Paris is divided into twenty numbered areas known as arrondissements. They are laid out in a clockwise spiral pattern that begins in the city centre, on the Right Bank.
Located on the Right Bank, its claim to fame is being the birthplace of the French Revolution, since this is where the Bastille was stormed. Once in danger of sinking into a seedy working class neighbourhood, it was reborn with the opening of the Opéra Bastille on the bicentennial of the Revolution.
Now the area is host to an interesting selection of dining options, charming cafes, art galleries, and nightlife that is just a step away.
Five metro lines converge at M. République and three at M. Bastille, which means the constant traffic flow makes it easy to get to, and the cost effective lodgings worth the travel.
Found on the Right Bank, it was once the setting for the wedding of Louis XIV in 1160. It was also the site of revolutionary hysteria a couple of times in the 1800s and came near to it again, when the Opéra Bastille was built in 1989.
Sandwiched between the 4th and 11th arrondissements, it borrows a bit of the energetic ambience of both, with galleries and stores lining the perimeter, but its core consists of working class residences.
13th and 14th Arrondissements
Part of the Left Bank, the two arrondissements form the area known as Montparnasse. It was once such a poor neighborhood that writer Victor Hugo used sections of it as settings for his novel Les Misérables.
Fortunately, environmentalists and concerned citizens managed to close down the industries causing the pollution that made it the worst smelling district of Paris, and energetic renewal plans are helping to revitalize it, attracting average residents, and serving as home to many immigrant communities.
The 14th arrondissment has held onto its chic reputation from the times when Picasso or Hemingway would drop in from the Latin Quarter, to sit at one of the cafes. Refurbishment has meant fewer of the struggling arts community live here, but it is still a good place to find affordable meals, accommodation, and even artworks.