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Paris is unique in many ways. Dazzling architecture, topnotch restaurants, and deeply seeped in history. In Paris, you can literally breathe and soak in history at every street corner. The magnetism of the city is thus not surprising, and the millions of tourists visiting the French capital are a testimony to the charms of Paris. Whether you are heading to the city of lights for a short trip or a longer stay, make sure you devote enough time to choosing the area you wish to live in as Paris is incredibly diverse and eclectic.

Housing options

The neighbourhoods of inner Paris are referred to as “arrondissements” in French, owing to the way in which the different areas were delimited. As a sign of the creativity and mathematically-minded orientations of the French, the classification system resembles a snail, with the core of the snail being the 1st arrondissement. The other neighbourhoods then span radially outwards, which is quite peculiar for most travelers. There are a wide range of housing options, starting from hotels to apartments, and Air BnB is becoming increasingly popular in the city. For long-term foreign visitors, finding and securing accommodation in Paris can be particularly lengthy since landlords and agencies typically ask for many documents and carefully screen applicants before renting anything out, so make sure you plan well ahead of time.

Neighbourhoods of Paris: An overview

The neighbourhoods of the city have very different “feels” and are often strikingly different from each other. The posh 16th and 7th arrondissements (next to the Eiffel tower) are home to grandiose apartments and large streets, whereas the 18th has an old, medieval feel. The “Quartier Latin” (Latin Quarters) appeal more to students, and has a vibrant bar scene. Whether you are in Paris for a short trip or a longer period, make sure you think ahead of time which side of Paris suits you the best.

The first arrondissement

The first arrondissement (and potentially the area of Montmartre), will be the expatriates’ vision of “the authentic Paris”. At the core of Paris lies the “Ile de la Cite” (loosely translated as island of the city). Here history is alive and vivid at every street corner and is home to a range of historical monuments, many of which are still in used by the French administration. The exquisite Notre Dame Cathedral and the Sainte Chapelle are in the area and if, for any reason, long-term visitors miss a visit to the first, rest assured: the office for the issue and renewal of residency permits (the prefecture) is located right in the heart of the arrondissement! Bear in mind, however, that housing in the first is particularly expensive.

The eighteenth

The 18th arrondissement is a strange beast. On the one hand, it is home to the Montmartre village, which is an artsy area of the city, which is generally frequented by tourists both in the winter and in the summer (understandably, because the area is truly exquisite). On the other hand, a walk around Pigalle might shock many visitors, since the area is home to sex shops and strip clubs and, of course, the Moulin Rouge. When visiting Montmartre, you can very easily avoid the seediest parts of the 18th, by stopping at the Anvers or Abbesses metro stations. There are many faces to the 18th district, and accommodation prices can vary widely.

The Grands Boulevards

The Grands Boulevards area is synonymous with shopping, and is quite extensive. It spans from the beautiful Place de la Madeleine to the Place de la Bastille, both of which are must-sees for anyone visiting the city. Place de la Madeleine is surrounded by a wide palette of shops selling everything from luxury watches to discount clothing gear. The iconic Gallerie Lafayette is also a favorite, particularly during the French discounting periods. The best metro to stop at is Opera, which will take you right in front of the recently renovated Opera Garnier, which is a truly grandiose building. From Opera, you can branch out in multiple directions, but if you want to take the path of luxury, head towards the Ritz hotel and Place Vendome.

The Latin Quarter

The Latin Quarter is the historical student area of Paris; this is where the greatest minds of France converged to study, plot and write. The Sorbonne and the Pantheon (burial ground for the “great men of the French nation”) lie at the heart of the Latin Quarter. The Latin Quarter has a buzzing bar scene, and the narrow streets are lined with cafés and restaurants. The Boulevard Saint Michel has a very different feel, but is the place to head to if you want to buy books, both first hand and second hand.

Le quartier du Marais

The Marais is one of the main locations for Parisian art. The area is chic and full of historical buildings, and is known in Paris as being the LGBT quarters of the city. It is also home to a large Jewish community and Rue de la Roquette is a great snacking stop. The museum scene is also very impressive, and a visit to the Carnavalet Museum is highly recommended. Unfortunately, because of Le Marais’ appeal, housing in the area is very expensive, even if you are looking for a small studio.

The seventh

The Eiffel Tower and the Musee des Invalides are both located in the seventh district and are in close vicinity to a highly residential area. The apartments and buildings in the seventh are truly elegant and have a distinct Parisian charm. If you like the feel of the seventh but cannot afford to live in the area, the fifteenth arrondissement can be a good trade-off since it is a nice area with less expensive housing options.

The sixteenth

The sixteenth is a chic residential area and is a good option for families with children. Many embassies are located in the area, which is in close proximity to the Bois de Boulogne and the home of the iconic Parisian football team, Paris Saint Germain. The 16th is also next to the “périphérique”, which is a circular highway surrounding Paris. The area is thus ideal if you intend on getting a car to move around.

Other areas

Other good areas to consider include the 13th arrondissement as well as the 10th, and both will offer more affordable housing options. For those moving to Paris with families, the suburbs of Paris might be practical, especially since the city has an extensive network of trains serving the suburbs. For example, the business hub of La Défense is in close proximity to the highly residential area of Rueil Malmaison.

Finding accommodation

There are various ways of finding accommodation in Paris, but one of the most efficient ways is to reach out to social networks and scour private offers on the Internet. If you are heading to Paris with an employment contract, it is often more straightforward to ask your employer to support you in the process and to guarantee the deposit. Word of mouth may also greatly help during your search, especially if you have friends or contacts on the spot. You may as well seek the help of a real estate agency once you have chosen the neighborhood which suits you best, but bear in mind that they often charge steep fees, especially in the most sought-after areas. For short stays in Paris, home swapping networks or Air BnB are great options and are very popular in the city. The average rent price in Paris is 21.94 euros per square meter. You will thus need around 1,500 euros for a 70m² apartment in the capital city. Of course, rent prices generally vary from one neighborhood to another.

 Useful links:

All Paris Apartments
Se Loger
Le Bon Coin
Bons plans Logements Paris
La Cote Immo
Air BnB
Occazissime Immobilier

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