I’ve been to Paris numerous times and I really can’t get enough of this city. If it were more affordable, I’d seriously move here. I love the buzz and vibe, the lights and animation, the quaint boutiques, the little dogs, the long stretches of city blocks adorned with prominent wrought-iron balconies, and the delicious smells. And, contrary to popular impression, I quite find the Parisians friendly. For me, the best arrondissement in Paris is the 6th and here’s why.
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When you understand the etiquette of simply starting any interaction with a local, with a, ‘Bonjour’, you are treated quite nicely. And it’s just simply polite to say, ‘hello’, before moving on to whatever you want or need. I tend to visit Paris in the off-season. It’s more affordable, and while the weather is less predictable, you’ll feel like you have the place to yourself.
- 1 Paris’ Arrondissement Map
- 2 Why the best arrondissement in Paris is the 6th
- 3 The History of the 6th Arrondissement
- 4 Best Baguette in Paris
- 5 Best Patisserie in Paris
- 6 Best French Onion Soup in Paris
- 7 The Best Teahouse in Paris is Mariage Freres
- 8 The Best Cafe in Paris’ 6th Arrondissement
- 9 The Best Bistrot in Saint-Germain-des-Pres is Comptoir du Relais
- 10 Stay in a hotel in Paris‘ 6th Arrondissement
Paris’ Arrondissement Map
Paris’ arrondissement, or post code, system is set out like a winding snail; quite fitting for this escargot-loving country. The 1st Arrondissement starts in the heart of Paris near the Louvre museum, and winds around clockwise until you reach the 20th Arrondissement on the outskirts of town. Speaking of the Louvre, you’ll be wise to get the Paris Museum Pass to save time and money.
I’ve babysat a chubby kitty named, Balou, in the slightly grungy 11th Arrondissement. Then, I’ve stayed a few times in the chic 1st Arrondissement near the Champs Elysees, where a glass of Meursault will set you back $40!
I’ve chosen cheaper digs in the 5th by the Sorbonne University buzzing with college students, and I’ve stayed a few times out by the Charles de Gaulle Airport. Why? Because it was free! The airport is decent if you’re flying out early, but it is a ‘schlep’ to town if you want to stay out late.
Why the best arrondissement in Paris is the 6th
I have now come to the conclusion I’m a, ‘South-of-the-River,’ kind of woman, or Left Bank-Rive Gauche, as they refer to it in Paris. The 6th arrondissement, and more specifically, the area around Saint-Germain-des-Prés, is the best arrondissement in Paris to stay and explore. There is so much to see in Paris and I’d still base myself here to see all the other sites.
Some of this has to do with ‘a gut feeling’ I’ve had while staying in Paris over the years. The 6th arrondissement is easy to move around and see the tourist spots, it’s very safe. It has a traditional Parisian neighborhood feel, and it happens to be where you will find many of the, ‘Best of’ in Paris.
There is a level of sophistication with upmarket retailers like Armani, Louis Vuitton, Cop Copine; there are several superb brasseries and cafes, and the enormous green spaces of Luxembourg Gardens are just serene. You’d never know you were in a metropolis of more than two million people.
The History of the 6th Arrondissement
As soon as you exit the St-Germain-des Prés Metro station, you see the impressionable Abbey of St-Germain-des Prés, which is the oldest in Paris from the 6th Century. This area was also the literary and artistic heart of Paris in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s. Monet, Renoir and Picasso frequented around these parts, as well as famous writers and philosophers, such as Ernest Hemingway, Albert Camus, Jean Paul Sartre, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
It is also the birth of ‘Existentialism’ philosophy. An easy way to describe this is basically, ‘humans define their own meaning in life, and try to make rational decisions despite living in an irrational universe. Individuals are free and must take personal responsibility for their actions.’ It’s a heavy concept, but can also make sense if you consider the world in which we live today. I often get a feeling of ‘deja-vu’ when I wander this neighborhood, like I lived here in the past.
The 6th is the best arrondissement in Paris because you find so many highly rated ‘best of’ spots in Paris. While these are all my personal choices, I was surprised to find many of these noted by prominent websites. I was just surprised to know that much of my stomping ground is on these comparison lists. No wonder I love it so much, so does everyone else.
Best Baguette in Paris
Looking for the Best Baguette in Paris? – A few years ago, La Parisienne Boulangerie was named maker of the Best Baguette in Paris. They offer a variety of ready-made baked good including loaf breads, tarts, croissants, and salads. If you want a treat, grab a ‘Parisienne’ baguette, select some cheese and some charcuterie near the local Marche (market) on Rue Buci, stash a bottle of wine in your pack and head to Luxembourg Gardens for a picnic. La Parisienne is located at 48 Rue Madame, 75006.
Best Patisserie in Paris
Looking for something sweet? Look no further than the highly acclaimed Pierre Herme Patisserie, found at 72 Rue Bonaparte, 75006. Conde Nast Traveler named this one of the best Patisserie in Paris in 2018. You find exquisite hand-prepared chocolates and thick chocolate ‘tablettes,’ cakes, cookies, macaroons and more.
The lines were OUT THE DOOR on two different days when I was there. This place isn’t that large, so no wonder the line was spilling onto the street. But it is thee place to buy sweet treats and confectionery. I personally like the caramels that melt in your mouth. Or is it the big, dark chocolate tablettes – go big or go home!
Best French Onion Soup in Paris
Hands down, The Best French Onion Soup in town is found at the La Jacobine at 59-61 Rue Saint-André des Arts, 75006. It was rated No. 1 for the best French Onion soup in Paris by Foursquare in 2019! And who am I to argue? I love this little restaurant and stumbled upon it more than 15 years ago!
You often have to wait for a table, but it’s worth it. The place gets really busy with people literally sitting a foot from the next patron. I hate asking for a table for one, because clearly they make more money off of two people, but then I suck it up, go in and ask. They have won the best French Onion Soup award in Paris for years!
It’s tucked away in an ancient cobble-stoned arcade where you find a variety of shops and restaurants. This place isn’t easy to find if you aren’t familiar with the area. Aside from the best French Onion Soup in Paris, they offer a variety of unique starters, such as traunches of goat’s cheese with honey, baked filled rolls of eggplant, snails from $11, and healthy-portioned salads for $17. They have a fixed menu at $26 for an entree and main, or main and dessert.
The Best Teahouse in Paris is Mariage Freres
The Best Tea House/Retailer is the gourmet tea shop, Mariage Freres, located at 13 Rue Augustins, 75006. Actually it is quite a popular spot and they have shops dotted around Paris and worldwide.
This shop is a tea retailer along with a restaurant. The ground level is a small boutique with an impressive selection of loose teas in tins, reminiscent of days gone past.
Select your tea and they weigh your ‘Gold’ with antique scales. They have a huge selection, whether caffeinated or not of bagged and loose teas.
The menu in the restaurant upstairs recommends certain teas to accompany your meal. It’s a step back in time.
The Best Cafe in Paris’ 6th Arrondissement
Not only according to me, but even readers of Leisure + Travel say The Best Cafe in the 6th is Le Bonaparte Cafe at 42 Rue Bonaparte, 75006. This is my favorite hang-out.
I typically spend hours here enjoying the coffee or a glass of wine while writing. The Bonaparte offers a super view of the Abbey while sitting out on the terrace.
There are a variety of organic ingredients on their menu, and there’s not the same competition to get a table here as there is at the uber famous Les Deux Magots or Cafe de Flore, just a block away. Le Bonaparte is more ‘chill,’ without all the traffic speeding by.
The Best Bistrot in Saint-Germain-des-Pres is Comptoir du Relais
Saint-Germain-des-Pres is fortunate to have a number of bistro hitting the Top 10 in Paris, but one in particular is Le Comptoir du Relais, head up by master French chef, Yves Camdeborde, who’s been titled the Chef of Bistronomy.
This tiny bistrot has about 20 seats inside and getting a table is often best by reservation. For lunch, I went early. I usually sit outside under the heat lamps. It makes not only a great gastronomic experience, but also a super people watching/meeting experience.
The menu is reasonably priced. Salads and soups range from $8.60-$25, and mains from $5.50-$18.50. You get quality for the money! Either reserve or get there early so you don’t have to queue. Le Comptoir du Relais is located at 9 Carrefour de l’Odéon, 75006
Stay in a hotel in Paris‘ 6th Arrondissement
I stayed at Hotel des Deux Continents on Rue Jacob, which is my favorite street. It is two streets from the main road and quieter.
I booked a double room for a single rate for $123 versus $267 p/n. This was a great, last-minute find in a super location. I was on the top floor (with elevator) with a view of the Abbey steeple. It was quiet and quite a lovely hotel.
The room was modest in size, but was well kitted out. The bathroom will be a challenge if you are tall. I’m short and my knees almost hit the wall while on the loo, so the bathroom is quite narrow. And there is no shower curtain so you need to be strategic with the shower head!
Wifi worked great and there was plenty of space to hang/store clothes and get my suitcase out of the way. Highly recommended. There are many lovely hotels in the 6th Arrondissement, so give them a try.
You can use the 6th Arrondissement as a great base to explore much of Paris for a few days. And with Paris’ proximity to other cities, like London, you might consider spending a week in Europe enjoying both.
While I’m biased toward the 6th, there are many other places to stay in Paris depending on your fancy. The 7th is where you find the Eiffel Tower and here are some of the best spots to photograph the tower. But seriously, whether you only have 12 hours in Paris or 3 Days in Paris, grab one of these itineraries here.
I hope you’ve enjoyed why I believe the best arrondissement in Paris is the 6th. Would love to hear your thoughts on this area and if you want to add similar ‘best of’ for me to add. And let me know how your trip goes!!