Paris is home to 20 arrondissements, or “neighborhoods” within the city. Each one has a different feel to it, from the touristy, Eiffel Tower hub (7ème) to the vibrant, Jewish/LGBTQ quarter of the Marais (3ème/4ème) to the quieter and residential space of the Buttes-Chaumont (19ème). It can take a lifetime to discover every nook and cranny of each Parisian arrondissement, to understand and really appreciate just what the French capital is all about.

Within the arrondissements, however, there are also what are called micro-quartiers. They are essentially “neighborhoods within neighborhoods,” usually no larger than a block or two and hidden from curious tourists’ eyes. Such places were historically villages, constructed in the 20th century as living spaces for the working class (les ouvriers) as they built and modernized what the city is today. The homes are extremely tiny: they are studios due to limited space (despite living spaces needing to be at least 9m2 by Parisian law, but some of these studios just barely meet that requirement, some illegally less than that size). Some ouvriers still reside in these micro-neighborhoods today, but aspiring artists and young professionals have in recent years turned to renting out these places for cheaper rent and minimalism.

There are at least half a dozen micro-quartiers which still exist today, and during my time in France (with frequent trips to Paris), I had the opportunity to visit a few of them. Such sites are not the easiest to get to, as most are located towards the périphérique: getting to these spots by metro will take a while, perhaps even a couple of transfers depending where you’re coming from. You might even need to take a smaller metro line (i.e. ligne 7bis) and get off at one of the random stops before heading a half-mile to the area. There are also no obvious signages to say that you’re in, say, la Cité Florale, so you’ll just be wandering the streets in which the mini-neighborhood is.

However, once you’re in the micro-quartier, it feels as if you’ve been transported to another world. It feels as if you’re far away from the hustle-and-bustle of the city center and in some remote village elsewhere. Such micro-quartiers are devoid of tourists, with only locals taking a morning stroll or heading to the nearest metro to get to work. I found my visits to the micro-neighborhoods such a refreshing take on Paris, as they were quiet spaces to step back and just exist.

If you’re ever in Paris someday, I encourage you to take a stroll in these particular micro-quartiers, for a bit of history and locality in the lesser-known parts of town. Enjoy!

3 Micro-Neighborhoods of Paris You Need to See

1. La Mouzaïa (19ème arrondissement)
20181030_104531Sentier in la Mouzaïa (October 2018)

Home to low-rise apartments and small, cobblestone alleyways, la Mouzaïa resembles a Hobbit-esque town– it certainly has a more country feel to it, as it’s situated way out in the northeast quadrant of Paris, yet it’s surprising that it remains a part of the city center. To wander the narrow passages in the fall is a surreal experience, with the warm colors of foliage hanging over the road, some even on the ground, for a multi-colored vision.

Métro access: Botzaris (ligne 7bis)

2. La Cité Florale (13ème arrondissement)
20190521_125119Pastel-colored homes (May 2019)

Constructed in 1928, this micro-quartier is named, quite literally, “the Floral City.” It consists of six side streets that come together in a triangular shape, which make it difficult to get lost. Besides getting its name from the many flowers– potted and overhanging– growing in front of the residential homes, the houses themselves are painted bright, pastel colors of cherry red, pistachio green, and lemon yellow. Certainly a pop of color on a dreary, overcast day!

Métro access: Maison Blanche (ligne 7)

3. La Butte Bergeyre (19ème arrondissement)

20190324_130759Views of the Sacré Coeur (March 2019)

I found Butte Bergeyre to be the most-hidden micro-quartier of the three I’ve visited. Just adjacent to the hilly 18ème arrondissement (where le Sacré Coeur is located), the walk up to this little neighborhood is rather steep and the entire area is situated on an incline. However, it’s the perfect views of the Sacré Coeur in front of a mini-vineyard which captures your attention, and it’s my favorite micro-quartier of the bunch.

Métro access: Colonel Fabien (ligne 2)

These were the micro-quartiers I’ve seen so far in Paris, and I hope to visit more of them someday. I drew inspiration and information from this website (in French), if you’d like to check out the small, lesser-known quarters in the city. Let me know which ones you’d want to visit! 🙂

— Rebecca

57 thoughts on “3 Micro-Neighborhoods of Paris You Need to See

  1. Nice post. It’s great to peel back the primary layers of a city and dive deeper into lesser known, more authentic neighbourhoods. Based on your photos, I would be interested in exploring all three of these if I ever get back to Paris.

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    1. Absolutely! I’m glad that I had the opportunity to revisit Paris many times during my time in France; it gave me many chances to check out the smaller areas of the city that not many people (even locals) may know about!

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    1. No, I haven’t! I’ve visited that part of Paris before (les Gobelins), but usually near rue Mouffetard, which is more touristy. It’s always a delight to discover centuries-old châteaux hidden within an urbanized city, and to see la cité Fleurie flourishing is also a happy surprise. So many small, but beautiful places to see in the French capital!

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    1. I’m sure you’ll have the opportunity to make it back soon. These aren’t known for being touristy spots, but they’re just as worthwhile to check out.

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  2. Thank you for sharing your knowledge of Paris. I think the arrondissement organization is a nice one, as long as one thinks of it as a snail’s shell (my sister in law who lived in Paris explained that to me). I have visited once, so glad I had the chance to see it with our family guide!

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    1. The arrondissement organization takes some time getting used to, but once you understand it, it makes a lot of sense. Very convenient your sister-in-law lived in Paris, as it helps to know someone when you’re in town!

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    1. I wouldn’t call these places suburbs as they’re technically still within the périphérique. But they are towards the edges of Paris proper, so they feel like little towns outside of the capital!

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  3. What a lovely post about some of Paris neighbourhoods, Rebecca. I loved negotiating my way around the French capital and discovering many of its amazing neighbourhoods a few years ago. Besides the buzzing Montparnasse and the iconic Latin Quarter, I very much enjoyed South Pigalle and Oberkampf which is home to arty cocktail bars. Thanks for sharing and have a nice day 🙂 Aiva xx

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    1. I agree with you: Pigalle and Oberkampf are lively and trendy places in Paris. I recall having coffee and checking out the bar scene in Oberkampf, which I found more intimate and local compared with other parts of town. Definitely a place to make merry all night long!

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    1. I’ve actually never lived in Paris, unless you count a summer in the banlieues during my study abroad…it’s through deep research into the “hidden gems” of Paris that I find online which lead me to such places!

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  4. These are good finds, charming places that are easier to imagine in the suburbs, beyond the ‘périphérique’, than in the inner city. I lived for a while near Mouzaia, and the contrast is even sharper as there are high rise buildings next to it. A less pleasant side for the visitor is that these small streets are often closed by gates, tailgating is not always very comfortable to practice.

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    1. It must’ve been a stark contrast between the small, 20th-century charm of the Mouzaïa cottages and the modern skyscrapers; I didn’t know that there were high-rise buildings right outside of the micro-quartier, so it really felt like I was in another world inside! I admit, finding these places were tricky, as certain access points are, indeed, closed, but there’s always a way to get through (without trespassing, of course)!

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  5. Something like that would be on the docket for us as we’ve been to Paris a couple of times and seen many of the must-see touristy things. It would be fun to explore the lesser-known parts of the city – especially charming ones. Thanks for sharing this.

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  6. Wow, amazing! I lived in Paris for two years (in one of those very tiny studios you talk about ahah) and only knew of the Cité Florale! I remember visiting a flat on the 7bis line when I arrived and found the nieghbourhood really charming – maybe I was really close to La Mouzaia! Can’t wait to go back to Paris to discover the other ones! 😊

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    1. The 19ème arrondissement (where la Butte Bergeyre is situated) is one of my favorite areas of Paris: it’s more-residential, but also boasts plenty of beautiful, smaller gems away from most tourists. J’espère que tu reviendras en France bientôt!

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  7. I’m feeling so nostalgic for Paris after a little over two years of not going there… following three years of 4-6 trips per year. You made it worse! (In a good way.) When I get back, and I WILL, I’m going to check these micro-neighborhoods out!

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