This is known as a great train station of gare montparnasse, with its wonderful hub of metro lines , buses, and suburbian trains and the TGV. It is now my entry point to Paris.
However, a while back it used to be my last work area in Paris before moving out to Brittany. This is where I came to work, play and make friends, and spent quite a bit of time around it enough to write a book but I am not one of those like Fitzgerald and Hemingway...lol!
The district of Montparnasse is the no 53rd administratively of Paris located in the 14e arrondissement, althought the 15 and 6 also comes to its borders, it sits in the rive gauche of the Seine. Its name comes that which the students gave it when they stop by here to mingle in the hill and ramparts of the 17C in reference to mount parnasse residence of the muse of Greek mythology. The hill was flattened to trace the blvd du Montparnasse in the 18C, the place for walks in the city area then.
Some of the artists that made it or visit the area of Montparnasse from the 1910's but especially at the heydays of district in the 1920's were, Pablo Picasso, Guillaume Apollinaire, Pablo Gargallo, Julio González, le douanier Rousseau, Antoine Bourdelle, Ossip Zadkine, Moïse Kisling, Marc Chagall, Maurice Le Scouëzec, Nina Hamnett, Fernand Léger, Jacques Lipchitz, Max Jacob, Blaise Cendrars, Chaïm Soutine, Michel Kikoine, Prosper Galerne, Pinchus Kremegne, Amedeo Modigliani, Ford Madox Ford, Ezra Pound, Marcel Duchamp, Suzanne Duchamp-Crotti, Constantin Brancusi, Paul Fort, Juan Gris, Diego Rivera, Tsuguharu Fujita, Marie Vassilieff, Grégoire Krug, Léonide Ouspensky, Léon-Paul Fargue, René Iché, Alberto Giacometti, Andrtheé Breton, Pascin, Wolfgang Paalen, Alice Paalen, Salvador Dalí, Jean-Paul Sartre, Henry Miller, Django Reinhardt, Joan Miró ,and at the end of his life Edgar Degas.
With each district renown the district of Montparnasse has become a place for business offices, and passing train travelers at daytime to a place of diversion and entertainment at nights. It is indeed ,just that, work daytime party nightime ,yes yes yes.
oh yes an interesting cementary of Montparnasse where they rest Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir , Charles Baudelaire, Robert Desnos, Georges Sand, Camille Saint Saëns, François Rude, Charles Garnier, Maupassant, Sainte-Beuve, Alfred Dreyfus, Jean Carmet , and Serge Gainsbourg amongst others.
Something famous in the two restos La Coupoule and le Dôme as well as La Ruche. Link to the history of Brittany as Fulgence Bienvenûe lands here in 1868, considered as one of the fathers of the Paris metro. His project he puts the line 12 to link Montparnasse with Montmartre! And of course, making the Gare Montparnasse a grandiose train station linking the west of France, and one of the main line stations in Paris, for which I use often now...Without leaving the Tour Montparnasse, possibly the best view of Paris from above.
Fondest memory: oh well, eating in its terraces, the bussle of the train station, the views from the tour M, the nice plazas and the history alors come on over, its Montparnasse.
What is an arrondissement? It is a section or district in the city.
Paris is made up of 20 districts, each having its own city hall and administration. These districts are called arrondissements and arranged starting in the center of town on the Seine and going around in a snail-like pattern. The snail makes it difficult to figure out where you are.
#1 is in the center of town on the north side of the Seine and called the Right Bank; #2 is above it so not near the river. #3 is east so also not on the river. Then you turn south to #4 that is actually beside #1 and on the Seine.
Next you cross the Seine still headed south and come to the Left Bank (south side of the Seine) and arrondissement #5 that is called the Latin Quarter because it is where the universities are and they all used to speak Latin. Relax, they don't do that now!
Continue west along the Seine on the Left Bank (south side) into arrondissement #6 or the St. Germain district. This has many famous literary associations. Continue west along the Seine toward the Eiffel Tower into arrondissement #7.
You again cross the Seine to the Right Bank (north side) into arrondissement 8 and the snail continues up and east, then down and west and repeats until you end at #20 on the eastern side of the city.
The postal code in the address is the key to finding what you are looking for. If you are looking for a place to stay, any of the central arrondissements are near tourist attractions and safe. Look for arrondissements #1, 4, 5, 6 and 7 for starters. If you find a hotel you like, look at the address. The last two digits of the postal code are the arrondissement number. Hence, a postal code ending in 05 would be in the 5th arrondissement or Latin Quarter; a postal code ending in 06 would be in the 6th arrondissement or St. Germain district. You get the idea.
To further confuse the issue, some arrondissements have popular names. #5 is the Latin Quarter; #6 is St. Germain; #4 is the Marais and they are often referred to by these names instead of their numbers. The word-names are a bit more fluid than the numbers so use the numbers when looking for hotels, restaurants and tourist sights.
Paris is a very well organized city. 8^)
Fondest memory: Too many to print . . .
Miss the most: everything.
Travel is an intensely personal thing, and thankfully there is no 'one size fits all' solution. Each traveller needs to customise their itinerary to suit their available time, budget and personal interests, but starting with a blank sheet of paper can be an intimidating thing - especially for a city as large and complex as Paris - so here are a few suggestions to get your creative juices flowing.
What follows are a few suggestions for diverse attractions in certain areas that could be easily grouped together: please be aware that this is by no means a definitive list, and there are some notable exclusions, as I deliberately haven't included attractions which I don't enjoy visiting myself. This will probably be a 'work in progress', but hopefully it should help to kick start your planning process - just bear in mind that certain areas offer so much that you could easily occupy yourself for more than one day.
It's up to you to decide in which order to do things, but perhaps consider doing the more major attractions earlier in the day. Also consider 'mixing up' different types of attractions - as 'more of the same' - however wonderful the quality - can get dull after a few hours.
ST DENIS: Basilique du St Denis and the royal necropolis, fresh produce market, picnic in the park by the South Door of the Basilica and/or al fresco drink/meal in one of the pavement cafes on the square. Also possible to add on a pilgrimage to Stade de France if you're a sports fan (about 20 minutes walk or a short Metro ride).
MONTMARTRE: Basilique du Sacre Coeur, the artists of Place du Tertre, Square Vilette, Musée du Montmartre. If you're in this northern area of this city, this could also be combined with St Denis - see above.
LATIN QUARTER: there's easily enough to keep you busy in this area for a couple of days, so perhaps break this up into a couple of sections. Notre Dame, Point Zero, Charlemagne's statue, the Holocaust Memorial, St Chapelle/La Conciergerie, Pont Neuf, 'love locks' on the Pont de l’Evêché, Musee de Cluny, Fontaine St Michel, St Germain-des-Pres, St Sulphice and the neighbouring Place St Sulphice. Consider attending a concert at St Chapelle or mass at Notre Dame. Venturing further east, you could also incorporate the Mosquée de Paris (complete with its hamman or Turkish bath), the Institut du Monde Arabe and the Museé de la Sculpture en Plein Air (the latter of which is still on my wish list)
CANAL ST MARTIN: start at the 'elbow' close to Gare de l'Est and walk southwards along the canal. This will take you past the locks, the statue of La Grisette and through the series of small parks that overlie the tunnel that links Canal St Martin to Place de la Bastille and the Bassin de L'Arsenal marina beyond to the point where the canal discharges into the Seine at Quai Henri IV (with the memorial to heroines of the French Resistance). Consider investing in a set of boules to play pétanque or a cheap set of table tennis bats and balls to make the most of the park amenities and either pick up the makings of a picnic from a local supermarket or dine in one of the local eateries along the canal. If you want to make a day of this area, you could also add on the celebrity-packed Père Lachaise cemetery, which is just a little to the east.
EIFFEL TOWER AND SURROUNDS: Musée d'Orsay, Musée Rodin, Eiffel Tower and Champs de Mars - bring a picnic to enjoy in the gardens at Musée Rodin or on the Champs de Mars. You could easily add in Les Invalides to this day (though it's not really my scene) and on my next trip, I am keen to explore the highly regarded Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine at the Trocadéro, which I haven't yet had the opportunity to visit.
One of the things that drives me up the wall about navigating in French cities - particularly Paris - is the use of ther terms Rive Gauche and Rive Droit.
'Rive' - 'bank'- OK. 'Gauche' - 'left' and 'droit' - 'right'. So far so good. But aren't left and right dictated by the direction that you're facing???? Exactly ... and if I were of a suspicious mindsight, I would interpret this as a typical Gallic piece of bamboozlement thrown into the mix to confuse unsuspecting foreigners ...
So, to put your mind at rest, 'gauche' actually means 'south' rather than'left' and 'droit' means 'north' rather than 'right'. So why didn't they just say that in the first place???
P.S. Don (aka nemorino) has kindly pointed out that the reason why they are known as the right and left bank is that this is how they would present themselves to someone travelling downstream ... which makes perfect sense, but raises the question of how confused those travelling upriver must have been?
P.P.S. Clearly I found this so confusing myself that I didn't pick up until this had been posted that I'd muddled up my norths and souths! Many thanks to beausoleil for pointing out my error and confirming that this is now correct!
Arrondissement 8 - Élysée
The Champs-Élysées - the world's most famous boulevard;
Place de la Concorde;
Arc de Triomphe.
Fondest memory: Bordering the Champs-Élysées are the magnificent Grand Palais and Petit Palais, as well as the Élysée, the presidential Palace.
The arrondissement also features the temple-like Madeleine church.
Arrondissement 7 - Palais-Bourbon
This upscale arrondissement has major landmarks.
The most famous of these landmarks is the Eiffel Tower.
Other important tourist draws are the Invalides - with its museums and Napoleon's tomb - and two more museums: the Musee d'Orsay and the Rodin Museum.
Fondest memory: The Palais Bourbon (National Assembly), Ecole Militaire (Military School) and the UNESCO headquarters can also be found in the 7th arrondissement.
The 4th arrondissement contains the southern part of the medieval Marais district as well as the Île St-Louis and the eastern part of Île de la Cité, the oldest part of Paris. This area is very popular thanks to attractions such as:
the Notre-Dame Cathedral,
the Place des Vosges,
the city hall and the gothic Tour St-Jacques.
Fondest memory: Contrasting with all the historic buildings is the modern Centre Pompidou.
The city of Paris is divided into twenty administrative districts - arrondissements ( R indicates Right Bank, L - Left Bank of the Seine):
1st R Louvre
2nd R Bourse
3rd R Temple
4th R Hôtel-de-Ville
5th L Panthéon
6th L Luxembourg
7th L Palais-Bourbon
8th R Elysee
9th R Opéra
10th R Enclos-St-Laurent
11th R Popincourt
12th R Reuilly
13th L Gobelins
14th L Observatoire
15th L Vaugirard
16th R Passy
17th R Batignolles-Monceau
18th R Butte-Montmartre
19th R Buttes-Chaumont
20th R Menilmontant
Fondest memory: They are arranged in the form of a clockwise spiral, starting in the middle of the city, with the first on the Right Bank of the Seine.
If you are used to spread-out American cities, Paris is compact. Most tourist sights are in a central area. There are many hotels and restaurants within the center and they come in all price ranges. If you want to avoid spending your sightseeing day on the Metro, find a hotel in the center of town. This would be arrondissement (district) numbers 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7.
How do you figure out where that hotel is when you start looking?
A hotel in Arrondissement (district) number 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7 would be the most central. Look at the hotel street address. The postal code is the secret to its location. The arrondissement or district numbers are the last 2 digits of the postal code. For example, arrondissement 1 would be 75001, arrondissement 2 would be 75002; arrondissement 4 would be 75004. You get the idea.
You will also see reference to the Latin Quarter, St. Germain and the Marais. The Latin Quarter is mostly 75005 (or the 5th arrondissement); St. Germain is mostly 75006 (or arrondissement 6); the Marais is generally within 75004 (or arrondissement 4). 75007 is the Eiffel Tower area. These names are not as specific as the arrondissement numbers but give you a general idea. Just check your postal code and you'll be fine. (01, 04, 05, 06 and 07)
BTW, you do not need to stay within this central zone because the public transportation system (Metro) is wonderful. We stay there so we don't have to spend precious sightseeing time on the subway or bus. You will do a lot of walking because the city is so beautiful so be sure to take comfy shoes.
Have a great trip.
Fondest memory: I think our first sight of Notre Dame on our very first trip was the most memorable. Suddenly it was all so real to us.
Second memory is of a summer downpour in the Tuileries Gardens. Everyone ran for cover but us. We went to a garden cafe, got a tart and coffee and had a lovely romantic snack in our very own Paris Tuileries.
Other fond memories involve introducing our daughters to Paris, singly and in pair. That was fun.
What do I miss most? Wow, that's difficult. I think being surrounded by so much beauty constantly. There is just so much to see, hear and do in such a compact area. The art, architecture, music, gardens, river, canal, parks . . . there is just so much to enjoy and it's right at your doorstep.
I must admit I miss Parisians too. They have always been informative and helpful to us and we always look forward to returning soon.
When people suggest restaurants or hotels and mention that it's "in the 5th" or "in the 7th", what they are talking about is an arrondissement or neighborhood. There are 20 arrondissements in Paris, you can tell by the last two digits of the postal code which one the restaurant, hotel or attraction is in, for example the 7th would have a postal code of 75007. You might also see the 7th arrondissement abbreviated as 7ème or 7e.
This website has a listing of the arrondissements and their general character. The lower numbers are the more central neighborhoods, the 1st-8th are where most of the tourist attractions and hotels are.
5 Reviews and 710 Opinions The Four Seasons George V is truly one of the world's great hotels. I really, really love to stay...
Hotel Relais Bosquet Paris
8 Reviews and 881 Opinions I know Hotel Relais Bosquet for a long time and it always been a very satisfying hotel. The care of...
Saint James Paris Paris
1 Review and 147 Opinions Saint James is a beautifull place, oase of silence in the middle of Paris. Quietly good service,...