Sharing Part 3 of my Exterior Arrondissements of Paris series with you is very special for me because I live each year in the wonderful 17th arrondissement, just north and slightly east of the Arc de Triomphe. So with the exploration of arrondissements 16-20, we’re covering an area that is near and dear to me.
I reside in a neighborhood called Monceau, which is named after the gorgeous and very French Parc Monceau, located a few blocks from my apartment – and living further out from the center of Paris has distinct advantages.
First, I’m forced to use my French much more often in the neighborhood as conversing with grocers, pharmacists and the like is much easier when I speak in French and doing so certainly helps me gain some mastery of the language (although I still have a long way to go!).
Living in the 17th also makes it easier for me to explore the 16th and 18th arrondissements, given their close proximity.
As you delve into the last part of this series, I hope you have enjoyed the entire look at the outer neighborhoods of Paris and, perhaps on your next trip, you’ll skip the Tour Eiffel or the Louvre, hop a metro and just wander into the double digit arrondissements – the very definition of being a local on your vacation (for a little while at least!).
The 16e (right bank)
Look up the definition of “pretty” and you just might find a photo the 16e. Just west over the Seine from the 7e and 15e, the 16e is one of Paris’s most elegant and tony arrondissements. Mostly a residential quartier, the 16e does have a few secondary attractions.
Expect to rely on metro and bus connections to get around the city and note that while the area is quite beautiful, it also can be a tad boring. Nevertheless, it’s a very safe, clean and chic area to call home.
The 16e is large and mostly residential, but you’ll see plenty of local life all around you: children headed to school, people off to work. It is also home to exquisite Art Nouveau architecture and some unexpected parks. The quiet of the area will also ensure a good night’s sleep.
A stroll through, or an actual apartment stay, in the Passy part of the 16e is well worth looking into. Passy was once one of the many villages outside of Paris and today it retains the spirit of a small independent community.
If you start from the Passy metro, you can take in the attractions in this western part of the arrondissement. At the end of rue des Eaux you will find the Musée de Vin. For oenophiles, this will be quite a treat. This quirky museum is housed in a 15th century abbey and shares a collection of old wine bottles and glasses, as well as wine related pottery. You can partake in a wine tasting and bring home a bottle or two from their tiny shop.
When you leave the museum, go back past the metro and make your way to rue de Passy to a boutique-lined street. It’s serenely calm compared to the busy Saint-Honoré. I’ve strolled here many a time and it’s lovely for window shopping.
The peaceful Jardin du Ranelagh is at the end of the rue de Passy, and here you’ll pass men playing petanque along with nannies looking after their charges.
One of the city’s most wonderful museums is here as well, the Musée Marmottan-Claude Monet. Overlooking the Jardin du Ranelagh, this grand old house showcases selections of Monet’s water lilies and other impressionist paintings. It’s located at 2 rue Louis Boilly and is a definite must for Monet lovers.
South of Passy is the showcase for Paris’s finest Art Nouveau and Modernist buildings, including Castel Beranger by Hector Guimard (Paris Walks tour company has an excellent At Nouveau walking tour of the 16e). The Castel Beranger made people take notice and led to the famous Guimard metro commissions. You can’t go inside the Castel Beranger, but you can admire its wild grillwork and outlandish design from the outside.
There is also the Fondation Le Corbusier, a well-preserved example of the Swiss architect’s construction techniques based on geometric forms.
If you’re in need of leafy spaces, head north past Passy to visit Bois de Boulogne, Paris’s answer to an enchanted forest. Enter at Porte Dauphine (Porte Dauphine metro, line 2) for the main entrance and be rewarded with elegant promenades, romantic lakes and formal gardens, all on what used to be a royal hunting ground. This is more than a mere park as you can enjoy a day filled with a wide range of activities:
The Parc de Bagatelle, within Bois de Boulogne, is a floral garden that blooms with roses, lilies and other flora from April through June. In fact, there is a rose competition held there each June.
Enjoy a fancy meal at Pre Catelan which is located on the grounds and which once fed the Belle Epoque community back in the 19th century. Today it does a bustling business with diners who want to savor not only the food but the surroundings. The Jardin Shakespeare set within Pre Catelan has a sampling of the flowers and herbs that were used in Shakespeare’s plays.
If you have kids in tow, head to the northern edge of Bois de Boulogne. They will surely enjoy the Jardin d’Acclimation, a wonderful amusement park that includes boat rides and a zoo.
Be aware that after dark in the park is not a place for anyone except those performing, let’s just say, some adult activities! Visit in daylight hours.
You can enter the northern part of the 16e from across the Seine from the 7e by taking the Pont d’Iena to the Place du Trocadero. If visiting the Eiffel Tower, get off at the Trocadero stop on the metro, and not Bir Hakeim as everybody does. The views of the Eiffel Tower from across the Seine at Trocadero are breathtaking! The Place de Trocadero is a good springboard for exploring the northern part of the 16e. The area around Place Victor Hugo is very pleasant with interesting buildings and a very nice park called Jardin Alsace Lorraine at the corner of Place Victor Hugo and Gambetta Boulevard. The northern part of the 16e is more urban whereas the southern part (Passy) is more of a village.
If you want to rent an apartment in the 16e:
I would probably avoid the extreme western part to the edge of the Bois du Boulogne since you will be a bit too far out for easy daily living. By all means, visit the park, but there are many other options in the 16e that are closer in. Also, the very southern end of the arrondissement holds little interest.
From Place Victor Hugo and eastward to the border of the 8e would be great for an apartment. There are lots of nice streets, some quieter than others, but all are pretty upscale and posh.
Right around the Trocadero area would be fine. Just know that you will get tourist traffic from the Tour Eiffel. Still, the area is lively and close enough to the left bank with access through the 7e.
The area south of avenue Georges Mandel, including Passy, is quite lovely. It can become very quiet, so just be certain you like that type of atmosphere.
53 rue de Passy
24 rue des Belles Feuilles
18 rue de Passy
49 rue d’Auteuil
60-68 rue d’Auteuil
Outdoor Market: President Wilson
One of the most photographed markets in Paris is also one of its toniest. This very affluent market is located right over bridge Alma, close to the 7e. The food is very elegantly displayed, with prices to match. It’s open Wednesdays from 7am to 2:30pm and Saturdays from 7am to 3pm.
17e (right bank): Where I live in Paris
The 17e is a lovely non-touristy arrondissement with no big sites to speak of and that’s why I stay here every summer! I live in the Monceau section of the arronsdissement, right off the wonderful pedestrian food street rue Levis and close to the Villiers metro. Because this neighborhood is so fantastic, I return here each and every year.
Many parts of the 17e are rather bourgeois, especially close to the 16e and the 8e, but the arrondissement becomes more working class as you approach the 18e. This quiet, residential community has few tourists yet there are great restaurants, a wonderful market street, a bustling outdoor market and views of Arc de Triomphe . It is good arrondissement for those who have been to Paris before or who don’t mind a little metro travel.
The most down-to-earth area in the 17e is called Batignolles. This southeastern part of the 17e borders the northern part of the 8e and has a village vibe with a contemporary spirit. People describe it as a “real” neighborhood, in a well-heeled way, but not snooty. In fact, it is right between the more upper crust areas towards Étoile and the working-class neighborhood along avenue Clichy, as well as between the Brochant and Rome metros. Starting at the Brochant metro you can walk south and stroll through the bio (organic) market at 86 rue Lemercier and, if you continue down rue Brochant, you will find all sorts of charming boutiques.
The rue Brochant ends at the square des Batignolles where you’ll see local life in full swing, including plenty of children along with the nannies or grandparents who look after them. When you leave the square, make your way down the rue des Batignolles (which is lined with more shops) and you’ll discover both that the neighborhood is a mix of old and new and that the isolated calm spirit of this village is still strong.
Just slightly west of Batignolles is a fabulous market street named rue Lévis. This should not be missed. It’s a pedestrian street and so much fun. The tempting food offerings will make your mouth water.
If you chose the Batignolles area for lodging, you would be close enough to Parc Monceau (already covered in the 9e) to enjoy this wonderful picturesque spot right over the southern border of the 17e.
In the western part of the 17e in the area sandwiched between the Ternes metro and the Arc de Triomphe, you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the “back” of the Arc and there is also a bustling, if somewhat small, food market offering top-quality produce on rue Poncelet.
If you want to rent an apartment in the 17e:
The first area I would look in would indeed be the Batignolles area, specifically on the streets emanating from the Rome metro up to the Brochant metro. If you want to be closer to the 8e, look for streets around rue Lévis and just a tad west from the Rome metro including the streets by the Villiers metro. Or choose any of the streets just north of Parc Monceau between the Monceau and Malesherbes metros.
You can also look on the western side of the 17e at the streets in between the Ternes metro and the Arc de Triomphe and the streets located in between the Courcelles and Wagram metros. These areas are more posh than Batignolles, but they are approachable and not off-putting.
13/15 rue de Lévis
129 rue des Dames
43 avenue de Clichy
25 avenue des Ternes
159 rue de Courcelles
Outdoor Market: Rue Poncelet
I stumbled upon this market a few years ago as I was making my way through the 17e. What a delightful, albeit busy, pedestrian-only market. It is a very attractive market that leads to a street with wonderful shoe shopping! The hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 8am to 6pm and Sundays from 9am to 1pm.
18e (right bank):
In the 18e, situated majestically high on a hill, is one of Paris’s most beautiful and familiar sites: Sacré–Cœur, the “cream puff” white church, attracts millions of tourists every year. Its front promenade and wide stairways pulsate with people any time of day. While this may be the gathering point for tourists in 18e, there is much, much more to this arrondissement; and it all awaits those who want to explore the 18e as a possible lodging spot. You truly would have to stay here to really discover its charms.
Also known as Montmartre, the 18e has so many characteristics that it’s hard to know where to start. It’s bohemian, chic, busy, sleazy (in but a small part), residential, quiet and noisy. In other words, it has something for everyone! Like the Batignolles section of the 17e, Montmartre has a strong village identity. In fact, I have heard from many friends who only lodge in Montmartre that this pride extends to them, even as temporary residents. They have become fierce in their love for the “hill” and will not lodge anywhere else in Paris.
I’d recommend Montmartre for an apartment to visitors who have at least one trip to Paris under their belts. While metro and bus connections are excellent in the 18e, you will have to ride public transportation for at least 20 minutes to reach the rest of the sights in Paris. While I mentioned I have friends who now lodge only in Montmartre, I have others who loved Montmartre and their apartment choice, but for whom it was simply too much to “go down” to central Paris every day. It eventually became more of a pain than a joy. If you are a first-time visitor to Paris, take this into consideration. Also, if you have mobility issues, know that Montmartre is full of stairs and a lot is uphill, so be prepared. Still, Montmartre is a very special arrondissement and there is plenty to do and see.
Technically the 18e is bordered in the north by the Périphérique; in the south by boulevard de Clichy and boulevard de Rochechouart; in the east by rue d’Aubervilliers; and in the west by avenue de Saint-Ouen.
Let’s start at the bottom or lower Montmartre, which reflects an eclectic youthful mix and is far less touristy (but less picturesque) than the top.
If we begin at the Anvers metro, which lies on the border of the 9e and 18e, you can start at Square Willette and see the merry-go-round featured in the French film Amélie. From the square you can make your way through rue des Abbesses, which is stocked with funky boutiques and cafés. One of my favorite boutiques, Aeschne, is located at 19 rue Houdon. Continue to walk west and you will come upon Cimetière de Montmartre, the final resting place of Degas, Zola and Stendhal. Although not as popular as Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, it is well worth a visit and is a nice respite from the busy city.
As you circle around the cemetery and head south, you’ll find that small pocket of “seediness” that some call the “red light” district. Unfairly, many people associate all of Montmartre with just this tiny part. Nothing can be further from the truth. But if you just want a peek around the Place de Clichy metro, along the boulevard de Clichy to the Pigalle metro, you would get an eyeful of what I would call “colorful.” I’d walk through quickly and just be done with it.
Leaving the boulevard de Clichy, head back north walking on rue Lepic. Rue Lepic loops around to the left and the walk begins uphill. You’ll see funky boutiques and, as you make your way further up, another iconic site will appear before you: the Moulin Rouge. This famous cabaret opened in 1889 and it’s still going strong, albeit as a tourist attraction, which means there’s no loss if you miss an actual performance.
As you continue north, you will come upon my favorite part of Montmartre, the Lamarck Caulaincourt area. Walk up the rue des Saules and you will find Montmartre’s very own vineyard – the last one remaining in Paris. While the yearly yield is small, all proceeds go to charity. Just below the vineyard on the corner is Lapin Agile, an old cabaret where local artists such as Picasso and Renoir used to gather. Take time to savor this little area of Montmartre.
The rue Caulaincourt, avenue Junot and the little streets around it would be ideal for an apartment. Perfectly Paris Rental Company does one of the best jobs in providing comfortable apartments throughout this area and they have a few apartments on the tree-lined rue Caulincourt that I have coveted for years. This northwestern part of Montmartre is one of the most charming in the neighborhood, and it’s far enough from the hustle and bustle of the area right around Sacré–Cœur to get a good night’s sleep!
Speaking of Sacré–Cœur, it is definitely worth seeing despite the crowds. The French government decided to build it in 1873, and it was designed by architect Paul Abadie. Construction lasted until WWI, and it was consecrated in 1919. Although you’ll find people at any time of day swarming the staircase of Sacré–Cœur to get one of the best views of Paris, do spend time in the basilica itself. Make sure to view the massive golden mosaic above the choir as it is one of the largest mosaics of its kind and it represents France’s devotion to the Sacred Heart. Also be certain to see the enormous bell, weighing in at about 19 tons. La Savoyarde, as it is called, hangs from the 262-foot-high campanile and is quite a sight to see. The best time to visit Sacré–Cœur is sunrise or long after sunset, but never on Sunday.
Walk through, but I wouldn’t necessarily linger around the tourist-packed place de Tertre, just west of Sacré–Cœur, as foot traffic clogs the square at any given hour. Frankly, it’s all a bit circus-like to me. Mediocre restaurants and equally mediocre artists who want to paint your portrait line the square. It’s not my favorite place in Paris by a long shot.
If you want to rent an apartment in the 18e:
I would stay away from the extreme north by the Périphérique, as it is just too far from central Paris and the area gets less charming as you head further north. I would also not book an apartment right near the Blanche or Pigalle metros, especially directly on boulevard de Clichy. It’s just too tacky.
My favorite and most recommended area would be around the Lamarck Caulaincourt metro. True, if you use this metro (as is true of most the Montmartre metros), you will have to change lines to get to the central Paris sites, but this area, which includes rue Caulincourt, avenue Junot, and all the little streets surrounding them, are so charming and so village-like that one could be quite content.
The streets right around the Abbesses metro would also be fine for an apartment. It’s a good way up the hill from Pigalle. The area is full of restaurants and rue des Martyrs (covered in the 9e) is just a walk down from the Abbesses metro.
The streets located around the Cimetèrie du Montmartre are peaceful, and perhaps too quiet, but an apartment around here would be just fine.
32 rue de Poteau
293 rue Ordener
28 rue des Abbesses (this is a Beauty Monop. It sells primarily cosmetics)
17 Place Saint-Pierre
Rue Lepic: This is a small but lovely market street filled with fresh and prepared foods.
Marché Barbes: This market street is located in the southeastern part of the 18e, and not necessarily where I would recommend lodging, but a trip to this market is sure to be fascinating. Located under the Barbes Rochechouart metro on boulevard de la Chapelle, the market has a North African flair and is much more colorful than most Parisian markets. You’ll find products you didn’t even know existed at good prices. It’s open Wednesdays from 7am to 2:30pm and Saturdays from 7am to 3pm.
19e (right bank):
If you are truly looking for an arrondissement that is pretty much devoid of tourist traffic, it would be the 19e.
It’s a pity that this arrondissement is virtually ignored and is barely mentioned as a potential lodging place in most publications. Yes, it is further from the iconic sites, and you will have to travel on the metro, but with the gorgeous Parc des Buttes Chaumont,the Parc de la Villette with the Cité de Sciences and Cité de la Musique, the 19e is attractive indeed. If you have seen most of Paris and desire to really get away from the tourist hoards, you might want to consider this neighborhood.
Technically the 19e is bordered by the Périphérique in the north; rue de la Belleville in the south; the Périphérique in the east; and rue d’Aubervilliers and rue de la Villette in the west.
The 19e is home to mostly working-class local Parisians and is comprised of large nationality-focused communities with various nationalities living side by side. You will find some very pretty areas, especially by the Buttes Chaumont park, but note that’s it’s gritty in some parts. Given all of this, apartment rentals are inexpensive.
Not all of Paris has tall apartment houses and one of the most charming residential areas in Paris, La Mouzaia, is located in the 19e directly east of Parc des Buttes Chaumont. La Mouzaia has the largest number of low-rise homes with freestanding gardens in Paris and is spread out among about thirty streets. Take a leisurely stroll among these narrow alleyways and enjoy going from one leafy lane to the next. Enter via rue de Mouzaia, rue David-d’Angers, rue Miguel-Hidalgo or rue du Général Brunet.
Parc des Buttes Chaumont is a charming park located in the southwestern part of the 19e, and not too far from the northern border of the 20e. The park has wooded and rocky landscaping and a lake. Children will love the open-air theater’s puppet show, which has been a popular attraction for over 150 years. The many sloping lawns also make this an enjoyable respite from the city.
Parc de la Villette is more in the northeastern part of the 19e and is a multi-purpose park and leisure area. It’s 55 hectares surround a huge science museum, the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie . Kids are sure to love this interactive museum with its many levers, buttons and screens to keep them entertained. From mid-July to the end of August the Parc stages a popular free film season, Le Cinéma en Plein Air. There is also a ten-day jazz festival each September. The Cité de la Musique is within the park and this houses an impressive collection of over 4,500 musical instruments.
The actual gardens of Parc de la Villette comprise several thematic areas with lots of fun things to see, including abstract pieces such as angular tree houses. All in all, it’s a great way to spend a leisurely day in Paris.
If you want to rent an apartment in the 19e:
I would stay on the southern side of Bassin de la Villette (the canal that runs through the 19e) since it is more interesting than the northern part. In general, the southern half of the 19e would be preferred over the northern half.
Streets surrounding the Parc des Buttes Chaumont would be nice, including avenue Secretan which has many food shops and a covered market as well. The streets near the Laumière metro would be good as well.
The streets sandwiched in between Colonel Fabien and Pyrenees metro would also be nice for an apartment choice. You’ll be close to the ever-so-interesting Belleville area of the 20e (I will cover this below).
199 avenue de Flandre
118 avenue Jean Jaures
13/15 avenue de Secretan
Place de Fêtes
133 rue de Belleville
Market Street: Avenue Secretan
This is a lovely street leading into the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. It has a plenitude of food offerings as well as a covered market.
Outdoor Market: Place de Fêtes
Once you emerge from a really long escalator from the metro of the same name, Place des Fêtes market is big, full of fresh produce. Residents love this market. It’s open Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 7am to 2:30pm.
20e (right bank):
As the last arrondissement in the city of Paris, the 20e shares many of the same characteristics as the 19e and it’s perfect for those who want to be among mostly locals. As it is with most of the outer arrondissements, you will need to travel to get to the sights, but the rewards of staying in a neighborhood with little tourism is very appealing to many. Most people think all there is in the 20e is the famous Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, which is indeed fascinating (I’ll cover it below), but there is much more to the 20e than the grave of Jim Morrison!
The 20e is local, hip in many parts, eclectic, edgy and lively, with lots of bars and restaurants. There are also neat alleyways, cobblestones and private gardens.
The southern part of the 20e appeals to me very much because it’s lively and has some nice attractions. There is a cool art deco church on rue Alexander Dumas near Place de la Réunion and right off rue des Vignoles there are old-time alleyways where you will find houses with private gardens. The southern part of the 20e also has some interesting graffiti art and on rue de Buzenval you can view the interesting Zoo Project mural. On rue Saint-Blaise there are many of restaurants and cafés, and the whole area is really lively at night. Enjoy some live music when they have it at Le Piston Pélican at 15 rue de Bagnolet, which is right near the Alexandre Dumas metro.
Also, near the Alexandre Dumas metro station is the Jardin Natural. With entrances on either rue de la Réunion or rue de Lesseps, you will be treated to this organic garden of delights ranging from wild carrots to hyacinth and water spiders to snails. No pesticides are used, and there is a pond of water lilies and reeds. It’s just Mother Nature at her best.
Cimetière du Père-Lachaise is the most famous cemetery in Paris. Many tourists flock here and then leave the area. This is a pity since the 20e is an interesting area to hang out in. Nonetheless, the cemetery is amazing. Enter on boulevard de Ménilmontant and just begin wandering. You will surely get lost, but that’s part of the pleasure.
The cemetery is named for Père François de la Chaise, Louis XIV’s confessor. Come and pay your respects to the many famous personalities: actress Sarah Bernhardt, French composer Georges Bizet, composer Frederic Chopin, painter Eugene Delacroix, singer Edith Piaf, American writer Gertrude Stein, Irish writer Oscar Wilde, and many, many more. Yes, Jim Morrison is buried here; go see the grave, but then please, go visit others. His grave is still a top draw, but I find it a bit underwhelming.
What’s even better is the immediate neighborhood. The area around the Gambetta metro is really splendid. A neighborhood filled with everything you need for a great apartment stay, it’s full of stores and restaurants, and it’s nice and lively. With the metro right there, plus bus #69, you can get to the rest of Paris efficiently. Place Gambetta and the entire rue des Pyrénées is highly desirable. And you could actually walk from the cemetery down into Bastille on a nice day — why not!
For one of the best panoramic views of Paris (I think far superior to the views from Tour Eiffel) is Parc de Belleville. This lovely green space is in the northeast part of the 20e in a neighborhood known as Belleville. Lying on the grass is almost obligatory, and the whole park is easy going. The neighborhood of Belleville is very tightly knit and culturally mixed. There is a real feeling of community here. The area is “unpolished” compared to many tourist central spots, but that’s part of its appeal. Check out all the streets near the park, but especially rue Dénoyez and rue de la Belleville for lively crowds of locals. The top of the park is nicer than the area below, and Rue des Couronnes and rue Julien Lacroix are a bit more edgy.
If you want to rent an apartment in the 20e:
I wouldn’t rent near the extreme eastern edge by the Périphérique. It’s out of the way with fewer metro connections. Also, if you want to lodge in Belleville, I would stay on top of the park since it’s more charming than the bottom area.
Anywhere around the Gambetta metro would be lovely. All around rue des Pyrénées is fine as well. You could also stay in the southern part of the 20e in the streets around the Alexandre Dumas metro stretching to rue des Pyrénées.
20 boulevard de Charonne
131 avenue Gambetta
71 rue de Bagnolet
Outdoor Market: Rue Pyrénées
This is a small but well-served market where everything is attractively displayed. It’s located in the northern half of rue des Pyrénées and is open Wednesdays from 7am to 2:30pm and Sundays from 7am to 3pm.