Q&A: Picking a Neighborhood in Paris

picking a neighborhood in paris left bank building

I received a few questions on Instagram regarding how to pick a neighborhood in Paris and wanted to answer them here so they can be referenced in the future. My responses are really based on my personal experience so they are by no means the be-all and end-all answers. I hope you might find them helpful!

As a little background for those who may not know, I have been living in Paris for two and half years now and have stayed in the same neighborhood. When I was narrowing down neighborhood choices I made a Pros and Cons list which helped me so much.

I landed on my neighborhood because I was familiar with it before moving to Paris. It was so nice not feeling like I was starting completely from scratch – I already knew where the closest grocery store and post office was, I had a few cafés I liked, and of course knew where the boulangerie was. It. made such a difference.

I’ve been tempted to try other neighborhoods, but now that I’ve really settled in I think it would be much more difficult to switch unless something absolutely perfect came up.

5 rue bonaparte door

Q&A: Picking a Neighborhood in Paris

Which neighborhood is the safest?

This question was by far the most-asked. I have to say, for its size, I think Paris is a generally safe city (of course there are always exceptions). It’s hard for me to pick one neighborhood as the safest, but I think anything in the center of Paris is considered very safe. Of course do have to watch out for pick-pockets, especially around big monuments, and be careful at night.

Left or Right Bank: Best arrondissement in each?

I think the great part about Paris is there is something for everyone and each arrondissement really does have its own personality. What is best for you is really going to depend on your own situation. Personally, I love the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area on the Left Bank. On the Right Bank I would choose right where the 9th and 18th arrondissements meet (preferably not far from Rue des Martyrs).

Opinions on the 20th arrondissement?

I honestly haven’t spent much time in the 20th arrondissement. I need to explore more when things start opening back up more in Paris!

What are the most lively areas?

The arrondissements that instantly come to mind for me are the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 18th.

Does the 16th have a lot of expats? Is it expensive?

I think the 16th arrondissement does have a lot of expats. But it’s also a very big arrondissement. It is for sure known as a very chic and expensive part of Paris. I lived in the 16th when I studied abroad and really enjoyed the proximity to the Bois de Boulougne and how calm it was.

quai voltaire sunset
Good arrondissement with reasonable rent?

I would look at the 10th, 18th, 19th, or 20th arrondissements. It’s possible to find really good deals anywhere though – you just have to be on your search. I would check out SeLoger to get an idea of what you can expect to pay where and what you’re going to get. Also, as a foreigner it’s easier to rent a furnished apartment (meublé).

What is it like to live in the 6th arrondissement particularly around Saint Germain-des-Prés?

I think it’s a really great area to live in because you get “the best of Paris.” It’s centrally located, it can be quiet and calm, but there are also little pockets that are very lively. There are great cafés and restaurants as well as grocery stores and plenty of boutiques. It has a great “neighborhood feel” to me.

Is it hard to find an apartment in Saint-Germain-des-Prés?

It all just depends on what exactly you want. I would create an alert on SeLoger with what you’re looking for so you get an email every time something becomes available. Reactivity is the name of the game in the Parisian rental market. If you’re really set on a certain area it might be helpful to work with a real estate agent, although in my experience they only show you listings that their agency has.

How does Saint-Germain-des-Prés compare to the rest of the 6th arrondissement?

Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Quartier de La Monnaie are closest to the river so the most central. That can definitely be an advantage. The buildings are also a bit older so there’s a certain charm. Odéon and Notre-Dame-des-Champs are bigger area wise so there might be more apartments available.

picking a neighborhood in paris saint-germain-des-prés
How does Saint-Germain-des-Prés compare to the 7th arrondissement?

I think the Saint-Thomas d’Aquin neighborhood in the 7th is most similar to Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The 7th arrondissement is bigger than the 6th arrondissement so sometimes it feels like there aren’t as many cafés and restaurants, but really they’re just more spread out. Both are great places to live.

What is it like to live in the 4th arrondissement and Montmartre?

I’ve never lived in either areas although I’ve stayed in both. I would love to experience living in Montmartre one day because it’s so beautiful and really has a great vibe. I love the 4th arrondissement as well but it seems like during the weekends it would get very busy with tourists…which is probably the same with certain parts of Montmartre.

What districts or areas are considered most desirable by Parisians?

Everyone seems to have their own preferences in picking a neighborhood in Paris which is great because there really is something for everyone. I think this really depends on what stage of life you’re in and what you value most. For example, if you have small children you probably want to be close to a park. A lot of people want to be able to commute to work easily.

I hope you enjoyed this Q&A about picking a neighborhood in Paris! If you have any additional questions on this topic feel free to leave a comment and I will try to answer them.

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