In Paris, your arrondissement says a lot about who you are and what you like.

My Favorite Paris Destinations

It seems like an anecdote fit for France, but indeed I was in California the day I met a boy in a coffee shop who taught me all I needed to know about Paris’ geography. “You live in Paris? I’m moving there!” I exclaimed, as if it was fate to find this rare breed on my side of the world.

He took his napkin and pen and began to draw what appeared to be a large snail, or escargot as the French would say. Spiraling out, he mapped Paris’ twenty arrondissements, finally adding a thin line across the middle proclaiming “the Seine, it’s the river” and labeling its respective sides Rive Gauche and Rive Droite.

As many ways as there are to geographically divide Paris, the city is incredibly united where each neighborhood transitions into the next seamlessly. Historically the world has viewed it in these two parts, the Right Bank and the Left Bank. The larger Rive Droite in the north makes room for the majority of the city’s most frequented tourist attractions and commerce. Meanwhile, the smaller Rive Gauche on the south side of the Seine became home to artists and intellectuals among its galleries and universities, emerging with a unique style that the late and great Yves Saint Laurent sought to capture in his Rive Gauche collections.

Laugh

While immune to much change, as its charm seems eternally preserved, Paris has evolved through the years, shifting these lines to define the city in new ways. Today it’s best understood by the traditional and chic west and the edgy and emerging east. Fittingly, I’ve landed somewhere spot in the middle of the two, in the heart of Paris in a neighborhood called the Marais, a geographical and stylistic compromise between these two sides that seems to resonate with many expats like myself. In Paris, your arrondissement says a lot about who you are and what you like. Here’s a run down of what you might need to know, grouping them into 11 general areas for planning activities along with some of my favorite things to visit in each…

The Tuileries to Opéra

•    SHOP along the Rue Saint Honoré and Printemps
•    EAT at Le Soufflé
•    VISIT the Place Vendôme, the Tuileries and the Palais Royale

The Champs-Elysées


•    VISIT the Arc de Triumphe for an incredible view
•    SHOP on the fashionable Avenue Montaigne

The Marais

•    EAT at La Loire dans La Théière
•    SHOP at Joy and Merci
•    VISIT the Musée du Carnavalet
•    DRINK at Mary Celeste

Ile Saint Louis & Ile de la Cité

•    VISIT Le Pont Saint Louis to listen to “La Vie En Rose”
•    EAT ice cream at Bertillon
•    VISIT the peaceful gardens behind Notre Dame to see it from another side

The Latin Quarter


•    EAT some French candies at Le Bonbon au Palais
•    SHOP the fresh market at Place Monge
•    VISIT the Jardin du Luxembourg

St. Germain-des-Pres


•    EAT at Café de Flore
•    SHOP at Sonia Rykiel and other great boutiques along Boulevard Saint-Germain
•    VISIT the Musée d’Orsay

Montparnasse


•    EAT at the traditional brasserie La Coupole
•    SHOP nearby at Le Bon Marché

Trocadéro

•    VISIT Trocadéro itself to enjoy the view of the Eiffel Tower
•    EAT at La Carette
•    VISIT the Champs de Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower just across the bridge

Pigalle & Montmartre


•    EAT & DRINK at the Hotel Amour
•    SHOP along the Rue des Martyrs
•    VISIT the Sacré Coeur

Bastille

•    EAT at Le Square Trousseau
•    SHOP unique boutiques along the Rue de Charonne
•    DRINK at Pause Café

Belleville

•    EAT & DRINK at Mama Shelter
•    VISIT the Buttes Chaumont

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