One of the many charms of Paris is how it is set up, in so-called arrondissements, literally meaning “districts.” It’s a city of just over 2 million people, and there are 20 arrondissements. When they were created in 1795 there were just 12, but, like any city, Paris absorbed some suburbs over a few decades. Et voila. Twenty. They each have their own subtly different character, be they posh, trendy, ethnic, or all about nightlife.
On our LinkParis.com facebook page (feel free to friend us), we posed the question "If you lived in Paris, what arrondissement would you choose?". We got a record 96 responses, a few voting for "anywhere, as long as it's Paris," but plenty of strong and specific opinions.
The winner was the 7th, location of the Eiffel Tower, Musee d' Orsay and plenty of upscale dining, strolling and shopping. That got 14 votes. The 4th got nine votes, with the historic Marais, Isle de la Cite and Pompidou Center in or near its borders. You might have heard of Notre Dame Cathedral? That's in the 4th as well. With 7 votes each, the 1st, 5th and 6th also had their devotees. Stay in any of those areas and you'll be walking distance, respectively, to the Louvre, Tuileries, Luxembourg Gardens and high fashion shops. Visit gorgeous Sainte Chapelle in St. Germain if you stay in the 6th.
A couple of decades ago, whether you were Left Bank (a bit scruffy) or Right Bank (quite proper) mattered a lot, but the blurring of social classes, the rise of world class bistro chefs opening restaurants in fringe areas, and the sheer price of Paris real estate has gentrified more than a few formerly "dodgy" neighborhoods.
Pigalle and Belleville, however, are still not for the faint of heart.
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