Spain Guide

France Guide


Map of Paris France

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The Paris map is split into twenty administrative districts called arrondissements which begin with the premier arrondissement near the Louvre in the centre of Paris and spiral out like a snail shell, ending with the vingtième arrondissement in the east. The numbers are abbreviated 1 er, 2 e, 3 e, etc. The river Seine flows from east to west through the centre of Paris, dividing it into what is know as the right bank (rive droite) and left bank (rive gauche).

The rive droite is home to the media, politics and business districts, as well as plenty of large department stores such as Galleries Lafayette and Printemps. In the 1 er arrondissement are Les Halles, where there are numerous shops and a buzzing nightlife, east of which is the Marais in the 4e, an aristocratic and bourgeois area with boutiques and bagels. Further east is the Bastille, with the trendy (but crowded) rue de Lappe bars, and fantastic restaurants like Chez Robert at 15 rue Saint Sabin. North of the shopping area in the 9e is delightful Montmartre, home of Amélie and the Sacré Coeur.

The rive gauche is all about publishing, art, intellectual pursuits and has a more Greek and Turkish feel to some areas. Notre Dame Cathedral towers over the Île de la Cité, and the Île St Louis next door is home to the famous ice cream shop Berthillon at 31 rue St Louis en l'Île. If you walk from Notre Dame over the bridge towards Café Panis, an ideal spot to do some people watching over a glass of kir, you will find the celebrated English language bookshop Shakespeare Co. Just past the bookshop is the Quartier Latin, named after the language spoken at the university that was set up in the thirteenth century. To the south east of the Quartier Latin is the Butte aux Cailles, which has retained its village atmosphere and charm in spite of the tower blocks that have appeared around Place d'Italie. Bustling restaurants like Chez Gladines (30 rue des Cinq Diamants) add to the area's appeal. To the west of the Quartier Latin is St Germain, the area best known for being the hangout of philosophers and writers, chic cafés and brasseries. Montparnasse is to the south with 'that tower' dominating the horizon.

The 7e in the west of Paris is where you will find great monuments like the Tour Eiffel and Invalides, the parliament and embassies. The 8e contains L'Avenue des Champs Elysées, L'Arc de Triomphe and many exclusive shops. In general, the outer arrondissements are considered to be exclusive and rich in the west (15e and 16e), and poorer in the east (19e and 20e). Every quartier has its own atmosphere, so you simply have to wander around to appreciate it.