This guest post is the start of an occasional series featuring every day Millennials who made their travel dreams come true without the big price tag. Today, my former coworker and fellow true crime junkie Jamie Winslow tells us her top 5 must-see districts in Paris!
Between the grand boulevards, the Haussmann architecture, and the historic sights, the city of Paris is not lacking in charm. There is also no question why countless films and songs describe Paris as the epicenter of culture and a little piece of heaven for any traveler.
Whether one is interested in art, cinema, fashion, food, dance, or history, Paris provides a place to satisfy these enthusiasms. However, it is important to ask oneself a vital question: “How do I know what neighborhood best fits my passions?”
There are 20 arrondissements (French for district or borough) within Paris, and with so many areas to explore, it may become a bit overwhelming. Luckily, being a lover of the city of lights and a huge Francophile, I present to you the 5 must-see districts of Paris.
5 Must-See Districts to Visit in Paris
While this borough may not appear to be a standout location, it is a gem worth visiting. Belleville is not focused on major attractions and sights. Instead, it thrives as a great multi-ethnic neighborhood. It is home to two Chinatowns and numerous Chinese products for purchase. There is also an farmers’ market held regularly on the Boulevard de Belleville.
Besides the produce and international cuisine, Belleville is also a perfect place for admirers of the outdoors and nature. Tourists can walk around the district and explore the extensive street murals before heading towards the gorgeous parks. For example, the Parc de Belleville, both a cemetery and park, gives visitors an interesting, modern vibe that differs from the classic and romantic parks in Paris’ city-center. The Parc de Belleville also allows for its guest to have a wonderful look at the Paris skyline.
Translated literally into English as beautiful city, Belleville is a location to seek out.
4. Le Marais
Le Marais is without a doubt the most aristocratic location on this list. It is true that this area contains some shops and galleries that range a bit more on the expensive side but do not make this a reason to avoid this area.
While Le Marais may not be the immediate go-to place for retail therapy thanks to the Champs-Elysées, Le Marais boasts an exciting fashion repertoire suiting a large number of styles. For an eccentric option, Antoine & Lili is a magnificent store to go to. If Parisian classic is the better choice than tourists can visit Sandro, and if in need of a department store than try the long-time standing BHV Marais.
The last element that is important to note is the culture of Le Marais. Besides the shopping component, Le Marais is at the center of France’s LGBTQ+ community. With a variety of gay bars and shows, the progressive nature of Le Marais is something that France proudly offers its citizens and visitors.
3. Latin Quarter
The Latin quarter is an interesting place as it successfully blends young, lively energy with old-world quaintness. This neighborhood contains a large collection of quirky bookshops and cafes filled with students due to nearby educational establishments like the Sorbonne and the Collège de France.
However, the streets of the Latin quarter are unlike any other in Paris. Paris, typically known for its wide boulevards, becomes a maze of narrow, stone streets with only one notable exception, the Boulevard Saint-Michel. The old-world environment is enhanced because of its gothic churches like the Eglise Saint-Séverin. In addition to the churches, it also gives travelers the option to walk around the National Museum of the Middle Ages, and its most well-known attraction, the Patheon.
The Patheon is a grandiose structure enveloped in a Neo-classical style. It currently houses some of the most prolific French citizens France has ever seen. The people buried in the Patheon include unforgettable philosophers like Voltaire and writers like Victor Hugo.
The harmonious manner in which old and new come together makes the Latin quarter a truly dynamic destination.
2. L’Opera (9th arrondissement)
For any fan of the arts, this is a crucial district to visit. One of the main lures of this borough is the Opera Garnier. It is clear to see the sheer artistry and architectural details just by looking at the exterior. As the doors open and the grand staircase appears, visitors are taken to a world of bourgeoise and extreme luxury.
However, the Paris Opera is far from finished showing tourists its stunning visuals. There is no bad view in sight as the auditorium of the Opera Garnier boasts an impressive deep red color with a 8-ton chandelier, and the grand foyer is surrounded in gold with a ceiling fresco painted by Paul Baudry that depicts allegories connected to art and music.
Fun fact: Opera house beauty is so alluring that it became the setting for the much-admired Phantom of the Opera novel and musical.
If classical is not your first choice than visit the Folies Bergère. This cabaret hall held acts ranging from operettas to musical acts and gymnastics. The Folies Bergère has been the subject of numerous artists including Cheret and Manet and housed famous performers such as Edith Piaf, Josephine Baker, and Charlie Chaplin.
Lastly, it must be addressed that this is also the district for any museum lover. Yes, the Louvre is an amazing museum that should be seen, but the 9th district offers a vast array of galleries to fit anyone’s taste.
Some of the museums include but are not limited to the Musée de la Franc-Maçonnerie, Musée Grévin, Musée Gustave Moreau, Musée du Parfum, and more. The subjects of these sites portray a huge number of interests such as freemasonry information, wax art, the works of Gustave Moreau, and perfume.
The 9th arrondissement, aka L’Opera, is not a district to dismiss.
While this borough may be no hidden secret, there are endless reasons to give this district the top spot on the list. It almost seems impossible to start naming the qualities that make Montmartre close to perfect.
Starting off with an extremely well-known attraction, La Basilica de Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre, is one of the most glorious sites in France. It is vital to turn around before entering the church as it provides the best view of Paris anyone can ask for. After admiring the bright white color and glorious domes, visitors are in awe as the architecture style, Romano-Byzantine, and the creativity of the interior take their breath away.
In addition to Sacré-Cœur, the bohemian attitude comes alive while adventuring through the arrondissement. For fans that appreciated Woody Allen’s Midnight Night in Paris, Montmartre is the place to be. A hub of inventive inspiration and beauty is the only way to describe Montmartre.
Tourists can go to the Place du Tertre, where artists paint newcomers for joy and money. They can also visit the Moulin Rouge in the south, which provides a risqué show and a chance to see the world-renowned can-can dance. Famous cabarets such as Le Chat Noir and the Lapin Agile exist in Montmartre. It is a joy to enter these establishments and feel a little special knowing its clientele consisted of a multitude of French artists in the 20th century.
Lastly, it may be a personal opinion, but the Rue Lepic with its Les Deux Moulins café is a fabulous spot to check out. It contributes, like the entirety of Montmartre, to a care-free spirit and world where creativity and amusement no know bounds.
Now, it is time to pack those bags and head to Paris! Bon Voyage!
Jamie Winslow is an enrollment specialist who recently earned her Master of Liberal Arts degree in Literature. She is an admirer of all things French who also loves cinema, her dog, and listening to true crime podcasts.
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