Where should I stay in Paris? An area-by-area guide

by Sals2

Each district of Paris has its own distinct character and flavour. Where you choose to stay will make a big difference to your overall experience. You might opt for bohemian Montmartre, earthy Bastille or the chic Marais. Our guide to the key districts should help you decide where to look for Paris apartment rentals.

Saint Germain-des-Près/Quartier Latin (5th & 6th arrondissements)

Stay here for: Intellectual style

If you crave a slice of Parisian intellectual life, you could do worse than to stay on this part of the Rive-Gauche (Left Bank). At the legendary Café de Flore and Deux Magots, you can enjoy a café au lait while debating literature and philosophy, just as Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus did before.

But this is no impoverished intellectual haven – expect to be surrounded by ultra-chic restaurants and stylish boutiques at every turn, amongst the bookshops that remain as a testament to the area’s scholarly tradition.

Montmartre/Pigalle (18th & 9th arrondissements)

Stay here for: Bohemian vibrancy

This corner of Paris has a famously wild reputation. Particularly between the Belle Époque (1890s) and the roaring twenties, Montmartre was a hive of artistic and bohemian activity, fuelled by the many absinthe bars and drinking holes, and distracted by the nocturnal venues and sex establishments (for which Pigalle is still notorious). But this area is also home to Sacré Coeur, the domed white church that commands a stunning panorama of Paris from atop Montmartre hill. Adventurous, young-at-heart visitors often stay here to get a piece of Moulin Rouge! Paris.

Moulin Rouge

Grand Boulevards/Opéra (2nd, 8th, 9th and 10th arrondissements)

Stay here for: Upmarket entertainment

Ever since the sumptuous Opéra Garnier opened its doors to Parisian high society in 1875, this area has been a centre for upmarket entertainment. Baron Haussmann, the architect responsible for much of what we define as distinctly Parisian, covered the district with wide, tree-lined avenues. At the Olympia concert hall, singers like Edith Piaf wowed crowds, while earlier the Folies Bergères was made famous by Josephine Baker and her pet leopard. The show goes on today in this district: head to Galeries Lafayette or Printemps to buy a new ensemble, then hit the dancefloor at club Silencio, while it’s still trendy.

Bastille/Oberkamf (3rd, 4th, 11th and 12th arrondissements)

Stay here for: Proletarian charm

Place de la Bastille was a major hotspot in the French Revolution. Although the French first overthrew their extravagant monarchy in 1789, it took a few further attempts before kings and emperors were consigned to French history. Throughout the process, this district was associated with popular uprising, and today, the area retains some of its proletarian charm. Grungy bars and clubs can be found around rue d’Oberkampf, and Rue Charlot is home to a street market dating back to 1615: le Marché des Enfants Rouge.

Le Marais/Beaubourg (3rd and 4th arrondissements)

Stay here for: Art and shopping à la mode

Le Marais is perhaps the most chic of the Parisian districts, as well as being Paris’ bona-fide Gay Quarter. The narrow, cobbled streets are lined with stylish cafes, fabulous art galleries and vintage boutiques. All perfect hangouts to see and be seen. In nearby Beaubourg, you’ll find the Centre Pompidou – celebrated for its collection of modern art as well as its avant-garde exterior – and the Stravinsky Fountain, whose moving statues depict the works of the famed composer.