Today I got an email that touches on a subject I’ve been asked about often, so I thought I’d share the response with all of you:
“Heather, My husband and I are taking a 7 day trip to Paris in September. We want to rent an apartment, but I am have no idea what area to rent in. Everything looks nice online, but you don’t know if it’s in the worst area of town. I know that you would be able to help.”
The apartment agencies listed in the Paris Accommodation section normally only list apartments in the central, safe, tourist-friendly neighborhoods like the Islands (1st, 4th arrondissements), the Louvre/Palais Royal (1st), the Marais (3rd,4th), the Latin Quarter (5th), St-Germain-des-Prés (6th), Invalides/Eiffel Tower (7th), Opéra/Grands Boulevards (9th) and Montmartre (18th). There are less interesting, less central, less pretty areas of Paris, but as far as “bad” areas of town, you wouldn’t see any reputable agencies renting out apartments in those areas, such as between the train tracks on the east end of the 18th arrondissement (I would not put my mother in a hotel anywhere east of Montmartre). There are some areas of the 9th that are not pretty, seedy sex shops around Pigalle, and some around the rue St-Denis in the 2nd. I wouldn’t stay in any of the outer edges of the north or east Paris, but I don’t think there are any areas on the Left Bank or the 8th or 16th that I would say are “dangerous”, just some areas that are not very interesting or are too far from public transportation.
This is becoming a long answer, because sometimes it really depends on the exact street, how close it is to the metro and shops, etc, and it’s more important to be cautious when you’re renting direct from an owner on a site like Craig’s List or from FUSAC. But as I said, you pretty much can’t go wrong with anything in the first 8 arrondissements, and legitimate apartment rental agencies wouldn’t even list apartments outside safe areas, so don’t stress too much!
Jacqueline,I think you misread my post. It says that agencies tend to rent in areas that are "central, safe, tourist-friendly". The 14th and 15th are not central nor tourist-friendly (meaning not full of museums and monuments within walking distance, which is how I define it). I clearly state that only certain areas in the 18th and 19th are unsafe. There is nothing wrong with the southern arrondissements, I happen to live in one myself and love it. And some tourists wander out here and like it, too. But the majority of tourists have a short time in Paris and prefer for obvious reasons to stay in the center, so that’s where the agencies rent the most flats. Personally, one of the things I like about my quartier is that it’s NOT full of tourists! 😉
I disagree with your suggestion that only the the first eight districts of Paris are truly safe and/or interesting. The 14th 15th are, for example wonderful, arguably more authentically Parisian areas than the more touristy 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th. It does, indeed, depend on the metro station but what a shame for vsitors to imagine that leaving a very limited central area of Paris is the equivalent of staying in New York City’s outer boroughs!
Yes, it’s true you’re more likely to get pick pocketed in the metro or on the Champs-Elysées than anywhere else in Paris, and "dangerous" is indeed subjective. Those areas of the 18th and 19th (east of Montmartre) are very clearly not safe for anyone…boarded up shops, squatted buildings, drugs being openly sold (and consumed) …no one would ever "wander" into these areas accidentally. Of course, give it another five years and these neighborhoods will probably be cleaned up as well.
Seriously, "dangerous" is a very subjective concept. Of course there are areas of Paris that are not exactly safe at night (parts of the 18th and the 19th, but that’s pretty much it)…Now, I think that any tourist has more chances to get pickpocketted in the metro or by the Eiffel Tower than to get mugged in said "unsafe" neighborhoods… (it’s a completely different story in some suburbs though, I’m talking about Paris within city limits)