The Right Bank
Les Halles, Louvre and Palais Royal (1er and 2e)
Located on the right bank, this area is the très chic center of Paris. This part of Paris -- by the Seine river and clustered around the Louvre -- boasts exquisite monuments, boulevards, gardens, and shopping.
Best For: Travelers who like to be in the thick of the action. The trendy area is also great for epic shopping sessions.
Drawbacks: Tourists galore!
Le Marais, Ile St-Louis and Ile de la Cité (3e and 4e)
This busy neighborhood includes the city's gay and Jewish quarters. Most of the important contemporary galleries are here too. You'll find a concentration of great stores from independent local labels in the northern Marais, around the Rue de Bretagne. But it's the architecture that really sets this area apart, as it conserves buildings dating back to the Renaissance.
Best For: Trendsetters with no time to lose.
Drawbacks: Expats from all over the world have made the lower Marais their own, so if you want to feel like you've actually left home, try a different neighborhood.
Champs-Élysées and Western Paris (8e, 16e and 17e)
This is where most of the city's money and power is concentrated. The "Golden Triangle" (Avenue Montaigne, George V, and the Champs-Élysées) is bling-bling heaven, with all the major fashion labels jostling for position. It's also a business neighborhood, so get ready to navigate the suits.
Best For: Travelers who have deep pockets, or those who want to pretend they do.
Drawbacks: Not really a residential area, this area lacks some of the authentic local charm of other neighborhoods.
Opéra and Canal St-Martin (9e and 10e)
Two of Paris's major department stores are located just above Opéra, and they set the tone for this dynamic shopping district which extends north via the gourmet Martyrs strip right up to the bright lights of Pigalle. The adjacent Canal St-Martin neighborhood, over to the east, has a different vibe altogether, with bohemian locals lingering over coffee by the leafy canal.
Best For: Travelers looking for proximity to monuments (Opéra) or those wanting to pretend they're Parisian in an authentic neighborhood.
Drawbacks: Can be either too busy, or too slow.
Pigalle and Montmartre (18e)
The wedding cake Sacré-Coeur basilica crowns the city's highest point, on the summit of Montmartre. A neighborhood apart in Paris, with a rich artistic history and all the charm of a village, Montmartre runs into Pigalle below, a harmless red-light district with a high concentration of concert and club venues.
Best For: Dynamic travelers who want to take advantage of the nightlife.
Drawbacks: Climbing up and down the hill requires a good level of fitness.
République, Bastille and Eastern Paris (11e and 12e)
Paris's former industrial heart has been converted into a string of cosmopolitan neighborhoods with a bohemian vibe.
Best For: Travelers wanting to look backstage, behind the glittering Paris grandeur.
Drawbacks: You might feel like you're missing out on some of the Paris mythology.
Belleville and Northeast Paris (19e and 20e)
Not many tourists venture to these cosmopolitan areas, located deep in the city's old industrial heartland. But up-and-coming Belleville includes one of the city's Chinatowns, a new wave of contemporary art galleries, and the must-see Buttes Chaumont park.
Best For: Travelers looking for budget accommodations and those who want to experience a different dimension of the city.
Drawbacks: The Eiffel Tower is quite a hike!
The Left Bank
Latin Quarter (5e)
This is where it was all happening in May 1968. The Sorbonne University is at the heart of this Left Bank neighborhood, which gets its name from the Latin the students and professors spoke there until the end of the 18th century. To feed those minds, the area also boasts some of the city's best specialty bookshops. This neighborhood dates from the time when the Romans ruled -- Paris was conquered by the Romans in 52 B.C. -- and the area still conserves Roman ruins, which you can explore at the Cluny Museum.
Best For: Travelers interested in tracing the city's rich history and families grateful for some quiet close to the Luxembourg gardens.
Drawbacks: The vibe might be too bookish for some.
St-Germain-des-Prés and Luxembourg (6e)
This glamorous neighborhood is home to great shops and cafes. Intellectuals such as Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre put St-Germain on the map postwar, when they and their friends had high-minded conversations at such cafes as Les Deux Magots or the Café de Flore. The area still draws many of the city's artists and thinkers, and most of the modern art galleries are here too.
Best For: Travelers hoping to bump in to Catherine Deneuve.
Drawbacks: The lack of budget accommodations and the competition for sidewalk space between the tourists and fanatical shoppers.
Eiffel Tower and Nearby (7e)
Running along the Seine on the Left Bank, from the Musée d'Orsay to the Eiffel Tower and opposite the Louvre, this elegant residential neighborhood counts Monsieur Karl Lagerfeld as one of its well-heeled inhabitants.
Best For: Its proximity to major monuments and museums.
Drawbacks: Can be a touch bourgeois for some.
Montparnasse and Southern Paris (13e, 14e and 15e)
Back in the early days of the 20th century, Montparnasse was a hotbed of creativity. Between the two World Wars, artists, expats, and extravagant figures such as Kiki de Montparnasse and Gertrude Stein reinvented the world in the bars and cafes of the area.
Best For: Travelers looking for a quiet residential zone with a rich history.
Drawbacks: Much of the area shuts down early in the evening.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.