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Spiraling outward from Paris’s neighborhoods are full of fabulous things to do and places to eat and every area has its own characters, things to see and stories to tell. From exploring the river islands in Central Paris, exploring the museums and mansions in the west or sampling some ethnic cuisine in the East End, each area is worth a stop.
With the towering Notre Dame Cathedral overlooking this neighborhood of river islands, the center of Paris reflect a major part of the city’s history. In fact, the Ile de la Cite and Ile St-Louis, two islands in the Siene still maintain much of their look from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and St. Louis still feels more like a village trapped around the center of town. The Ile de la Cities is also full of history and in fact, is the location where Maria Antoinette and other members of the French Aristocracy famously lost their heads during the French Revolution.
Central Paris also has a Latin Quarter that has been the center of student life and social change for the last 800 years. It has been the epicenter for events such as the French Revolution and student revolts of the 1960s. This high population of students creates a unique atmosphere filled with trendy shops and well known book shops such as Shakespeare and Co.
Northern Paris is a place of stark contrasts. In the Opera district you will find the opulent Opera Garner and world reknown department stores stacked with high fashion products. The Moulin Rouge with its famous wind mill resides in Montmartre nearby and there is a beautiful view of the city from Basillque du Sacre Coeur. Even Vincent Van Goh found inspiration wondering the streets of this area.
Northern Paris is also where Paris’ red light districts are located. While the Opera district and Montmartre offer an array of novelty adult shops and cabarets, visitors can stumble on some rather hip night clubs and bars in this part of town.
In the Southern part of Paris you will find Montparnasse and St. Germain-des-Pres. St, Germain offers one of the oldest churches in Paris and was the major center for worship until Notre Dame was Built.
Montparnasse on the other hand is still a Mecca for the bohemian and was a place where many of the famous characters from the lost Generation; such as Ezra Pound and Picasso created some of their masterpieces. However this area has lost some its original flavor and is now part of Paris’s industrial area and home to some of the working class population in Paris, but it is still a good spot for a reasonably priced place to stay.
The Western section of Paris offers some of the most iconic sights in the city. It’s boulevards are lined with grand monuments and mansions and includes sites such as the Arc De Triomphe. This area is also home to the Trocadero, the Eiffel tower, and many museums including Musee National des Arts Asiatiques which has artifacts from all over the world.
This area includes both the Bastille and the Marias. The Bastille prison was made famous during the French revolution, and is a shadow of its former self and only the foundation remains. However, it is still a popular site in the city among visitors and the region around it has many popular restaurants. The stores and galleries along the Rue Faubourg St. Antoine are also worth a stop.
The Marais has a large Jewish population and remains open on Sunday when much of the city is closed. This neighborhood has many Middle Eastern and other ethnic restaurants. Along the streets here are Mansions and houses that have been transformed into Museums, bars and boutiques perfect for high fashion.