Lay of the Land
The centre of Paris is a sightseeing dream where most of the monuments and museums are conveniently clustered around hotels, banks and tourist shopping.
For eating though, this means that the centre of Paris has a high concentration of restaurants for tourists whose only criteria is to eat near their hotel or museum. They don’t realise that the best eating is where the locals live and it isn’t central Paris. If you are in Paris to eat and eat well, you’ll need to venture out a bit.
There are some good places to eat in the center of mainstream Paris, but thankfully more and more visitors are seeking authentic neighbourhoods away from the sights in unassuming locales, across bridges or tucked away in narrow grafitti-filled alleys – which are vibrant, lively and full of character.
So how is Paris organised?
By a collection of arrondissement neighbourhoods (abbreviated “arr.”) that spiral out clockwise from the centre like a snail shell across the right and left banks, each with their own character and culinary influences.
In general “Central Paris” is a business district (1st-9th arrondissements) – where Parisians work during the day, have a drink briefly with colleagues or friends, then leave to go home to the 10th-20th arr at night. This is why most restaurants in central Paris are closed on weekends, there simply are not enough tourists or local residents there on the weekends to support them.
A recent phenomenon is that the majority of popular restaurants are on the right bank especially concentrated in the 3rd, 9th and 11th.