The locals call the right or northern bank of the river Seine in Paris the Rive Droite. The area is saturated with famous attractions. You’ll find the Eiffel Tower, Champ de Mars, L’Arc de Triomphe, La Place de la Concorde, Les Jardins de Tuileries and Le Louvre on this side of the river. They’re all conveniently placed almost parallel to the river. Walking on this side of the bank you’ll be sure to see plenty of wonderful and unexpected beautiful sites. You may wander by Palais-Royal or Paris Opera. Various museums including The Centre Pompidou, La Place de la Bastille and Père Lachaise Cemetery are also on the right bank.
The Paris Spiral
The areas of Paris are divided into little zones or neighbourhoods called arrondissments. They are differentiated with names and numbers. The numbers spiral out clockwise like a snail shell. Generally the smaller numbers are the fancier, more central areas of Paris. Louvre is in the first arrondissement, right in the centre of the city, near the Louvre and Notre Dame. Arrondissments 1 – 9 would make up the most central area of the city.
Arrondissments on Rive Droite
From the Eiffel Tower towards La Bastille you might walk through arrondissment 8 / Elysée, 1 / Louvre and 4 /Hôtel-de-Ville as you walk towards the east of the city. Arrondissment 2 / Bourse and 3 / Temple are further north. 9 / Opéra is nestled next to 2 and 8. To understand the layout, see a map of the areas here.
You guessed it, this is where you’ll find the Louvre Museum. This is a really small area and one of the oldest in Paris. Both the Pont Neuf and Pont des Arts are in this neighbourhoodas well as Tuileries Garden and a few good museums. Next time I’m in Paris I would love to go to Les Arts Décoratives, a complex museum that houses a range of medieval furniture and Art Nouveau items.
2 / Bourse
The name of this zone refers to the stock exchange, la bourse. The National Library (Bibliothèque nationale de France) is a historical building that could be interesting to visit.
3 / Temple & 4 / Hôtel-de-Ville
You may have heard of Le Marais, a trendy neighbourhood that has many interesting buildings to admire for their historic and architectural importance. It stretches over Temple and Hôtel-de-Ville. While there are plenty of museums in the third arrondissment, in the fourth arrondissement you will find many churches. Keep an eye out for the Picasso Museum, Places de Vosges and the medieval half-timbered houses in rue Miron.
8 / Elysée
The busiest district of all, this area includes the famous Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe, Place de la Concorde and official presidential resident, Élysée Palace. While we’re on the topic, here’s that Champs Elysées song that will get stuck in your head for a few days. If you need a break from walking, sit down on a bench to appreciate the green space of Parc Monceau. Perhaps you’d prefer to go for a ramble amongst the trees and see the strange sites of little international monuments (I’m referring to the Egyptian pyramid, Chinese fort, Corinthian pillars and Dutch windmill).
9 / Opéra
If you’re in the mood for a spot of shopping or a performance, drop in at Galeries Lafayette and then the beautiful Palais Garnier otherwise known as Opéra Garnier.
Known as the Bohemian side of Paris, this area of the city would be made up of arrondissments 7 / Palais-Bourbon, 6 / Luxembourg and 5 / Panthéon (from west to east). Popular attractions in this area would be the Jardin du Luxembourg, Panthéon, Jardin des Plantes and Natural History Museum. This is also the home of the Latin Quarter and yet more art and historical museums. At this point you might be wondering how many museums there are in Paris? There are about 130 (I had to check).
Google Maps Route
If you still feel overwhelmed by the size of Paris, you can use this route that I mapped out here. It starts at the Eiffel Tower and moves along the right bank for about 8km via Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysée, Pont Alexandre III, Place de la Concorde, Tuileries Garden and the Louvre Museum. From there it goes across the Seine via Notre Dame and Ile de la Cité through to the Jardin de Luxembourg and rue Mouffetard (a great place to find dinner!).
Travel tip: Most museums in Paris are closed on Mondays and sometimes even Tuesdays.