Paris Neighborhood Guide for First-Time Visitors

Paris is one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities in the world. Travel with us as we take you on a tour to explore the hidden gems in each of the 20 arrondissements that make up the magnificent City of Light. 

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Take a look at this nostalgic sign from when the Paris Metro first opened in 1900 for the World's Fair. Today it is the second busiest train system in the world. The official name is Compagnie du chemin de fer metropolitain de Paris. Try saying that fast a couple times. 960 1280

  

It's never a good idea to kidnap children, but this sign is posted in Paris just in case there's any doubt. 960 1280

  

Heading to the Arc de Triomphe? Walk through the underground tunnel to avoid the hectic traffic on the Champs-Élysées. 960 1280

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Your trip to Paris isn't complete without seeing the Notre Dame Cathedral. You may get a glimpse of the infamous hunchback Quasimodo. 960 1280

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This Champs-Élysées Avenue sign is perfect for shopping aficionados. It's a clear indication that Paris' strip of boutiques and commercial stores, including Nike and Haagen Dazs, are just a few feet ahead. 960 1280

  

Are the seeing-impaired or blind really going to notice this crosswalk signal specifically designed for them? Well the likelihood that they'll see it is really slim. 960 1280

  

Here's another retro Metro sign, which marks and entrance and exit to Paris' labyrinth of train lines. 960 1280

Photographer: Bert Heydel  

As a word of caution or interest, you're strolling through Paris' infamous red-light district or the Pigalle neighborhood if you see several signs like this one. 960 1280

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It's clear! No bikes, motorcycles or mopeds are allowed near the Eiffel Tower, one of Paris' biggest tourist attractions. 960 1280

  

Cross the street with caution! Hundreds of cars race through Place Charles de Gaulle aka Place de l'Etoile, a traffic circle and meeting point for 12 avenues, including the Champs-Élysées. 960 1280

Hemera Technologies  

This traffic sign has a universal message no matter where you're traveling around the world. It's a tow-away zone in Paris; so, make sure you avoid parking nearby. 960 1280

  

We're puzzled by this 'night and day' sign. So does this mean that there's are no days or nights in Paris. It's confusing, right? 960 1280

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Get your can-can on at the well-renowned Moulin Rouge, located in Pigalle or Paris' red-light district. 960 1280

  

We thought that old-school detective offices were a thing of the past, but this 1930s-style neon sign marks the location of the well-known Duluc Detective Agency on the Rue de Louvre. It looks like they're open for business. 960 1280

  

River Cruise on the Seine

River Cruise on the Seine

Spend some quality time with someone you love while you cruise along the magnificent Seine River. Thirty-seven bridges run along the river in Paris, like the Pont Alexandre III, the city’s most ornate, extravagant bridge. And if you’re lucky enough to visit Paris in summer, make sure you enjoy the three artificial beaches set up along the river. Sand, palm trees, beach chairs and chaise longues are brought in to create “Paris Beach,” which is usually set up from late July to mid-August. 960 1280

aldorado / shutterstock.com  

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Explore the City of Light by taking a Paris sightseeing tour of its not-to-be-missed attractions, including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Georges Pompidou Center, Notre Dame de Paris, Basilica of the Sacre Coeur and Palais Garnier. 960 1280

extravagantni, Getty Images  

Bistrot Paul Bert

Bistrot Paul Bert

Looking for a traditional French bistro? Get a bite to eat at Bistrot Paul Bert, but call ahead for dinner reservations because the restaurant’s two dining rooms are always crowded at night. An impressively stocked wine cellar, cheese cart, hearty dishes and laid-back, efficient staff are all reasons why you visit this bistro. For about $50, guests have the option of getting the prix fixe, which is three courses. Inexpensive wines are on the chalkboard, whereas expensive ones are on the wine list. 960 1280

Rob Hyndman, flickr  

Hotel Plaza Athenee Paris

Hotel Plaza Athenee Paris

Located near the Champs-Élysées and the Eiffel Tower, Hotel Plaza Athenee Paris has five restaurants, 12 categories of rooms and suites, a well-stocked mini bar in each room, a cellar with more than 35,000 bottles of wine and more! You can’t miss getting a luxurious spa treatment at the Dior Institut au Plaza Athenee, either. 960 1280

Fred Dufour, AFP, Getty Images  

Champs-Elysees Shopping

Champs-Elysees Shopping

Go shopping along the Champs-Elysees. This area has a little something for everyone. Big spenders can shop at high-end shops like Hugo Boss, Christian Louboutin, Swarovski and Peugeot Avenue Paris. And there are more reasonably priced spots for frugal shoppers like Gap. Take a break from shopping in Paris and visit the Arc de Triomphe or indulge yourself at a nearby restaurant -- you’ll instantly realize why this is a prime area for people watching. 960 1280

Christian Guy/Picavet, Getty Images  

Parisian Bakery

Parisian Bakery

Take a two-hour Parisian bakery workshop and discover how real French bread is made! Go behind the scenes of a real French bakery to learn how to make baguettes and croissants. And then, enjoy tasting your bread -- fresh out of the oven. 960 1280

  

Le Meurice

Le Meurice

Stay at the five-star Le Meurice Paris, where all rooms and suites feature a private entrance, private bar with refrigerator, twice daily maid service, digital interactive television system, traditional shoeshine service and more. For $128, the hotel’s wine tasting allows guests the chance to savor the best French wines, picked by the head sommelier. This hotel is just a short walk away from a few tourist attractions, including the Louvre, Place de La Concorde and Musee d’Orsay. 960 1280

Le Meurice  

Tuileries Palace and Garden

Tuileries Palace and Garden

Visitors to the Tuileries Palace and Garden instantly realize why this crowded spot is THE place to be in the spring and summer. During the weekend, it’s not uncommon to see locals lying on the lawn and chatting with friends while thousands walk through the gardens and the palace’s grounds. After the death of her husband Henri II in 1559, Catherine de Medicis had the palace built, featuring a large Italian-style garden to remind her of her home in Tuscany. 960 1280

Consol Almazán Carretero, Getty Images   

Casino de Paris

Casino de Paris

Contrary to what the name might suggest, Casino de Paris is a well-known music and performance hall, and not a gambling casino. After it was built in 1730, the building served many purposes, including being used as a fireworks display venue, before it was converted into a cinema and music hall. African-American actress and singer Josephine Baker was one of many notable people to perform at Casino de Paris. 960 1280

Loic Venance / AFP / Getty Images  

Four Seasons Hotel George V

Four Seasons Hotel George V

Experience the elegant charm of the Four Seasons Hotel George V, located just steps away from the Champs-Elysees. Swim a few laps in the indoor pool, enjoy eating a classic French meal at Le Cinq restaurant or get a four-hands massage at the spa. For families in Paris, the hotel provides babysitting services as well as a staff on-hand to provide personalized programs for younger guests both in the hotel and around Paris.

See more must-see Paris attractions!
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Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts  

Seine River

Seine River

Begin your tour of Paris with a stroll along the Seine River. Explore Île Saint-Louis and Île de la Cité, 2 small islands linked to the banks of the Seine by a series of bridges. Head to Île de la Cité to see the Notre Dame Cathedral or head east to visit the charming hotels, cozy restaurants and small shops. 960 1280

Ekaterina Pokrovsky, Istock  

The Louvre

The Louvre

Be one of 8 million people who flock to the Louvre each year. This grand art museum houses 35,000 masterpieces, including the great Venus de Milo, Leonardo da Vinci’s "Mona Lisa," Eugene Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading the People” and, in the Egyptian wing, “The Seated Scribe.” If it’s your first visit, we recommend taking the introductory guided tour for an overview of the museum’s most famous works. 960 1280

Christophe Lehenaff, Getty Images  

Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge

Eat dinner and see a show at the Moulin Rouge -- the birthplace of can-can in its modern form. Located in Paris’ Pigalle district, this tourist attraction was co-founded in 1889 by businessmen Charles Zidler and Joseph Oller. Artists of all stripes soon flocked to the cabaret, including French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and, in the decades to come, singer Edith Piaf. 960 1280

Valerie Loiseleux, iStock  

Palace of Versailles

Palace of Versailles

Take a day trip outside of Paris and explore the Palace of Versailles. This enormous castle and gardens was once home to 3 generations of French kings and queens, including Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, the last reigning king and queen of France. See the Hall of Mirrors, the Chapelle Royale, the Grand Trianon, estate of Marie-Antoinette and beautiful gardens. Between April and October, the Musical Fountains Show is worth seeing. 960 1280

VERONICA GARBUTT, Getty Images  

Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur Basilica

Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur Basilica

Walk the cobblestone streets of Montmartre and make the steep climb to visit the Sacre Coeur Basilica, also known as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris. The basilica is located at the highest point in the city, making it the perfect place for panoramic views of Paris. 960 1280

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Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

French engineer Gustave Eiffel spent 2 years trying to erect the Eiffel Tower for the World’s Fair in 1889. And once he did, Parisians were not immediate fans of the metal monument. Today, of course, it has become part of the city’s familiar landscape. We recommend making a stop at the tower at night to see the amazing light show that usually ends at 1 a.m. 960 1280

Steve Lorillere, Getty Images  

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

For tourists looking for some amusement park fun, we recommend visiting Disneyland Paris. Although the park has been molded to appeal to European tastes (it has plenty of patio seats for outdoor eating), it is still styled similar to the original theme park, with a Main Street U.S.A., Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland and Discoveryland. 960 1280

Pawel Libera, Getty Images  

Pont Alexandre III and Grand Palais

Pont Alexandre III and Grand Palais

Cross over the River Seine, by walking along the ornate Pont Alexandre III bridge, to see Grand Palais. The main exhibition space hosts large-scale shows. Previous must-see art shows included an Edward Hopper retrospective, “Marie Antoinette,” and “Picasso and the Masters.” We suggest you book tickets online before you go. 960 1280

Arjan de Jager, iStock  

Musee d'Orsay

Musee d'Orsay

For art lovers, we suggest a visit to the Musée d'Orsay. Once a railway station, this museum now holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1915. It houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world. Monet, Degas, Renoir and van Gogh are just a few painters whose works are on display at the museum. 960 1280

Atlantide Phototravel, Getty Images  

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

One of the most famous monuments in Paris, the Arc de Triomphe honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars. Located in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle -- at the west end of the Champs-Elysees -- the monument has the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its surface. There is a vault beneath the arc that holds the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. 960 1280

Lydia Shalet, iStock  

Champ-Elysees

Champ-Elysees

Champs-Elysees is to Paris what Times Square is to New York City. This famous avenue is a popular destination for shoppers with deep pockets, but shopping isn’t the only reason why people flock to this area. Stop by the statue-lined plaza-terrace at the Place du Trocadero for the city’s best view of the Eiffel Tower. Check out a world-class collection of art from all over Asia at the Musee Guimet. Choose from more than 2 dozen flavors of macaroons at Laduree. 960 1280

alxpin, Istock  

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

The bishop of Paris from 1160 to 1196, Maurice de Sully spearheaded the movement to rebuild a cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Located on the Île de la Cité, Notre Dame Cathedral offers guided tours, but the 360-degree views of the city are what’s really amazing and not to be missed. 960 1280

gbarm, Istock  

Palais Garnier Opera House of Paris

Palais Garnier Opera House of Paris

Built between 1861 and 1875, the Palais Garnier is known for its opulence and architecture, and, most notably, for being the setting for Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel, The Phantom of the Opera. Palais Garnier does provide unaccompanied tours, which also include a walk through the Paris Opera Library-Museum. Designed by Charles Garnier, this palatial, nearly 2,000-seat opera house is now primarily used for ballet performances. 960 1280

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Les Marais

Les Marais

Les Marais is the cool neighborhood in Paris, with hip boutiques, art galleries, designer hotels and fashion houses. Although Les Marais is the hub of the city’s gay community, there are numerous must-see attractions here, including Place des Vosges, the oldest square in Paris, Musee Carnavalet, a museum that shows how Paris has evolved, Musee des Arts et Metiers, Europe’s oldest science museum, and Centre Pompidou, which houses a large public reading library and the National Museum of Modern Art. 960 1280

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