5 Best Areas to Stay in Paris First Time
If you’re hunting down the best areas to stay in Paris first time then you’ve landed on the right page.
My favourite Arrondissement (french word for neighbourhood) is the ultra-central Louvre because of its magical blend of historic architecture, delicious food, and captivating culture.
However, there are another 4 options that may work better for your type of trip, you are either looking for a buzzing nightlife, a luxurious experience, or charming, picture-perfect streets.
In this guide, you will find all you need to know about the 5 best places to stay in Paris first time, including a short table to quickly and easily compare the neighbourhoods.
Best Areas to Stay in Paris First Time – Key points
The French capital is organised in 20 arrondissements (neighbourhoods), five of which are, in my opinion, the best areas to stay in Paris first time, all very central and well positioned along the Seine River.
In the table below I compare these 5 arrondissements based on different factors, including the average cost, accessibility by public transportation, how good is for families or nightlife and ultimately the character of the area.
Click on the area name for a full description, including an expanded list of pros, cons, attractions and restaurants/cafes. Swipe left or right on the mobile to see the full table.
|Arrondissement 1 – Louvre||Central, luxury, excellent transport||Expensive, very busy, limited nightlife||Very high||Excellent||Louvre, Palais Royal||Great choice||Medium||Low||Historic, elegant|
|Arrondissement 4 – Le Marais||Great for couples, nightlife, trendy||Pricey, busy streets, limited parking||Medium-High||Good||Notre-Dame, Centre Pompidou||Great choice||Medium||High||Bohemian, historic|
|Arrondissement 5 – Latin Quarter||Budget-friendly, Bohemian vibe, lively atmosphere||Narrow streets, noisy at night, touristy||Low-Medium||Good||Pantheon, Luxembourg Gardens||Great choice||Low||High||Intellectual, historic|
|Arrondissement 6 – Saint-Germain-des-Prés||Chic and elegant, picturesque, art galleries||Expensive, limited nightlife||High||Good||Saint Sulpice Church, Luxembourg Gardens||Great choice||Medium||Medium||Chic, artistic|
|Arrondissement 7 – Eiffel Tower||Great for families, Close to Eiffel Tower||Expensive, fewer dining options, quiet nights||High||Good||Eiffel Tower, Musée d’Orsay||Medium choice||High||Low||Residential, prestigious|
Arrondissement 1 – Louvre
- Bang in the city centre
- Iconic sights
- Top-notch shopping spots
- Loads of places to eat
- Easy to get around
- Pricey places to stay
- Can get very busy
- Not much of a nightlife
- The Louvre Museum
- Rue de Rivoli shopping
Restaurants and cafes
- Le Meurice Alain Ducasse
- Café Kitsuné
- Willi’s Wine Bar
Overall, the best area to stay in Paris first time close to everything
The 1st Arrondissement, home to the famous Louvre, is my suggested area to stay in Paris first time. Imagine living right in the heart of the city, where every corner you turn leads you to a piece of Paris’s rich history or a stunning view. This is an unmissable neighbourhood to be, or at least to visit if you book in another location.
The first thing you’ll notice when you step foot in this area is the grandeur and the aura of history that hangs in the air. The beautifully aged buildings whisper tales from centuries past, and it feels like you’ve stepped into another era.
This arrondissement is located right in the heart of the city. Really you cannot get better than that. So, everything you’d want to see or do is just a short stroll or a quick metro ride away.
You can’t chat about the 1st Arrondissement without mentioning the Louvre Museum. It’s the world’s largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris. It’s as impressive as you may already suspect, filled with some of the most famous works of art known to man, including the one and only Mona Lisa!
This area is not just famous for the Louvre Museum. There’s also the Sainte-Chapelle with its stunning stained glass and the Conciergerie, a medieval beauty that once was a royal palace.
For the shopaholics among you, Rue de Rivoli will be your playground. It’s got everything from high street to high-end, so you can shop till you drop. And if the price is way too high, I tell you, window shopping is a great experience too in Paris.
The 1st Arrondissement is also famous for its restaurants and cafes, literally around every corner. You’ve got everything from fancy places like Le Meurice Alain Ducasse to quirky cafes like Café Kitsuné.
Of course, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. This Arrondissement is probably the busiest in Paris, even more so in spring and summer. And if you’re someone who likes partying till dawn, the nightlife here might seem a bit tame. Plus, this is probably the most expensive area to stay in Paris (but understandably so, considering the unique location).
My suggested hotels in the 1st Arrondissement – Louvre
The Citadines Les Halles Paris Hotel is one of my favourites in this area. It’s categorized as a 3-star, however, in my opinion, it offers much more than that. Its proximity to 2 Metro stations (Chalet and Les Halles) makes it ideal for any underground ride. Moreover, it’s a stone away from the Seine, Notre Dame and other attractions. The area has lots of cafes, restaurants and groceries. The rooms include a small kitchenette which makes it very handy, especially with kids. Breakfast is usually included in the great price. They have a minimum 4-night stay policy.
Another 2 great accommodations close to everything are:
Relais Du Louvre ($$$$): boutique style, lovely interior design, next to most of Paris attractions
My Maison In Paris ($$$): cosy located on the main line to the airport, quiet and relaxing
When visiting the French capital for the first time look no further than the 1st Arrondissement for your accommodation, definitely one of the best areas to stay in Paris. It has it all. Beautiful buildings, famous landmarks, great restaurants and cafes. Certainly, it is not the best area for nightlife and does not come cheap, but it should not be missed as your first trip to the French capital, and maybe the only one.
Arrondissement 4 – Le Marais
- Thriving nightlife
- Ideal for couples
- Stunning blend of old and new
- Warmly welcoming to the LGBT community
- Funky shopping scene and a smorgasbord of food options
- A bit on the pricy side
- Streets can feel very busy
- Parking? Good luck with that
- Notre-Dame Cathedral
- Centre Pompidou
- Place des Vosges
- Picasso Museum
Restaurants and cafes
- Le Comptoir du Relais
Overall, one of the best areas to stay in Paris first time for couples
Le Marais, Arrondissement 4, is something different, more eclectic, unpredictable, young, perfect for an unlike experience, a district that’s got so many faces, it could be an octopus. One second you’re strolling past centuries-old buildings, the next you’re browsing some of the trendiest shops in the city.
It’s like someone crammed a history book and a fashion magazine into a blender and Le Marais popped out.
Now, if you’re a night owl, Le Marais is your place. This neighbourhood is party central, with an inclusive vibe that pulls in everyone from the LGBT community to cocktail connoisseurs. Whether you’re looking for high-end lounges or grungy live music joints, you’ll find your kind of fun here.
You should definitely plan to spend a night in the 4th Arrondissement even if you do not actually stay there. It’s actually a short walk from the 1st Arrondissement and not too far from any other neighbourhood by metro or taxi.
And it’s not all nocturnal naughtiness. There are so many attractions and activities in this area during the day too. You must kick off your day at the Notre Dame Cathedral, one of the most iconic landmarks of Paris.
Next, you should head to the Centre Pompidou. This is where you can discover some of the most innovative art in the city. And of course, you cannot leave Paris without a visit to the Picasso Museum, where you will find the best artworks of this unique artist and incredible innovator who helped also invent Cubism.
Shopping here is like diving into a treasure chest of fashion. Designer stores, quirky boutiques, vintage shops – Le Marais has it all. This is the kind of place where you can discover a unique item that perfectly represents your style.
And when it comes to food, Le Marais doesn’t disappoint. Try Le Comptoir du Relais for a Michelin-starred meal that won’t break the bank. Or head to Miznon for some seriously tasty street food.
Okay, now the downside. Le Marais can get, well, a bit manic. With so much going on, the streets are often busy with people. Of course, the 4th Arrondissement is still among the safest areas to stay in Paris, trust me, don’t panic.
And if you’re driving, finding parking here is tricky, to say the least, but that’s pretty common in most of the city. Price-wise, it’s also not the cheapest place to be but still more economical than the 1st Arrondissement.
My suggested hotels in the 4th Arrondissement – Le Marais
Le Petit Beaumarchais Hotel & Spa ($$$) offers a unique boutique stay in the heart of Paris, close to iconic attractions. The hotel boasts stunning interior design, comfortable rooms, friendly staff, and a delicious breakfast. The location is so convenient. On-site dining, and delightful extra touches like the Spa, make it an ideal choice for couples seeking a memorable Parisian experience.
Another 2 great accommodations close to everything are:
Hôtel Le Presbytère ($$$-$$$$): old-style with plenty of Parisian character and charm
Hotel Dupond-Smith ($$$): comfortable and spacious rooms, high-quality service
So, if you love the vibrant nightlife, fab food, and cool fashion, and aren’t fazed by this busy area, then Le Marais is a top choice when considering where to stay in Paris for the first time. Surely there are a few drawbacks, but this is also the hippest and trendiest place to be in the city, with a vibrant LGBT community.
Arrondissement 5 – Latin Quarter
- Great value for money
- A lively, bohemian vibe
- Packed with historic architecture
- Solo traveller-friendly
- Plenty of dining and drinking spots
- Streets can get very busy
- Nights can get noisy
- Can feel a bit too touristy
- The Pantheon
- Jardin des Plantes
- Rue Mouffetard
Restaurants and cafes
- Le Procope
- Little Breizh
- Le Comptoir du Panthéon
Overall, one of the best areas to stay in Paris first time for value for money
The Latin Quarter, Paris’ fifth arrondissement is known for its youthful energy and intellectual heritage. This neighbourhood is like that artsy friend who always knows the coolest spots in town.
The Latin Quarter is a great pick for those visiting Paris for the first time who want to dive headfirst into the city’s vibrant atmosphere. Its streets are full of life, with an array of quirky bookshops, cosy cafes, and historic sites that are great opportunities for some street photography.
It works also very well if you are searching for good value in your accommodation but still, be centrally located. It will not be cheap, however. The best areas to stay in Paris on a budget are more on the edge of the city.
The neighbourhood gets its name from the days when university scholars in the area spoke Latin. Now, while you’re unlikely to hear much Latin these days, you can still sense the area’s intellectual history.
The Pantheon is a great example of the Latin Quarter transformation. Once a church, now a mausoleum, this neoclassical masterpiece houses the remains of France’s most esteemed intellectuals.
Sure, you will not be able to find in this area the most iconic attractions. However, you can easily walk and/or take a metro to most of them in either Arr.1 or Arr.4. You are also next door to the RER C light train that will take you in no time to the Eiffel Tower and to the Paris Orly Airport, very handy.
If you’re a bit of a nature lover, a stroll in the Jardin des Plantes is a must. It’s Paris’s main botanical garden and a great place to unwind away from the bustling streets. And if you’re up for a bit of shopping or grabbing a bite, hit Rue Mouffetard, one of Paris’s oldest and liveliest streets.
As for where to grab a bite, you’re spoilt for choice. Polidor is a classic Parisian bistro that’s been serving meals since 1845. Their beef bourguignon is their most iconic dish. Le Procope, on the other hand, has been a haunt for intellectuals for centuries, with previous patrons including Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin.
I always like to include in my guides the drawbacks of the neighbourhood and in this case, I can definitely see a couple of them.
Firstly, the Latin Quarter can get a bit noisy at night – think laughter, music, the clinking of glasses, all that good stuff, however, book a hotel far from the main streets and bars for a quiet night’s sleep (see below for my suggestions).
Secondly, the 5th Arrondissement is certainly not a hidden gem and the streets can get very busy during the day with many travellers wanting to experience the famous Latin Quarter.
Here are 3 of the best hotels in the Latin Quarter:
Hôtel Capfun ($$+): Charming studios and 1BR apartments (up to 4 people). Clean, quiet, close to metro. Excellent location, ideal for city explorations
Hotel Studia ($$+): Centrally located in vibrant Quartier Latin, offers comfortable, clean rooms and excellent customer service
Hôtel Albe Saint Michel ($$$): Charming hotel with excellent location, friendly staff, comfortable rooms, and wonderful views. Superb value for money.
The Latin Quarter is one of the best areas to stay in Paris first time that’s bubbling with life and steeped in history. It’s very central and the hotels are usually better valued for money than any previously mentioned neighbourhood. Plus, who can resist the charm of those narrow, winding streets?
Arrondissement 6 – Saint-Germain-des-Prés
- Excellent for couples and art lovers
- Chic, elegant atmosphere
- High-end shopping and dining
- Beautiful, picture-perfect streets
- It’s pricey
- Not much in the way of nightlife
- Saint-Sulpice Church
- Luxembourg Gardens
- The Sorbonne
- Musee National Eugene Delacroix
Restaurants and cafes
- Les Deux Magots
- Café de Flore
- Le Procope
Overall, one of the best areas to stay in Paris first time for arts and elegance
Saint-Germain-des-Prés has an undeniable charm that just pulls you in. This swanky district is a paradise for those in love with arts, literature, and all things chic. You will be staying in a Parisian postcard here.
This is another Arrondissement where you will not find the iconic destinations of Paris, however, you will not be too far off either. In fact, you will be just a bridge away from both the Louvre and Notre Dame.
For the local gems, you should check out the gothic Saint-Sulpice Church which you may recognise from Dan Brown’s ‘The Da Vinci Code’. Then, you’ve got Luxembourg Gardens, the perfect spot for a lazy afternoon picnic or just soaking up some Parisian sunshine which is not as rare as you may think, by the way.
Another place to explore is La Sorbonne, one of the oldest universities in the world, established between 1160 and 1250. Don’t miss the Musee National Eugene Delacroix, which was the last home of this famous French painter.
When it comes to dining, this area knows how to do it with style. Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore are the two legendary cafes where famous writers and philosophers used to hang out. There’s also Le Procope, the oldest café in Paris. A stop at Ladurée for some macarons is also a must!
Drawbacks? Sure enough, Saint-Germain-des-Prés is not a popular area for nightlife, it’s more about relaxing and chilling out at cafes. It’s also not the most economical base to be.
In saying that, the 6th Arrondissement is definitely the place to be for first-timers looking for the classic Parisian charm.
Here are 3 of the best hotels in Saint-Germain-des-Prés:
Victoria Palace Hotel ($$$$): Refined elegance, impeccable service, and spacious rooms in an excellent Parisian location
Grand Hôtel de L’Univers Saint-Germain ($$$): Charming boutique hotel in historic Saint-Germain. Exceptionally clean, comfortable, and perfectly located. Excellent, friendly service.
Hotel Clément ($$+): Charming boutique hotel offering great value; perfectly located, friendly staff, clean rooms, and efficient amenities.
There’s a story to be discovered in every corner, every café, and every cobblestone street in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Saint-Germain-des-Prés is your Arrondissement if you love elegance, style and rich history. It’s perfect for having a stroll along the Seine, shopping at chic boutiques, or just people-watching at a café.
Arrondissement 7 – Eiffel Tower
- Brilliant for families
- Close to the Eiffel Tower
- Stunning views
- Quiet, residential feel
- Impressive museums and green spaces
- It’s on the expensive side
- Fewer dining options
- Not really a hub for nightlife
- Eiffel Tower
- Musée d’Orsay
- Les Invalides
- Musée Rodin
Restaurants and cafes
- Le Jules Verne
- Les Ombres
- Café de l’Alma
- Le P’tit Troquet
Overall, one of the best areas to stay in Paris first time for families and proximity to the Eiffel Tower
The Arrondissement 7 is the place to be on your first time visit if you want to be next to the Eiffel Tower. You’re in the city of love, and nothing screams ‘Paris’ more than a selfie with this iron lady in the background. The best part? You can enjoy the view anytime you want if you’re staying here.
But let’s not forget the other gems in this district. The Musée d’Orsay is one of the most famous museums in the city, surely to be included in your must-visit list, famous for its Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artworks.
Not far from it, you’ll find Les Invalides, a stunning complex of buildings with military history. And, of course, the Musée Rodin, where you can admire ‘The Thinker’ in its natural habitat.
Now, foodies may have to venture out of the district to get their gourmet fix. While there are some excellent options like Le Jules Verne (right inside the Eiffel Tower) and Les Ombres (with an incredible rooftop view of the tower), they’re more on the posh side. For a more relaxed meal, check out Café de l’Alma or Le P’tit Troquet, they serve some decent French cuisine.
On the downside, Arrondissement 7 might not be the first choice for nightlife. This district, similar to the 6th Arrondissement, is more of a relaxing area, busy during the day for the Eiffel Tower, getting quieter and quieter as the sunset approaches. Plus, the accommodation can be quite expensive considering you are next to the iron lady.
This area works so well when travelling with kids. Although, it may be expensive and possibly chaotic during the day. For this reason, I have researched other 3 great areas to stay with family in Paris that you should check out.
Here are 3 of the best Best hotels next to the Eiffel Tower:
Hôtel Le Cercle Tour Eiffel ($$$+): Charming boutique hotel offering exceptional staff service, cleanliness, and a view of the Eiffel Tower.
Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel ($$$$): Exceptional location, comfortable rooms, fine dining and superb Eiffel Tower views.
Résidence Charles Floquet ($$$$$): 2BR and 3BR apartments, exceptional location, comfort and cleanliness; elegant décor; friendly staff, amazing views
This is the best area to stay in Paris first time if you’re seeking a relaxed and family-friendly location. Moreover, you will have probably the most iconic attraction next to you. Booking a room with views of the Eiffel Tower is not easy and cheap, but definitely a stunning and unique experience.
If the view of the iron lady is all you want, I have written a dedicated guide to where to stay in Paris near the Eiffel Tower, including also a lower-budget option as well as a few boutique possibilities.