In 1860, the Emperor Napoleon III redivided Paris into twenty arrondissements (municipal districts), with the 1st arrondissement located in the historic center, near the left bank of the Seine, and the 19 remaining districts spiraling out clockwise (see a helpful interactive map at About.com Europe Travel). Each Paris arrondissement, often comprising several neighborhoods, has its own distinct flavor and cultural attractions, so if you're looking to figure out what to see in the area where you're staying, this guide is a good starting point.
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The heart of what was once the seat of royal power in Paris, the 1st arrondissement retains an atmosphere of elegance and regality.
©2007 Courtney Traub.
Paris' somewhat under-appreciated 2nd arrondissement harbors attractions most tourists never see, including a medieval tower and one of the best open market streets in the city.
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Often referred to as "Temple" after the medieval fortress that once stood in the area and was built by the military order known as the Knights Templar, Paris' third arrondissement sits near the heart of the city and combines bustling commercial areas with quiet residential streets.
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Paris' 4th arrondissement houses some of the city's major historical sites-- including Notre Dame Cathedral-- but it's also a strong symbol of contemporary Paris, harboring diverse and bustling neighborhoods like the Marais and "Beaubourg" and attracting artists, designers, trendy shopkeepers and students.
©2006 Courtney Traub.
The historic heart of the Latin Quarter, which has been a center of scholarship and intellectual achievement for centuries, Paris' 5th arrondissement remains a major draw card for tourists thanks to sights such as the Pantheon, the Sorbonne University and the botanical gardens known as the Jardin des Plantes.
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The 6th arrondissement of Paris, once the stomping ground of mid-20th century writers and intellectuals, is today a posh hub for designer boutiques, antique furniture and art dealers, and lush formal gardens.
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The 7th arrondissement (district) of Paris is an affluent, highly prestigious part of the city that attracts droves of tourists to essential Paris sights like the Eiffel Tower and the Orsay Museum. Accommodations here will cost you more, and don't expect to see many average Parisians in this area.
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Located near the city center, Paris' 8th arrondissement is a bustling center of commerce and the home of famous attractions including the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysees.
Paris' 9th arrondissement is a stately area well-known for its Belle-Epoque department stores and elegant shopping galleries, popular theaters and hilly residential streets.
©2006 Courtney Traub
The 10th arrondissement is little-known to tourists but houses hidden gems such as the Canal St Martin neighborhood. This edgy working-class area is just a stone's throw from the bustling city center and is increasingly attracting young professionals and artists.