The continuing gentrification of the 11th and 12th during recent years has created... thriving areas with an energetic cafe and nightlife in the trendy Bastille and Faubourg St. Antoine neighborhoods.
The somewhat controversial Opera de la Bastille opened in 1989, the bicentennial of the French Revolution.
The Viaduc des Arts, once a railroad viaduct, now contains artisans' workshops and boutiques; the elevated Promenade Plantee overhead offers strollers and joggers a green space above the fumes of daily traffic.
Development in the 12th resulted in the Parc de Bercy.
Other neighborhoods in the 11th and 12th include Charonne (also in the 20th), Reuilly Diderot, and Nations, and beyond the Blvd. Peripherique lies the Bois de Vincennes with its Chateau and lakes.
I will be renting an apartment in this arrondissement next spring so I will offer much more information about this area (and, of course, Paris in general) later....so, stay tuned.
There are several sites of interest to tourists among the working class neighborhoods in the 19th and 20th.
The Parc de la Villette in the 19th is a favourite of both adults and children, with diverse exhibits at rhe Cite des Sciences et de L'Industrie and the Cite de la Musique.
The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont has rolling hills, cliffs, a central lake, and a small classical temple.
The Pere-Lachaise Cemetary in the 20th is the most visited cemetary in Paris and permanent home to many historic figures; it provides an atmospheric stroll among romantic alleys, trees, mausoleums and sculptures.
Quartiers in the 19th and 20th include Rhin-et-Danube, Belleville (sometimes called the Brooklyn of Paris) with its Parc de Belleville, Bagnolet, Gambetta, Menilmonthant (the childhood home of Edith Piaf), and Charonne.
Major portions of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements... make up the Marais ("swamp"), a neighborhood popular with visitors.
It is noted for its picturesque streets; 18th century "hotels particuliers"; the elegant Places des Vosges; boutiques; galleries; and an animated cafe and nightlife that includes the gay scene.
There are excellent museums in the Marais, e.g. the Musee National Picasso, and the Musee Carnavalet, which is dedicated to the history of Paris. The rue de Rosiers in the Marais is the historic centre of the Jewish community in Paris.
Other "quartiers" in the 3rd and 4th include Beaubourg, Temple, Arsenal, and the Bastille.
The 4th contains the Centre Georges-Pompidou; Musee National d'Art Moderne, and the magnificent Cathedral Notre Dame, and most of the Ile de la Cite, along with the Ile St. Louis, a primarily residential area. And while not an area with major tourist attractions, the Ile St. Louis is popular for its romantic charm and central location.
The river Seine divides Paris in a gentle arc, and flows from east to west...and...if you face the direction of the flow, the Right Bank 'Rive Droit' is on your right and the Left Bank 'Rive Gauche' is...you guessed it!
The Right Bank is generally characterized as a centre of commerce and banking, haute couture, palace hotels, and grand, wide boulevards.
The Left Bank, historically considered the centre of learning and religious activity, and with its enclave of writers and intellectuals, is rich with cafe life. The hotels here tend to be small and charming, rather than grand hotels of luxury.
Paris is divided into 20 districts called arrondissements, each with its own mayor and town hall or "marie".
Many small neighborhoods lie within these arrondissements, several spilling over its boundaries into others. Each arrondissement is referred to by an ordinal number; the first ("le premier"), the second (le deuxieme"), etc. They spiral clockwise from the central portion of the city to the ring road called the Boulevard Peripherique.
The number of the arrondissement is also the last 2 digits of a Paris address, whereas the first 2 digits signify Paris.
For example, an address with a postal code of 75008 will be in the eighth arrondissement; one with a postal code of 75011 will be in the 11th.
This helps when you have an address you need to go to...it'll help you head towards the right part of the city.
Fondest memory: Each arrondissement has its own unique character and selection of attractions for the traveler:
1st (1er). The geographical centre of Paris and a great starting point for travelers. The Louvre Museum, the Jardin des Tuileries, Place Vendôme, Les Halles and Palais Royal are all to be found here.
2nd (2e). The central business district of the city - the Bourse (the Paris Stock Exchange) and the Bibliothèque Nationale are located here.
3rd (3e). Archives Nationales, Musée Carnavalet, Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers, the northern, quieter part of the Marais
4th (4e). Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Hôtel de Ville ( Paris town hall), Beaubourg, le Marais (gay Paris)
5th (5e). Jardin des Plantes, Quartier Latin, Universités, La Sorbonne, Le Panthéon
6th (6e). Jardin du Luxembourg, Saint-Germain des Prés
7th (7e). Tour Eiffel, Les Invalides, Musée d'Orsay
8th (8e). Champs-Elysées, the Palais de l'Elysée, la Madeleine
9th (9e). Opéra Garnier, Grands Magasins
10th (10e). Canal Saint-Martin, Gare du Nord, Gare de l'Est
11th (11e). the bars and restaurants of Rue Oberkampf, Bastille, Nation, New Jewish Quarter
12th (12e). Opéra Bastille, Bercy Park and Village, Promenade plantée, Quartier d'Aligre, Gare de Lyon, the Bois de Vincennes
13th (13e). Quartier Chinois, Place d'Italie, La Butte aux Cailles, Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF)
14th (14e). Montparnasse Cemetery, Denfert-Rochereau, Parc Montsouris
15th (15e). Montparnasse Tower, Gare Montparnasse, Stadiums
16th (16e). Palais de Chaillot, Musée de l'Homme, the Bois de Boulogne
17th (17e). Palais des Congrès, Place de Clichy
18th (18e). Montmartre, Pigalle, Barbès
19th (19e). Museum of Science and Industry, Parc de la Villette, Bassin de la Villette, Parc des Buttes Chaumont
20th (20e). Père Lachaise Cemetery
La Défense. The skyscraper district on the western edge of town.
The dividing line between the 5th and 6th is Blvd. St. Michel ("Boul Mich").
As you move west into the 6th, the neighborhood becomes less of a student haven. Traditionally an area of the literati, bookstores, and publishers, it is now full of chic designer boutiques, antique shops, and galleries. Cafes and restaurants abound, and the rue de Buci has a popular food market.
Significant churches are St. Germain des Pres, the oldest church in Paris, and St. Sulpice.
The 60-acre Luxembourg Gardens provide a central and civilized oasis of green...a fresh-air respite for both residents and visitors.
Neighborhoods in the 6th include Saint-Germain-des-Pres, Beaux-Arts, the Odeon, Sevres-Babylone, Luxembourg, and part of Montparnasse.
West of the 6th is the 7th arrondissement... with its major monuments, government buildings, embassies, upscale antique dealers, and elegant hotel particuliers.
Quieter at night than the 5th and 6th, its "quartiers" include Faubourg St. Germain, Invalides, Ecole Militaire, and Gros Caillou.
A food lover's delight, the 7th has excellent restaurants, abundant food shops, and the rue Cler food market, regarded by some as the best in Paris.
The 7th is also high on the tourist list: the Eiffel Tower, Champs de Mars, the Musee d'Orsay, Hotel des Invalides, Napolean's Tomb, Musee Rodin, and Ecole Militaire are all in this area of Paris.
The 1st arrondissement... is the central part of Paris along the Right Bank of the Seine and part of the Ile de la Cite, the island site of the earliest Paris settlements.
This area is rich with sights for tourists...especially for first-timers to the City of Light! It includes the Musee de Louvre -- a MUST SEE -- and the largest and most famous museum in the world; the Tuileries gardens; arcades along the Rue de Rivoli; the Palais Royale; the exquisite Ste Chapelle; and the Conciergerie. Other quartiers include Les Halles and Chatelet.
The 5th arrondissement... is south of the islands on the Left Bank of Paris.
The two major areas of interest to the tourist are the Latin Quarter (which spills into the 6th) and the area around the rue Mouffetard and the Jardin des Plantes.
The Latin Quarter takes its name from the religious and intellectual history of this part of Paris. Home to the Sorbonne, the area is bustling, full of students and cafe life. (I absolutely loved this section of Paris!!!)
In addition, you'll find the Pantheon, the Musee National du Moyen Age (Middle Ages), and several interesting, historic churches; St. Severin, St. Julien le Pauvre, and St. Etienne du Mont.
Slightly east of the Latin Quarter is the Mouffetard area with its lively food market, Roman ruins (Arenes de Lutece), Paris' botanical gardens, the Paris Mosque, the Arab Institute, and the Musee de Sculpture en Plein Air along the banks of the Seine.
Back on the Right Bank, the 8th offers... the Avenue des Champs-Elysees, often described as the most beautiful avenue in the world and the symbolic centre of France.
There are magnificent views along the axis from the Arc du Carrousel by the Louvre in the 1st through the Arc du Triomphe at the juncture of 8th, 16th, and 17th, to the Grande Arche de la Defense west of the Peripherique.
The main branch of the Paris Tourist Bureau is here, near the Arc du Triomphe.
Other attractions in the 8th include the Grand and Petit Palais, the Place de la Concorde, La Madeleine, an abundance of haute couture houses, and the lovely Parc Monceau on the northwestern edge.
Neighborhoods include Etoile, Monceau, Faubourg Honore, and L'Europe (also in the 9th).
Crossing the Seine, you are once again on the Left Bank, now in the 13th.
The new Bibliotheque (library) Nationale de France at the riverbank is part of the planned Seine Rive Gauche of the future. While characterless high-rise apartments built after WWII fill much of the 13th, there are areas of considerable neighborhood charm.
The village-like Buttes aux Cailles quartier escaped the postwar construction boom, and the Cite Florale and "la petite Alsace" of rue Daviel are small, delightful enclaves.
The 13th also contains the Gobelins area near the 5th with its tapestry workshops, the Choisy Triangle; Paris' Chinatown, and evolving neighborhoods such as Austerlitz, Tolbiac, and Massena.
Next door to the west is the 14th.
Its southern portion includes the beautiful, lush Parc de Montsouris, the charming neighborhoods around it, and the Cité Universitaire.
Further north is Alesia with its discount clothing shops, Denfert-Rochereau with its entrance to the catacombs, Pernety, and Plaisance with reminders of a village past.
The best-known part of the 14th is Montparnasse (where I caught my TGV at the Montparnasse Station to South-West France).
Extending into the 6th and 15th, its cafés bring to mind the literary and artisitic atmosphere of Bohemian Paris of the 1920's.
The 18th is a popular tourist destination full of contrasts. It's noted for the Neo-Byzantine Basilique du Sacre-Coeur sitting high on the "Butte" Monmartre overlooking the Paris landscape and village Monmarte to its west. The animated Place du Tertre is a virtual tourist trap unless you arrive early in the morning. Village Monmartre has winding cobblestone strets, vestiges of former windmills, and delightful green spaces. Here you'll find former haunts of the artists and writers who lived in the area at the turn of the century; the oldest and still operating cabaret; Au Lapin Agile, a functioning vineyard and several small museums.
Quartiers in the 18th include the Butte, Abbesses with its Art-Nouveau Metro entrance, the rather sleazy Pigalle, Barbes, La Chapelle, and La Goutte d'Or, a vibrant haven of primarily African and Arab immigrants.
Paris' largest flea market is at the northern edge of the 18th at the Porte de Clignancourt
Unlike its neighbors to the east, the Latin Quarter and Montparnasse, the 15ème never gained a reputation as being either upstart or overly literary. Instead, it drew a working middle class within its borders.
Today, the 15ème is the most populous arrondissement, and still middling in incomes and politics.
The expansive Parc André Citroën attracts families on weekends.
Aside from that, the 15ème doesn't have sights to speak of.
Hotels scramble for guests in the summer, and tourists can sometimes bargain for rates.
Locals have their favorites among the grocers on r. du Commerce, the cafés at the corner of r. de la Convention and r. de Vaugirard, and the specialty shops along av. Emile Zola.
The 9th is... an interesting mix of neighborhoods, grand boulevards, and large department stores (Printemps and Galeries Lafayette).
It is also home to the opulent Opera Garnier, now more frequently a venue for ballet and concerts than opera.
Across the street from the Opera Garnier, first-time Paris visitors will find Paristoric, an excellent multimedia overview of city history and its monuments.
Neighborhoods in the 9th include Chaussee d'Antin, Grands Boulevards, l'Opera, la Nouvelle Athenes, and Saint George.
Most of the 10th is... fairly uninspiring, particularly the areas around two of Paris' train stations.
Shoppers looking for crystal, porcelain, and faience, however, may head to the rue de Paradis where the Musee de Cristal de Baccarat is also found.
Perhaps the most interesting neighborhood in the 10th is the eastern portion by the Canal St. Martin built during the time of Napolean I. The quais along the canal are very charming