Central Paris is officially divided into 20 districts called arrondissements, numbered from 1 to 20 in a clockwise spiral from the centre of town. Arrondissements are named according to their number. You might, for example, stay in the "5th", which would be written as 5ème (SANK-ee-emm) in French. The 12th and 16th arrondissements include large suburban parks, the Bois de Vincennes, and the Bois de Boulogne respectively.
The very best cheap pocket map you can get for Paris is called "Paris Pratique par Arrondissement" which you can buy at any news stand. It makes navigating the city easy, so much so that one can imagine that the introduction of such map-books might be part of what made the arrondissement concept so popular in the first place.
Each arrondissement has its own unique character and selection of attractions for the traveller:
* 1st (1er), (Map). the geographical centre of Paris and a great starting point for travellers. The Louvre Museum, the Jardin des Tuileries, Place Vendôme, Les Halles and Palais Royal are all to be found here.
* 2nd (2e), (Map). The central business district of the city - the Bourse (the Paris Stock Exchange) and the Bibliothèque Nationale are located here.
* 3rd (3e), (Map). Archives Nationales, Musée Carnavalet, Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers, the northern, quieter part of the Marais
* 4th (4e), (Map). Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Hôtel de Ville (Paris town hall), Beaubourg, le Marais
* 5th (5e), (Map). Jardin des Plantes, Quartier Latin, Universités, La Sorbonne, Le Panthéon, Le Musée de l'AP-HP
* 6th (6e), (Map). Jardin du Luxembourg, Saint-Germain des Prés
* 7th (7e), (Map). Tour Eiffel, Les Invalides, Musée d'Orsay
* 8th (8e), (Map). Champs-Elysées, the Palais de l'Elysée, la Madeleine,Jacquemart-Andre Museum
* 9th (9e), (Map). Opéra Garnier, Grands Magasins
* 10th (10e), (Map). Canal Saint-Martin, Gare du Nord, Gare de l'Est
* 11th (11e), (Map). the bars and restaurants of Rue Oberkampf, Bastille, Nation, New Jewish Quarter
* 12th (12e), (Map). Opéra Bastille, Bercy Park and Village, Promenade plantée, Quartier d'Aligre, Gare de Lyon, the Bois de Vincennes
* 13th (13e), (Map). Quartier Chinois, Place d'Italie, La Butte aux Cailles, Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF)
* 14th (14e). Montparnasse Cemetery, Denfert-Rochereau, Parc Montsouris, Cité Universitaire
* 15th (15e). Montparnasse Tower, Gare Montparnasse, Stadiums
* 16th (16e). Palais de Chaillot, Musée de l'Homme, the Bois de Boulogne
* 17th (17e). Palais des Congrès, Place de Clichy
* 18th (18e). Montmartre, Pigalle, Barbès
* 19th (19e). Museum of Science and Industry, Parc de la Villette, Bassin de la Villette, Parc des Buttes Chaumont
* 20th (20e). Père Lachaise Cemetery
* La Défense. Although it is not officially part of the city, this skyscraper district on the western edge of town is on many visitors must-see lists for its modern architecture and public art.