefore lacks amenities.

The 2nd arrondissement is growing in all aspects as a great place to live. With rue Montorgeuil as Paris’ oldest shopping street running right up the middle, the streets surrounding it are pedestrian, the factories and wholesalers shutting down nights and weekends, plus new restaurants and boutiques are opening faster than we can count, all while being in such a central location, the 2nd is worth a serious look. Rental capabilities are growing along with every other aspect of this very colorful “quartier” — and that is its only drawback in some respects. The red light district borders the east side of it and spills a bit of decadence into its otherwise very Parisian streets, although that is changing rapidly. The gay community has moved in, gentrifying it, and moving the “girls” out little by little. I predict a lot of change and growth for all of the 2nd and property values to increase steadily.

The 7th is the Eiffel Tower’s own neighborhood and while everyone dreams of a view La Grande Dame, the immediate vicinity can be a bit dead, with the exception of around rue Cler, a lively market street.

The 8th is home to the Champs-Elysées, non-stop tourists, designer shopping and expensive restaurants. Living here is a different kind of Paris, among high-level professional offices in large apartments of the highest Haussmannian elegance. This neighborhood is not for the bargain-basement crowd, so expect to dress well every day or dare not leave your flat.

All the other districts of Paris are designed for real living, with little or no expectation of rental return. This is one of the main reasons these outer districts can, in fact, be the most lovably livable parts of the city…where the real Parisians live and work, shop for groceries, have their shoes fixed, make friends with their neighbors. Each one is distinctly different where you may feel like you fit in…or not. Those who hang their hat in the 16th (bourgeois) may never feel at home in the 19th (bohemian) or the 15th (yuppie), for that matter.

So, which is the best arrondissement of Paris to call your own? Only you can answer that — but I’ve never met a person in Paris who didn’t love where they were living, no matter which district was theirs.

A bientôt,

AdrianMarciaShots 163updcroppedAdrian Leeds
Editor, French Property Insider

Email: [email protected]




 P.S. Tomorrow I’m headed to Nice where the weather is a good ten degrees warmer and sun is predicted for every day of the week. Growth in Nice and the surrounding cities is fast and furious. This is France’s second more interesting spot for a risk-free investment. Next week we’ll be talking more about Nice and it’s “quartiers” — a way to get to know it before you decide to call it home away from as I have.

For those of you who have not yet discovered the Riviera, now’s the time — as there is availability over the next few months at our two luxury “pied-à-terres” — “Le Matisse” and “La Côte du Paradis.” Book your time before I do! Visit Parler Nice Apartments for more information.


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