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Exploring the neighborhoods of Paris Travel Tips - Travel Agents Near Me

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Exploring the neighborhoods of Paris

Wide, tree-lined boulevards, old-world cobblestone paths, stately and stunning riverbank views: Paris is a city made for walking. Each arrondissement is distinct from the one before it: one filled with Gothic architecture and narrow, winding streets; the next recalling the Roaring-20’s era of stylish revelry. Of course, there are always the famous landmarks and attractions: the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and L’Arc de Triomphe. But the true heart of Paris lies off the beaten path, away from the hustle and bustle of the Champs Elysees and the traffic of La Place de la Concorde. Here, we’ve collected a handful of some of Paris’ best places to explore; some lesser known than their more famous counterparts, and a few perennial favorites that we think you’ll see in a whole new way.

In the beginning
In a city as vast and varied as Paris, you might as well start where it all began: Ile de la Cite and Ile de St-Louis, the island birthplaces of Paris where you’ll find the Notre Dame. Wander further and you’ll find Sainte-Chappelle Cathedral, built in the 13th century to house Louis IX’s impressive collection of religious relics; and La Conciergerie, now the seat of Paris’ judiciary, but once its most dreaded prison.  In contrast, Ile de St-Louis is a residential area where the oldest house was built in 1660. This stomping ground of Marie Curie and Camille Claudel is so architecturally congruous, it feels as though you’re ambling through another era.

Coffee break!
Paris and cafés go hand-in-hand, and Montparnasse is the city’s hub of café culture. Here, you can rest your feet at legendary hangouts like Dome, Coupole and Rotonde, where everyone from Picasso, Modigliani and Man Ray to Fitzgerald, Faulkner and Trotsky came to brood over steaming cups of French Roast.

Hustle & Bustle, Parisian-style
Paris is known for its leisurely pace—white-knuckle car traffic aside. But it’s also one of the most important business centers in the world, and nowhere is this more obvious than La Bourse, in Paris’ 2nd arrondissement and home to the Paris stock exchange. At lunchtime, La Bourse becomes one of the city’s most energetic sections as the titans of Gallic capitalism pour their frenetic energy into the quarter’s restaurants. Wander next door, and the neighborhood’s Le Sentier district provides a perfect place to spend all those Euros: the wholesale outlets of the Paris garment trade, where buyers both amateur and professional come from all over Europe to haggle for the best deals on Parisian fashion.

The Comeback Kid
The royal court’s departure from Le Marais to the more bucolic Versailles in the 1600s led to a decline that would intensify centuries later with the arrival of the Nazis. But the end of the War would bring change, and by the 1980s, the young, artistic and individualistic began to claim Le Marais as their own. Today, Le Marais is one of Paris’ most desirable and off-beat neighborhoods. While retaining its history as the city’s Jewish center, it has become popular for its cafes, galleries and shops, which, due to Parisian practices, often retain their original facades after being sold, resulting in shoe boutiques with bakery fronts and groceries masquerading as bookstores. Its original anchor, the exquisite Place des Vosges, makes Le Marais the city’s oldest square still containing its original buildings.

La Grande Arche de La Defense
Anchoring Paris’ glittering high-rises is the sleek, perfectly cubic Grande Arche. Designed as a modern monument to humanitarianism in complement to L’Arc de Triomphe’s celebration of military might, its austere looks are particularly lovely at night, when it glows at one end of the Avenue de Charles de Gaulle and L’Arc de Triomphe lights up the other.

Paris’ Chinatown: Twice the Fun
With two distinct Chinatowns, Paris has much to offer in the way of Asian culture. The older of the two, in the 13th Arrondissement, sprouted up in the 1970s as ethnically Chinese Vietnamese refugees began moving into the neighborhood’s stark government-built concrete apartment blocks. Before long the area transformed into a thriving and colorful enclave, and today it is the largest Chinatown in Europe and home to over 150 Asian restaurants. The long-standing immigrant neighborhood of Belleville, birthplace of Edith Piaf and Maurice Chevalier, became another hotspot for Asian immigrants in the 1980s. Today, Belleville’s Chinese quarter is part of the neighborhood’s ethnic patchwork, along with vibrant Arab, African, Jewish and Armenian populations.

Halls of Knowledge
As everyone knows, Paris is home to arguably the most famous museum in the world. But standing in the Louvre’s impressive shadow are scores of smaller museums within strolling distance of each other. Amble down the Rue Antoine Bourdelle to the Musee Bourdelle, filled with its namesake’s grandiose sculpture. Around the corner is the tiny Musee du Montparnasse, detailing the enclave’s Roaring-20s heyday with photos taken by luminaries like Robert Doisneau and Henri Cartier-Bresson. The list goes on: there is the Musee de la Poste detailing Paris’s cutting-edge 19th-century postal technology; the Paris Crime Museum, where you can shudder at the sight of a guillotine blade; and the Musee du Vin, celebrating the venerable point of Parisian pride, French wines.

Hipster Heaven
The 8th Arrondissement may be Paris’ most fashionable, but the arbiters of all that is cool and hip will tell you that the 11th Arrondissement neighborhood of Opera Bastille is the city’s pulse of all that is cutting edge. After all, this is the home of the Bastille, birthplace of the French Revolution. Falling into decay before the opening of the Opera itself, the neighborhood is now Paris’ answer to New York’s Soho, and home to up-and-coming artistes who, drawn by 19th-century apartments perfect for live/work space, are transforming the Rue Oberkampf into a happening strip of cafes and galleries that still retain a patina of historic blue-collar grit.


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