The City of Lights is an amazing place to visit. And there isn’t necessarily one best area to stay in Paris. It really depends on what you’re looking for! Every neighborhood has something to offer. There’s culture, there’s history, and there are famous sights, sure, but there is a lot more to this living, breathing European capital than just the idealized view!
Made up of officially numbered districts—from the 1st arrondissement curling round like a snail shell to the 20th arrondissement—Paris is actually a whole lot more varied than people give it credit for.
From local areas with laid back vibes to hipster enclaves and cool places famed for nightlife, there’s a ton to explore here especially for first-time visitors.
But just how do you even get started on thinking where to stay in Paris?
Don’t worry you guys, I’ve got you covered with this guide on the best places to stay in the French capital! You won’t have any trouble finding the area that’s right for you once you’re done reading this HUGE and handy guide.
Pssst, heading to Paris? Don’t miss these travel guides to help you plan your trip!
Best area to stay in Paris: Quick answers!
Where to stay in Paris for the first time
First-time visitors to Paris should consider the ease of getting around on Metro lines and how long they’ve got in the city. For the classic Parisian experience, I would recommend somewhere near the Eiffel Tower—where you’ll have access to other sights, too.
With that in mind, another area that would be great for a first-time visitor to Paris would be Montmartre. You get a bit of the culture, a bit of the history, and it’s a little more laid-back than staying right in the center of the city.
Where to stay in Paris on a budget
If you are looking for a budget hotel or affordable Airbnb in Paris, look no further than a low-key local area such as Batignolles. This is a great option for those looking to REALLY pretend they live in Paris for a week!
For a slightly cooler but also affordable place to stay in Paris, Canal Saint-Martin is cheap, offbeat, and has a lot going for it in terms of both its vibe and what you can do (and eat!) there.
Where to stay in Paris for shopping
If you are in Paris for the shopping and you’re looking for somewhere high-end to stay, then I have got one recommendation for you: Rue des Champs Elysees. This is famous for its shopping and upscale stores. Simply pitch up at a luxury hotel of your choice and enjoy!
For a different sort of shopping, particularly of the bookstore kind, then you may want to consider Saint Germain. It’s another area to stay in Paris that isn’t short on charm or high-end hotels to match. Take your pick!
Where to stay in Paris for nightlife
Without a doubt, the number one place to stay in Paris for nightlife has got to be Oberkampf. This place totally owns it when it comes to nightlife, home as it is to great bars and with a whole ton of live music venues to soak up the atmosphere.
Elsewhere, Pigalle is known for its nightlife. Less earthy and more hipster in nature than Oberkampf, Pigalle is the sort of place where you can find a weird—but very cool—cocktail bar and stay there for the long haul!
Where to stay in Paris for sightseeing
Notre Dame. There’s no better way to see the sights of Paris than by staying near the island in the middle of the Seine, Ile de la Cite. You’ll be staying near one of Paris’s most famous icons. The area around Eiffel Tower, obviously, is a good option, too!
For more historic vibes, I would recommend staying in the Latin Quarter, known for its old university, ancient relics, and grand hotels. It’s a beautiful place to wander.
Where to stay in Paris for local life
Batignolles is just about as every day an area of Paris as you can get. It’s cool, it’s local, it’s low-key. There are some nice hotels here too, or get an Airbnb to complete that local vibe!
Elsewhere, I recommend that you check out Belleville for its working-class roots, multicultural make-up, and mix of eateries. There’s a pretty cool street art scene going on here as well—a bonus if you’re into that.
Best Area to Stay in Paris: By Neighborhood
Notre Dame Cathedral
Located on the Ile de la Cite, an island in the River Seine, staying around the area of the Notre Dame Cathedral means you will get to have not only the majesty of the Gothic cathedral on your doorstep but also the riverside attractions of the French capital.
Even though the area is one of the most popular to travel to in Paris, you can still find places to eat and drink nearby away from the crowds.
Other cool places to hit up in this area include La Crypt Archaeologique. This is an underground crypt just in front of the cathedral itself, where you can see the layers of history that make up Paris—from medieval foundations to Roman-era artifacts!
There is also le Sant-Chappelle—a medieval church famous for its beautiful and crazily tall stained-glass windows. Each 49-foot-tall window depicts a scene from the Old and New Testament of the Bible.
Elsewhere, the Conciergerie is a medieval fortress with mid-19th century additions. You can go in and explore for yourself!
Staying near the Eiffel Tower is a no-brainer if you’ve come to Paris for views of the landmark itself. How much more Paris can you get than by getting a room in a fancy hotel with a view of the tower from your window? Pretty awesome, if you ask me.
No matter how many times you’ve been to Paris, seeing the Eiffel Tower each time is still amazing.
Set in the 7th arrondissement, most buildings around here have views of the iconic tower. It’s a pretty fancy area, but you can still get views from a mid-range hotel here too—or maybe a Paris Airbnb a minute walk from the tower. Imagine that!
Best seen at night, in my opinion, you can enjoy dinner up the top of the Eiffel Tower if you feel like it. Alternatively, grab yourself some cheese, wine, and bread from a nearby shop and head to the lawns of Champs de Mars, which runs from the Ecole Militaire to the tower itself. Find a bench, or chill on the grass, and enjoy a very Parisian evening!
Next door to the Ecole Militaire you will find Les Invalides, a grand building that now is home to museums and monuments about the history of France—here is where you will find the Tomb of Napoleon himself!
You may have heard of Saint Germain—rightly so, it’s a pretty chic area!
Located in the 6th arrondissement, close to the Latin Quarter, Saint Germain des Pres (as it is properly known) is known for its intellectuals, high-end shopping, cute cafes, bookshops, and art galleries.
Jean-Paul Satre was among the great thinkers who frequented Saint Germain’s cafes after it was liberated following the end of World War II.
Saint Germain is also somewhat famous for its jazz clubs and nightlife, both of which can be enjoyed very easily if you choose to stay in this top area in Paris.
In terms of big-hitter sights, the Theatre de l’Odeon is in the southeast section of the neighborhood. Inaugurated by Marie Antoinette herself in 1782, the Odeon is the place to go for classical music performances and opera.
From the Odeon, it’s easy to get to Saint Germain Boulevard itself, which is home to more sights, such as the Abbey of Saint Germain, which was founded in the middle of the 6th century AD! Crazy!
Other attractions—especially good for art-lovers—in Saint Germain include the Musee Eugene Delacroix and the Academie des Beaux Arts. For a more local slice of life, wander the smaller streets like Rue Verneuil for antique shops and Rue de Seine for art galleries.
You simply HAVE to check out Cafe des Deux Magot and pretend you’re one of the creatives and intellectuals who once frequented this amazing cafe!
Next door to Saint Germain is the student-friendly area that is the Latin Quarter. It is one of the most interesting areas of the city and is known for its charming, historic streets as much as its bookshops and classic restaurants.
Set in the 5th arrondissement on the left bank of the Seine, centered around the historic Sorbonne University, the Latin Quarter is named after the Latin language, which students during the middle ages would have spoken here. You learn something new every day!
Much less about Latin today than it is a lively area of the city, and one of the most iconic districts in Paris, the Latin Quarter is the place to stay if you want to have a slice of classic Parisian fun in your life.
A warren of tiny streets weaving together, it is hard not to fall in love with this area.
There are a ton of historic and culturally significant sights in the Latin Quarter, too. There’s the Jardin du Luxembourg (over four centuries old!) with woodlands, statues, roses, and lawns; while away some hours in there, for sure.
There is also the Grande Mosque de Paris, built in the 1920s, inspired by Alhambra in Andalusia, Spain. It’s beautiful with its green-tiled minarets. Top tip: Go to the La Mosquee Cafe in the inner courtyard.
Sound good to you? Then book yourself a hotel in the Latin Quarter and get ready to experience one of my favorite parts of this beautiful city.
So if you want to be within walking distance of the Sacre Coeur, staying here is a great idea.
Famous for its connection artists and nightlife, Montmartre was a key district in the Belle Epoque—or “Beautiful Era”—of Paris’s history, from the end of the 19th to the beginning of the 20th century. If you’re a fan of the movie Moulin Rouge, then this is probably the area you want to base yourself in.
Artists and creatives of the day lived here for cheap rents and bohemian atmosphere, and there is still something of this left here today.
Who lived here? We’re talking Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Erik Satie, Toulouse Lautrec, Renoir—a total who’s who of the key players in the Belle Epoque arts, music and literature scene.
The area was also painted by many of the greats who lived here, most famously by Van Gogh.
Here is where you will find the actual Moulin Rouge nightclub itself. It’s not the original—that burned down in 1915—but you can still go see a show at the place where the can-can originated!
Avenue des Champs Elysées
One of the main thoroughfares in Paris, Avenue des Champs Elysees is set in the 8th arrondissement. It runs for 1.2 miles from the Place de la Concorde all the way to another huge Paris landmark: the Arc de Triomphe.
A glistening, glittering, glamorous area, the Avenue des Champs Elysees is a high-end area and one of the best places to stay in Paris if you want to find out why they call this the City of Light.
Avenue des Champs Elysees is also a super famous shopping area. There are many luxury brands who have stores here, so if shopping is what you want to do when you are in Paris, then staying here is a great idea!
There are cafes, theaters, and plenty of hotels to choose from in this high-end area of the French capital.
The Marche President Wilson is a market with organic produce—think fresh vegetables, cheese, fish, organic wine, and a whole lot of tasty food-to-go. Foodies should make a point of visiting this gastronomic spot!
Art fans will enjoy the nearby galleries—such as Musee Galleria and the Petit Palais—while sports fans will know the Arc de Triomphe for being the finish line for the world-famous cycling extravaganza, the Tour de France.
The Arc de Triomphe itself is probably the most famous traffic circle in the world. Honoring those who died in the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, the ornate archway dates back to 1806.
Le Marais—not very attractively meaning “The Marsh”— is a historic district of Paris that runs across the 3rd and 4th arrondissement on the right bank of the Seine.
Known as an aristocratic area of the city, Marais is that perfect idea of what you probably have in mind when you think “romantic Paris.” It is easily one of the best areas to stay in Paris and one of my personal favorite places to stay, with a whole ton of grand hotels, old fashioned eateries, and beautiful little boutiques.
It used to be known as the “Temple Quarter” as it was once (during the 13th century) a fortified church just outside the walls of Paris. Different nobles, including kings, have called this neighborhood home throughout the ages.
Here is where you will find Place des Vosges—the oldest city square in Paris—among other numerous historic buildings. You will easily get lost Instagramming the heck out of the classically Parisian streets here!
Marais is known for its Jewish population and is probably the center of Paris’s Jewish community, with specialists bookstores and Kosher restaurants galore.
It is also quite a liberal, fashionable district and is the spritual center of the city’s LGBT community. There are many buzzing LGBT bars and clubs in the area.
Art fans will enjoy the Musee Picasso, where you can see some of the masterpieces created by the master himself, all set inside the sheer beauty of the 17th-century Hotel Sale.
Complete with its own Metro station, here is where you’ll find a Paris hotel with a difference—think design-y rooms and offbeat concepts—as well as stores packed with the latest fashion fads and cool cocktail bars.
Set in the 9th arrondissement, Pigalle is the place to be if you want to be on the doorstep of some great Parisian nightlife. There are a selection of bars and clubs that’ll make you consider living here permanently if you like your nightlife hip and edgy.
Technically, the “coolest” area of Pigalle is the southern portion; in fact, it is known as SoPi, South Pigalle.
After a night on the town, you should then join the locals for a (late!) morning a la terrasse around the Rue des Marts. There are a ton of cafes here with all the bread, cheese, frites (french fries), and baked goods you could need after a night of partying!
After a foodie morning (or afternoon), you should take the time to walk up to the gardens at Musee de la Vie Romantique—these are some seriously pretty gardens! Set in a villa built in 1830, this was once a venue for the hippest 19th-century music, like piano maestros Chopin and Liszt!
Primed and ready for summer, there’s another cafe here so, hey, why not stay a while?
Pigalle is so trendy that it even has its own brand named after it! Make sure to stop off at the flagship store, pick up some on-brand streetwear or hard-to-find Japanese street brands, too.
Batignolles is a picture-perfect neighborhood of Paris that may not be Pigalle—and certainly isn’t Marais—but this 17th arrondissement neighborhood will charm you with its almost village-like atmosphere.
In fact, Batignolles WAS a village until 1860 when it became a part of Paris.
Once home to painter Edouard Manet, he and his artsy pals became known as the “Groupe des Batignolles.”
It’s far from the typical tourist areas of Paris, but staying in Batignolles is perfect if what you want to do is pretend you live in the city. In fact, even locals know this place as a cool, offbeat, laid-back neighborhood, with some boho vibes added in for good measure.
There’s a handful of great Airbnbs here, so you can really pretend you’re a local! There are also a fair few restaurants, cocktail bars, and bakeries to entertain your taste buds.
The center of the neighborhood is the Place du Dr Felix Lobligeois, a square with a fountain and terrace cafe. Owing to its village roots, the tradition of a farmers market still continues to this day—hit it up on Saturdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
If you have been to Paris before, and want to stay in a more local neighborhood, then I really cannot recommend Batignolles enough. There are a few Metro stops here, too, so getting around is easy.
Canal Saint-Martin is an awesome place to stay in Paris. With a decidedly different pace of life than in other parts of the city—i.e. much slower—it is popular with under 30s, who come for the cheap rent, the vibes, and the good food.
A relatively under the radar area that has only really begun to get attention in recent years, Canal Saint-Martin is a true foodie destination. People love to eat and drink here; think single-origin coffee in a cool cafe and sipping organic wine along the canal.
Home to one of the few covered markets left in Paris, the Marche Couvert Saint-Martin opened in 1859 and is still the place to go for anything you may need for your picnicking desires.
Picnic? Yep—that’s easily one of the best things to do in Saint-Martin, sitting along the canal and just watching the world go by with some amazing food.
The area itself was ordered to be constructed by THE Napoleon and was further developed by his nephew, Napoleon III, in the mid-19th century.
A unique way to experience Paris from here would be to take a canal boat cruise—the canal now heads under the center of the city for much of its route, meaning you get a spooky subterranean journey packed in before you hit the iconic Seine river.
The waterside location of Canal Saint-Martin invites people for fishing in the canal under the trees.
And if you’re a fan of the 2001 movie Amelie, then you may already know this, but scenes from the film were shot here—particularly on the iron bridge that straddles the canal. Neat!
Another film shot in the area was the 1938 Hotel du Nord; you can still visit the hotel today. My advice would be to go for a bistro lunch; you can sit on the patio with a glass of wine feeling like you’re part of movie history.
The Jardin Villemin, on the west bank of the canal, is where you’ll find locals picnicking and playing with their children—there’s also fountains and a bandstand to top off that family-friendly vibe.
Gare du Nord
Gare du Nord definitely isn’t the prettiest area of Paris, but it is one of the best places to stay in the city if you want some convenient long-distance travel connections.
Located where the Eurostar train has its France-side terminal, Gare du Nord sees hordes of travelers pass through every year, ferrying to and from London, England, and Brussels in Belgium.
Because of its credentials as a major transit hub, Gare du Nord also has a bunch of places to stay, from hostels to hotels and Airbnbs—there’s something here for literally all budgets.
Being the busiest train station in Europe (crazy!)—playing host to 222 million passengers per year—Gare du Nord is also a hub of stores, eateries and travel services.
There is also a fledgling, but very small, community of cool eateries popping up, including La Paranthese for some mind-blowing grilled cheese. A few boutique stores have appeared in recent years, too; both are attracted by its cheap rent.
Either way, Gare du Nord has a TON of accommodation options, such as the cool but affordable 3-star Hotel Paradis or their sister hotel, Hotel Panache. If you’re in Paris for just a few days and you’ve got onward train travel to think about, make it easier on yourself and stay here.
Edgy—but not TOO edgy—Belleville, in the 20th arrondissement, is a hidden gem of Parisian proportions, an artsy district that features as many graffiti-clad walls as it does a village-like vibe.
It’s in Belleville too that you will find some of the best and most authentic Chinese food going in Paris—it’s home to the second Chinatown of Paris (the most prominent being in the 13th arrondissement). Particularly, you’re gonna find a lot of tasty eats along the Rue de Belleville.
It is a multicultural area where you can find a load of stores and markets, such as the one that runs along the Boulevard de Belleville on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Sounds good so far, right?
Belleville is a down-to-earth, laid-back neighborhood that is perfect for someone who has been to Paris before and wants to see a more local side. It has an alternative scene and is home to artists and other creatives.
Fun fact: This is where famed French songstress Edith Piaf grew up!
If you are a fan of street art, then you should keep your camera handy; your Insta is about to blow up with some awesome shots of the art gracing the walls of this Paris district!
So, if all that sounds like your sort of thing—and Belleville is looking like one of the best places to stay in Paris—then what are you waiting for? Start searching for Airbnbs!
If you like your music live and your food delicious and inexpensive, then Oberkampf may just be the place for you.
What? That name sounds totally German, not French!? It might be confusing, but it’s named for the street the area spills from—Rue Oberkampf, in the 11th arrondissement.
One of Paris’ traditionally working-class districts, the low cost of living brought students, and with students came creatives—then came the bars, the restaurants, the cafes, independent stores, and live music venues. There’s a definite creative vibe going on here!
The narrow Rue Oberkampf itself is totally crammed full with bistros and bars galore, perfect for that boho atmosphere. There are even more narrow lanes leading off the central street where you’ll find some interesting discoveries.
Make your way to the Marche des Enfants Rouges. I don’t know how, but this market has been going on since 1615!! I love that about Paris. The history is crazy!
For some pretty ornate (and historic) architecture, head to Eglise Saint-Ambroise, built-in 1868, it’s kinda like a mini Notre Dame.
My tip for the market? Go hungry; you’re going to want to fill up on all the delicious treats here. It’s on six days a week, and is open till 7:30 p.m. so there’s no way you’ll miss out, even if you wake up late!
But as night time falls, this is when Oberkampf really hots up. The cool, kitsch bar Ave Maria is a great option, among other hotspots for cocktails and awesome music.
Basically, if food, drink, and music is your jam, then I think Oberkampf could be the best option for you!
Wow. Now I totally want to go back to Paris! But I always want to go to Paris.
There are so many incredible neighborhoods, it’s hard to pick the best area to stay in Paris. But that’s kinda what I love about it—I’ve been five different times and stayed in a different area each time, and it just keeps me wanting to come back for me.
Let me know where you stay—tag me (@wtfab) in your Insta stories and pics and show off that awesome district that’ll be your home for the next week!
Traveling to Paris? Be sure to explore my other Paris content here.
If you’re hopping around to different European cities in one trip, spend at least 3 days in Paris. For a trip dedicated to Paris you could easily spend at least week and a half to really explore what the city has to offer!
The best month to visit France is in the spring from April to June or fall from September to November.
Yes, Paris is overall a very safe city, however, it is always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings and avoid areas that make you feel unsafe.
Elise Armitage is an entrepreneur and founder of What The Fab, a travel + lifestyle blog based in California. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday. Since then, she’s launched her SEO course Six-Figure SEO, where she teaches bloggers how to create a passive revenue stream from their website using SEO. Featured in publications like Forbes, Elle, HerMoney, and Real Simple, Elise is a firm believer that you can be of both substance and style.