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Our Favorite Neighborhoods to Explore in Paris

Locals share beloved and unexpected corners of the city to shop, explore history, dine, and tap into fun.



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WHEN I MOVED to Paris the first time I was 21. I came planning to spend three months with my boyfriend; I ended up staying for six years. During those first months, when I was still a visitor, I spent the hours while he was at work entertaining myself: visiting museums, reading in cafes, and especially wandering aimlessly through the city. I’d make an argument that there is no better place to do this in the world.

For a city that occupies so much space in our collective consciousness, I was surprised to realize how small Paris actually is. You can walk from end to end in about an hour and a half, something I would do, in those days before Google maps, carrying a small book called a Plan de Paris. The arrondissements spin out from the center like a snail, the tourist center giving way to a ring of residential neighborhoods, each with its own personality. I am partial to the Left Bank, because I live there — but most Parisians will tell you their neighborhood is the best (right after they finish complaining about what’s wrong with it). Here we have compiled recommendations for you, covering a diverse swath of the city. From restaurants to parks to tucked away museums, these are some places that those who call the city home love best. But as you take these recommendations, please accept one more: I still believe the best way to truly experience Paris is to walk, with a destination in mind, or just wandering through the most beautiful city in the world, seeing what you find. — Skye Parrott



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The Marais

Where history meets modernity

The Marais is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Paris. Its historical background is amplified by the architecture and by its Jewish heritage — don’t miss the kosher delis at every corner and bakeries on Rue des Rosiers. At the same time, it’s a very trendy area with picturesque streets, designer shops and boutiques, popular restaurants, and contemporary art galleries. Start early in the morning at the oldest planned square in Paris, Place des Vosges, to bask in the sun. From here, explore seventeenth-century private mansions such as Hôtel de Sully, Hôtel de Soubise, and The Hôtel Salé — the latter being a magnificent building once frequented by the writer Honoré de Balzac, which is now home to the famous Picasso museum. Next, I recommend stopping for a meal at Auberge Nicolas Flamel, where young Chef Grégory Garimbay offers modern French cuisine. While you’re in the area, visit Fleux for designer objects, the sophisticated concept store Leclaireur, or The Centre Pompidou for its architecture and cultural programming. When in the mood for a cocktail, I like to visit the rooftop terrace of the Hôtel National des Arts et Métiers, where you can enjoy a stunning view of Paris.
Amaury Bouhours


A true Parisian day-to-night date

This neighborhood is extremely central, seeing as how it’s in the middle of Paris. To the untrained eye, you would never know from the street that there’s a massive garden tucked behind the walls of Palais-Royal. The palace has evolved tremendously, but the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century artistic aesthetics remain today. For a true Parisian experience, start at Le Nemours for a coffee before making your way to the Palais-Royal Garden. Find a spot in the grass or a park bench to take in the magic and sun (if you need sunglasses, browse the selection at Maison Bonnet). For lunch, it’s Japanese food; head to Rue Sainte-Anne, and my favorite place is Kunitoraya. When you’re ready to explore, it’s a short walk to the Basilica of Notre Dame des Victoires to immerse yourself in what I think is the most beautiful church in Paris. After that, journey to the always-stunning National Library and the famous art installation Colonnes de Buren. If you’re still in the neighborhood for dinner, grab a table at the storied Chez Georges. — Ramdane Touhami

Carré des Antiquaires

A dream shopping experience

I have lived in Carré des Antiquaires, or Carré Rive Gauche, for nearly two decades. It’s a renowned destination for serious collectors, editors, and art lovers because of past intellectuals and artists such as socialite Juliette Récamier, painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani, musician Misia Sert, and playwright Oscar Wilde. Today, the neighborhood is famous for its collection of art and antique stores, and while most people find their way here after visiting Musée d’Orsay, there are many other shops to explore. I recommend starting at Adelline, where you will find beautiful handmade gold jewelry with cabochon stones from India. Next, visit L/Uniform for chic leather and canvas bags before moving on to Sennelier — an art store where you can truly get lost. From here, you must visit Dries Van Noten, specializing in fragrance and beauty, prior to immersing yourself in Librairie 7L, Karl Lagerfeld’s bookstore that opened in the late ’90s. For exceptional vintage haute couture, peruse Renaissance, and for floral inspiration or a bouquet, step into Rosa Luna. If you’re in need of nourishment, visit Le Rouquet or the secretive, small lobby at Hotel Montalembert for a coffee or cocktail, or grab a seat at Maison Fleuret Paris for plant-based foods or Lao Tseu for Chinese. — Nicole Stulman


11th Arrondissement

Where food lovers rejoice

Rich with French Revolutionary history, the 11th arrondissement is currently known as the heart of the Parisian restaurant scene. I suggest starting your journey at Coulée Verte René-Dumont, a lush park designed around an elevated railway with local businesses tucked underneath. For lunch, make a reservation at Le Servan, which serves up both fantastic meals and service, is woman-owned, and is a favorite of mine. After lunch, select a gift for yourself or someone back home at Landline, where you’ll discover a curated array of general store items. Explore Cavewoman Wines, where you can browse their rare collection of bottles or schedule a tasting paired with charcuterie and cheese from local purveyors. For an aperitif or nightcap, I recommend visiting the bar at Maison Bréguet — if you arrive before sunset, make sure to grab a seat in the back room and take in the gorgeous sunlight. For dinner, grab a table at The Hood (no reservations) and indulge in chicken and rice, noodles, or fresh summer salads. While you’re in the neighborhood, don’t miss their Vietnamese sister spot — Nonette Bành Mí & Donuts. If you feel more comfortable securing a dinner reservation, do so at Double Dragon for Asian-inspired bites. — Ajiri Aki

South Pigalle (SoPi)

A fun neighborhood for all

SoPi was historically known for its sex shops and cabarets, and remnants of its past can still be found along the Boulevard de Clichy. From food lovers to shoppers and night owls to families, today, the area offers something unique and fun for nearly everyone. For the cuisine-inclined, start at the famous Grand Pigalle Hotel and visit Le Pigalle for casual coffee or cocktails, or Frenchie Pigalle for exceptional wine and food. If you’re hungry for more, grab a seat at Buvette, or visit the hip bistronomic restaurant Les Affranchis. To immerse yourself in an eclectic crowd, order a cocktail at Hotel Amour Paris, or for something more low-key, pick up a bottle of natural wine from La Cave Pigalle. If you feel like shopping between meals or drinks, some of my favorite brands in SoPi are A.P.C., Maison Kitsuné, Retro Chic Paris, Iregular, and Finger in the Nose. For families, I suggest visiting Rue des Martyrs, where there are local cafes surrounding a beautiful vintage carousel. KB Coffee Roasters is ideal for coffee and delicious pastries, while Season offers more health-conscious eats. For nightlife, there’s a number of bars and brasseries I’d suggest; Caroline de Maigret, Le Mansart, Le Dépanneur, Le Carmen, La Nouvelle Eve, and Pink Mamma cater to young and chic crowds. — Ly Ngo Heisig

20th Arrondissement

An ideal sunny Sunday

The 20th arrondissement is quite bohemian and is one of the least-visited parts of Paris. I live on the street behind Père-Lachaise cemetery, where Jim Morrison is buried. Each Sunday, when I pass through on my way to lunch, I find it to be beautiful and soothing, and I highly recommend you start your journey here. From the cemetery, I suggest stopping for lunch at Amagat, my favorite place for Spanish tapas, or Le Baratin, which has fantastic, Spanish-French fusion. Next, visit Bois de Vincennes, one of the most exquisite parks in Paris, where I routinely take my three bull terriers to run and swim. In the afternoon, go to the Parc des Buttes Chaumont to explore or rest, or to Rosa Bonheur for cocktails. For dinner, check out Galerna, a Spanish spot I dine at nearly every night, or Pacifique, my go-to Chinese restaurant. If you’re interested in experiencing some of the most interesting and creative pieces of theater in France, purchase a ticket for one of the shows at La Colline Theatre National — their performances are absolutely brilliant. — David Mallett

Our Contributors

Skye Parrott

Skye Parrott is the editor-in-chief of Departures. A magazine editor, photographer, writer, and creative consultant, she was previously a founder of the arts and culture journal Dossier, and editor-in-chief for the relaunch of Playgirl as a modern, feminist publication.

Amaury Bouhours Writer

Amaury Bouhours is the executive chef of the Alain Ducasse restaurant. He began his career at Le Louis XV in Monaco, then went on to work for Chef Ducasse's restaurants around Paris.

Ramdane Touhami Writer

Ramdane Touhami is a French-Moroccan artist, creative director, entrepreneur, and hotelier.

Nicole Stulman Writer

Nicole Stulman is a luxury accessories designer who has worked for Hermès, Christian Dior, Burberry, and Céline, among others.

Ajiri Aki Writer

Ajiri Aki is a fashion video producer and the founder of Madame de la Maison, an online homeware boutique. Her most recent book is "Joie: A Parisian's Guide to Celebrating the Good Life."

Ly Ngo Heisig Writer

Ly Ngo Heisig is a multidisciplinary director and designer.

David Mallett Writer

David Mallett is an Australian-born stylist.


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